Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey – a book review

E. L. James

Who am I to pass up the opportunity to join the many when it comes to voicing an opinion about E. L. James’ first of three novels in the “Shades of Grey” trilogy?  I, probably like many of you, heard “mommy porn”, “smut book”, “steamy sex scenes”, or “not sure how or why this book wasn’t rated XXX”.  So, my curiosity was piqued.

Many of my neighbors and ladies of all ages in the airports and salons were reading this book.  Why shouldn’t I?  I’m a grown up with the ability to handle some steamy scenes in a book.  After all, I did watch “9 ½ Weeks”.  That’s exactly what this first book reminded me of all the way through.  Not that that was a bad thing.  In fact, I rather enjoyed 9 ½ Weeks.  Another Mickey Rourke movie I enjoyed was “Wild Orchid”.  Both had steamy sex scenes and were on the rather dark side.  Both movies explored alternative lifestyles.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” most likely will not win any Pulitzer Prize or Literary Awards but was entertaining.  In fact, it was hard not to like each of the characters.  There where, however, times that the heroin of the story, Anastasia – a.k.a. Ana, did get on my nerves.  I had to cut her some slack, though, because she was so innocent and truly did want a relationship.  Don’t worry; if you haven’t read the book, I’m not going to give the story away.  What I will tell you is this.  The book could make one believe that anyone involved in the BDSM world is a freak, pedophile, messed up as a child, or just a plain old misfit and that may have some truth for a small portion, I believe it is a world not unlike any others.  There are the majority who are quite normal and then the few that are zealots or misfits in society.  This is where I had a problem with the story.  It would be like saying that all alcoholics are homeless and thieves.  Which we all know is not the truth.

I do respect the way James’ shows Ana’s struggle within and having to come to terms with what she enjoys and what she knows society would think is wrong.

There must be something deep within us to want to read this book.  Especially knowing that it is dark, brooding, and deeply disturbing.  Do we have fantasies of being controlled, over taken, abused, or aroused in such ways that are against the norm?  In fact, many of the romance novels I’ve read have a similar theme as this story. 

Romance Novels typically contain:

  • A wealthy man
  • An innocent woman
  • Innocent woman doesn’t like the wealthy man
  • Wealthy man isn’t interested in marriage or a relationship
  • Wealthy man rescues innocent woman from a “bad” man or situation
  • Wealthy man is typified as overbearing
  • Wealthy man “de-flowers” innocent woman prior to marriage
  • Innocent woman falls madly in love with wealthy man
  • Innocent woman feels that wealthy man does not or could not love her in return
  • Innocent woman leaves
Sound familiar to many historical or present-day romance novels?  Well, this one isn’t much different except it delves much deeper. 

I wasn’t going to read this book.  I thought so many people were disingenuous reading it (or romance novels in general) only because it wasn’t rated XXX and yet are so against adult movies or the adult industry in general.  Would they have been so keen to read the novel if it were sold as an “adult” book rather than classified as “mature audience”?  To some degree I still feel this way except by my reading it I learned more about people.  Not the people in the book but the readers.  There is a need for us to escape and live another life for a time.  It may not be a life we would choose for ourselves but it is a way to step into someone else’s shoes.

Somehow this trilogy is supposed to be an offshoot or something of the “Twilight” series.  I don’t see it.  There are no vampires, wolves, or forests; at least not physically.  Instead, this first story reminded me a little of “The Millennium Series” except in reverse of characters.

I hope you read this book if you get the chance.  I’m glad I did and will read the next two in the trilogy.

P.S.,  What did you think of this book?  Did you read it?  Will you read it?

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Substance of Living