Fifty Shades of Grey… I Just Had to Ask

Have you or haven’t you?

Everywhere I go lately the conversation ends up at Fifty Shades of Grey, the novel by E.L James that has swept the UK and the US like a proverbial hailstorm. Dinners, lunches and many conversations in-between have revolved around this book and the two sequels. I am intrigued… I understand from the chat and the publicity that it is one raunchy read… with a guarantee to make the most open of us blush. I hope you don’t mind me taking about this but I think of you as friends and French Essence as a place where we can discuss many topics. I consider this an interesting subject for our ‘girl talk’ and I am curious to know your thoughts on these highly contentious novels.

I have heard that Fifty Shades of Grey is totally shocking, that it is poorly written and that it is total rubbish. I have also heard that it’s not that shocking, that it is quite well written and that it is simply an erotic love story with a twist. I don’t know the answer but I do know that anyone who can write a novel that ends up on the New York Times Bestsellers List, The UK Bestsellers List and who sells in excess of 12 million copies of the combined trilogy has hit the jackpot in more ways than one. Obviously financially this is an incredible turn of events… but apart from that… writing is hard and selling books is even harder. Granted shock value will sell… and we all know that sex sells, whether it be in advertising, film or other media related areas. But 12 million copies… and I don’t think that includes the e-books that are downloading every second… This is one major success story… move over J.K Rowling… E.L James is on your tail.

Fifty Shades of Grey has been described as the Lady Chatterley’s Lover of our generation… it may also become Britain’s best selling novel of all time! The land that produced Shakespeare and Dickens, Hardy and Bronte has turned up the heat; the female population is eschewing the classics in favour of a new kind of ‘Mills and Boon romance’… Apparently Fifty Shades of Grey has sold more copies than the Da Vinci Code and is fast closing in on Harry Potter… I guess this ‘wizardry’ for women has hit a spot.

So why is it so popular? To put it bluntly… it can’t be just the sex… however graphic it might be.  Is it the forbidden idea of dominance and submission? Or is it the love story between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey that has women rushing to their Kindles or turning the pages of their books? Why has this trilogy hit the world by storm? Are women so starved for adventure, romance and affection in their lives that such escapism provides a valuable retreat?

Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? What did you think? Why is it such a phenomenon? xv


To listen to E.L James discuss Fifty Shades of Grey click here

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160 responses to “Fifty Shades of Grey… I Just Had to Ask”

  1. pve says:

    No, I have not read this. I do not think I will.
    Should I, have you read it. I do feel as though I am missing out….

  2. Nope, haven’t. I went through my ” Harlequin romance novel” stage many years ago, I find this sort of book silly these days. Not that it is not entertaining, some people obviously love it, but I am more interested in Mysteries lately lol.. As in most reading materials, if it is not required or something that you have a serious affinity to, then I think it is just the entertainment value. I guess this entertains quite a lot of people.

  3. Sherry says:

    Haven’t read it. No interest at all. Too many other books that will fill my imagination and stretch my thinking.

  4. Heather says:

    I’m am avid follower of your blog but rarely comment. But this time I had to have my say. Fifty Shades? I put it down halfway through. In my opinion, it’s poorly written and glamorizes S & M. I think that women are turning to it because it explores something that tantalizes us in theory, but most of us would not be able to bear in reality. It’s forbidden fruit. I bought it because I’m one of those people who wanted to know what all the excitement is about. There have been books written about sex for years, this one is just more mainstream. Don’t waste your time.

  5. Robin Heim says:

    “I have heard that Fifty Shades of Grey is totally shocking, that it is poorly written and that it is total rubbish.” As an English major I’d have to agree with this statement. Having barely gotten through half of the book, which I was reading because it was the choice of the book club I was in at the time. Having read LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER in my 20’s, let me say that it is NOT, in any way or form, as good as that particular classic. It is, however, very close to the Hollywood sex novels of the 70’s written by such authors as Beverley Sassoon. That said, I think you’re question, “Are women so starved for adventure, romance and affection in their lives that such escapism provides a valuable retreat?” may, indeed, be a huge part of the answer as to why it’s been so successful. {sigh}

    • Robin Heim says:

      Oh, my, it’s VERY early here — so please forgive the “English Major’s” lack of proofing before posting. {heavier sigh} LOL :-)

    • Robin Heim says:

      The following {taken from Wikipedia} may also shed light on why it’s been so successful –> from a marketing point-of-view. It’s PAYS to have connections in just the right places. Agree?

      “Erika Leonard, a.k.a. E.L.James, formerly worked as a television executive.Leonard lives in west London with her husband of over 20 years, screenwriter Niall Leonard, and their two teenage sons.Her parents are Chilean and Scottish.Raised in Buckinghamshire and privately educated, Leonard read history at the University of Kent, before becoming a studio manager’s assistant at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield.”

      Just sayin’.

      • Robin Heim says:

        There I go again, trying to post when I’m barely awake. Sorry! {Walk away from the computer, Robin.}

        • Karen in CT says:

          Ha .. you are right, she has connections. She was on the US TV Show “The View” … I saw it. She’s no stranger to the media.

    • frances says:

      I totally agree pure garbage I wish I had never read it..Cheers Frances

  6. I haven’t! I am such a prude! That I am reading Thackeray says it all, non?

    Am mighty glad that you asked though and will look forward to hearing from those that have read it… ;)

    • Vicki says:

      There is nothing wrong with Thackery… and from my memory Becky Sharp was a bit of a naughty one too! xv

      • Ooh, she is a nasty character that girl but even if she says in the very beginning of this fabulous novel: “I’m no angel”, we still aren’t talking about more than a bit of ‘heaving bosoms’…for now…I still have 300 pages to go!

  7. Wanda says:

    Yes, I have read all three (guilty pleasure I guess) – my honest opinion is that is just a XXX-rated “Twilight” – same premise, insecure girl, beautiful man, she doesn’t know what he sees in her, she leaves, they get back together, she gets pregnant, he’s in shock, yada, yada, yada. I felt poorly written, but hey, you gotta find out what happens, yes? :-) I thought second and third were more interesting w/ Mrs. Robinson and Christian’s company being sabotaged.

    • Vicki says:

      I love that ‘XXX rated Twilight’! xv

      • Robin Heim says:

        Actually, E.L.James’s first version of Shades was written with the Twilight saga {and all of its success} in mind. So, in a way, she rather “lifted” the idea from Stephenie Meyer without bringing along the vampires and werewolves {in supernatural form anyway}.

        • Vicki says:

          When interviewed James admitted that ‘Twilight’ was her inspiration… incredible that both trilogies should be so successful… xv

          • GG says:

            IT wasn’t just her inspiration – Fifty Shades actually began as fanfic for Twilight forums and developed from there.
            So she already had a slow audience buildup and then she rewrote it for the publishing market.

