Author: E L James
Publisher: Random House
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After much hype about 'Fifty shades of Grey' by E.L. James, I finally decided to give it a read. It is the first part of the Fifty Shades trilogy followed by Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. What started as fan fiction of the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer has gone on to become a bestseller itself. The novel deals with the relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and young and charismatic Christian Grey, owner of Grey industries.
The novel begins with Anastasia interviewing Grey for her college's student newspaper in place of her roommate Katherine Kavanagh. Both of them feel a spark of attraction which pulls them together and so begins the cat and mouse chase between the two. While Anastasia leaves Grey's offices feeling dejected after the disastrous interview, Grey is all for courting the naive college girl. He seems to be omnipresent, sending presents, deflecting unwanted advances and taking care of an absolutely sloshed Miss Steele. The initial meet and greets remind one of the Mills and Boons romantic tales where the perfect man sweeps the damsel off her feet.
This winding courtship finally leads to some semblance of a relationship when Christian takes Anastasia to his home in Seattle. This is where the plot thickens and Anastasia is introduced to the world of BDSM. Grey's secret passions are revealed and we see the darker side of an unusual romance. He defies all norms of the conventional 'Prince Charming' figure with his controlling and violent sexual needs and preferences. Although Anastasia's over the top naiveté caters to the imagination of most, it is quite unbelievable that a 22 year old girl can be so unaware. Where Christian is as complex and twisted as a character can get, Anastasia is the simple minded girl head over heels in love with a man who describes himself as ‘fifty shades of messed-up’.
It is the story of a subtle romance which is over-shadowed by the sexual overtones. the book tracks the relationship between the two with graphic details of their sexual encounters which let the reader explore the world of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism. the setting for the dominant/submissive relationship is well placed with the imbalance between the strength of character of both protagonists. Other characters in the book are not well etched or critical to the plot in any case.
The novel can be categorized into the genre of erotic romance and targets young and middle aged women. Where it fails as a full-fledged romance, it manages to engage the readers as it introduces us to something taboo, spinning tales of pain and pleasure, making it hard to put the book down. It is rightly categorized as “mommy porn” by some of the news agencies. Not a read for the faint hearted but something new to be explored. A prefect read while you commute to and fro work but not something most would include in their collection of classics.