Fifty Shades: Beyond the Hype

11 Aug

So, I’ll kick off this blog with a post about the book that made me decide to start blogging. Yep – it’s the book that everybody’s talking about: Fifty Shades of Grey. The blurb claims that the novel is “romantic, liberating and totally addictive” – and judging by the fact that it is now the fastest selling adult novel in the world, the ‘addictiveclaim seems to have some weight behind it.

For anyone who hasn’t read the book, the novel details the ‘love’ affair – if you can label it that – between Anastasia Steele, a literature student and Christian Grey, a charming and successful entrepreneur.

Anastasia Steele initially bears an almost uncanny resemblance to a modern day Catherine Morland, the protagonist of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey; reading far too many romantic novels and fantasising about her prince charming who she hopes will one day sweep her off her feet.  Almost unbelievably innocent, the twenty-two year old Ana has barely even passionately kissed a man – that is until Christian Grey comes into her life.

The intriguing Grey attracts her like no one has before, showering her with gifts (including a car, and first edition copies of her favourite novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles) and many a gift in the bedroom – or should I say ‘playroom’. Within just a few weeks, perhaps even days, he has introduced Ana to almost every sexual indulgence imaginable.  He welcomes her into his sex den; issues her with a sexual contract and openly asks her to become his sex slave.

photo from here

I won’t be a spoiler and divulge any more but I will say this: In my opinion (and excuse the pun), the novel was something of an anti-climax.

After hearing rave reviews from friends about this ground-breaking novel which is apparently bringing excitement and passion into the lives of many a British reader, I was somewhat disappointed.  Yes, the ‘mummy porn’ (as it has been labelled) was very readable – but aside from the adventurous sex scenes, I felt the storyline itself was nothing more than ‘vanilla’.

Perhaps the main point of suspense and intrigue in the book is Christian Grey’s past. At times, I genuinely wanted to discover what had made him so twisted and what caused those chicken-pox like scars on his body. Yet, disappointingly, this is never truly revealed in Fifty Shades of Grey – aside from a brief mention of his drug addict mother, which left me feeling rather unsatisfied.

I don’t want to be overly negative – it did keep me turning the page, and it has obviously captured the imagination of the UK and beyond.  But, I feel that more than anything, the reason people are reading this book is to see what all the fuss is about.  And as for it being “liberating”, I’m not so sure.

When it comes to the actually storyline and the emotional relationship between the pair, for me, it’s just not convincing or even that gripping. If it wasn’t for the sex scenes holding it all together, I think you’d be left with a rather run of the mill, and at times – vacant – ‘love’ story. Did I want to find out about Christian Grey’s past whilst reading Fifty Shades of Grey? Yes. But do I believe in the storyline enough to read the next two books? I’m afraid not.

About the writer: Ellie is a history graduate and PR Consultant. She loves reading, dipping into 1984, Harry Potter and The Bell Jar. When she hasn’t got her nose in a book she enjoys creative writing, museums and galleries across the UK. When she has the time, she also likes nothing more than catching up with a few friends over dinner and a cocktail or two!

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