What you probably don't realise is that I am a lot cooler than you think I am. I am, of the moment. I am learning to play ukulele. I go Muay Thai boxing and to Zumba classes. I'm a food market connoisseur, and will be learning to make do and mend. So when my friend from New York WhatsApp'd me the other week, and asked me if I'd heard about a British writer called E.L. James who's books were taking the US by storm, she could not believe it when I told her I had never heard of her or her books. Film rights to this "adult romance" trilogy had just been snapped up by Universal and everyone was (and still is) talking about it.
A quick google about the first in the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey told me that US women of all ages were having their temperatures raised and their hearts (and loins) beating and it all resulted from this literotica...but its not without its controversy.
The story is about two 20 somethings - Christian Grey, a multi zillionaire with a penchant for BDSM; and a recent graduate Anastasia Steele, a virgin who moves over to the "dark" side by the charming, beautiful, powerful and rich Grey. Grey offers Steele the opportunity to have a "relationship" with him, based on a contractual agreement where Steele becomes his weekend submissive, and agrees to three good meals a day, a personal trainer, a new wardrobe, with some whips and leather in the Red room of pain thrown in. By the time Anastasia decides she doesn't want to lose Grey, it is clear that the love making in the book does not meet the suggested expectations raised from the start, although the scenery (his room, her room, on the piano, in the lift, on the boat, in the Red room of pain ...you get the picture) is always a welcome change.
You can probably tell that I wasn't overly impressed, but the books are an easy and enjoyable/care free read and I want to know what happens next. The promise of some BDSM action failed to deliver in the first of the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey and half way through Fifty Shades Darker (which was only bought because of the cliff hanger at the end of the first) its still pretty vanilla. The appeal of the stories is probably the result of some decent marketing, the popularity of the Kindle (no one will know what you're reading), the lovable rouge Grey character, underlying love story, and the fact that the uber conservative US dislike some of the themes suggested by the book (the BDSM, submissiveness, child abuse and paedophilia) and the fact that women are lapping up the story. Some are feeling uncomfortable about the fact that a storyline of this nature is sending women into a frenzy of horniness, without noting that although the suggestion is there, the intimate liaisons featured are (so far) pretty vanilla, and although there is the underlying promise of something raunchier that hasn't (yet) delivered. That's not a problem if you're happy to have your temperature slightly raised at an almost believable love story. That and the fact that I love being "of the moment" means I'll probably buy the final in the trilogy.
My best bits (so far):
- The love story is a nice and its easy reading, requiring pretty low concentration - everyone needs some switch off time...for all other times, there's a bit of David Copperfield...
- Creating a drinking game - a shot for every time the following words appear in print: holy shit, my inner goddess does a pirouette, up and down, on my sex
- The relief I felt when there was almost a sex scene but the chapter ended (once you've read five or six...)
My worst bits (so far):
- When the next chapter started with the sex scene I thought I'd avoided (when my own inner goddess did a double flip and kissed her teeth)
- When the following words appeared in print: holy shit, my inner goddess does a pirouette, up and down, on my sex
- It's not fantastically written and if it wasn't for the underlying storyline/plot, can feel a little repetitive