I wish I could give this book no stars because it was so tortuous.
The story is horrible, the characterization flat, and it drags on forever.
Sweet, virtuous Pamela is just trying to protect her lady jewel and keep her impoverished parents proud. Upon the death of her lady, who she was a waiting maid to, her role in the household is unclear, and she is to be sent either to another noble house or back to her family.
Pamela decides on her family as she is just the sweetest, most innocent thing to ever walk this planet. All of her letters are piously directed to her mother and father, so you can already tell that she isn't a relative of Moll Flanders.
Does Pamela get to go home to dear mother and father? The master of the house, the son of her late lady, emphatically states he is in love with her, and acts all the libertine in fashion: kissing her against her will, chasing after her, lying in her bed disguised in maid clothes, refusing to let her leave the premises, which makes Pamela collapse into a near-death faint every time.
Eventually she does get in the carriage, but the carriage is taken to another location where Pamela is held as prisoner. Against her will for quite a long time. The evil Mrs. Jewkes makes her life horrible and Pamela continues her writing to her parents, hoping to see them again.
Poor Pamela, so sweet, so virtuous, tries to figure a way out, but is unsuccessful.
Once Pamela is able to leave the imprisonment, her master sends her a nice letter, and all of a sudden she has an epiphany that she loves him! No mention or hint of love or interest by Pamela at all during the book. Only sheer terror and maddening depression that builds like a pressure cooker during her imprisonment, and which she must have PTSD because her mind is so shallow and weak to begin with.
And now she loves Mr. B because Richardson is trying to show if you eschew your libertine way and live the virtuous way, you will be rewarded with virtue. So Mr. B gets Pamela. In just a few pages, they are love drooling all over each other.
The parents are happy, all the new fancy friends of Mr. B who meet Pamela fawn over her and love her, and even the mean-spirited sister of Mr. B eventually favors Pamela. The second half of the book is a snooze fest about how much everyone loves Pamela. She's so virtuous and pretty! Blah blah blah.
The story continues to drag on and on and on and on. Richardson attempts to give a backstory to Mr. B at the very end of the book, about the last 30 pages, a half-hearted attempt to give some explanation to him, but it is a little too late, and completely insufficient because Mr. B. is portrayed as a lascivious madman in the first half of the book.
This book is bipolar.
This is a tale of a boring, make me want to hit my head against the wall, main character, that has little enjoyment today.
If my reward for being virtuous was someone like Pamela, I would much rather be anti-virtuous and hang out with all the other sauce-boxes and hussys (terms that Pamela frequently is called and then internalizes as descriptions of herself).