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1.0 out of 5 stars Unadulterated tosh, 20 April 2012
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This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey: Movie Tie-in (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded this one morning whilst listening to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour and hearing E.L James being interviewed.

I'll confess: I did read it from end to end, and I must also confess that my Trollope took a backseat for a couple of days. But when I'd finished 50 SoG, it was a relief to go back to some proper literature, feeling saddened, cheapened, almost used, by having read it. Make no mistake: 50 Shades of Grey is utter rubbish!

The central theme is that a rather naive college student, Ana, is swept off her feet after a chance encounter with a fabulously wealthy business man, Christian Grey CEO. (He's ok though because his company sends aid to Darfur.) Not only is he immensely rich, but he has the looks to match - of which we are constantly reminded. He has "two penetrating gray eyes". Yes, that'll be both of them, and they combine to give him a "penetrating gaze"; he has "beautifully chiseled lips" and a square jaw. This together with the way his gray sweat pants hang off his hips "in that way", leave the poor girl wobbly at the knees.

His penis of course is equally magnificent. Indeed it scarcely ever appears without her being bowled over by its "impressive length". His erection (permanent, it appears) is "impressive". And of course he only has to enter her for her to have an an orgasm that causes her body to "convulse and shatter into a thousand pieces". Next time she "shatters again into tiny fragments", before "her traitorous body explodes in an intense body-shattering orgasm". She wonders will her body withstand "another earth-shattering moment". At least he is polite enough to comment in a moment of untypical post-coital congeniality, "You're shattered, aren't you?".
And so it goes on. The book does not reveal the mechanics by which the tiny fragments of the orgasm-shattered Ana were constantly put back together again. The secret of this process might have served Humpty Dumpty well.

The twist in the tale is that Christian is a sadistic sexual dominant who likes to tie his women up and thrash them before intercourse. It's not entirely clear whether this is consensual - but having been gagged Ana doesn't manage to say "no", so at least it's not rape. The agonising decision that Ana has to make is whether to lose him, or sign a contract submitting to his perversion.

As an undercurrent there is a suggestion that Christian himself was abused as a child, and this may explain his brutal treatment of women. Although she discovers that she is his 16th submissive partner, his own sad childhood engenders sympathy in Ana's mind - and so being whipped, spanked, gagged, tied up and forcibly screwed is the least she might do for him.
The man is not totally thoughtless: he arranges for her to be seen by his ice-cool, blonde doctor who prescribes contraception. After all, what fun would it be thrashing a woman who was pregnant? In the meantime he carries an endless supply of condoms, referred to by James as "foil packets". So he "grabs a foil packet"; releases her hair in order to rip a foil packet; and this delightful passage:
"You want it, you got it, baby," he mutters producing a foil packet from his pants pocket while he unzips his pants. Oh, Mr Boy Scout. He rolls the condom over his erection and gazes down at me. "I sure hope you're ready," he breathes, a salacious smile across his face. And in a moment, he's filling me [...] I groan... oh yes. "Christ, Ana. You're so ready," he whispers in veneration.

Again it would be wrong to traduce Christian while ignoring his good points: he replaces her ageing and much loved Beetle with a new Audi and takes her for a trip in his helicopter; and he buys her a first edition of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Yes, he's not a total arse: he likes Delibes and Pouilly Fume and can play the piano with haunting melancholy - before his thoughts inevitably turn to sex. ""Maybe on my piano," he whispers. Oh my. My whole body tightens at the thought. Piano. Wow." I kid you not.

The story is desperately thin: poorly written, repetitive in its descriptions (there is an almost unbelievable amount of eye-rolling and lip-biting - both offences that lead to a spanking), one dimensional characters, and it's frankly stupid. Nothing really happens: rich man woos innocent women; he shags her; he beats her; she wonders if she is doing the right thing. That's about it.

Apart from using orgasms as some kind of punctuation, the book also features unbelievably tedious e-mail exchanges between the two characters. After reading a couple of lines I found myself skipping the rest. They are just puerile. You are, I suppose, to take note of some of the subtleties of these conversations: his use of "shouty capitals" and the funny way that he signs himself "Christian Grey Palm-Twitching CEO" after he has given her a good spanking. Oh dear! So endearing.

At a risk of sounding repetitive myself, how many times do you think an author might use the expression "my inner goddess" in one book? Once or twice might suffice, but Ms James uses it 65 (yes, 65) times. Example:

"Ha! My inner goddess is thrilled. I can do this." (She manages to get the Impressive One into her mouth.)
"My inner goddess smacks her lips together glowing with pride." (He gives her an 'A' for swallowing.)
"... he looks at me hungrily. Jeez, my inner goddess swoons"; (He "squeezes carnality" into her name. At least that is one you can try at home.)
"My inner goddess polevaults over the fifteen-foot bar" (she didn't wear her panties when she meets his parents for dinner);
"My inner goddess is still basking in a remnant of post-coital glow. No - we are all clueless. I towel-dry my hair...".
By the end of the book I was ready to strangle the inner goddess and the external part too.

The book ends inconclusively. At first I thought that maybe the author had got bored with the whole thing and decided to pack it in. Then I discovered that there are two sequels. I also didn't realise until later that the book had originally been posted as fan-fiction. I don't pretend to know much about this, but I guess it may explain the lack of structure and the repetition. If you are turning out a couple of hundred words at a time for serialisation, maybe there is no imperative to write well.

