Bowdoin Reads

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The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders
by Daniel Defoe

The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, commonly known as Moll Flanders, is a novel written by Daniel Defoe in 1722. Moll Flanders is a heartbreaking tale of a woman seeking love in all the wrong places. As an adolescent Moll experiences what all girls do: issues with body image, her first crush, the rivalry of two brothers both seeking her hand in marriage. While engaged to the younger brother, she makes the mistake of sleeping with the older brother for gold coins. This is a pivotal moment in the story, for Moll’s decision to sell her body recreationally inevitably leads to her doing it professionally. She spends a good twelve years of her life whoring—both high-end and back alley—and another twelve years thieving. She becomes a world class thief, but greed is her downfall. She replaces the affection of men with that of the love only gold coins can provide, and not even her numerous illegitimate children can bring her solace. Lacking in maternal instinct, Moll frequently abandons her brood, and her own running estimate of the amount of children conceived varies throughout the tale. It is by a cruel twist of fate that the only son she ever truly cares for is the result of an accidental relationship with her brother, and knowledge of her incest forces Moll to abandon the only family she has ever known. Moll Flanders is a novel for the ages. This tour de force will have you laughing, crying, confused and appalled. If ever there was a tale worthy of Bowdoin Reads, ladies and gentlemen, this is it.

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