Now, if you’ve read Moll Flanders, you’ll be forgiven if you think you’ve read this somewhere before. You have. Kind of.
Just as Moll gets left with no other social option than to pass her body around as many men as possible to survive, so does Roxana. But there are two differences which make this a different novel, better in some ways, but not as important to the genre.
One is that Roxana falls far farther than Moll who always had one foot in the gutter. This fact endeared me to Moll. Roxana I didn’t really care for to be honest. Moll seems more a victim of circumstance. Roxana a victim of her own scheming as much as circumstance.
Secondly, there’s a pretty good twist near the end which, I have to admit, I didn’t see coming although I thought there was something strange going on. It’s nice to have that in a novel of this pedigree because what else I’ve read from that era isn’t known for suspense, or at least not in modern terms it isn’t.
I’ve rated this highest for its legacy. It would have scored higher but for the fact that Defoe had already made his mark with Moll. This is an important book though, of that there is no doubt. It portrays a woman as someone who can fight her way out of penury using her own guile which, while I don’t agree with the moral liberties she takes, I do get the social risk it was to portray a woman with so much autonomy. This was feminism long before the word was coined. It must have been very liberating for women of that era to read, scandalous even.
Now it seems normal but, as long as we understand the historical context it was written in, something we don’t often take the time to discover (thanks Wikipedia!), we can gain a lot from reading these kinds of works. They’re at least a lot more sanitary to read than more modern feminist writings like Fear of Flying!
Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style
Read more about how I come up with my ratings