  8. Catherine says:

    I read the trilogy which was given to me by a customer during my annual marketing trip. It was mentioned in every meeting I attended. Wish I were joking. I work with the same people everybday, so its a casual long term relationship. Anyway, I read a lot and am a fiction snob, so. i dont normally read popular fiction, but felt the cultural pressure to do so in this case. In a nutshell, this is a sex book. The plot is weak, and almost an after thought. I found myself flipping ahead pages because once you read one sex scene you kinda read them all. Take the shock factor of the sex out, and this would be a first draft of a college writing course. The only thing she did relatively well was that she took a character I couldnt stand and made me almost like him. of course, she is laughing all the way to the bank. The biggest kudo I can give the author is that she has lots of women reading books who normally dont.

    • Vicki says:

      Perhaps this in a way explains ‘Fifty Shades’ popularity… ‘cultural pressure… nobody wants to be left out… xv

      • Robin Heim says:

        I agree with all of the above. My weak attempt at posting a comment at this hour prohibited me from stating it as eloquently as Catherine did. {Again –> walk away from the keyboard, Robin.}

      • Karen in CT says:

        – yes … curosity and the need to be “in the know”

  9. Mary says:

    No, haven’t and probably never will! I’ve read the reviews and learned enough about the content. There are too many truly beautiful and inspiring books left to read, and for me, personally, I see no need to waste precious time on this trilogy. Perhaps it’s an age thing and I don’t need to see what I missed, ha!ha!

    I did watch the interview you directed us to and have to admit I liked the author much more after seeing/hearing her. She’s made her mark almost accidentally by sound of it – she’s now a multimillionaire who just wants a ‘nice kitchen’. I like that she seems ‘normal’ with a husband and family (though how her teenage sons are handling all this publicity I don’t know!), and is not some drug-crazed pervert. Being English I felt like she could have been one of my old school friends – but she’s the one who hit the jackpot!!!!!!!

    Well written post Vicki – now tell us if you will be reading it!!!!!!
    Have a great day – Mary

  10. Tracy says:

    I am currently reading the second book & while it starts out very heavy with S&M, I don’t think it’s going to stay that way. Fifty Shades started out as Twilight fan-fiction. I don’t think it’s poorly written at all.

    I am enjoying the banter between Christian and Ana. I have laughed out loud several times! Who wouldn’t want to be swept off their feet by a handsome, rich suitor? I am also intrigued by the reason behind why Christian is the way he is. It’s more than just sex. But to each their own. :)

  11. Victoria says:

    I read the reviews on Amazon and everyone said it was very poorly written. But, if its focus is to arouse women, from what I’ve heard it’s succeeding. Men don’t complain about or over-think the poorly written story lines of porn flicks! They just enjoy so *if* I was going to read it I wouldn’t go in expecting too much.

    With that said, I don’t plan on reading it!

  12. Priscilla says:

    I have heard of the book – hard not to. Pornography has never appealed to me. I did watch the interview you posted. I thought the most interesting part was the author stating she would be horrified if her sons read it. Doesn’t that say it all. It begs the question, if you produce something of which you are ashamed, why do it?

    • Vicki says:

      I would almost think it impossible in this day and age that her sons hadn’t read some of it. Curiosity… and all that… xv

  13. Ann X says:

    Just read some to get the idea. Written poorly, even with my limited English and I have no intentions to reed all of them… But hey – who cares if it has such a sucess!
    Why it’s such a sucess? For me it seems like this – it just shows the number of unhappy female population. LOL

    It sells a dark dream of submission. Which is a bit different than our upbringing. Girls are equal! Girls are better than men! Sure, you can run a head office and you MUST to prove that you are better than these in trousers! Yes, you can drive better than that idiot who can’t read the map properly…. And we go, we push, we succeed… But… are we happy? Is deep inside that little Cindarella waiting for her prince on the white hore still alive?
    Well, the number of already sold copies says yes. LOL Yes, I agree on XXX rated Twilight – selling exactly the same dream to emotionaly and sexually unsatisfied female population. S/M … the same poorly written rubbish, but again – as it is mainstreem, people who will want learn more will find the way – the books just slightly open the doors. Do you want to go further or just blush and slam it tight again is up to you.
    I would say like that – every husband who sees the third book on the nightstand in the bedroom, definitely must think about how to improve the relationship with the said reader LOL.

  14. Jess Flett says:

    I read them so as not to be left out….I wanted to know what the hype was about…this is what I had to say… I’m really saddened to hear they may become Britain’s best selling novel of all time…what does that say about our current generation!! I am baffled by the success of the trilogy but at the same time congratulate E.L James on her success. Jx

    • Vicki says:

      I think you summarised beautifully in your post Jess… .’I’m not enamoured with the books but I want to keep reading…’ xv

  15. Guilty- Ive finished all three. Regarding the writing quality of the book, lets just say its no worse than many television shows that millions flock to watch every single day. Some people have wasted 20+ years watching shows that are horrible and never end. I made it through the books in only three weeks.

  16. hopflower says:

    I have not read it but have noticed all the hype surrounding it. I don’t think I will: those types of novels do not really interest me.It reminds me of Nine and a Half Weeks those years ago. I did read that; it was lent to me by a friend who said I must read it. I did, but was disappointed. I have the feeling that the “Fifty Shades” novels might be another same experience.

    Publishing a book used to be an accomplishment. There are no standards to do so now. Anyone can write anything and have it published.

    • Sue lenton says:

      Yes but not all of them sell twelve million copies. And let’s not forget this was a word of mouth best seller regardless of any media connections. In fact it was first practically self published by a really small women’s cooperative. It’s fun. Cinderella with lots of sex and a happy ending.

  17. cheryl cusack says:

    I also have not read about the book and only really heard about it last month while away on vacation..Sitting by the pool, talking to this woman(who was on her Honeymoon!) just would not stop going on about how amazing this book was??(felt sorry for her NEW husband)I think it’s the NEW thing..ppl dont’t want to feel left out if they didn’t read it..however I don’t think I will bother have my own MAN who does it for me!!!!(haha)

  18. Well Vicki since you asked …. I was very curious to see what all the fuss was about, and picked up the last in the trilogy (the first and second had sold out) before jumping onto Eurostar recently. By the time I reached Paris I was almost half way through but since then I haven’t read any more of it.

    Badly written and total rubbish? possibly but hey, did you see how many copies she sold?!! Shocking? I didn’t think it was that bad; the reason for its success? I think everyone loves a little fantasy, and maybe she just found the right mix of sex-and-money-and-the-tall-protective-male to capture the imagination. That she was inspired by Twilight seems very clear,

    I say good on her! I would love to have written a best seller!!

  19. Amy Kortuem says:

    I haven’t read it. I don’t know if I will. You know me as a harpist, but I’m also a writer (by day job and I’m working on a memoir in my “free time”).

    And I abhor bad writing. I’ve heard from my writer friends and reader friends that the writing in the “Fifty Shades” series is really, really bad. But then I thought the writing in “DaVinci Code” was bad, too.

