america ana bestseller characters chic lit e l james erotic fiction feminism fiction fifty shades fifty shades of grey popular review secretary
Fifty Shades of Grey - Review
I feel kind of proud that I have read a popular, pre-hyped book amidst it's hype, and not a year or so after it for once. However, I'm not so sure how I feel about the fact that I had to borrow this story from my mum...(!)
Here's how it happened: stranded in tourist-America and not a bookshop for miles, I found myself on the familiar book-scavenge I find myself participating in almost annually, as I prematurely finish ALL books I had cared to take with me for my holiday stay. So my mum offered me hers. You'd think in the Age of Kindle I would be well prepared for this. However, there's a global recession don't ya know. I'll take free reading where it's available if I can :p
So, onto the "phenomenon" that is Fifty Shades...
The basic plot is this: Girl falls instantly in love with a guy she knows nothing about apart from the fact he's rich. From there she enters into a world of sexual discovery and BDSM despite the well concieved warnings of her closest friends and family.
I'd heard about this book (who hasn't?) and I was intrigued. I had curiosities as to what made such a story so popular: was it chick lit? Was it deep? Was it just gratuitous? Was it the second coming (sorry) of "O"? Did it make any feminism remarks? Generally, I'm not on the hunt for erotic fiction, but this one has taken the world by storm. WHY?
It actually came highly recommended by my Mum. She had spent the past week giggling at it. I mean, actually giggling. Was it funny? That seemed odd for the genre...
I had also noticed a lot of people reading this book out in public. In crowded areas. (We had ventured into Disney a few days.) So perhaps this book wasn't as erotic as whispers on the grapevine had made out? I had some stereotypical image in my head of people reading these stories like a guilty secret... in the comfort of their own homes... safe from people knowing! Has this book done the incredible, and removed the stigma sometimes attached to such genres?
Only one way to find out.
As I reached the final pages pages of Fifty Shades of Grey, I could honestly say that I could take or leave the next two in the series. I wouldn't go and buy them, but I'd read them if they were lent to me.
I can see why the book has become popular. It has made an "intrigueing" world accessible through naive, chick-lit-friendly characters and the comfort of a "normal life" existing around it. I mean, the BDSM lifestyle is like some dark forbidden fruit. You know it's there. You know it happens. You might even like some of it. But you'll be damned if you're gunna Google it to find out more, especially on the family computer! Fifty Shades of Grey gives people a bit of insight, I guess...
It reminds me of when Secretary came out. Remember? "Oh my God Jake Gyllenhall's sister's getting spanked. ON SCREEN". But, actually, it was a really sweet love story? That's kinda what Fifty Shades is... but with worse characters. Lets get onto that!
I really feel that the narrator of the story was at once the best and worst thing about the book. At one moment, Ana is a focussed and successful graduate with a level headed view on the world, but at the next, she's garbling on about her inner goddess and conscience having a row like she has a split personality?! I liked that she was naive to both sex and relationships, as she approached the "situation" as most readers would. Her inner thought processes were actually quite amusing (hence my mum's giggles, I hope!) and practical. However, some of her actions and decisions seemed immature and even a little crazy. I don't know if this was just the writing and choice of phrases/words, but it actually made me doubt whether it was appropriate for her to be the subject of such a relationship...
One character I did really like, though, was Kate, Ana's best friend. She was smart, honest and caring, and she was straight up. She saw and said it like it was. Of course, she was ignored!
As far as recommending this book goes, I probably would suggest it to people if they're after something light and err... thrilling?! It's definitely a member of the "Summer Read" category of book types.
My mum left her copy on the coffee table of our apartment when we left America. Maybe that tells you all you need to know?
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.