Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey is a real page turner.

The Book written by E. L. James was a pleasant surprise. I guess I was expecting typical erotic romance, but instead was delighted and captivated by a tale about the complexities of love. If you’re looking for an erotic tale short on substance and long on shallow explicit sexual interludes then this book isn’t for you. However, if you’re seeking a story about explicit sexual interaction and desire and its relationship to the psychology of being in love then this is your book. In fact, I would say that the author does an excellent job of infusing the sex scenes with heartfelt passion and love which draws a clear distinction between E.L. James’ book and mundane erotic romance.

If you’re wondering about what the story Fifty Shades of Grey is like think “Indecent Proposal” meets “Pretty Woman.” Although, I think that breaking the book’s description down to a simple pitch line does not serve it justice. This is unlike any other book on the market. What separates it is its examination of love amidst an extremely passionate romance. I’m not sure any other book has captured what E.L. James has done in this first installment in the trilogy. The author is dead on in depicting how difficult it is for people to navigate through an overwhelming physical attraction with over-the-top sexual exploits while trying to make sense of the love that exists between them. The principle characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, seem lost in a dark and dangerous erotic world from which they will seemingly never escape. As a reader I found myself pulling for them to emerge from the darkness to attempt to exist in the light. Can they (Anastasia and Christian) survive as a couple absent of the kinky sex that has played a major role in bringing them together?

Before I read Fifty Shades of Grey I had heard about the story from a number people. My impression was that this was the story about an older, powerful man and his dominance over a much younger girl. The fact that the main characters are close in age enhanced the love aspect of the story. At times they appear to be nothing more than your average college students locked in a passionate romance. From a story standpoint I kept thinking that a disparity in age might have served the tale better. The relevance being that the vast difference in their ages might have served as an insurmountable hurdle for the couple to attempt to reconcile. For me the fact that Anastasia and Christian are close in age makes their unlikely romance more plausible. Regardless, I believe that the author did a good job of compensating for this lack of disparity by adding just enough mystery to Christian’s back story. There is something in his past that keeps Anastasia and the reader guessing. This mystery or dark secret makes Christian seem more complex and much older than he is. And it serves to bolster the character development, story arc and primary through-line of this captivating story.

It is clear that E.L. James drew from her own sexual history to imbue the carnal aspect of the story with an air of credibility. We believe that these people are intoxicated by their physical attraction and cannot escape from its addictive clutches. Were the sex scenes creative sexual interludes? Yes. Were they something that most of us haven’t experienced to a degree in our own lives? I would say – probably not. Outside of Christian’s S&M playroom and its assorted contraptions, and maybe a few tricks, for me, I believe that the sex scenes were pretty much what people in a passionate love affair experience. This comes back to my point about love. I think that since love is a universal experience the sex that people have when they’re passionately in love is typical. That people can attempt to imbue their sex lives with a variety of toys and devices, but in the end it is the passion that fuels and empowers their intimate affairs.  And, that is what I took from this book. If you clear away the S&M aspect of the story it breaks down to being a very usual and simple love story. Surprisingly, this is what I appreciated most about the book. No matter what form the relationship takes, the passionate and heated love that exists between two people is complex and difficult to reconcile.

I also liked the communication aspect of the story. The emailing back and forth served to place the story within a modern landscape. I think this device makes the reader associate with the characters. We believe that these are actually living and breathing people. E.L. James also did a great job of giving Anastasia and Christian distinctive voices. You can see their distinct personalities layered within the subtext of the author’s prose. She is young and naïve. He is experienced and worldly.

The most compelling aspect of this story is the intoxicating and unending sexual foreplay that exists on practically every page. It is almost as if the author is attempting to seduce the reader into turning the page. The author does not want to lose your attention. And, she does better than that. She pulls you into a dark world where the distinction between love and sex is clearly apparent. Yet, after reading this book, we wonder if there is a distinction at all. As a reader we are forced to face our own demons and reconcile that which exists within our psyches. Is love as conventional as most of us think it is? Or is it a truly complex exercise of balancing our secret desires with the cognitive perception of what we think true love is?

That’s what I was left with after reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I would love to hear what your thoughts on the subject matter are. So, please feel free to comment on this blog post.

I highly recommend this book. It did not disappoint. And, I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy. You can learn more about the author and her books here:

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