This is not a book review. Neither is it a movie review. However, I would like to talk about my recent encounter with the hit novel (and more recently, the hit movie), Fifty Shades of Grey, by EL James.

I’m not being rude when I call it ‘Fifty Shades of Excuse My French‘, I am merely quoting the author herself. In the book, EL James describes her character, Christian Grey, as ‘fifty shades of f####d up’. And I have to agree.

When I first heard twitterings of this new book, which was taking the world by storm one housewife at a time, I wasn’t in the slightest bit interested. Oh dear, I thought. Some trashy mommy-porn for the sad and deprived. I’m a bit of a self-confessed prude, not into that kind of thing. However, through a series of unfortunate eventual reviews, I decided that I needed to see what all the fuss was about myself.

I made the decision to read the book based on 2 things.

1) I AM said self-confessed prude and need to loosen up the corset strings a little (as Husband so eloquently puts it) and

2) I am embarking on a novel (excuse the book-nerd pun) literary career path and feel that I need to know my business. If there was one thing I learnt from my time in the actual business world, it was know your product. Know your competitors; Know your allies; Know your clients; Know your target market; Know your broader market; Know your playing field; Know your team players; Heck, know the grandmother of the guy who once sold things totally different to your product! Basically, the more you know about your piece of the pie-chart, the better you will do in the bakery as a whole.

And so, as I have chosen to tuck into the pie that is modern fiction, it’s my job to read as much of it as possible.

(And then of course there is that ‘do one thing you wouldn’t normally do every day’ thing I aspire to)

So I read it. Boy was that a tough week! I found the writing style annoying at best, tedious, and downright repetitive. I don’t like criticizing another author as I know how much hard work goes into these things, but lets just say it was not for me. The sex scenes were graphic, but not all that sexy. Gaurdian Books put it best when they said:

Alas Fifty Shades of Grey is as erotic as wet wool; As Polyfilla……..The writing is so intrusively awful that the mind rebels against it.

I personally found the books’ love-making descriptions to be unrealistic, and think women would find a more true-to-life account of the act of coitus in a smut magazine aimed at science-fiction Trekkie nerds. In fact, good old misogynistic porn would capture the moment better, what with all the instant-coffee cries of rapture emitted from these pages. As Anastasia Steele goes from virgin to professional sexoholic in less than 1000 words, I would have to say, no, not likely.

Christian Grey’s expectation of Ana Steele’s submission, in and out of the bedroom, is creepy. Take it from someone who has actually broken up with a boy when he said to me, and I quote, “Woman, Don’t defy me!” In real life, would this girl really stick around? Surely not. I certainly wouldn’t! I would send him packing, as Miss Steele so often debates with herself, yet stupidly stays for more.

Then there is the question of sexual and/or blatant assault, otherwise masked as a BDSM lifestyle. Mr. Grey manages to bestow on his new ‘victim’ two sound thrashings in the first book, which left me staring at the scenes in horror. Really? Are we condoning this behavior? Is it OK that thousands of women have fallen in love with a character, fictional or not, who beats his girlfriend and expects that to be normal? That it’s a turn-on? I admit I haven’t read book 2 or 3 (and don’t intend to) so things could very well be turned around, but the only way I think this should end is with him behind bars and under severe mental therapy.  There is a BIG difference between a little light banter with some pink fluffy cuffs, and a heavy-handed assault.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe Joseph Fritzl was just mis-understood. Maybe sadomasochism is a very real and ‘healthy’ form of relationship for many, many people. Then again, people eat blood sausage. People are morons.


(Is this the true face of Christian Grey?)

Having said that, I do actually see why this book became such an overnight success and continues to be so popular. EL James is no fool. She has the winning formula tucked right in there under the bridle straps and ‘vanilla sex’ silken scarves.

It’s as simple as this:

Step 1: Boy (Christian Grey) meets girl (Anastasia Steele). Their surnames match. There is chemistry. There is sex. Lots of it. All the time. Like three times in a row, then again first thing in the morning, then again right after that. And then again. And then…you get the picture.

Step 2: Boy unwittingly reveals deep hidden wounds and childhood scars. Girl falls in hopeless sympathetic empathy for damaged boy and is tormented by thoughts of his past. Girl accepts abuse at hand of boy, because, well I can only imagine she blames it on boys own experience of child-abuse. In related news, boy is billionaire who flies helicopters and is a Calvin Klein underwear model look-alike. Girl isn’t in it for the money. Girl is in love. Girl gets brand new Apple laptop, phone, car and first class air tickets bought for her while considering a dominant-subdominant relationship with damaged billionaire boy. (rolling my eyes HEAVILY here)

Step 3: Boy suddenly finds that his protective walls (which were so determinedly built round himself since his unspoken abuse up to age 4) are all too subtly being scaled by girl. Or boy doesn’t realize it at all, but its happening. Girl is getting through – the first and only to ever have done so to boy, it would seem.

And then it all ends in book one with a big bang, or should I say, beating, and Ana Steele has a wave of sanity and escapes with nothing more than a sore bottom and a broken heart.

BRILLIANT! Because now, all these housewives and pent-up women around the world are DYING for Ana to go back and fix poor old Christian with her ‘love’. Because who can resist a love story so deep and tragic? A little sexual healing? They will have their fill, oh yes they will. So says EL James. The women of the world will have their fill of Christian Grey being saved by Ana Steele. And more sex, I guess.


And now of course, even I want to know what happens! Damn Twilight-saturated media brainwashing. Damn sympathetic empathy. Damn soft, malleable lady-ness!

pink_shoeThings I Hated the Most:

– The phrase “Oh my…”

– The over explicit, over told, overtly unrealistic sex scenes

– The boring as hell look-at-me-look-at-me-I’m-so-hot-and-so-rich-and-can-fly-helicopters-and-stuff theme of it all.

But not to be one to only complain, and who tends to try find the silver lining in all things in life, I do have a list of

pink_shoeThings I Liked:


– The correspondence between Ana and Christian, which was actually quite playful and entertaining

– The contract between Dominant and Subdominant, and the subsequent changes thereto throughout the book. Just cus it was so very formally ‘WTF?!?’ Very interesting.

So there you have it. My take on the Fifty Shades. If anyone is willing to read books 2 and 3 and will sit with me over coffee just to discuss, i will be ever so grateful to not have to wade through any more oh-my’s and endless sex scenes, but still find out how it all turns out. Or I’ll just go watch the movie. I might need one of those leather blind-fold thingies just to cope…

Here’s to not holding my breath,


Originally posted on my old blog site in 2012

*This is not a book review. This is just my personal opinion about a book I had the misfortune to read. My opinion is just one, please don’t feel offended if you don’t agree and I promise I wont be offended if you loved the book. But I’ll probably be silently judging you a little…

IMAGES: 1. Via USWeekly / 2.Via /