Fifty Shades of Grey is, without doubt, one of the worst books I have ever read.
After throwing it in the bin, ‘my subconscious told me’ it was definitely the right thing to do…
I, like many other women wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Dubbed the hit of the year, selling millions of copies and earning groundbreaking status in that it’s a sexy read for women – a porn for girls, if you like (about time).
To start with, the title is problematic: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is meant to convey a man who is governed by many moods, one whose disposition is troubled. But to me it sounds so dull, so disinteresting and the problem is that it reflects the content of the book perfectly.
In essence I like the idea. Women need more of this kind of fiction which forefront their needs and desires and highlight the importance of sexuality after centuries of having to pretend it doesn’t exist.
But the major flaw with the book is that it’s really badly written: for the most part it`s trying to be something it is not. Let’s face it: lines like ‘my inner goddess was nowhere to be seen’ would hardly be classed as being in the literary canon. E L James is actually at her best when writing the sex scenes but you can’t have just this for the whole novel.
The other thing that was problematic was the characters: Anastasia Steele (connoting strong/ you can’t break her) sounds like something out of a play station game and I could not relate to her at all. I just found her really annoying. Christian Grey is meant to be this Byronic hero, all damaged, dark and brooding: a gothic anti hero for the twenty first century whose damaged past haunts him and the people around him that he gets close to.
It`s basically a modern day Jane Eyre with less of a plot, badly written and with S&M: The red room of pain, the governess/ Virginal quality of Anastasia, the mad wife in the attic ( Christian’s dark brooding secret). Can Anastasia show him the light?
The sex scenes were pretty strange: to give James her due this is where she writes well but some of the vocabulary seems misplaced. I think if somebody you were having sex with and who enjoyed being the dominant one would be unlikely to refer to the other as ‘baby.’ He likes S and M because it is hinted he was abused as a fifteen year old boy. He then imposes his world on butter-wouldn’t- melt Anastasia enjoys the sex but not the pain – physical and mental – Grey inflicts on her.
The end of the book is worryingly disturbing:’I launch myself stiffly in that direction, conscious that Christian may follow me… I climb awkwardly into bed, careful not to sit on my aching and tender backside. I keep the bathrobe on, wrapping it around me, and curl up…sobbing hard into my pillow….Why did I let him do that to me?’
The protagonist has now jolted from being submissive to more like a rape victim.
‘The pain is such that I refuse to acknowledge it. I feel numb. I have somehow escaped my body and am now a casual observer to this unfolding tragedy. I shower quickly and methodically, thinking only of each second in front of me. Now squeeze body wash bottle in rack. Rub cloth on face, on shoulders…. on and on, all simple, mechanical actions, requiring simple mechanical thoughts… I gaze at myself in the mirror. A pale and haunted ghost stares back at me.’
Is this what we want our daughters, friends and colleagues reading? Fifty Shades didn’t live up to the hype. It’s just a sensationalist, sex book that tries to be something it isn’t. But hey, Hollywood beckons and I will definitely be avoiding the film when it comes out.