Yes, I’m reading the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E L James and I’ve just finished book 1, Fifty Shades of Grey. Am I enjoying it? Yes. Why? Well, beyond the kinky sex and punishment rituals, there really is a love story here.
Anastasia Steele is a ‘fish out of water’ in every sense of the word. She is young, a virgin and unaccustomed to the experiences wealth can offer. She has no defences to bring to the table except her ‘smart mouth’, admirable intellect and her belief in love and decency.
Christian Grey is the devastatingly handsome young entrepreneur who leads Ana into his dark world, lavishing her with gifts along the way. The first four years of his life have left scars both physical and mental and now as an adult he deals with them the only way he knows how. He is the most damaged hero I can ever remember reading about.
In the push and pull of their early relationship, Ana has her first sexual experience and is horrified to discover the other side of ‘Mr Grey’, the side that must control and punish. She explores her ‘hard limits’ and discovers that his hard limit is touching. Yes, Christian cannot bear for Ana to touch him.
Ana quickly falls for her tortured hero and vows to bring him into the light of a real and loving relationship but by the end of the first book, she decides she can’t abide the punishment side of their affair.
Early on in this book, I wondered if E L James would merely lead us through a series of kinky sexual acts and worried if there would be enough to keep most readers turning the pages. However as Ana and Christian explored each other’s limits and their relationship developed, I was intrigued.
An aspect of the book I really don’t like is the first person present tense point of view. I normally would run a mile from this style of writing but when such deep feelings and responses are being explored, I think it works well. There is a lot of internal monologue with Ana’s internal goddess and harping self- conscious getting a share of the limelight. I often got confused with what Ana was thinking and what she had said out loud and I had to re-read passages to clarify.
Does the book feel realistic? Generally. I wonder if it is a bit of a stretch for the reader to believe that a 27 year old entrepreneur could be a billionaire without inheriting a company from his parents. Also I thought some of the questions in Ana’s interview with Christian at their first meeting were rude and I didn’t believe she would have asked them in that situation. They did pull me out of the story. Once past that and Christian’s improbable age, I totally believed the story and their relationship.
Do I like the characters? Ana is difficult not to like. She is the ‘girl next door’ type, a romantic, who believes in a happily ever after. Christian is the ultimate alpha hero but more damaged than most. I do like him and am coming to understand why he is the way he is as his early life is slowly revealed. Can he be redeemed by Ana? I hope so. By the end of Fifty Shades of Grey we know he loves Ana even if he hasn’t said the words.
Can Christian relinquish his need for control and punishment and allow love and tenderness to be his only sustenance? Can Ana endure the emotional roller coaster of her relationship with Christian and emerge with her ‘happily ever after’?
Yes, I believe it is a romance. What do you think?