*spoiler and language warning*
In one week I devoured all three books. Twice! No matter how enamored I've been of a book I've never turned around and read it immediately upon finishing. Okay, a first! Shall I keep track of the firsts as Christian and Ana do in the books? Maybe not. Are these books for everyone? Certainly not. Are they great fiction? Literature? No. Are they glorified fan fiction? Well, since I was not successful in reading beyond a few paragraphs the handful of times I attempted to read fan fiction I will say this; if I had read any "fanfic" that was this entertaining (yes, that is what these books are - entertaining escapism!) I probably would have read more. Personally, I feel those who will get the most, ahem, pleasure out of these books will be those who are or have been readers of the romantic genre. Essentially that is what these books are. Oh, they are scorching, explicit, and descriptive, but still very romantic. Hearts and flowers romantic? Not at first, but those of us who have read them are in the know about that, aren't we? I've read hundreds of romance books, mostly back in the 90's. I wouldn't consider myself a fan of the sweet, tender romances, nor have I enjoyed the few I read that dealt with kidnapping, brutality, abuse, etc. So, even though I had previously not read books dealing with bondage and sexual sadism, not once did I find myself terribly horrified over anything that went on between Christian and Ana. That is likely due to the fact that the books are from Ana's point of view. I'm a woman. I think like a woman. I understood Ana's nervousness and hesitation. Her bewildering emotions regarding Christian, who as he confesses to her fairly early on is, "fifty shades of fucked-up". She's a nice, young thing. A college student and lover of English Literature. A virgin. Yes, I believe there are 21 year old virgins out there. Although, I think taking her never-been-touched status to include by herself was a bit beyond believable. Oh well. Small detail.
When I say I breezed through these books I mean it literally. The overall style of writing was straightforward complete with pauses, stammers, and other speech variations that regular people display. I thought the prose was concisely descriptive. Enough to very effectively set the scene, but not enough to send me into a coma. Ana's inner dialog (her subconscious and inner goddess) elicited my inner chuckle numerous times. I thought including details like Ana's agonizing over how much five million dollars weighs and how large a carrier it would require was noteworthy. I didn't find myself stumbling over the structure or rhythm. This further allowed me to see their story quite vividly. There are phrases repeated a great deal, which I feel is fairly typical of books in the romance genre. And then there's the fact these are the same characters in three books! Ana's unspoken exclamations, "Holy Crap", "Holy Shit", and "Holy Fuck" show up frequently, but going from her quiet, sheltered existence to Christian's crazy life...well, I found them acceptable (and often cute). I adored their sparring emails and that they most often referred to the other by title and surname, i.e. Mr. Grey, Miss Steele, and later, Mrs. Grey. I further appreciated the use of real world elements (places, vehicles, things). Isn't this the way we are in our "non-fictional" lives? I know I am. So, even though the people are fictional they are made more authentic by putting them into places (and vehicles), listening to songs, and consuming things that exist in the "real" world. Furthering the mood of the books is the music. The author gave Christian and Ana an appreciation of music, and to Christian, a way to express himself through playing the piano. (I recognized shades of the Edward Lewis [Richard Gere] character in Pretty Woman. And did you think of the movie, The Thomas Crown Affair, while Christian and Ana were soaring? I sure did!) The author's website has detailed playlists for each of the books, which I found very helpful! I'm listening to my Fifty Shades Playlist as I write this.
The character of Christian Grey is a very complex one. He has many sides. I'm not going to try to describe all of his "shades." For the sake of fiction these parts of him are all extreme. That makes for interesting reading, and yes, fantasizing! Would he drive a normal woman crazy? Shit, yes! Anastasia Steele is a normal woman and he drives her crazy. She's completely out of her element with him. Who wouldn't be? Hence her need to consult with her subconscious and inner goddess all the time!!! Christian though, he sees something in her: an unassuming, natural, intelligent, and innocent young woman. He completely disregards the women who see him for his beautiful face or his money, as well as the sexual predators. He is a product of his horrendous childhood and exposure to "Mrs. Robinson." He's made his personal life into a business where he hires Submissives and has them sign non-disclosure agreements and contracts. His loving adoptive parents and siblings know nothing of his alternative lifestyle. He has a conscience. He warns Ana to stay away, but they uncharacteristically proceed. I think he sees Ana as someone (the only one?) who can save him - perhaps as a sort of beacon into the light. Even though he's been diagnosed as a self-loather he is apparently not without hope. So, yes, he is scary, domineering, controlling, curt, driven...but, he has many good qualities: philanthropist, benefactor, generous (but tough) employer, impeccable manners, gorgeous, and ultimately loving. Ana is there to help him see himself in a different light. He is "Fifty Shades" but not all dark. His world of power, money, business, security, and strictly contractual sexual relationships is the polar opposite of Ana's. She, who loves her mother, step-father, friends, and books. Ana, who thought a "playroom" was a place for video games. No, no, no. Not in Christian's world. Emotions are all over the place. This is a highly charged relationship. They are both having to compromise a great deal to remain together. She's all "Vanilla" and he's all "Dom." Together they settle on "kinky fuckery." (Which will undoubtedly end up as one of the "it" phrases derived from these books!) Through all their ups and downs, their arguments, her tears, his frustration, and lots and lots of sex the not-so-unthinkable happens...unconditional love! And, because these are romance books the happily-ever-after ending happens too! *swoon*
UPDATE: Although I am a devoted fan of classic British (and selective contemporary) romances, thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, and carefully chosen classics I am particularly enraptured with Christian and Ana's story. My feelings are so intense I have read the trilogy NINE times since March 2012.
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
|My new custom vehicle sticker! *giggle*|
"Fuck the paperwork!"
"What is it about elevators?" :)
Edited to add on 06/16/2012 - I’ve thoroughly read the trilogy many times and read portions of it too many times to count. I have minor celebrity infatuations with a couple of the men (Matt Bomer and Henry Cavill) suggested by fans to portray Christian in the movie(s). However, after reading so many recommendations I feel are completely off base I am going to quit following casting news because it is entirely ridiculous!!! I am much happier within the books where the “real” fictional Christian of my well-read mind exists. He may be a slightly exaggerated “fifty shades” but is there really one actor (or “unknown”) alive who possesses the ability to portray even 1/10 of what Christian is without turning this character into a joke!? Subtlety and nuance have to play a large part in bringing Christian to the big screen. The chemistry between Christian and Ana has to be palpable to be believable. That “charge” they feel has to seem real for this movie to be a fraction of what the book is. I want to believe that by E. L. retaining final casting and screenplay approval it will guarantee the movie is indeed truer to the book. I want to look forward to the movie and be able to say, after I've seen it, well done them!
02/26/2013 - Thank you EL James for My Authorgraphs!