    There is merit in being able to tell a good story, though. And I think the shocking subject matter and perhaps the method of storytelling is engaging…

    Let us know if you read it!

  20. LittleRus says:

    Sex sells, whenever, wherever and whatever. It doesn’t have to be of good quality or value. That’s why porn will always sell and that’s why the quickest way to stardom is to get naked or write about it. The woman got it right and made money out of it and I’d say good for her!
    What makes me sad, though, is the fact that people would rather read this than a good book. Says a lot about values and brain development. :(
    Would I read this book? No. Life is too short to waste it on junk.

  21. Barbara Winslow says:

    I read a portion of the first novel out of curiosity, and was amused at how many people found it “shocking”. Quite honestly, my own sex life has been more erotic than the scenes depicted in the book. It is also poorly written, but the author herself said that she doesn’t claim to be a great writer, and ultimately, she is laughing all the way to the bank. Good for her, I say!

    I think the huge appeal of the book can be attributed to how repressed most women are sexually, so I think it’s a good thing that this series is, perhaps, waking up the world to the fact that YES, women are sexual beings, and YES, it’s ok to explore that which has been labelled deviant. Consenting adults should be able to explore their fantasies without feelings of guilt and/or condemnation.

    I hope this paves the way for more authors of erotica to get their work out there…


  22. Donna says:

    I have read the trilogy and I couldn’t put it down. I think the reason people enjoy the book is because the story turns a typical “love story” on its head. The heroine doesn’t want to be rescued by the hero – either financially or otherwise – and it is her love that transforms the hero. The book is most compelling not because of the sex scenes but because of the complex psyche of the hero and the horrors he endured. Christian Gray is a fascinating character and it is his story that hooks the reader in and makes you want to read more. The soft core dominance and submission has just opened up many women’s eyes – and probably their sexuality – to the “forbidden” that isn’t really all that strange. In this day and age of women having to “do it all” it’s nice to think about a dominant, strong man to count on.

  23. Katherine says:

    Like Jess, I was sad to read that it might become Britain’s all time best seller. Really?
    I haven’t read it and don’t intend to. The reason I didn’t pick it up when everyone else was getting on the band wagon is because, well it was a band wagon. It seemed ‘too much hype’ for a good read – too much of a trend. And frankly the comments regarding it being poorly written didn’t draw me in.
    I think the thing that is keeping some readers away is not the sex in the book, it is the sexually demands and submissions that is put on the character {at least from readers comments who stopped reading it part way through}.

  24. Mayna says:

    Dear Vicki
    I couldn’t agree with you more about how difficult it is to write a book and be able to sell it and actually have it be a success. I read the books a while back and although the story is very sexual and intense, it is truly about love and passion. The kind of passion women lack in their lives and only fantasize about so the book was able to tap into the market of the curious and the hungry. I envy the author and hope someday my book will be on the best seller list well written or not.

  25. HelOnWheels says:

    I haven’t read it and I have no intention of reading it. I’m not even concerned about being “left out”. My reading-for-pleasure time is very limited so, I’m not about to waste it on badly written rubbish. I have been told that it was terrible and I would hate it by my most trusted rabid-reader friend; she said the same exact thing to me about Da Vinci Code and she was right. I’ve been steering women to Anne Rice’s “Sleeping Beauty” series – same concept but much better written and more interesting.

  26. First time I heard of it was a month ago … (yes I am that out of touch). At my mother’s 80th birthday – four generations of women talking about it – my Mum had heard all about it, my sisters had too, my daughter was reading it but was horrified at the thought of me reading it … (she thinks I’m a prude and I probably am).
    I like a romantic idea of relationships – very old school and traditional.
    I believe the reason it is so popular is because it is round table chat and the word gets out, curiosity is heightened and people read so they can see what the fuss is all about and report back to continue the conversations.
    Just like any other best seller …
    Sex sells …
    No doubt the movie will be next.

    • Vicki says:

      The deal has been signed… and now the talk is who will play Mr Grey and Miss Steele… xv

      • Mary-Jill says:

        Vicki Lee … it is DEFINITELY NOT old school and traditional. A best seller, yes, but for what reasons?

      • Kaaren says:

        Julian A….As I am reading the first novel 50 Shades of Grey at present, he is the face I see as the character of Mr Grey. I must put the book down and watch the latest news to see if he has escaped the English and gone to Equador or back to Sweden!
        I haven’t as yet formed a face for Miss Steele.
        Oh well I must just keep reading. I am not really that impressed with writing so far but most of the women I know down under ( no pun intended) are reading it as well.
        Friends here are planing to start a Book Club and guess what the first book that will be discussed is going to be? You guessed It!
        There is no comparison to Stieg Larson’s novels.They were so well written and I loved the SWEDISH movie versions.
        Though I must say I didn’t mind the American version as well. Daniel Graig what more can I say….


  27. Kathy says:

    haha Hardy was quite raunchy for his time, Hardy the degenerate some folks called him and his wife left him I think over one novel.
    Fifty shades seems to be a book of the times we live in, it almost seems that (in the media) “anything goes”, I found the sex a bit boring/repetitive after a time and the violence eg: ex-boss, ex-girlfriends a tad unrealistic but have to agree with Donna Mr Gray is fascinating and I am glad I read all three.
    What surprises me is that most comments here say nay, so who are all these millions of folks that have said yay :-)

  28. Kyle says:

    I haven’t read it and don’t plan to. I also heard it was poorly written with no plot so I put it in the “life’s too short” category. I’m not a snob when it comes to my reading material – I’ve consumed my share of pulp – but how is it comparable to “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”? That’s going a bit far.

  29. Sanne says:

    The books themselves are indifferent to me. S + M has a long literary tradition, especially in the German language. What bothers me is that insensitive men then say, women want that way! Even though there is a NO clear before. Even in cases of rape you can hear it again and again: “Women are to blame. And they want it no other way.”

  30. Ellie Rae says:

    I have not read it, don’t know if I will. I don’t like sex novels. I did read a preview on Amazon to see what all the fuss was about; no sex in the preview. What I read did not seem badly written, but, no, it probably would not be classed as literature. I think it is the forbidden fruit aspect that makes people want to read it; I don’t think such a thing could be borne in real life, as another commentor said. A recent issue of Harper’s Bazaar (I think that was the magazine) did a review on it, and the author of that review says the appeal is because we’ve gotten tired of the sterile sex in the earlier Twilight movies and now we want some hard stuff. I think she may be right. It was a good review.

  31. Karen in CT says:

    WOW … Vicki, you are the first blogger I follow who has so wisely put this out there. I have not read it, not opposed to trash, but my reading list is just too long. I’m also in a time consuming history book club, but I fit fiction in where I can. My sister’s more eclectic bookclub chose it. She is a sexy woman, not opposed to trash either, but thought it was boring. Hummm, I thought. I know a lot of women who have read it. I enjoy spending time with these women, but we don’t have the same tastes in books, movies, or TV shows. Ergo, I think it’s likely not for me. It is a phenomenon, no question. Like many observations in today’s world, it just makes you wonder.

