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The Fortunate Mistress: Roxana

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,835 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
Roxana (1724), Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own 'wicked' life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. A resourceful adventuress, she is also an unforgiving analyst of her own susceptibilities, who tells us of the price sh ...more
Published 1953 by Royal Giant (first published 1724)
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May 16, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Defoe, the popular 1700s smut peddler, is back with another sexy story about sexy sluts having sex - and this one might be his dirtiest yet! Roxana offers her maid up for sexual purposes to her lover! She dresses like a harem slave and puts on sexy little dance numbers! It's not as dirty as famed 1750 porno Fanny Hill, but it's not so far off.

Defoe likes to put his characters in desperate straits. He's most famous for the one about the castaway, but his two next-most-famous books - this a
Dec 31, 2013 Amber rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1001 books people, if you enjoyed the review
Recommended to Amber by: I read a passage in 18th century lit
This book has the most modern, compelling and insightful argument about why women of 1724 were better to stay unmarried, which is an absolute must read and highlights all Roxana's strengths. I promise, the rest of the novel is NOTHING like this. If you're interested in checking it out, skip to the bottom spoiler tag.

I'm not one of those people who DNF's books. And yeah, I abandoned The Oresteia but you would too if you had to read all those footnotes after you dropped the class

If I was smart (an
Jul 25, 2008 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh! It's so deliciously old! Sentences that stretch for paragraphs; seemingly random capitalization scattered about the pages! And yet, it is so human a story you can hardly believe the creature that called themselves humans in the 1720s could have so much in common with you, your very self. Everyone is so naughty! It makes being good seem garishly modern.
Ben Doeh
Jan 19, 2016 Ben Doeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roxanne !!! put on the red light... put on the red light...

Indeed, Roxana has exceptional success in the mistress/pussypower business, becoming an independent lady in a world where men control commerce and political power. Defoe explores the role and viability of female Authority in a man's world, by narrating from Roxana's perspective.

The book has many dull passages, but the fourth star is for the novel's dark drama, and its sometimes brilliant and morally complex passages - Roxana forcing her
Oct 22, 2013 kingshearte rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2013
In the realm of odd comparisons to make between books, here’s one: This one and Interview With The Vampire. Not because there are any vampires or anything (obviously), but because of my feelings toward the respective protagonists. The main thing I remember about reading Interview is how much Louis annoyed me with his constant whining, and how much I wished he would just shut up and get over it. I’m pretty sure that that same feeling about Defoe’s nameless heroine (her name isn’t really Roxana) i ...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
When Roxana strips her maid and forces the girl into bed with Roxana's own lover, she can reflect after the fact that she did this because she was unwilling to let her maid be morally superior to her. "...As I thought myself a Whore," she explains, "I cannot say that it was something design'd in my Thoughts, that my Maid should be a Whore too, and should not reproach me for it." That's the kind of introspection that makes Roxana such an interesting narrative voice and something that distinguishe ...more
I loved psychoanalyzing Roxana and her relationships with Amy, her children, and her clients. Thanks to my brilliant Brit Lit professor, I also enjoyed discussing this book's structure (or lack thereof), the theme of redemption, and Defoe and his sadistic mind games. While I do not walk away from reading this changed or particularly impressed, I appreciate it on an intellectual level and as a work with a crazy narrator.
Richard Simpson
For its time this work was revolutionary: promiscuity, atheism, bigamy, its all in here. To think that this novel is a near contemporary of Pamela, an excruciatingly moralising tale, makes the contrast all the sharper.

