I’m an avid reader and last week I was asked to hand over my iPod and a trilogy was loaded on, with firm instructions to listen/ read these books. On Tuesday I finally decided to give it a chance and began to listen to the first book in ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’; by the next day I had finished it and sprinted to Tesco to purchase the other two books as I could not get enough!!
Now this book isn’t for the faint hearted; it contains graphic sexual scenes and frequently references ‘deviant’ sexual practices. It was for this reason that I was reticent at reading this ‘erotic’ fiction as I’m more of a crime / suspense fan but this book had me hooked. It has a strong (unexpected) romantic storyline running throughout that captured my imagination and the fact that I read / listened to all three books over three days whilst at work should indicate how good it is. Admittedly I got annoyed with the peppering of ‘oh my’ throughout the first book but I quickly learnt to skip over this and thankfully the author got this out of her system in the second and third books. I am glad that I gave the book a chance and have been surprised at the number of people who have begun reading the first instalment as word of mouth continues to increase the popularity of the books.
Now there is a lot being made of the ‘oppressive’ gender relationships explored by the Author, EL James and I feel that this is misguided and verging on sexism. This trilogy is clearly touted as erotic fiction and as such, affords the author the liberties she has clearly taken with the characters. For years publishers have touted ‘fluffy’ romance novels a la Mills and Blooms that young women of my generations have largely been ignored for their traditional gender stereotypical storylines. Whilst this trilogy follows the ‘man meets woman’ formula, the actions and main themes that run throughout are far more up-to-date than the heaving bosoms that you may be expecting. I think that EL James is experiencing ‘debate’ as she brings to the forefront some of the sexual practices that today’s women have been exposed to (via magazines articles / the internet / films / soap operas etc...) or, for the adventurous among us, may have even engaged in. In being so honest, James has upset the apple cart (profit model) of the ‘traditional’ formula that publishers have sold to us for the last forty years and risks causing them to have to rethink how they sell 'Chick-Lit' to us in the future.
For those of us in the UK, I don’t think that this debate will gain any ground as we are more liberal in our attitudes towards this subject matter. I wanted to make a point of commenting on these books as I completely misjudged them initially and am sitting at home gutted that I have finished them.I know it’s a bit random having a book review on this blog but I really enjoyed the novels and will reread them again soon.
With holiday season fast approaching I wanted to urge anyone planning their beach time reading material to considering these novels and enjoy. Hopefully this trilogy marks the beginning of the modernisation of romance/ erotic fiction and gets more of us reading!
Have you read these books, what did you think?