Fifty Shades of Grey: A Book Review


photo courtesy Amazon

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.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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17 Responses to Fifty Shades of Grey: A Book Review

  1. calmkate says:

    glad to actually hear what all the hoo ha has been about, I will gladly settle for your account and have absolutely no wish to read it … how come it wasn’t edited before being published as per usual? Pornography is porn which ever way you look at it and seeing the repercussions on some people’s [Indian landlords] minds I’d rather not go there 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah – you are another that didn’t know the story content. I thought I may have been the only one left in the world. Re editing – possibly because she may have originally self-published or used a very small unknown publisher just to get it out there and sometimes people who self-publish don’t have the same editing skills. Interesting she is an English woman who set her book in the USA and published initially in Australia with a publisher called The Writers Coffee Shop publishing house. The book wasn’t pornography but I don’t see how the film could avoid it if it was to remain true to the book. Indian landlords sounds like a story but as you don’t want to go there I won’t either.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Miriam says:

    Yes I’m aware of the story though I haven’t read the book. I came across the film years ago on television and watched it more out of curiosity, as there’d be been so much controversy and hoo ha about it. Yes, the film was kinky and bordered on porn but it did raise quite a few issues and questions on dominance in relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for adding that Miriam. I agree but didn’t put it as well as you that it does leave you thinking about different issues of which dominance and female roles in relationships are a couple. We need books to raise these questions. Sex has been a taboo subject for so long that people are in the dark when it comes to aspects of sex. I can remember when I was doing my nursing training and was a real innocent being asked if I was a swinger and I said yes thinking I loved to dance – I got a real shock when I with some friends turned up at the party we’d been invited to.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jenny says:

    I’m seriously impressed that you got to 2018 without knowing what this book was about. Glad you enjoyed it. I know plenty of people who’ve read it and liked it. I have not interest in it. Give me an easy-to-read brain-in-neutral murder mystery anytime.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the open-eyed critique – I’m still not standing in line to read it though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have not read this book, Irene. I thought your review was very informative and balanced.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shrabanee says:

    Finally a review worth viewing… I can read myself in those line Irene. Yes… Fifty Shades is creepy but at the same time also romantic and passionate. Every love story is unique in its own way and E L James has so well presented Christian that it’s so hard to hate him despite of all and his love for Ana is so to die for even if it’s kind of only physical. yes. It’s very readable and even the other two books are also.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment. I try and be honest about how I find books and I’d say you and I found this book similar to each other. Thanks for the thumbs up re the other two in the trilogy. I intend to read them when I come across them. The first certainly left you wanting more. A good lesson for me who has written a sequel memoir – find the cliff hanger.

      Liked by 1 person

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