Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades 1) by E L James

When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

Reviewer: avidscribe
That last line is no tease, it's true. I can't say when I have enjoyed a book more. I read voraciously and have consumed a huge diet of the classics, sci-fi, horror, thrillers and erotica. I'm a writer myself and know how important the right word is to lift a sentence and make it resonate and render it sublime. This writer has talent to spare and I would read a cereal box if she wrote the blurb for it.

A friend recommended the book to me, saying she'd read it and thought I would enjoy it, given the list of books I've been referring her to for the past year or so. The two of us are devout readers and I've been suggesting authors and titles to her every month or so as I find things I like. This was tit for tat and, intrigued, I picked it up immediately to begin to read.

As I read, in the back of my mind the story became an itch, reminding me of something that had been raved about by a group of friends online a year or so ago. Something about its storyline made me wonder if it was originally a TWILIGHT fanfic and I pursued this, asking if anyone recognized the story. It was indeed a TWI fanfic, originally called MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE and is a giant of a tale that I understand is being broken down into a trilogy for professional publication. Names are changed to protect the innocent sort of thing and there's some editing involved as well.

It is a phenomenal work, a magnum opus, though I hope to see what this author might write next. Five stars isn't enough, this needs a whole new classification. Its fresh first person POV is a fusion of tender, erotic, tragic, harrowing, thrilling, suspenseful, hilarious and real. Above all, real. The writer's dialog is spot on. These are people you feel, that you could know, that you'd want to know. The heroine is a very young, unworldly police chief's daughter who is graduating from college when she meets Seattle's most eligible bachelor via an awkward and unprepared interview she does for her best friend who is too sick to do it herself. The fateful meeting has Grey fascinated with the shy beauty and he pursues her.

Some writers are comfortable with description or their forte is great dialog. Some unravel an amazing story that compels you to miss meals, not answer phones, turn inward with a dark glee. Some can do great erotica. I rarely find a writer who can do ALL of it with such élan as E L James has pulled off.

Anastasia's POV is intelligent, believable, and I utterly fell in love with this author's use of her subconscious and inner goddess who always seem to be reacting to the moment in a more visceral way than Anastasia is capable of. Anastasia stands on a sexual precipice, an innocent who is shocked to feel all those delicious igneous jolts of awakening, while her subconscious comments dryly on the moment, or looks down at her from the top of her half moon glasses and tuts at her foibles or makes profane gestures at those who offend her sensibilities. Her conscious is the intellectual side while the inner goddess makes all the earthier moves. Every woman should have one—a flamboyant, emotional, free spirit who sways in gentle sambas, pirouettes, sits in lotus positions with sly self-congratulatory smiles on her face, or jumps up and down clapping her hands with glee.

Anastasia is in Grey's sexual thrall and troubled by his demands of her as his submissive. Unfortunately, her only spheres of reference are her roommate who won't take shit from men because she's beautiful and never had to and the rest are all fictional: Elizabeth Bennett would be outraged, Jane Eyre too frightened and Tess D'Urberville would succumb.

I have read this four times, the latest taking the fanfic and placing it next to the published ebook together to see the differences. The author appears to be UK in origin and the alterations taking the book professional are mainly honing it to an American audience. The feel is still there as is the wonderful hilarity of the heroine's inner dialog.

I applaud smart, witty writing:

• "my heartbeat has picked up and my medulla oblongata has neglected to fire any synapses to make me breathe …"
• "Finally, my medulla oblongata recalls its purpose, I breathe."
• "I needed time to think," I whisper and I'm all rabbit/headlights, moth/flame, bird/snake … and he knows exactly what he's doing to me."
• " ... Desire—acute, liquid and smoldering ... "
• "the mouth to brain filter is broken again ... "
and there is SO much more that makes me grin from ear to ear because the writing snaps and sizzles with intelligence and mastery.

The email banter between Anastasia and Grey is so hilarious, so real and made me wish my own significant other was as cosmopolitan, seductive and yeah, even possessive. Grey's musical interludes sent me scurrying repeatedly to youtube in hopes of hearing these pieces which I've heard but didn't know the names of. They added to the rich tonal quality of the story. I've gained so much by the reading of this.

Beyond everything, there's a real story here. This isn't just erotica and BDSM. Grey is an extremely fractured individual who walks the line between dominance and sadism. He behaves in a bipolar manner to Anastasia that she finds confusing and distancing. He is mercurial—jealous, intense, demanding, uptight and suspicious on the one hand and passionate, generous, needy, giving and wholly devoted on the other. He's used to calling the shots and his money has bought him power in both his business dealings and with women. Anastasia alters that. She's not a submissive, she won't train for him, she mouths off, he finds her defiant and she breaks through much of his layering he's built up to protect the haunted abused child who has never gotten past the trauma. He is drawn to her, to her spirit and innocence, and together they share many firsts together. Her first sexual experience marks the first time he has ever had sex in his own bed or slept with a woman he's brought home. It's the first time a woman has been introduced to his mother or taken for a ride in his helicopter. The world opens for both of them, giving them an understanding that it's so much more than controlled and monochromatic.

She wants a relationship with a man who doesn't demand a NDA, a flogger or carabiners in the ceiling. He is only comfortable with the distance created by D/S. It all comes to a head one evening where she forces him to be aware that he is hurting her and she won't submit any longer. She always knew she was Icarus flying too close to his sun.

The story picks up with the second in this trilogy, FIFTY SHADES DARKER, which turns the story on its head introducing a deadly element to the erotic drama—a threat to both their lives. It is not shoehorned in, it feels like a natural extension to the story and I was amazed to see that 300+ pages into a story such a storyline can be added and feel believable.

I have heard some gripes about the length and have to say I am not put off by a serious read. I look forward to the immersion and E L James did not disappoint. This writer kept me in her thrall start to finish. Sheer brilliance.

See the original review on goodreads


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