Newest Review: ... sex or no sec, but its execution is poor. Maybe it has since been corrected, but my first edition copy had several spelling and grammar ... more
***** Grey By Name And Grey By Nature *****
Fifty Shades of Grey - E L James
Member Name: malibu_jenny
Fifty Shades of Grey - E L James
Advantages: Sexy and smutty.
Disadvantages: Boring heroine and a boring plot.
Anastasia Steele is a dull girl, living in the shadow of her best friend Kate. The story opens with her living in an apartment paid for by Kate's dad and studying rather than partying. She has never been drunk. Even more strangely, she claims (in 2011 no less) never to have had her own email address. For someone living away from their family and in their final year at University, she has a remarkable (read unbelievable) lack of experience, life or otherwise.
Amazingly, hot boys are tripping over themselves to be with boring Ana. Perhaps they have mistaken her lack of personality for mystery, her repulsion of their advances for a playing-hard- to-get aloofness. If so, they're misled, for neither of these is the case and the most interesting thing about her is her name, which she of course prefers to shorten to its most concise and boring form. I suppose she'll make a nice little wifey though, as she's always cooking and skivvying for Kate.
I had misgivings when I saw this book; anything where the characters immediately have 'power' surnames like Steele always rings alarm bells, probably thanks to a deeply ingrained fear that it will become an adult version of Sweet Valley High or a biography of Robocop. Dickensian surnames, a Scroggins or a Blatherwick just don't trigger this fear to the same extent. And when the surnames are in the blurb of anything not written by Austen or Bronte, I hear the hysterical screaming of Chick-lit.
So why did I get it? Number one on the Amazon Bestseller list and less than £3 at the time of writing, I managed to get it free when I bought two books which are slightly more to my usual tastes. I was bored to tears with Twilight and gave up on the film before halfway, so the comparisons drawn between the two might perhaps be lost on me and didn't lend themselves to my selection. I'm not a reader of 'romantic' fiction, but all the editorials and the constant online references to this had piqued my interest. To be straight, I'm nosy and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
So, Ana is sent by dynamic student newspaper editor Kate to interview Christian Grey, a young, hot, billionaire. A self made man with lots of interests - flying helicopters, kinky sex - and as far as anyone sensible can see, nothing in common with her. Of course, he fancies her because everyone does. Who wouldn't? He stalks her. He feeds her. He tried to entice her into a pretty weird relationship. Will she sign up to it?
Despite my opening paragraphs, I liked this book. It was nothing like I expected; an easy read in remarkably good taste considering the subject matter. It was like a dirty and slightly uneventful Danielle Steele. (My Great Aunt had a stack of these when I was a teenager) As it's part of a trilogy, you're expecting a degree of incompleteness, an unsolved mystery. And this delivers exactly that. Granted, the mystery lacks compulsion; I don't care enough about Christian's dark past to dig out the books that follow, so I probably won't. But it terms of an interesting little romp, this is fantastic.
Ana (who has to wear Kate's dresses, because she has no clothes or style of her own) is quickly and quietly sucked into Christian's world. After all, she doesn't have to do anything. He does all the chasing. He does all the choosing. Her half of the deal is simply to take what he dishes out - in every way. I read this on the plane, sat amongst countless other women with copies on their lap, or poking out of their handbags. I wonder if the popularity is in part due to a subconscious desire to have a man who provides, who knows exactly what he wants? To be absolved of any decision and to have no-one expecting action from you, even in the bedroom? Perhaps this book has earnt its status and reputation by providing a window into this dream.
But the reality is that no-one could be this malleable. Ana is breathtakingly bland, a blank canvas with no preconceptions, I had cause to wonder what the appeal of submission was to a woman with no power in any area of her life? Surely it was de rigeur for her to give in, rather than a means of escape from the everyday. For the rest of us, with our choices and pressures, it can be an interesting fantasy to relinquish control.
Overall, I'm ambivalent about the book - I won't rush out and buy it for my friends, but I'll happily pass my copy along. I didn't think it was that badly written, though it's a little childish and repetitive in places and I hate the heroine.
Summary: Is this really supposed to be what women want?