As a piece of titillating light-hearted fun, this might keep you amused for a little while; but as a piece of literature worthy of the author making the hallowed interview seat on Woman's Hour, NO! It's awful.
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Tracked by 16 customers

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Showing 21-30 of 360 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 20:44:40 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
Thanks! I appreciate that.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 21:04:09 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
Whaddya mean? " Possibly better than the books"??
If you'd read the book you'd know how grievously you have insulted me.

Seriously now: thanks very much for your comment. I thought when I read this trash that I must contribute something to the great debate, but I have been mightily touched by the number of kind comments. One woman thought I'd missed the point, and someone thought I had spoiled the book by my review! I'm waiting for E.L. James to get in touch but she's probably too busy writing yet another sequel or just communing with her inner goddess.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 21:17:55 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
Ha, ha! Thanks for your kind words.
I've not come across The Birthing House, but I just took a sneak preview of it on Amazon. Believe me, it's serious literature compared to 50 Shades of Dogsh-ite. In the passage that I read there appeared to be some semblance of a narrative - and some human activity that did not involve a body-shattering orgasm. James could not contrive a whole page without the latter.
You can download 50 Shades for £2 to Kindle. Money well spent! It may unleash your inner goddess. I wouldn't pay any more though.

Posted on 25 Apr 2012 21:20:56 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
Dear Ms 'Jelly'

Your review was just TOO brief for me to decide whether you enjoyed this book or not - could you be more specific please??? :-D

Yes, I agree with you, I too have been tempted to read this 'facinating insight' into the subject matter by media and R4's Woman's Hour but I am now quite relieved (after your brief review - you really need to express yourself more clearly luv) that I didn't actually succumb to all the hype.

I do LOVE books that has raw sex in them but not to the point of it being ridiculous and repetitive - which you have validly pointed out.

Many thanks but one query for you ................. Can we REALLY call Trollope 'serious literature'??? :-\

You will have Vasily Grossman spinning in his grave my dear!! :-D

Linda Bee

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 21:30:29 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
Having just looked at your own very interesting reviews, can I recommend a book that REALLY knocked me out? Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate. Don't be put off by the WWII background, if war isn't your thing. This is a monster of a novel, with several passages that are almost numbing in their emotional intensity. Some of it is truly upsetting, and the subject matter - Stalingrad, the Holocaust, totalitarinanism, etc. - is grim, but the overall effect is quite profound, beautiful at times. I was quite stunned when I'd finished it and was seriously worried that I'd never find anything else to match it.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 21:48:08 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
Oh dear! I seem to have upset you? That wasn't my intention - it was all said tongue in cheek, along with the Vasily comment.

I very much enjoyed your review - it made me laugh out loud!

With all your caustic comments on the book I didn't realise you would offend so easily. Apologies.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 21:50:51 BDT
booksy says:
I'm reading The Night Circus at the moment. There's no sex in it and it's beautifully descriptive (especially if you like popcorn) but I'm rather upset that, so far, Erin Morgenstern hasn't used the term 'inner goddess'. I am now thinking of knocking off a star for every book that neglects to wheedle this phrase in somewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 23:00:19 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
Well, now that you have put me on the spot, I'll admit that there were moments when I was enjoying reading 50 SoG. BUT on close analysis I suspect I was not enjoying it for its merits as a book, for its erotic qualities, or for its insight into the world of BDSM. Rather I think I was deriving some masochistic pleasure from reading something so transparently awful.
I don't mind admitting that I enjoy pornography and occasionally read erotic material. But the quality of the sex in 50 SoG is not good. It is implausible - laughably so at times - as I hoped I demonstrated by the references to body-shattering orgasms. Personally I didn't find the spanking, whipping and restraint at all erotic.
I'm a recent convert to Trollope. I first read him only last year when I was showing my elderly father how easy it is to download material to a Kindle. I asked him to name a book and he chose one of his favourites: The Way We Live Now. By the time he had gone upstairs to get it off the shelf, I had downloaded it to my Kindle. I then decided to read it and was quite taken by it. Now I'm reading The Eustace Diamonds, and I'm enjoying that too. Maybe not "serious" literature, but good quality, well-written literature that amuses and occasionally sparkles.
Grossman is another matter altogether. "Serious" would not do him justice. He is grave and weighty. I would have him down as a mighty bull elephant; Trollope as a handsome gazelle; and E.L.James as a tick on the backside of baboon.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 23:11:22 BDT
Lindsay Tay says:
Well I have to say you have encouraged me to download the Vasily Grossman book, it may take me a while but I will come back (in time and let you know what I thought of it). I have never read Trollope, I was being facecious! But I really do enjoy researching and reading the plight of Afghanistan women and their role and place in society. This was initially triggered by A Thousand Splendid Suns SO very different from The Kite Runner. I am an avid (secret) M&B reader and I would be MORTIFIED if anyone knew I read so many!

This review equals yours in pure caustic comment and assessment (a wee bit crude Veet for Men Hair Removal Gel Cream 200 ml
but hysterical!)

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2012 23:17:57 BDT
jelly 1960 says:
It takes a peculiarly fine mistress of the word-processor to successfully deploy the Inner Goddess. In 50 SoG the Inner Goddess had to survive the experience of the body in which she resided continually shattering into a thousand pieces. Not easy to maintain your equilibrium when your outer self is plastered all over the ceiling after an explosive encounter with Christian Grey CEO's impressive dick.
It may be that Erin Morgenstern is too young to tackle such a complex matter as the IG. It takes a certain degree of authority to successfully carry off this kind of material.

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