Fifty Shades of Grey — E.L. James
Many women out there may have read Fifty Shades of Grey, secretly in their houses late at night when even the hubs is in bed, or perhaps they bravely brandished it for the world to see on the subway, at the pool or in the doctor’s waiting room. Even my husband was laughing about a Saturday Night Live skit dedicated to this very book. But I believe there are still those who have yet to blush behind the pages of this erotic fantasy, like me for example. I have no desire to read it, but my sister recently did and kindly offered to review it for my site. So if you haven’t read it, but think you might want to, here’s what my sister had to say. I consider my sister an expert on erotic literature, if only because she was able to wade through Ann Rice’s Sleeping Beauty years ago, (which I couldn’t even get through because I find books based purely in sex boring) not because she reads the genre all the time. And so begins a brief glimpse into the sensual world of Fifty Shades of Grey –KMR
The story begins harmless enough; the young and beautiful Anastasia Steele meets the young and beautiful Christian Grey. Sparks fly as Ana sputters over her words, awed by such a hottie, while Christian, quietly amused by her, studies her with brooding eyes. One thing leads to another and innocent Anastasia gets pulled into Christian’s dark world of sadism and masochism. She struggles internally with her newly discovered sexual desire for Christian, and has trouble coming to terms with his erotic interests. Is she willing to submit herself to Christian’s will? Of course she is, and so the story unfolds as Anastasia learns to find both pleasure and pain with Christian in and out of the bedroom. But the romantic in her yearns for a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christian, something he is hesitant to provide.
Initially, I found the dialog and descriptions boring and repetitive, and at other times simple and corny. It was a struggle to get through the first two chapters. I also felt there were perhaps a few too many parallels between Christian and Ana, and Twilight’s Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Specifically, the dialogue between the couple was reminiscent of conversations from the popular vampire love story. For example, Christian warns Ana he can’t stay away from her, but tells her she should stay away from him because he is no good. Similar to Edward, Christian is scarred, depressed, jealous and overprotective to a fault, while the heroine is reserved, naturally beautiful, and exhibits a drug-like addiction for the leading man much like Bella for Edward. This annoyed me greatly, but I kept reading. I hoped in the end my faithfulness would be redeemed. Indeed, following the building sexual tension between Ana and Christian, I was rewarded with sexually explicit, blushing scenes of spankings, pleasure whippings, and every woman’s fantasy: a man who takes care of the woman’s needs. This continued to be the main theme throughout the remainder of the novel. Ultimately, what seduced me was the building love story between the main characters. Christian’s dark past leaves him a wounded deer that Ana is dying to nurture, setting the stage for a long, dark and romantic courtship. Internally, I was jumping up and down anxiously wondering when Christian would admit his evolving romantic feelings for Ana.
In the end, I enjoyed the book regardless of its minor issues. I wanted them to fall head over heels in love and for Christian to finally let his guard down. Compared to some other similarly themed novels I have read, like the Kushiel’s Series by Jacqueline Carey, which is based in a fantasy environment involving erotic pleasure, and Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, this was somewhat tame in the sadism and masochism department. But this same tameness allows the story to be naughty while not alienating the audience, presenting a gentle introduction to alternative pleasures. I have already started the second novel and look forward to seeing their relationship evolve into a more mature and loving companionship, or so I hope. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the naughty parts are fun too. Fifty Shades of Grey can be found new at Amazon for as low as $8.17 in paperback, or $9.99 on the Kindle.
–Sheilah G. Randall