But whenever I pick up a good book to read, my life is temporarily on hold. I happily escape reality and enter into a sort of literary coma as the words on the pages come to life in my imagination. I’m in my own fantasy land, and I’m in heaven. There are several books (usually suspense and thrillers) that put me in this state, and three of which I finally finished reading this weekend: the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James.
Described by the media as “mommy porn,” this New York Times bestselling trilogy is not your typical romance story. It is erotic … very erotic! I’ll admit that it’s a sex book because it does contain a lot of sex! In “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the first book in the trilogy, we are introduced to the two main characters in the series: an innocent, newly college graduate named Anastasia “Ana” Steele and a young, hunky, billionaire CEO named Christian Grey. The book begins when Ana interviews Christian for her college newspaper on her best friend Kate’s behalf. Immediately, the two develop a chemistry, which leads to an abnormal sex life. Christian tries to make Ana sign a contract allowing him to have complete control over her life. While getting to know him, she realizes that his sexual pleasures involve bondage, sadism, and domination/submission. She also learns about Christian’s childhood abuse, which has left him a poorly, damaged individual. Christian’s messed up past plays a significant part in their relationship.
The second book in the trilogy, “Fifty Shades Darker”, continues to chronicle Ana and Christian’s physical and intensely emotional relationship. While building on their relationship, Ana, now working for a Seattle publishing house, tries to come to terms with Christian’s need for control, while Christian tries to come to terms with dealing with his demons and Ana’s need for something much more. The final book “Fifty Shades Freed” is, in my opinion, the most suspenseful of the trilogy. Their love for one another is tested by several interloping circumstances. The book also has some flashback scenes, which I think could be handled differently.
The trilogy is not well-written. I wouldn’t even characterize it as a great American love story. At certain points, the author’s prose is not very fluid and repeats several words. “Mercurial” and “oh my” vividly come to mind. However, the author’s incredible description of the sex scenes pulls you into the story. It’s definitely a hook for readers. I can understand how some people can be frustrated that there’s more sex in the story than plot. I’ve heard some people say that they’ve skipped over the sex scenes just so they can read the plot. As you learn more about Ana and Christian, their consensual bond enriches their relationship, and it ultimately becomes a beautiful thing. It’s a crazy little thing called love. James writes the books from Ana’s perspective and as a reader, you live vicariously through Ana in each chapter. In a way, you become jealous or want to become like her: meeting the man of your dreams at a young age, who is dashingly handsome, rich, and powerful. Ladies, wouldn’t you all want to meet and fall in love with a Christian Grey?
My favorite parts of the trilogy are the emails between Ana and Christian. They’re funny, raw, and honest. They can drive you nuts at times, but they keep you coming back for more.
So if you’re a mom, a wife, or a young woman still searching for the man of her dreams (ahem!), I would recommend this trilogy as what a dear friend of mine calls it “a good junk read.”
Step away from reality for a bit, suspend your disbelief, you’ll be amazed where your imagination will take you.