I am really quite cross with myself! Despite knowing that all the hype was probably just that, hype, I gave in and bought the Fifty Shades trilogy to take on my recent holiday. Everyone was reading it and the buzz around the story was intense. Why oh why didn’t I listen to the voice of reason in my head telling me to leave it well alone?
Dubbed “Mummy Porn” by the media, these books by British author E.L. James trace the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele (“Ana”), and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. They are notable for their explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance / submission, and sadism / masochism (BDSM).
Fifty Shades of Grey has topped best-seller lists around the world, including the United Kingdom and the United States and the series has sold 40 million copies worldwide, with book rights having been sold in 37 countries, and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, surpassing the Harry Potter series.
Predictably there has been much interest in turning these books into a feature film and in March 2o12 Universal Pictures and Focus Features secured the rights to the trilogy and there has been a lot of speculation as to who should play the leading roles. There are lots of pretty male actors around who could happily play the part of Christian Grey but I nearly fell off my chair when I heard that Angelina Jolie (age 37) had indicated that she would like to play the part of Anastasia – I am struggling to think of a less likely candidate to play a 19 year old virgin!!!
But back to the books themselves. If like me you are an avid reader and someone who enjoys a good story, these books are not for you! The first book sets the scene and the subsequent two make a half-hearted attempt to weave a very weak storyline throughout. There is some development of the characters but you soon find yourself skipping over the salacious parts which become incredibly boring after a while.
In particular, the section in the first book which details the contract laying out the terms of the sexual arrangement between them is, to say the least, ludicrous, and “safe” words are clearly reiterated so Ana can maintain certain boundaries when it comes to pain and humiliation. Surely one would hope that a simple “Stop” would be a better place to start! Furthermore, in the final book she allows him to continue using some of his sado-masochist tendencies on her whilst pregnant with their first child – as if!
The phenomenon of Fifty Shades is hard to ignore however and every day there is a new story making the whole thing a Marketeers dream. One idea that I particularly like comes from Richard’s Cakes (‘Quality Cakes for All Occasions’) from Manchester who have sculpted, baked and created a Fifty Shades of Grey Cake based around the Red Room of Pain. I just love the handcuffs on the bed.