  32. Vicki-
    I haven’t read it and don’t plan to. I have heard from so many that it is so poorly written that they had to put it down, not to mention the storyline, whatever it may be.
    If you read it, I look forward to reading your opinion and review.
    Happy Thursday.

  33. Barbi Alexander says:

    I’m a nurse with busy days. I’m reading the last in the trilogy and will say that it’s just a bit of fun. The sex is between a consenting couple who care about each other. I’m sure much of what’s in the book is common practice in many healthy relationships.

  34. Anna says:

    Hi Vicki,

    I’m not a book snob and did fear of missing out therefore I read all three books. The sex didn’t shock me but it did make me blush. The story isn’t very deep but it is dreamy. A total escape from reality. The email banter between Ana and Christian is worth the read alone. You can’t help but smile and occasionally LOL ;) At times you’ll feel it’s becoming boring and wish there were more fades to black but I was still happy to soldier on and finish the story. The third book is probably the better of the three.

    Anna xox

    • Vicki says:

      Escapism… I think we all enjoy that in one way or other… and maybe that is why Fifty Shades is so successful… a total escape from reality… xv

  35. Pamela says:

    Wow, Vicki, thanks for asking…I am currently reading the books. I’m in the second one now. I agree that the book was poorly written, some sex scenes are quite repetitive. The first book is mostly about lust, dominant/submissive sex, her innocence and his dominance. I find the second book is better, with more substance. Why am I reading it? I just want to know how the trilogy will end. The whole trilogy is an interesting and entertaining read. But I will not compare it to J. K. Rowlings and Jane Austen. Oh no please!

    Reading this trilogy actually reminded me of reading those “Mills and Boon” books during our High school days(my girlfriends and I kept those books from the nuns since we attended Catholic High school and then we all passed those books around. High school memories). But this is a jackpot for the author. I heard they will make a movie from it. I wonder who will play Christian and Anastasia? Oh since reading these books, my same High school friends and I were discussing who we prefer Edward from Twilight or Christian? Geez. See what ladies can talk about?!

  36. Sue Fogarty says:

    Scarlet and Rhett, Elizabeth and Darcy, Ana and Christian – time will tell. I found it read like a racy Mills and Boon that went on and on, although I haven’t read a Mills and Boon for over forty years. I don’ think I will read the sequels. Good luck to E. L James though.

  37. GardenCatCottage says:

    I bought all 3 books for my nook. I got to page 25 of book one and had to put it down from sheer loathing of the female character and boredom. My friends keep telling me it gets better, but so far its absolute crap. The character Ana would be better suited as the victim in a serial killer novel.

  38. Vicki,
    The receptionist at my office gave me a rough overview, it’s not my kind of book. I’ll pass, but she (the receptionist) liked it so much she read all 3.

  39. Peggy says:

    I read the first book in 24 hours – couldn’t put it down. The sex was certainly not the type of sex I am interested in, but the magnetic attraction between these two people, the development of respect and love, and the struggle to overcome the issues they both have to meet somewhere acceptable to them both, was intriguing to me. Yes, his wealth was far-fetched, but the idea of opposites attracting was not.
    It definitely was not well-written, but it wasn’t horrible until book three, when the author’s use of the same phrasings over and over again became irritating. I did finish them all, however. The ending was more unbelievable to me than the beginning.

  40. No and no I have no plans to read it, just not my thing. I have heard from many that the writing quality was poor, and frankly the subject matter holds zero appeal to me.
    Furthermore, I saw an interview with the author and was totally unimpressed and underwhelmed. So thats my two cents:)

  41. Susie says:

    Hello Vicki – Interesting discussions!!! I’m reading the comments here with great interest as the ‘naysayers’ seem to be abundant (including me) – however when I flew into Sydney yesterday, guess what was downloaded on my iPad for reading on the trip???!!! Also interesting to see the book displayed just as prominently here…..(and discovered on my daughter’s bedside table!!!!). Could it be not just curiosity but the author ‘getting lucky’ by simply ‘being in the right place at the right time’? I’m thinking of the big brother phenomenon – not shocking to any of us really now but when launched, it caused uproar….Is this another example of the taboo becoming mainstream & EL James just extraordinarily lucky that she thought of it first? If you look at the explosion of ‘sex toys’ and the absence of embarrassment when women shop for them (as opposed to the ‘old men in dirty raincoats’ customers who seemed to embody the general idea of the ‘type’ of person who shopped in these stores), it seems inevitable to me that it was only a matter of time before other, related, markets became ‘acceptable’ – just a thought…….I haven’t actually started reading yet, so can’t comment on the quality of the writing – my daughter is just completing an English degree and confirms that the writing is poor quality but that doesn’t seem to be an issue amongst her peers….as I said, interesting…….x

    • Vicki says:

      I think that we read different genres for different reasons… the way we watch television programs. Sometimes we search for intellectual stimulation and at other times we want escapism. There is a place for all types of books… I don’t believe that light weight reading is a bad thing as long as it’s not all that we consume… Like all things… a little balance in life… xv

  42. Mary-Jill says:

    I have read the book, lent to me by a friend. I found myself skipping pages, trying to get to something that might be a little different from the last few I had read. I didn’t find the ‘good’ bits so good … to my mind, the media hype makes it so visible to everyone, sending two very wrong messages … one that it’s okay for young girls (or anyone) to be submissive to another person and two, that it’s okay for men (or anyone) to practise control over another person. Sure, everyone lives their own life, makes their own choices … I just didn’t think it worth the hype it’s receiving in the name of whatever it is … literary brilliance? I don’t think so. As you say, sex sells, but I can think of many more books I would rather have read than wasting the hours I’ll never get back in reading that book.

    • Joy Rose says:

      I am glad to see Mary-Jill bring up the point that this book sends a wrong message to young
      women, or any woman for that matter. The message being that S & M is a good thing! I am surprised that so many women are accepting this as okay. I have two daughters, and I would be heart broken if they thought S & M was a fulfilling way to enjoy sex. It would also be disturbing to me if they wanted any kind of relationship with a man like the main character of this book. I also I have two sons, and it would break my heart if either of them treated a woman like this.

      • Rebecca says:

        Reading the first book now. It is being passed around by our book club.

        About a third of the way through the book. Seriously, the well educated mother walks in to the apartment and is not stopped by the security guy? She have a key? Then she sees a girl friend for the first time and there is a bedroom in the apartment for a girl friend (he has had 15 of them)? Most of this is just too, too unbelievable and not well constructed. I doubt if I will finish the book. Not to my liking. Reads like a poorly written movie.

        Must say that sex and hype is selling this book not great writing.

        Yet most of all I am not happy about the message it sends to young girls and guys.

