I had no idea what this book was about when I saw it in the U3A library and picked it out to read. I had listened to conversations at the university that spoke of badder than bad writing and so I had no intention of ever buying it. I decided that it probably was one of those books that the sell in the supermarket that appeal to the masses but have little appeal to those that enjoy a literary art form. Seeing it on the shelves I decided that one should never judge anyone or anything based on second hand information. One should find out for themselves and then make a valued judgement based on your own findings. Hence I read E.L. James Fifty Shades of Grey.
It is a love story with both graphic and implied kinky sex. And lots of it. The two main characters Christian Grey (and hence the title which I think is quite clever), a billionaire, and Anastasia Steele, a poor student meet when Anastasia interviews Christian for a student magazine. It was love/lust at first sight and it is the story of the wooing and bedding that follows. The problem is Christian has a psychological need to be dominant and Anastasia has a wee bit of a problem being submissive. How they turned those sex scenes into a film I will never know – if they did them as in the book surely it would be porn not erotica.
This book kept me turning the pages. Although I did come across the odd sentence that did not make sense and a few grammatical errors the story got me in. The sex scenes became repetitive in description, the inner goddess (Anastasia’s inner voice) annoyed me although it was a way of displaying the double talk that goes on when we work something out. At least it does in my head – part of me will give the reasons for and another voice the reasons against. The self speak and thoughts may have been immature but the characters were young and Anastasia, at least, immature. I can remember back to my teens and having similar self-talk regarding boys I might like, so it rang true to me. The actual story kept me interested. Here was a virginal girl from a broken home and a billionaire perfect man/philanthropist (world class pianist, bilingual, good looking athletic guy and more) all at the age of 26 whose early years had been super tough. Enough to give him a side to his personality that is into whipping his women and more. E.L.James cleverly somehow makes this man likeable and I found myself rooting for him in the hope that Anastasia would choose to be with him despite the red room of pain. Perhaps that says something about me. The other technique James used to her distinct advantage is that she ended the book with a cliff hanger. If you got that far then you have no choice but to read the next book in the trilogy to find out what happens.
So would I recommend this book – yes with reservations. It needed a good edit, but it did have a story (despite the sex) that drew me in. Will I read the next in line – yes if it too is donated to the U3A library but I won’t be rushing out and buying it. Will I go to see the film – no, I’m happy with what my imagination gave me. Do I think it will stand the test of time and be a literary novel into the future – no but I do think that pop culture has voted it a good reads best romance for a reason.