edited by david blewett
the penguin english library
the cover shows a detail from a portrait of louise de keroualle, duchess of portsmouth, by sir godfrey kneller. courtesy of viscount coke
This reviewer has read 18th-century fiction before, so knew to expect from the style of writing, and other conventions of the era. The story did not inspire the revulsion which the main character came to feel for herself; the woman did what she needed to do to survive in a predatory male world, and the men who enjoyed her favors were not victims of a wily seductress. Her lack of concern for her children might seem questionable, but she pays a high price, when one persistent child determines to establish contact with her.
The reviewer did not draw whatever moral Defoe might have intended from this story. It is a period piece, and it seems tame in an era in which sex scandals provide entertainment every day. Worth reading as a curiosity, but beware the lack of chapter divisions.