  43. Although I haven’t read it, I confess I’m intrigued.

  44. Irina says:

    It sounds a bit like a raunchier Carrie and Mr. Big! :)
    Not planning on reading it…I am not against erotica, but this does not sound appealing…
    I haven’t read Twilight either…reading list too long to spend time on this stuff. :)) But I am certainly not judging those who do…
    Have a fabulous weekend, Vicki!
    – Irina

  45. Karena says:

    Vicki I did read the first book. I did not live up to my expectations, it seemed very sophomoric, did not ring true in many ways (she was a virgin; however she was all of a sudden the best lay he had ever had.

    To me I don’t have a problem with sensuality and adults being free to live their private lives as they wish. Even reading the 1st book became tiring very quickly rather than exciting and intriguing,

    Art by Karena
    2012 Artist Series featuring Harrison Howard

  46. Sabrina says:

    Shouldn’t be named “Filthy Shades of Sex” ;). I honestly can say for a stay at home Mom and not much happening in the bedroom it kept me awake at night, turning and drooling over each page. When I got towards the end of the first book I completely stopped, I guess I was getting tired of the cat and mouse game being the same. I still want to continue reading it but I think more for the fantasy of a man wanting a woman so badly that he can’t wait to talk or be with her again is very appealing. In a way I know I would want a man to continue to want me and lust over me on a daily basis.

    • Vicki says:

      It’s the age old story… we all want to be loved and there is nothing better than a woman in love… xv

      • Moushka says:

        DH and I enjoyed the books for what they are: sexual fantasies. They are not literature or even particularly well-written. The story is a soft porn Cinderella fantasy which could only have become a best seller in today’s permissive, anything-goes society. There are not even three books: just one continuous story chopped up into three volumes to produce more sales. Take clever marketing, lots of graphic, risqué sex, the author’s media connections including a blog, and voila, the ingredients of a best seller. Good for E L James for pulling it off. I’ll bet she’s laughing all the way to the bank.

        As to supposedly being shocked at the thought her sons would read the series, the person who orchestrated this little number could not possibly be that naive. James was fooling someone, maybe herself.

  47. Katherine says:

    I too bought the book out of curiosity. I tossed the book after the first few chapters. For me, Life is simply too short to read poorly written books. Great conversation here Vicki.
    Cheers, Katherine.

    • Vicki says:

      I think the ‘chats’ are the best part of blogging… how we can learn from each other and share opinions…
      I love reading all the conversations much more fun that doing all the talking… :) xv

  48. Mouse says:

    No I haven’t either but my daughter has.
    I have an aversion to instant fame and success. That’s why I haven’t read any Harry Potter books either.
    But if sex sells I am going to have to add some spice to my own book, may not be easy but as long as my daughter never reads it because we parents do not know anything about sex, do we?

  49. GG says:

    Vicki, unto every geenration a BDSM book/movie appears.
    In my time it was The Story Of O, then 91/2 Weeks, etc and now this. There are plenty of these stories but this one has hit the mainstream.

    Good on the author for making her money but don’t feel obliged to read it if you’re not into that particular genre.

  50. Liz Harris says:

    Loved reading everyone’s opinion on 50 Shades…..our little bookclub recently gave all of us the option of reading either 50 Shades of Grey (because of all of this hype!) or All That I Am (Anna Funder) winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin Literary Awards (sort of the Australian Pulitzer I guess..?). I chose the later (couldn’t bring myself to devote my precious spare time to what I was told was essentially soft porn…..!!!) and it was the right decision. Please please please Vicki take the time to read All That I Am. It is so beautifully written and, although very sad in some ways, a joy to read. I loved each and every page. It’s a shame to think that so many important books like All That I Am might get missed because of the 50 Shades-esque novels!! Liz X

  51. miss b says:

    I met my friends for coffee on Monday (we have been friends for years – from school) and this was one of our topics of conversation! We were surprised that not one of us had read it yet and we were debating whether we should. Our final decision…..maybe we should to see what all the fuss is about and we might just enjoy it too!

  52. Heidi says:

    I bought it and I didn’t really know what I was I for. I read about a quarter of it and stopped. I’m not sure why, too busy to be blushing at my daughter’s ballet or riding lessons, or basically too busy blogging! Look I didn’t find the writing to be terrible, and I’m an English major, I just found that after reading some of the most amazing books ever written, it just wasn’t that interesting. I’ve always been an Anais Nin fan, so…

  53. Anita Rivera says:

    I am SO LATE!!! I have not read this but have heard everyone talk about it. I guess I best go to flip through it at least, at my local bookstore!!!

  54. Jacqueline Bucar says:

    Why can’t it just be about sex that sells the novel? Every single person I have spoken to who has read the book has had the same two reactions: 1. the blatant sex and 2. it is horribly written. Even one of my daughters who never reads has read this book and had the same reaction. That a daughter who is not a reader was struck by how poorly it is written speaks volumes of why it is successful. I’m not criticizing the sex aspect. Why not? why not be titillated? But to claim that it is in the same league as DH Lawrence or Shakespeare is a travesty. Those works of art have themes and ideas well beyond the sexual level. Look at 50 Shades of Grey for what it is…a spark in the routine life of the suburban housewife.

  55. Judi says:

    I read all three on my ipad, so no one knew what I was actually reading. Like others, I was intrigued by all the hype. I’m still trying to work out why I wasted my time, but I could not put them down, even though I was totally over the explicit sex!

  56. Corinne says:

    Early on I heard that it was poorly written porn. It held not interest for me. at another time in my life I probably would have read it, but now, probably not. I am a “rabid reader” as husband frequently remarks but I try to stay within my realm of interest because my reading time is limited. Either way, it has been interesting to observe the evolution of this trilogy. It’s marketability is testament to interest. To each their own.

  57. I am currently reading the 1st book. My 1st thought was that it was a throw back to the 60’s-70’s genre. The theme doesn’t interest me at all, I’m reading for conversational benefits when at lunch with my girlfriends. You almost have to like Grey if he has the power to persuade women to do his bidding, and hopefully, somewhere down the line he sees the light. Not at all my cup of tea, and now I don’t know if I will finish it. I can only imagine the younger women purchasing the book for its sensational value.

  58. caroline says:

    Happy to confide I finished all three in 8 days!! (on holidays in July and when I pick up a book it is a joke in my family ..say goodbye to mum..!)Yes the writing is not likely to be studied in Yr 12 English Lit classes and yes the story line has been told before…but if you pick it up with that in mind is a fun read..enlightening at times.. lots of sex.. and by Book three you almost – I said almost – skip over the sex, seriously how much can one couple have in one day?? – More importantly congrats to EL James she has found herself an absolute financial winner!!

  59. Gina says:

    ha. my 2 daughters read and told me not to. when I asked why, my newlywed daughter told me I wouldn’t understand it. she’s probably right!

  60. Teddee Grace says:

    Have not read it. Pulled it up and read a few graphs and thought it did seem poorly written. For comparison, I’m reading Parallel Stories by Hungarian Peter Nadas. I’m about halfway through its 1131 pages.

