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Book Review: Fifty Shades Of Grey by E.L. James

Book Review: Fifty Shades Of Grey By E.L. JamesTitle:
Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
Author: E.L. James
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publication Date: May 26th 2011
Goodreads Summary: When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind – until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her – but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Book Review

Calm your heckling. I know what you’re all thinking, and yes, I am ashamed – I succumbed to Fifty Shades of Grey. I am a firm believer that one should dismiss a book because it is deemed to be ‘low’, I mean, this is the series that has outsold Harry Potter on Amazon, there must be something compelling about it. Surely one should judge a book by whether or not it has fulfilled its purpose, and arguably, Fifty Shades of Grey has fulfilled its purpose by making its way into the handbags of just about every middle aged woman.

I recently attended a debate entitled: ‘This House would choose Fifty Shades over Shakespeare’ which was fascinating because it reaffirmed my beliefs that one shouldn’t dismiss books such as this and also brought up so interesting ideas about what you can learn from books such as this. One side argued that by including sentences such as: ‘I must be the colour of the communist manifesto’, E.L.James has just encouraged millions of curious women to research what exactly the communist manifesto is, which is intriguing.

So just in case you don’t already know, Fifty Shades of Grey is about a college student Anastasia Steel who gets reeled into interviewing the incredibly hot young entrepreneur, Christian Grey. There is an immediate attraction between the two of them and Christian asks Anna out for coffee. Later that week, Anna gets extremely drunk and ends up drunk dialling Christian who comes to pick her up immediately. The next morning in the hotel room, Christian tells Anna that he would like to have sex with her and their very strange relationship kicks off.

For some reason, I’ve always imagined Fifty Shades of Grey to be a young adult book, but I can assure you – it is not. In fact, at one point whilst reading this I had to get out of my bed and go and sit in the bathroom to read this because I felt so uncomfortable sitting next to my mother reading that sort of fiction. I wasn’t that disturbed by the content of this book, I just found some of the things that Christian and Anna did thoroughly bizarre and weird. For starters, E.L.James dedicates a whole ten pages outlining Christian’s contract (yep, there’s a contract) with Anna including numerous terms that I had never heard of before, and trust me, I’ve heard of most things.

I’m glad that I’ve taken some time before writing this review because I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the book. After I had just finished reading it I thought it was a rather good book despite the slightly disturbing content. However, after further reflection I can now remember the awful ‘seductive’ imagery and writing. The writing is really quite bad, but then people don’t read Fifty Shades of Grey for the poetic prose or anything like that.

The plot is a bit cyclical and repetitive and I can already see how this series is going to end as well as what’s going to happen along the way. Nevertheless, Anastasia does say a lot of things that the average girl/woman will be able to relate to and I liked that about her. I definitely fell in love with the character of Christian Grey, against my better judgement. I liked the characters in this book a lot more than I’ve liked the characters in many ‘classic’ novels and I think it’s because they’re quite easy to relate to, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Having read the Twilight Saga numerous times myself, I can tell you that it is so obvious that is Twilight fan fiction. I distinctly remember something about Christian Grey’s eyes turning black near the beginning of the book which obviously just isn’t possible for a normal human being. I would’ve thought that after editing the story for print that E.L.James could have perhaps removed or tweaked these sections so as to make the connection between the two novels slightly less obvious.

All in all, I’d say that Fifty Shades of Grey is worth a read just so you can see what the hype is about and it’s not that bad a story really. If you’re easily offended by sexual content then obviously this isn’t the book for you, but in our liberal society I’d say that most people would be okay with reading this stuff (just not on public transport). I’m actually looking forward to reading the next two books even though I know what’s going to happen because it’s just an easy read with interesting characters. My final comment would be, don’t judge a book before you’ve read it.

Fun fact: Universal Studios is suing a porn film for use of characters from Fifty Shades when Fifty Shades is itself based on the Twilight Saga?

Buy 50 Shades of Grey:
Amazon | Book Depository

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Film Review 50 Shades of Grey
Film Review Breaking Dawn Part 1

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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

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  1. Jaime Lester
    12th February 2014 / 4:53 AM

    I always read my books, regardless of reviews, if I am interested in it. But, while I am curious about the hype behind this series, I just don't think I have it in me to deal with some of the things I have heard about it. I may, one day, give it a shot. But I honestly just don't know.

    • Laura Hartley
      12th February 2014 / 10:56 AM

      It's certainly an interesting read and I flew through the series but I understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea. I may reread it now that the hype has died down to see what I think of it sans-hype as I'm sure my opinion of it will probably be quite different!

  2. Alina P
    13th April 2015 / 7:16 AM

    It's a cool review 🙂 I like that you wanted to read it for yourself and form your own opinion.

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