Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fifty shades of Grey by E.L. James

Anastasia "Ana" Steele is about to finish her finals for college and graduate with a literature degree when she finds herself travelling to Seattle to interview entrepreneur Christan Grey as a favour for her room mate Kate.  Ana finds herself instantly attracted to Christian Grey, and their interview is an odd experience as she finds herself strangely daring asking questions that are not on Kate's lists, questions that pop into her mind during the interview.  Grey leaves her slightly unbalanced and she is not sure why, and when he finds his way into her life she is even more uncertain about her feelings.  She is strongly attracted to him, but he also has a commanding air about him that can be more than a little off putting.  He controls his business affairs with an iron fist, and while he isn't cruel he is domineering and expects to be in control of his life - all aspects of his life.

When they embark on a sexual affair, Ana has no idea what she is letting herself in for - she is sexually inexperienced and has never investigated the world of BDSM that Christian craves.  At his apartment Christian introduces Ana to his world, a secret life where he is the master of his pleasure and his companions learn to please him in every way - a relationship that includes a lengthy contract and very strict rules.  It is a huge step for Ana, especially when Christian wants to shower her with gifts to keep her in a lifestyle like his - while her inner voice calls her a "ho" for exchanging sex for gifts.  It is a confusing time, and things are not straight forward for Christian either, as he experiences a great many firsts in Ana's company and for her sake.  Their relationship is not conventional to many, and as they learn more about each other, it may also drive them further apart.  Can they both make compromises to keep each other in their lives - or will the fifty shades of Grey drive them apart.

Fifty shades of Grey is a phenomenon and I thought it was time that I got around to reading it as it seems to be one of the defining books of the past year or so, the start of a trilogy that has been credited with creating a miniboom in the publishing industry - especially for erotic novels.  After reading it I can see where the "mummy porn" label comes from, in comparison to a lot of the novels out there that are described as erotic fiction it is very tame, but it also has a deeper storyline than most erotic novels as well.  Usually the story would happen in one book, the character experiences the lifestyle and either falls in love with it over time or they are already part of the lifestyle and they are looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Fifty shades of Grey has an underlying complexity that is missing in other erotic novels, although it is not always brought to the surface in the writing as artfully as it could be. 

Throughout the novel we learn that Christian has some very real hangups, like not wanting to be touched, and you learn a little about his past.  You also get a sense that Ana is a little damaged too, that her lack of confidence and self esteem comes from something in her past too - or maybe it is just from constantly comparing herself to her almost perfect room mate Kate who has money, looks, and intelligence.  At times the writing is a little clunky, feeling like it should have been edited a little more firmly, but as first novels go it is not bad.

This is not a novel for the person looking for a quick and dirty read with really graphic sex scenes, the scenes when they happen are quite tame, and not very graphic - the emphasis is on the relationship building and the human interaction than the mechanics of the sexual acts themselves (which is a little refreshing in this area of publishing).  I did enjoy reading Fifty shades more than I thought I would and will read the next one in the series just to see what happens. 

If you like this book then try:
  • Fifty shades darker by E.L. James
  • Fifty shades freed by E.L. James
  • Velvet glove by Emma Holly
  • Belong to me by Shayla Black

Reviewed by Brilla

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