  61. Kim says:

    Pages from the book floated our way while in our country club pool this summer! It was really funny when one of the husbands gathered the wet pages and then asked all the women reading books if the pages belonged to them. While I haven’t read it, one of the men had!

  62. Christy says:

    I read all 3 books in 5 days; couldn’t put them down. I read them because I wanted to know what everyone was talking about (social peer pressure I guess). While the writing wasn’t the best, the storyline was what I loved. The first book, pissed me off, but as the I continued to read the 2nd and 3rd, I fell in love with the characters. The playful banter between Ana and Christian was what I loved the most, and I feel like the after a while all the sex becomes an afterthought, the book really is about the emotional growth of two insecure people, one who is a little as Christian would say “50 shades of f**ked up”. It is definitely Twilight-ish, but my only problem is that young girls are reading these books, which I think will give them the wrong impression on what relationships should be. And I don’t want them to feel that S&M is common in a “normal” relationship. Teenagers aren’t mature enough to understand that this really isn’t real life. But overall, I say read it!! Loved the books and love Christian Gray!

    And I will leave you with my favorite line from Christian “Laters Baby!” :) Have a great weekend!

  63. Kate Thompson says:

    I rarely post comments, but had to weigh in on this one! I am NOT an English major, though well-travelled and well-read. That being said, I might think that a book is well-written if it grabs you enough to read it; I am not a literary critic, and consider those who are NOT to be underqualified to comment negatively. Like many, I had to see what all the excitement was about, so I read them. All three…in a week. I am not a prude, and while I don’t particularly understand the BDSM world (bondage, dominance,etc.) I was intriqued WHY it could be enticing to anyone. I’m sure this is not the definitive guide to it, BUT nonetheless, I don’t think it’s the reason for its success. If you can get past the descriptive passages, and come to terms with your inner Gloria Steinam, wondering HOW Anastasia could be so gullible, you WILL be inthralled with the love story, and the other stories going on behind the sex scenes. Can you live without reading it? Sure. You will always wonder, though. So get through the first one, and you will be hooked. In all honesty, the sex passages become a little, well, rote…or at least, you get used to them. But it is a psychological thriller, so you find yourself glossing over those after awhile to get to the “meat” ~ mystery, intrique and romance. So, check out of your hectic lives and curl up on the couch. I, for one, am sitting on the edge of my chair awaiting the fourth volume :)

  64. I read the first 15-20 pages and deleted it from my iPad. Silly, simpering, badly written, not the least erotic.

    Why are people reading it? Because it describes forbidden fruit. It allows them to experience an S&M “relationship” vicariously. Because everyone else is reading it: buzz.

    A total and complete waste of time. Plenty of decent erotica available for those who wish to seek it out.

  65. sherri says:

    I’m so relieved to know that I’m not the only person on Earth who did not like this book. It is extremely poorly written. I am anything but a “prude” but found it boring and contrived. I forced myself to read the second book also, thinking “”Surely, I am missing something.” But it was like trying to force down a bad meal. What a waste of my time. To think that this book could overtake sales of Shakespeare etc, makes me want to cry.

  66. Leslie says:

    I agree.. total rubbish.. HOWEVER! I had to read it to find out what the buzz was all about. I’m 52.. been married for 30 years and thought.. well, let’s see if I get hooked. It’s a twisted love story and a bit disturbing.. I didn’t prioritize the book (I’d rather read my blogs, and design magazines) so it took me longer than I’d anticipated to read. Daniel Steel is a little easier read for a romance Lol!

    Fun topic Vicki!


  67. Denise from CT says:

    I must say that I agree with several of the comments written here. Not being a prude about such literature I decided that I’d see what all the hype was about and was sorely disappointed. It was poorly written and not even close to being believable. In actuality it was repetitive and trashy. Is this the type of literature we want our daughters to read? I’m just glad I didn’t buy the sequels to the first as I don’t plan on reading anymore.

  68. Finally on the day I am back on INTERNET there is a discussion about 50 Shades. I did read on my kindle + Many congratulations to one who can sell that many books!

  69. Just read the first…on to the’s a great romp..Frankly I wish she’d pen a how to make love book for men…but I guess she just did! He’s a sensual lover and that is something a lot of men could learn from…Too bad it hasn’t been translated into French…

  70. lilybelle says:

    I read the first book – (loaned to me by a friend). Am not inclined to read the second and third. Now that I am in my fifties, nothing shocks me anymore. I thought the book was simple and quite juvenile. But kudos to the author. She has struck gold!

  71. GGomez says:

    Wow,those who haven’t read should not comment on what they do not know!
    I too (in the first book)Was shocked! However as you read on it becomes clear that there is so much more to the story line then sex.
    I have enjoyed the intensity of their love not their love making!
    The need the two have for each other is simply interesting!
    I like to read for entertainment so I don’t critique ,criticize those who have put thoughts to paper!
    Do we not read to experience things will may never not do?

    • HelOnWheels says:

      “Wow, those who haven’t read should not comment on what they do not know!”
      Why not? Aren’t we all permitted to have an opinion? Most of the comments from individuals who have not read it (nor are likely to read it) are informed as to the books’ contents/quality. We’ve either been told by those that know us, and our reading patterns, well not to bother reading it. Or we’ve read excerpts. Or it’s not a topic/genre in which we’re interested. Nobody has the right to determine whether we can voice those views here (except Vicki, because it’s her blog).

      • Vicki says:

        I want everybody to be able to share their opinions here and I enjoy reading them… For me French Essence is a two way street… it’s not just me prattling on … I like mixing it up, creating a forum from time to time… the conversations are what make it so worthwhile… xv

  72. Wendi says:

    Yes, loud and proud….I read the first book! Will I read the other two? Probably not. What did I think of it? It’s a fantasy – a young, 23 year old virgin (right there you know that this is a stretch) is multi-orgasmic from her first sexual experience….now come on, who would believe that? The S&M is more chatter than action..2 incidents….they are summer reads, light and frothy to go along with the summer drinks. Now, let’s find someone to talk about the mature woman and sex……there is a good read! It is the one thing that does get better with age! Cheers!

  73. Jeanne says:

    Having slogged through the first book of the Twilight series I have no patience nor time to slog through another poorly written series so no I have not read this book. My opinion is based on gut feeling soley derived from conversations I had with those who have read it and from reading what people have written about the book (pro and con). Here’s my take: The plot sounds like an abusive relationship between someone with power (the rich guy) and someone without power (the innocent naive protagonist). The young woman also sounds impossibly young, not college age young even though the author makes her a college grad. That in itself is a tad creepy and almost cover for something more along the lines of Lolita.

    I also sense a lot of mixed messages from the women who have read this book and the prevailing cultural role of women. We have fought long and hard to be taken seriously in whatever endeavor we chose. So now we get all dreamy eyed over a book that elevates domination by a male? I don’t understand the attraction. If he had no money would the story still work? Think the answer is no, so the book is really about women who are really reduced to being at the beck and call of a powerful, wealthy male.