The true mark of a writer, Defoe is controversial, and is not intrusive enough to clearly mark out authorial approval or the reverse in regards to Roxana's exploits. Of course, Roxana is the narrator, but her bursts of remorse sound half-hearted and her inference that she is being
Oct 09, 2013 Faustina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WHY did I like this book? I frankly have no idea! Practically nothing happens in it. The heroine is not particularly sympathetic, cool, or even sexy. In fact, for being a novel about a prostitute, there is very little sex or even sensuality in this book. I think the only reason why I survived it is because I liked the use of the language. Probably for most people Defoe's English would not be very easy to read (no quotation marks, lots of strange capitalization, and weird italics). However, I had ...more
Maan Kawas
A beautiful and interesting novel by Daniel Defoe, which addresses a number of themes and ideas, such as the nature marriage, marriage contract, motherhood, personal freedom (especially female freedom), actions and consequences, aims and ends, parental duties and responsibilities, and the power of reason in finding solutions to threats and challenges. I particularly liked proto-feminist Roxana’s discussion about gender differences in marital life in a patriarchal society/culture, and the differe ...more
Initially NO
Jul 12, 2014 Initially NO rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I think The Police wrote a song that was analogous of the main character in this book. Worth a read. Defoe oldenises language in a similar way to Peter Carey in ‘The true history of the Kelly Gang’. But Roxana is a different era, and the focus is on women.
This is the last novel written by Daniel Defoe.

It tells the story of Roxana, former know as Mlle Beleau, who have to choose between being a burglar or a rich courtesan since she has five children on her own and her loyal servant Amy.

Once she made her choice, she embarks in a life with several protectors in different countries: England, France and Holland.

I must confess this was not an easy reading since the main character is the narrator of her own story. Moreover, it is written in old English f
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 07, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roxana is what we would term today a "survivor." Yet she suffers for her constant moral lapses: she has moments of alarming clarity in which she reasons that her soul must be damned (and I think hey girl, you didn't do anything all that bad). Social mores were only more proper on paper back in 1724. In practice they just had different excuses and obfuscations from the ones we employ. Roxana did what she "had" to do. She is a prototypical feminist of sorts refusing to marry at one point because a ...more
Monty Milne
Although reading this was not a particularly enjoyable experience, since I finished the novel I keep thinking about it, and the issues it raises. The really fascinating thing is the way Roxana's voice seems to show she has some insight into how appallingly she has behaved, but that ultimately she has something missing. The way Defoe subtly indicates this self awareness, and its limitations, makes the book intriguing but also slightly horrifying.

Make no mistake, Roxana is a bitch. Yes, one can sy
Jan 11, 2015 Sonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thesis
I love, love, LOVE this book, but I find its conclusion so infuriating!
Mar 13, 2015 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for uni this semester and I'm pretty sure I've read this book many years ago, but I just don't remember too much about it. In any case, I re-read it and really enjoyed it. The main character holds such advanced views on the female gender and I liked that a lot about her, even if the main character herself is not particularly likeable at times. Still, a great read.

4.5 stars!
Linda Blinova
Нет, Дефо – это не только «детский» (ха-ха) «Робинзон Крузо». Писал он много. Оооочень много, и среди прочего оставил потомству «Роксану» - роман, прочитав который, понимаешь, почему издатели весь 18 век его дописывали и переписывали, а критики делали вид, что его вообще не существует. Ну потому что он про, эмм, проститутку. Очень дорогую проститутку, по мелочам не разменивающуюся: только принцы да купцы, поштучно. Даже король, о! Ричардсон с «Памелой» пришёл попозже и канон установил, потому чт ...more
Andrea Zuvich
I really enjoyed this book and "Roxana" is a fascinating character although she was rather vain at times!

I would, however, recommend potential readers seek the full 1745 edition – as this gives a fuller ending (a common cause for complaint, especially here on Goodreads, is the abruptness of the ending in the original and in the abridged versions).

