The breasts, raised skirts, tumbling hair and heavy breathing on the small screen might catch you by surprise if you don't read the book carefully (as might Moll's abandonment of her children on more than one occasion). Unlike his near-contemporary John Cleland (_Fanny Hill_), Defoe was trying to keep out of jail, and so didn't dwell on the details of "correspondence" between Moll and her varied lovers. But on the page and on the screen, Moll comes across quite clearly as a woman who might bend, but refuses to break, and who is intent on having as good a life as she can get.
E. M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel considers Moll and her creator's art in some detail. While he finds much to criticize in Defoe's ability to plot (where did those last two children go, anyway?), he is as besotted with Moll as I am. Immoral? Sure -- but immortal, and never, ever dull. We hope at least a few of the viewers of the recent adaptation take a couple hours to discover the original, inimitable Moll Flanders. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This recording of Daniel Defoe's 1722 novel features a too skimpy abridgment of the tale of the irrepressible title character, born in London's Newgate Gaol. It's read by accomplished British actress, Jan Francis and is part of Hodder's Classic Collection, with a stately English painting gracing the cover. Francis reads with expression but without ornamentation, choosing not to give unique voices to the different characters. It works well here, since Moll is really a one-woman show, and so much of the performance depends on how well the narrator handles her. D.B. (c) AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.