    Anyone thinking along these lines at all?

  74. Lynn says:

    No, I don’t think I will read any of the trilogy. It seems to be causing the same stir that the movie “Last Tango in Paris” with Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider and the pat of butter caused in 1972 with the old man/young girl sex scene.

  75. Devon H says:

    I have read all 3 books. I hate all 3 books. I like a bit of trashy romance every now and then, but I have read plenty that are written WAY better than these. They read like poorly written erotic Twilight fan-fiction minus the paranormal element. EL James is an amateur writer at best. The books are only shockin if you have a boring, sex-in-missionary-position-only-on-Saturday-nights-with-all-lights-off kind of sex life. Seriously, James read Twilight series, and thought, I’m going to write my own version with tons more sex, no vampires or werewolves, adjust a few plot elements (wait there is really NO plot), and ta da! Twilight for grown women. It’s ridiculous how you can read the books and see how she totally stole elements from Twilight. And I live Twilight – I think it’s much more well written than Fifty. But I do wish the feminists would shut up. We had to hear the same thing when Twilight came on the scene. I think they search for things to bitch about. They just can’t accept that some woman are not the modern dominate a man type. They think everything ultimately abusive and controlling. Please. The books clearly spell out why Christian is the way he is – there is no abuse about it, even outside the s&m relationship. The books are essentially lady porn, plain and simple, and they accomplish it. Lol! With that said though, I do laugh hysterically when I encounter women who thought the books “were soooo good!” Honey, a) get a better sex life, and b) read better books so you can get an idea of what’s really good and what isn’t, because apparently many women are not good judges of writing.

  76. Am not a prude but have no interest. I do not care for anything that panders to the lesser angels, and always want the woman to be a heroine. i.e. I can watch even rough films like GI Jane or Million Dollar Baby with avid interest because the woman is a fighter who wins.

    Frankly the world is awash in 2nd rate soul-degrading drivel IMHO.

  77. kabayoz says:

    I wish I can give an educated opinion on this trilogy without resorting to heresays. After reading everyone’s inputs on the books, I’m leaning toward not reading them. To be honest, it was at the very bottom of my reading list. I’m not a literary snob, and can’t pretend to write worth a lick, but I do know what I like to read. And now I’ve mentioned trilogy, the last one I’ve read, or re-read (2nd time) was R.D. Delderfield’s, Swann Family Saga. Three books I couldn’t put down and after finishing them, wanted to read more. It was great the second time as it was the first…:)

  78. Roberta says:

    I have to say Vicki…I have never, ever read a romance novel and I’m almost done with the first book. My neighbor actually pushed it on me and I thought…oh, alright. It’s an easy read, tantilizing and I find myself looking for the perfect Christian Gray while in my travels…hahah. I can also relate to Anastasia’s character in some ways when I was much younger. Go ahead, read it and let us know what you think! xo

  79. joni webb says:

    here’s my LONG story.

    As you may or may not know, I am a huge twilight fan. i read all five books in a week and then, hooked, turned to the Twilight movies as they came out. I became a total diehard twihard. AFter i was through reading the books, i wanted more and more of the story. That’s when i discovered fanfiction. fanfiction has been around forever, I had just never heard of it.

    imagine you read Gone with the Wind and wanted to know if Rhett ever came back to Scarlett. well you might just write that ending yourself. That would be fanfic. or perhaps you love harry potter and have some ideas for a new harry potter book – you might write that and that would be fanfic.

    there are 100,000s of fanfics stories for every genre (not anne rice though – she doesn’t allow her stories to be turned into fanfic) The most popular books with the most fanfiction stories written are Harry Potter, by the way,

    so, desperate for more of the vampire love story, i discovered Twilight fanfic and became hooked.

    The twilight fanfic stories may be about vampires, or not. Some fanfic is about Edward and Bella as humans – they might be in high school or they might be retirees. The different Twilight fanfiction stories are ALL totally different. Some might be a new ending for New Moon or Breaking Dawn- they might be that faithful to the original books, or the stories could be not even remotely close to twilight – except for the character names and their physical descriptions. The fanfic authors can write whatever they want, however they want. They mostly are not faithful to the original books.

    Some fanfic authors are people who want to write books and use this medium to test the waters, others just want to write for fun. Some fanfics may be just one chapter long, others may be 50 or 60 chapters – stories long enough to be 2 and 3 books.

    About 3 years ago, one of the most popular Twilight fanfics at the time was written anonymously by someone called Snowqueens Icedragon. We just called her ICY. The name of her fanfic was Masters of the Universe. EAch week as she wrote her story, she would post the new chapter. We had to wait impatiently for the new chapters to come out – it took over a year for her to finish the story. in the end, Icy was considered one the biggest stars in the Twilight fanfiction world. People thought her story might be good enough to publish. Others disagreed and told her to forget any notions of ever publishing, that she was stealing from Twilight’s author Stephenie Meyers. Some told Icy that if she really wanted to be a published author, she should write another book, and not use Twilight as her inspiration. Icy ignored all those with negative opinions. Instead she looked for publisher and found one – a small Australian house that specialized in publishing fanfiction.

    Icy is a shy, middle aged, heavy set woman who had never written a book before. Her Twilight fanfiction about Bella and Edward with Edward being a dom and Bella his innocent victim was based on an idea she got from another popular Twilight fanfiction called The Submissive. Icy worked in TV as did her husband, they were from England.

    When Icy decided to publish her book, she went through her Masters of the Universe story and changed all the names: Bella and Edward became Ana and Christian. Ana no longer came from Forks, the hometown of Twilight. Besides those few superficial changes, 50 Shades remains exactly the same as it was written first as Master of the Universe.

    When a book club on Long Island discovered 50 Shades via a review on Goodreads, the word about the racy book spread like a wildfire. Her small original publishing house that specializes in fanfiction couldn’t handle the demand and it was sold to a true, bonafide publisher RANDOM House.

    The rights to 50 Shades were sold for a movie to be made – by the same legit people who created the popular Social Network.

    The parallels between the hunt for an unknown star to play Christian is very similar to the hunt for Twilight’s Edward, played by the now world famous Rob Pattinson. In fact, the parallels between the two unknown authors STephenie Meyers of Twilight and E. James are remarkable. These two book series have histories and sales that probably won’t see repeated for a long while. Stephenie, a devout Mormon, has never read 50 Shades and probably never will. Meyers could have stopped the book from ever being published, but, while not a huge fan of fanfiction, she is tolerant of it.

    Since 50 Shades has been published, several other popular Twilight fanfictions are now books too: Sempre, is about a mafia family, and Dante’s Inferno is about a college professor and his student. Both are excellent books and have absolutely nothing to do with bondage. The ties between these three books are just that they all started as Twilight fanfiction and became so popular, they were published. The author of Dante’s Inferno got a deal for over seven figures.

