Okay, let’s do this (Fifty Shades of Grey)
BLOG NOTE: I’ll talk about my recommendations regarding the trilogy here in very vague terms. After the Book link, I’ll be more specific. So if you do not want anything spoiled (which I recommend) don’t read past the “Amazon click.
I first heard about the E.LJames trilogy in the good old NYTimes. It was a silly little trend piece about how upper-East side ladies were furtively passing the books around. (Of course this can’t be true as they are only e-books until April.) But of course, “secretive”, “erotic”, “trending”…these are all buzzwords for me (dating back to hiding my Sweet Valley High books in Junior High) and so I purchased the first book on my Kindle. I will start by saying that I don’t think I’ve ever read anything so addictive. I ended up reading all three books within a few days. Secondly, there is a lot of sex, yes. Yes, there is. But I didn’t think it was particularly erotic or titillating, more like a Joy of Sex manual, where every encounter ends with the most amazing orgasm ever. Third, I really liked them, I really liked the ideas and themes, I liked the protagonists and their conflict. I found the story in full to be really redemptive. What goes on in people’s bedrooms is endlessly fascinating and, of course, none of our business (which is what makes it so delicious.) The issues people face about what feels healthy and safe and loving are often disturbing, which is why so many people are bothered by Fifty Shades. I got completely swept away by the story and the sex really felt incidental by about half way through the first book. But if you’re put off by graphic descriptions, then by all means, this is not the book for you.
The basic plot: Ana is a young woman days from college graduation who meets a guy in his late 20′s, Christian. Christian is rich, hot and into her. But as they start up a relationship it becomes clear that he intends for this relationship to be strictly sexual and strictly adherent to the rules of a submissive/dominant.
What makes it interesting is the why. Why would Ana contemplate this arrangement and why does Christian need it?
The fact that they fall in love and look for and find ways to heal childhood wounds, the idea that you can get better, that love can truly transform a person, the ways we all act in patterns that are destructive to ourselves and our loved ones…all of this made the story an addictive roller coaster I couldn’t put down.
It won’t win the Pulitzer: The writing isn’t always great, there’s a lot of repetition in the dialogue, and the sex scenes start to seem silly after awhile. Also, it can sometimes wrap things up too easily and neatly. The other thing that bothered me was how Christian’s extreme wealth made the story a fairy tale, sort of Pretty Woman meets Howard Hughes. A young girl who doesn’t know how pretty she is meets the most handsome richest man in the world and he loves her (but he’s super-messed up!) It’s certainly not a realistic story, but it makes for a fun read.