Daniel Defoe's fictional heroine Moll Flanders is famous for her criminal and sexual adventures, racily portrayed n big and small screen romps as bawdy wench, fallen woman and proto-feminist trailblazer. But who was she? And what world did she really inhabit?
To answer these questions Sian Rees takes her readers on a journey of literary and historical detection, across continents, cultures and centuries. Following Moll's tumultuous life, the story moves from Jacobean England to Jamestown, Virginia; from the English Civil War to the struggles of the Powhatan Indians; and from the metropolis of London to the hamlet of Annapolis in the early eighteenth century.
Introducing us to a rogues' gallery of real-life versions of Moll, it is as fast-moving and rich in incident as Defoe's great novel.
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What Rees does in this engaging book is to give us the extra historical information we need to create a richer context for Moll's story - Guardian
Lively and bracing...With Rees's companionship, I finally see the point of Moll - The Times
Rees is adept at describing such real-life individuals whose exploits may have contributed something to the adventures of Defoe's fictional character...an engaging enough companion - Sunday Times
Ably and entertainingly Rees pictures Moll's world of Stuart London. She traces the sources of her remarkable story and the overlaps between Defoe's life and that of his heroine. This is a readable, informative and colourful account - Daily Express
Rees is a lucid, intelligent guide - Sunday Herald
'Sian Rees brings alive this fictional woman and makes her live and breathe in the teeming London of her birth...Rees has written history at its most accessible: learned, informative and highly entertaining - Sunday Express
Rees' skill as a masterful researcher and a story teller truly shines...Moll Flanders is merely the peg on which she hangs a thoroughly engrossing study of 17th-century life. - BBC History Magazine
The myth of Moll and the reality are poles apart, as Sian Rees shows in this vivid look at both the character and the culture that created her. - Metro
Rees is an assiduous researcher with a perceptive and unflinching eye...Defoe's novel is a compulsive page-turner, and so is this latest work. - Irish Times
Rees' book rescues Moll from her modern re-invention as a naughty Georgian pin-up and restores her to the 17th century context of Defoe's original tale. - History Today
Brisk, lucid and packed with colour...If you haven't read the original, this book will surely prove the necessary spur; to Rees's credit, it's also highly enjoyable in its own right. - The Lady
Rees has a magpie's eye for the details that make history sparkle...The result is a wonderfully entertaining, enlightening book, which in its own way is just as much fun as the original. - Mail on Sunday
Rees's book raises some interesting questions about the usefulness of novels as historical documents in their own right. - Times Literary Supplement
Sian Rees's acclaimed historical works include the best-selling The Floating Brothel; The Shadows of Eliza Lynch; The Ship Thieves and most recently Sweet Water and Bitter: the Ships that Stopped the Slave Trade. She lives in Brighton.