But it wouldn’t go away. The furore I mean. It got to the stage that I actually felt like I was missing out on something and so I read a few reviews - there are THOUSANDS of reviews here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fifty-Shades-Grey-E-James/product-reviews/0099579936/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 and it’s more or less an equal split between the 5stars and the 1stars, so the reason for the massive controversy this book has created is there for all to see.
The big knockers are beside themselves with disbelief that a book of such sub-standard writing should be allowed to hit the all-time bestselling lists (the latest accolade being that this E.L. James’ debut novel has overtaken sales of Harry Potter and is continuing to run with its glory) let alone get published in the first place when you consider other struggling writers who have still to step onto the first rung of publication success.
I don’t like to judge books by their covers. I don’t like to follow the herd if I don’t know where they’re going and I don't believe anything unless I've seen it for myself. I suppose I’m a-everything until I find reason to jump over one side of the fence or the other (it does get a little bit painful sitting up here after all, but you do get a better view). So I have to say that I remain a-Grey.
I read the book. True, I did falter at the first paragraph, thinking to myself ‘Seriously? Is this how the main character’s going to be all the way through because I’m already irritated by her’, but decided to press on. After all, I managed to get all the way through and thoroughly enjoyed ‘Secret World of a Shopaholic’ and that Becky Bloomwood was just as scatty, hair-brained, naïve and beautiful as this Anastasia Steele is. There was just less bondage with Becky. More scarves and shoes I seem to remember.
And I have to admit that after I’d decided that Anastasia was intentionally written as an airhead and Christian Grey (he of the title) was a complete fabrication of somebody's imagination – I mean who is ever going to be the mogul of a multi-national conglomeration of a business empire by the age of 27 AND look like a god please – unless they’re fictional? So belief was suspended for the duration (oh, there are also some seriously shonky distances covered in a couple of scenes and I’m thinking of moving to the USA because they appear to have invented the 32 hour day) and I found myself enjoying the book.
So, let’s talk about sex. I was very pleased that there was no use of the ‘C’ word whatsoever and equally no silly euphemisms for various heaving and throbbing parts of the bodies. Sex scenes can be complicated enough without trying to decipher what exactly a furry love trumpet is doing racing through an overgrown avenue of magnolia blossom without the head starting to hurt, so for the straightforward sex, E.L. James, I thank you.
In all, I thought the story was quite sweet (okay, there’s whips and duct tape and touches of sado-masochism, but show me a B&Q where there isn’t) and when I read this: http://cassandraparkin.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/adventures-in-trash-fifty-things-that-annoy-me-about-fifty-shades-of-grey/) I realised it wasn’t just me who found the whole thing a kind of Benny Hill meets Acorn Antiques rom-com.
I actually laughed ‘til I cried whilst reading all 50 of these ‘Notes’. Here’s a couple:
40. Things that sound good until you picture someone actually doing them (2)
“Would you like a bag?”
…”Please, Anastasia.” His tongue caresses my name, and my heart once again is frantic.
a. In pronouncing the name “Anastasia”, the tongue stays entirely behind the teeth and is not visible at all. In order to accept the premise that Christian is, indeed, caressing Anastasia’s name with his tongue, I am forced to conclude that he is licking her name-badge (she works in a DIY shop).
b. On the other hand, I quite like the idea that this is what he’s doing, so I’m quite tempted to let this one go.
41. Things that sound good until you picture someone actually doing them (3)
“My scalp prickles at the idea that maybe, just maybe, he might like me…I hug myself with quiet glee, rocking from side to side.”
Why not try this one in public and see what happens?
I don’t imagine for one minute that E.L. James meant for all this contention to happen and although I enjoy reading these entertainingly scathing reviews, I also felt sorry for her that her book is being subjected to this kind of in-depth scrutiny. But as we all know, that’s why writers need thickened skin because we can’t please all of the people all of the time, and after all, isn’t this what writing a book is all about?