So the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon is in full swing, with author E.L James reportedly making £6.5 million already, but are the books really that mind blowing?
I have almost finished the trilogy. I purchased the first book late one night on my Kindle after deciding I wanted to know what the fascination was with these supposedly controversial, graphic, all-consuming books. Well I can tell you that yes they are controversial, they are graphic and they did consume me for days! I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey as soon as I had downloaded it and couldn’t stop reading it until my eyes were literally closing. You don’t have to wait long for explicit content and yes, it is no holds barred. At first, I felt the meticulous detail within the sex scenes was helpful in building an accurate mental picture of this Ana’s and Christian’s relationship. But as I continued to read the books, I quite frankly became bored of reading about sex. I grew tired of Ana’s and Christian’s constant desire for each other, explosive orgasms and risqué practices. I found myself skimming through these parts, wanting to move on to the actual story. I acknowledge that is essential to the book’s whole premise that these descriptions are included, but they were too drawn-out, exhausted and repetitive. Another niggle was Ana’s and Christian’s consistent uses of phrases and sentences. Examples include ‘my inner goddess’, ‘oh fuck!’, ‘my fifty’, ‘stop biting your lip’, ‘fair point well made’… The list is truly endless. I wanted to call E.L James personally and tell her to get herself a thesaurus. The books are badly written from a snobbish literary point of view. They sometimes don’t read well, paragraphs don’t make sense, and, at risk of falling victim to this myself, they are just so repetitive.
On the other side of the coin, I really enjoyed reading these books. I can see why they appeal to the mass market – they are uncomplicated, raunchy and exciting. People underestimate the power of books, but I recently read that the sale of sex toys has risen 400% since the trilogy hit the big time. That has to say something about the influence this author has had on so many women, and I do hope it is a positive one. There has been some negative criticism regarding the nature of Ana’s and Christian’s relationship. He is controlling and abusive but is portrayed as extremely alluring. I can see that Ana, the narrator in the trilogy, sees him through rose tinted glasses. This sort of relationship in the real world would be undoubtedly one sided and extremely unfulfilling, and probably damaging, to the ‘submissive’.
These are great if you want a light read that will suck you in, but not as life affirming literary classics.