The Pequod Review:
Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders is a picaresque story of sex and crime in 18th century London. The plot is summarized in Defoe’s full title of the book: The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, Who was born in Newgate, and during a Life of continued Variety for Threescore Years beside her childhood, was twelve years a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own brother), twelve Years a Thief, Eight Years a transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew rich, lived honest and died a Penitent.
Moll is a complicated character, with a mix of virtues and vices: she is selfish and avaricious, but also courageous and witty. And some of the book's most vivid scenes involve Moll’s interactions with various London street criminals — small-time thieves, pick-pocketers, prostitutes, pimps, and abortionists (all of which were undoubtedly drawn from Defoe’s own brief imprisonment at Newgate, one of London’s most violent jails).