Read my full review at:
Nov 14, 2011 Sharon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit
There is a huge difference between 17th and 18th century English literature. I had a very difficult time getting through this book. First, it was written in the style of its era, and I found the capitalized nouns and italicized proper nouns extremely distracting. Add to that the narrator's disjointed story-telling, and I almost put the book down several times. I can't say I was rewarded for persevering, but I was hugely relieved when I finished!
Jul 06, 2016 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Defoe's last novel is a remarkable curiosity. It addresses issues of female sexual freedom and financial independence head-on, and must have seemed daringly radical when it was first published in 1724. It gives full narrative control to its eponymous heroine, who chooses what parts of her own story to tell, and what to omit, and who is the sole judge of her own actions and motivations. It sets up (but does not fully follow through on) a fascinating three-way conflict between pragmatic necessity, ...more
Roxana demonstrated Defoe's great ability to write as a different gender and from a strikingly different social and political perspective than his own. Roxana does not share his (Defoe's) conservative views on marriage. Roxana is, to me, a daring novel for Defoe, mainly due to the subject and her behavior (considering the time when it was published).
Morgan (HopelessBookAddict)
After a rocky start, I finally finished this book yesssssss.

This was certainly different from some of the other classics I've read in that 1) it doesn't have any chapters whatsoever and 2) the main character was certainly . . . interesting.

It was definitely enjoyable and different, but I am so glad that's over.
Julianne Quaine
Roxana is the young and beautiful wife of a foolish man who, after losing his business and money that he inherited from his father, abandons her with five children. For a woman in this situation in the early 18th century there are not many choices, but Roxana falls into one of the least desirable, that of a mistress. While she is quite successful, in terms of gaining a succession of wealthy benefactors, her own personal wealth and securing her financial future, it is at the expense of her relati ...more
Aug 19, 2015 Martin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The 18th century "1,001 books..." march through whoredom continues with another whore whoring her way around the Whorenited Kingdom. Who finds this claptrap, pun intended, entertaining? Certainly I don't. Defoe is still a deft storytelling hand, but I'm done with the whores who are also part-time accountants tallying every penny that their whoredom earns them. The only thing that sets this one apart is that as she descends further and further into her self-made happily-ever-during-but-collapse-a ...more
Dec 15, 2011 Kin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-to-read, british
There is only one thing I want to say: FINALLY OVER!
Feb 27, 2015 Arukiyomi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Now, if you’ve read Moll Flanders, you’ll be forgiven if you think you’ve read this somewhere before. You have. Kind of.

Just as Moll gets left with no other social option than to pass her body around as many men as possible to survive, so does Roxana. But there are two differences which make this a different novel, better in some ways, but not as important to the genre.

One is that Roxana falls far farther than Moll who always had one foot in the gutter. This fact endeared me to Moll. Roxana I di
Tebo Steele
Jan 22, 2015 Tebo Steele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, Roxana may fit the bill for a seventeenth century 'whore' but otherwise her activities are not tremendously 'whore' like, apart from a possible period in France. She seems to me to be a person who is initially trying to survive difficult circumstances and choses the best routes to ensure her survival. Defoe was obviously being a little tricky with Roxana, I can't think otherwise, considering his preface. We must remember that at times Roxana is still a God fearing woman despite her 'sins' ...more
Russell Bittner
Jan 19, 2014 Russell Bittner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with Moll Flanders, Dafoe’s point of view is the first-person singular. Once again, a man (Defoe) tells the story through the eyes and heart of a woman (Susan — if the single mention of that name on p. 233 is our cue). And the name ‘Roxana’? Shouted out in praise of Susan’s appearance — then dance, in full Turkish regalia — at a party of courtly notables (on p. 200).

The name stuck — and would haunt Defoe’s heroine for the rest of her natural life.

While not so much an object of poverty and pit
Kylie W
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Daniel Defoe (1659/1661 [?] - 1731) was an English writer, journalist, and spy, who gained enduring fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest practitioners of the novel and helped popularize the genre in Britain. In some texts he is even referred to as one of the founders, if not the founder, of the English novel. A prolific and versatile writer, he wrote m ...more
More about Daniel Defoe...

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“Misfortunes seldom come alone.” 7 likes
“If you have regard to your future happiness, any view of living comfortably with a husband, any hope of preserving your fortunes or restoring them after any disaster, never, ladies, marry a fool. Any husband rather than a fool. With some other husband you may be unhappy, but with a fool you will be miserable.” 5 likes
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