Monday, 9 July 2012

Fifty Shades of... Confusion

Hi everyone,
So recently the world and his wife (mainly his wife) have been going on about the 'Fifty Shades' trilogy of books written by E .L. James. Many have claimed they are the acceptable face of women's pornography, others that they contain a beautiful, if erotic, love story and that the character of Christian Grey epitomises what many women in society crave in a partner. Many women have seen a dramatic change in their sex lives which they acredit to the books giving them new ideas or a new, envigorated libido.

After all the hype, I had to join the bandwagon and begin reading. I started this journey on Friday and am now, three days later, already half way into the second book. So do I like them? I'm not sure. I, like I'm sure many others, feel a conflict of opinion for more than one reason.

My immediate impression on beginning to read was that I really didn't want to like them at all. Like many others have said, the quality of James' writing leaves a lot to be desired. There seems to be a fair amount of repetition used in her description of Anastacia's (the heroine of the series) arousal. I found myself recognising similarities, or often the exact same words used, each time there was a sex scene. It made the sex have less impact on me as a reader (which I'm guessing wasn't the aim). Another element that made me uncomfortable when reading was the tendency to firstly villify certain BDSM behaviours as disgusting, out of the question and only for freaks. There are many people in the world who enjoy these very behaviours in a safe, consensual way. They should not be made to feel picked out as perverted. As the book demonstrates, sex is a very individual thing. What is perfectly acceptable for one person might not be for another but it is something which is so individual and personal that there should not be judgement. Sexual fantasies and desires are natural and healthy and should not be discouraged.

However, even noting the book's limitations; parts that I'm sure are meant to be serious but had me chuckling or cringing to myself, I still did enjoy it and am continuing to enjoy the second installment. Christian Grey as a character does captivate me as a reader. His dryness, his sexiness, his controlling and possessive nature. Some have said he's an unhealthy character to fantasise about. Of course, he's completely dangerous. But he is multi-faceted. This intensity is certainly what attracts me to reading about him. Yes, his control and his mood swings are worrying traits that women should steer clear of in partners. Many have said that his need for physical control of his partner is abusive, a view which is referred to in the text. However, James has crafted Grey as so much more, and perhaps the epitome of the classic troubled bad boy who women feel they can make good.

So, would I recommend? Certainly, if you are looking for an intellectually stimulating read with gorgeous use of language this is not it. If you are of the frame of mind that literature should be moral, teach a lesson, or guide on the right way to live, then again, this book may offend you. The young and impressionable or those who notoriously pick the 'wrong' men may want to steer clear. However, if like me you are interested in what the fuss is about, pick it up. I did not think I would be taken under the spell but, for better or worse, I have been. For the last few nights, and the next few to come, Christian Grey is indeed my bedtime obsession.

Have you read the trilogy? Are you avoiding it at all costs?

Frances x

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