Synopsis: When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
Lady Pokingham says: The great thing about Fifty Shades of Grey is that it has brought the genre back into the mainstream. Interestingly, reviewers and sellers have exclaimed that E.L. James has created a new genre ‘Mummy Porn’ because it is read by mothers; this gives it the appearance of being new and exciting, when actually there are plenty of such books out there, it is just that they have been relegated to dark corners of bookshops and stuck with a label of shame. It cannot be denied that Fifty Shades has taken the world by storm with everyone talking about it, and for that E.L. James must be proud. Women are talking about this trilogy with excitement and unabashed pride to be reading a naughty yet accepted book. My problem is not with the content as such, it is the lack of originality. One book that I have to draw comparisons to is Bridget Jones’ Diary, and I did not enjoy that either. I found Bridget annoying , weak and unrealistic, and I am having a similar problem with Anastasia Steele. Her decision to submit does not faze me and for her character I can understand it (although in truth she is quite strong willed), what I find difficult to reconcile is her selfishness, uncompromising nature and stereotypical portrayal.
The characters are one dimensional and frankly stereotypical to the point of aggravatingly annoying. It is the same premise of every high school fantasy rich, popular man woos innocent dowdy girl, then his ‘dark side’ and her self-doubt cause a lot of unnecessary drama.
Ana as a character is weak, limp, whiny, self-depreciating and annoying. She wants to unleash her inner goddess and at times does, but then her self-doubt and insecurities raise their head and she is off on her inner turmoil once again. Instead of her being a 21year old woman, who although a virgin would still be slightly more in tune with the world (she must know there are other names apart from ‘down there’), she is more like a hormonal twelve year old girl who has her first crush.
Christian on the other hand is the typical ‘hero’ immensely rich, beautiful, charismatic, talented, a complete Adonis who in his spare time wants to dispel hunger. With any too perfect leading man there has to be some past damage that has made him still single and for Christian Grey it is his taste for all things BDSM. Supposedly this is explained by his traumatic start in life even though he admits that he cannot remember much only what his adopted father has told him.
Interestingly I find Christian a far more interesting character. Don’t mistake me, he is stereotypical and more often than not I cringe at the descriptions, however I side with him rather than Ana. Out of the two, Christian who is sadistic and a complete stalker who tries to buy Ana’s affection and sexual submission, is the one more willing to compromise for the sake of the relationship. Ana is self-centered, conceited and uncompromising, whereas Christian who is meant to be fifty shades of fucked up is the complete opposite. Christian continually tries to give Ana more, which is never enough for her and she does not recognize this. He compromises on his whole lifestyle only asking her to be submissive only in the playroom, making ‘love’ to her, letting her share his bed and his life, telling her things he has never told anyone, all whilst respecting her hard limits and never pushing her. Ana on the other hand cannot see what he is doing for her, instead she continually pushes him to break his hard limit of touching just for her, when lets be fair they have only been together all of a month if that. She is always saying I want more, but never specifies what this is? She claims to be willing to try his lifestyle and proclaims that she enjoys it but yet is rigid in her thinking and plays the innocent part when she is also more than happy to play the submissive sexual diva when it suits her. I really don’t understand her as a character. Does James want me to even like her?
I did however enjoy the playful relationship moments between Christian and Ana; they are fun, carefree and natural. They contain moments of childlike joy, seriousness and a playful aspect that bring a new dynamic to the relationship and silecnces Ana’s teenage inner voice. This is how relationships are and this is a realism that I enjoy and kept me reading. Another good point is that the language is simple and accessible. Unfortunately that is about all I can say on the positives, I found the writing to be poor and repetitive, the language is simple and accessible, but you certainly will not find any imaginative descriptions. Instead, Fifty Shades of Grey resembles a love struck teenager’s diary laced with some sex. Personally I found the sex scenes un-erotic with Grey only having to enter her and Ana is having another shattering orgasm. At no point do we find out what special thing he does to make her orgasms so body and earth shattering, we are presented with some soft BDSM but that is all. Instead we get her annoying inner Goddess in abundance, at one point she is a cheerleader (surprise surprise) and next she is sat in the lotus position with a wicked grin on her face. As I have been told her inner Goddess appears 65 times in this novel and to be perfectly frank, once was one too many.
If you have previously read any erotica other than the light Mills and Boon then you will be greatly disappointed. However, if you loved Bridget Jones and enjoy Mills and Boon light reading and the usual dilemma of beautiful man falls for secretly hot woman pretending to be normal plain Jane, and the dilemmas that follow then this is the book for you. I think this book will naturally split its readers into those who loved it and those who hated it; I unfortunately side with the latter. If you are new to the world of erotic then I would imagine you could see a lot more positives, whereas I having read widely in this genre find the lack of originality and stereotypical characters infuriating.