Sunday, 12 August 2012

50 Shades of Grey - Review

What is this book that everyone is talking about? Converastions at work made me curious and on Facebook it was cropping up in status updates with references to Mr. Grey.  So in July 2012, I downloaded it on to my kindle.

I found the first book intriguing, good writing and soft porn don't usually go together. Quite a number of times I came across long words that I had never heard of, and the characters were well described and it captured my imagination. About three quarters of the way through, I began to find the sex a little tedious, but I plodded on.

I was in Asda and a tall, well dressed middle aged lady dropped it casually onto the conveyer belt. I almost felt myself blush thinking how she was going to read the sexually explicit things that I had read. Then I chuckled to myself.

Did it make me want to have kinky sex? Not at all. Did I find it titterlating, yes, to some extent. That sado stuff I have always found a little revolting, never understanding what it was that made people want to participate. So I tried to be more open minded and it was difficult not to like Christian.

Someone on Facebook said they thought the writing was dreadful, I disagree. I thought E L James  had good descriptive passages especially when Ana was describing how she felt, but at the same time I thought it rather self indulgent.

The ending of the second book was bizare, for a book that had been written in the first person, to suddenly go to the 'third person' was odd. But well, maybe, I told myself, this is how the third book would be. It wasn't.

The change in Christian was a pleasure to read and when he fell on his knees and became the submissive I was blown away. I did enjoy their love story and how she showed him there was another life.

By the time I reached the third book, I realised that you do need conflict in a story. Nothing happened for several chapters before I realised that was the story. The author was making a point of the characters enjoying themselves. Again a bit self indulgent really. Part of me was enjoying their lifestyle and I could see myself on a boat in the ocean thinking I was having the best of times, but unless you are the one experiencing it, its easy to get bored.

The only real conflict which I thought lifted the book was finally coming to its climax, no pun intended, was when Ana's ex boss, Jack, blackmailed her and kidnapped her. At last some excitment as the book was coming to a close. She survived and it fizzled out, then her dad had a heart attack and that all turned out all right too. While it is okay for real life, in books, you do need something else and I was already finding myself longing to read a proper book with a proper plot and conflict.

I loved the character of Taylor and particular liked that he and Mrs Jones finally got together. I'd have liked to have known more about him and was intrigued about the loyal Mrs Jones, too. She was obviously very fond of Christian and enjoyed her job, turning a blind eye. What did she think of the submissives? How did she like Ana, and what were her feeling in clearing up the playroom and its contents?

When I thought the book had finished, it hadn't, as they all went to the Aspen house, Elliot proposed to Kate and they all had a lovely time, no conflict, no intrigue and everything was so sweet.

Then it finished. Only it hadn't, again. There was another chapter. I had had enough by then, I wanted to read a real book, with heart ache, tragedy and page turners!

Then sometime later when I opened my kindle to continue with a Karin Slaughter book, there was this 50 shades of Grey chapter, so I read it.

The point of view had changed and it was now Christian doing the talking and it had gone back to the day he first met Ana. Sure it was interesting to see it all from his point of view, but it was very indulgent of the author.

As a writer, we often write the back stories for our characters. This helps us form them and for us to know who they are. These are never published and they are just purely aids to make the characters as real as possible and this was exactly what the last chapter was. (Or so I thought then).

E L James, did the rounds of American TV interviews and she came across as rather embarrassed by her story - I don't blame her as I'm not sure I could write something like that and talk about it. One of the interviewers asked the obvious question, "Was it based on your love life?"  "No, of course not," she replied, rather coyly. "Then how do you know so much about it?" ''The internet," she said, "You can find anything on there nowadays." 

50 Shades of Grey has out-sold Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and J K Rowlings Harry Potter books, in the first four months of it being published. It was released as an ebook in June and sold 5.3 million copies so far, according to publishers Random House.

Chart's editor Phillip Stone said, "I'm surprised E L James has broken this record. It took Dan Brown the best part of a year to sell 5.2, and I didn't think it could be broken in my life time. 50 Shades has sold more in just 4 months and the success was in part down to the internet hype surrounding it."

It's been like one big book club and I've certainly enjoyed reading it at the same time as so many other people.

As a footnote to this blog, iIn 2015 E L James released Gray - 50 Shades as told by Christian. Although I haven't read it yet, this is obviously that last chapter that just appeared on my kindle. I admire her, she is certainly getting herself known and that book, I'm sure will do exceptionally well, too.


During 2015 the film came out and starred Jamie Doran as Mr Grey and Dakota Johnson, Melanie Griffiths and Don Johnson's daughter. It had mixed reviews, but it was a box office smash. Although Jamie Doran is a good actor and did a good job, he wasn't my idea of Mr Gray. I would have preferred someone a little beefier. On the other hand, Dakota Johnson was perfect for Ana and just as I imagined. 

Obviously it couldn't be as explicit as the book, but it was good. I really enjoyed it. Does it make me want to try S & M? Does it heckers like! I looked at it as a love story with a bit of extra spice. I like a good crime film, I enjoy the story, it doesn't mean I want go and commit a crime. So this was no different. Also, as a last note, the soundtrack for the film was just brilliant. I've got my copy and every time I hear Ellie Golding singing Love me like you do, takes me straight into the love story of the year!

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