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The Fortunate Mistress: Roxana

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  3,622 Ratings  ·  162 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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Jan 29, 2015 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
Sep 10, 2013 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 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.
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, fiction
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
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book SO MUCH!!!! I have to say that the end is a bit weird... I didn't expect it to end this way but I didn't hate it anyway. It is very well written, so pleasurable to read. Roxana is one of the best character I have ever known, she's SO feminist and I loved her badass side. She hates men as much as I do. Loved her.
Samantha wickedshizuku Tolleson
Okay so, I would have never read this if it hadn’t been on the 1001 Books to Read Before you Die list. I’m glad that it’s on the list!
I was amused by Lady Roxana’s antics, and feel that this was mere child’s play compared to modern morality. It gives you a perspective of how strict and stressful life of women in the 1670s and beyond were.
This would be a useful reference for anyone pursuing a History major, or Literature minor.
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
Camille ☼
Books for university are not always the best read. This book do have a fascinating, interesting and perfect woman villain though, just like in Moll Flanders. She was both incredibly frustrating and funny in how manipulative, devious, selfish and self-centered she was.
Ben Doeh
Jul 03, 2012 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
Nov 21, 2011 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!
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
I can't believe the print edition of this is only 200+ pages. I had the ebook and it felt like at least 500 pages. Of course, there were no creative writing classes in the 1720s. The first half is fine, and there's a lot of interesting stuff about the position of women in society at the time, as well as a surprising amount of travel and commerce between England, France and the Netherlands. But the second half dragged and became a chore.
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.
Nov 14, 2011 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!
Emma Wallace
Mar 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, studied
This novel has left me conflicted to say the least. Roxana is undoubtedly a mesmeric, beguiling character but I simply cannot disconnect my reception of her to proto-feminist notions of female empowerment and emancipation; although her character pontificates over the position of women with some choice feminist rhetoric, I am unable to quell my doubts about how much this notion of unreliable narration undercuts and in many ways is meant to invalidate what she says as mere signs of unwholesome van ...more
Mercedes Zavala
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I didn't expect I would enjoy this book as much as I did. Just because its an older book doesn't mean that it isn't a good one. I did wish it had ended in a different way but I am aware that there are alternate endings created by editors so that might be worth taking a look at.
Jun 28, 2016 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
I suspect this book was fairly risque for its time. Even today, it reads as fairly sexy. But the story seems very dated and quaint to a modern reader. While Roxana worries constantly about how her past will ruin her future if it becomes known, I found it hard to believe even though its probably true for its time. Also, what's up with just ditching all her children? This part of the character made no sense to me even when viewing the story through a historical lens. Did people really just have ki ...more
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
Mar 30, 2013 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
Pilar Erika
There are parts throughout the book that I really liked: how Daniel Defoe makes to be known the difficult situations women had to endure for being women in the 18th century patriarchal society. And particularly good is, in my opinion, the discourse on the multiple disadvantages marriage has for women.
But, on the whole, I think Moll Flanders is a much better narrative than Roxana.

"Hay partes a lo largo de todo el libro que realmente me gustaron: cómo Daniel Defoe muestra la difícil situación que
Aug 19, 2015 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
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
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
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:
Jan 30, 2015 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!
Morgan Blanch
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.
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).
Initially NO
Jul 05, 2014 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.
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
quite dull but i surprisingly began to enjoy it
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read August 2000
Re-Read Dec 2012
Re-Read Sept 2016
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Around the Year i...: Roxana, by Daniel Defoe 1 10 Jan 25, 2017 07:57AM  
18th Century Enth...: Recommendations 12 15 Aug 01, 2013 10:33AM  
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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.” 9 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.” 6 likes
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