    And as they say, the rest is history. Icy’s (or Erika’s) first paycheck has been said to be in excess of $50 million. yes.

    While some people scoff at the genre of fanfiction, you would be shocked at how much literature out there is derivative of another already published work. I have a list of these books and its enormous. So many of most beloved works of fiction are “fanfictions” of another’s. If anyone is interested in reading this list – it’s quite an eyeopener, just email me and I’ll send you this list.


    • Vicki says:

      Joni… This is amazing…
      Thank you for this background on ‘ fan fiction’. I have never explored it, truthfully am ignorant of it, but the history of ‘Fifty Shades’ is remarkable.
      Does ‘Fifty Shades’ now have it’s own ‘Fan Fiction’… I wonder…

      • joni webb says:

        YES!!! 50 Shades does now have it’s own fanfiction. There’s now an entire new section on devoted to people who are rewriting 50 shades. Some are doing it from Christians pov and some are just making up entire new chapters. Give it a few months and Christian and Ana will be rewritten as teenagers, older people, poor people – anything that is completely different from how it now written. I should have mentioned the 50 fanfic, but i forgot!

        • Vicki says:

          Thanks Joni…
          I think I may be tempted to check out fanfiction… I can’t believe there is a whole world out there that I never knew about…. Where have I been!! ;)

        • Moushka says:

          Thanks for the info, Joni. I didn’t know about fanfiction either and am thrilled to be enlightened.

    • Wow, Joni so interesting!! Didn’t know all of this. Thanks!!

  80. L Sorensen-Jolink says:

    I usually decide whether to read a book of fiction based on reviews from some valued critics and/or what I have heard from fellow readers. The only person I know who has read any of these books had not read another book for years. Based on her stated reasons for liking these books and the reviews I’ve read, I have no interest at all in reading these books. Life is too short… As to why these books have sold so well: the answer is probably closely related to why the Kardashians have been so successful on television.

  81. Lisa says:

    Have read all three – yes the writing is bad – Has anyone ever though that perhaps this was a money maker/business idea from the start -which I am not criticising…maybe twilight gave ELJames the idea and she researched what women want from a romantic novel. When I say “women” I am talking the average housewife/mom/single gal, most of us are not HIGHLY intelligent…we are good at some stuff, and we do well in our chosen careers, are great moms, have lovely homes, and even lovlier friends but we are not the highly articulte english majors that this book is aimed at, our deomgraphic is normal, boring (but wonderful) life living school running, laundry folding moms, with husbands that love us but forget that we need to be treated like ladies and ‘made passionate love to’. My husbands business motto (we have restaurants) is ‘feed the poor, get rich’…does this also apply to books?

  82. Lisa says:

    sorry, some of that did not really make sense, but y’all get my drift, not all books are written to be works of art but are business ventures. Just a thought!

  83. Lisa says:

    In response to ‘Devon H’ above…many many many women have boring sex lives, it is a stage of real life that we go thru, maybe the book helps women to think about having more interesting sex. Having a boring sex life is not uncommon, countless magazines, books and tv shows focus on this subject…marriage/relationships have many stages and I would be very very surprised if somebody said that sex has always been erotic and mindblowing within their relationships. We all want a better (sex) life, and sometimes normal life gets in the way…I think this book could be helpful in achieving a better sex life, even if only for a month or two, it certainly cannot harm your marriage/relationship, but would serve as a reminder that better times lay ahead – mommy porn isn’t so bad, badly written yes, but try to look above the ugly parts and enjoy it for what it is, but there is nothing wrong with needing a push or helping hand in the right direction toward having more or better sex, btw – nothing wrong with missionary!

  84. Shannon says:

    Well, I have to admit I read all three books and learned a great deal more than I ever wanted to know about sex toys, domination, subservient, kinky behavior. Some might even say sadistic and perverted. I felt sorry and then mad at the Ana for hanging around and not tell him what she wanted. Christian is so damaged it’s painful.
    yes it is badly written but she must have done something right since we bought it.
    I’m still not sure if I like the books! Now lets see what her next novel is about…

  85. Patricia says:

    These books are not good; they are hateful. They are offensive. They show a total disregard and disrespect for women.

    Many people are finding them entertaining, but ultimately their attention is just rewarding misogyny. And that’s what these books show: a hatred of women.

    Christian is a misogynistic, self-loathing, abusive piece of garbage. Apparently, his only redeeming qualities are, in this order; his ridiculous good looks, his money, and his giant penis. The only time Ana seems to like him as a person is when he’s being “lovable”, and those times are few and far between. Most of the time he’s serious, brooding, and threatening. How charming.

    There is nothing funny or entertaining about misogyny.

    Misogynists aren’t always very easy to spot because on the surface they trumpet how much they love and respect women, and often times women find out too late, perhaps after they are already in love or attached in some other way. Then she is more likely to overlook the signs of the misogynist.

    For the sake of your own heart and sanity, please don’t overlook the signs. Get out and get away.

    Some symptoms:

    A man who cheats on his wife, lies and deceives, is likely a misogynist. And, yes, suggestively flirting on the internet with other women is cheating.

    Misogynists are often handsome and charming and witty. They talk about how much they love women. They openly advertise that they have an inherent respect for women. They themselves may not even realize their own misogyny (in their mind they love women), but it is quite clear in their words and actions. These types of comments show a deep-seated hatred.

    Threatening a woman with abandonment while seducing her is highly misogynistic. Telling her things like “if anyone finds out about this, you’ll never see me again” while you are both naked and vulnerable is seriously abusive.

    If when discussing your relationship he says something like “This is not just about sex. There are 30 women I could call right now who will fuck me,” he is likely a misogynist. These kind of men ultimately view women as objects–sperm receptacles to be tossed aside when full. And tossed aside you’ll be.

    Don’t allow a man to use you.

    Stand up for your inherent self worth. If you hear a misogynistic comment, call them out on it.

    From this point forward vow to call out misogyny when you see it.
    Let’s stop rewarding misogyny.

    In summary, these books are terrible and dangerous for they perpetuate hatred of women. We should be more than a little terrified that women out there are holding them up as some erotic romance. This wasn’t romance. This was abuse. This sets female equality back into the middle ages, where women are trophies to be owned and controlled.

    Shame on society for perpetuating this garbage. Shame on E.L.James for writing it. Shame on us for reading it.

    • Laura says:

      Wish I’d said that, Patricia . . .

    • Patricia….so agree will you. When younger and dating often it was usually older doctors, lawyers, CEO Type As that want an attractive younger woman. My brother said, ‘They aren’t interested in you…..they want someone to ‘go’ with the flashy car and lifestyle. A set piece. Most of the time I went out with them once and jumped out quickly thanking at the end of a date…and no ‘please come in’ or returning phone calls thereafter. All a man has to do is say one unaffirming thing to me and he is history. The type of man you describe is not hard to spot. Listen to his words, observe his actions, see what he values. No man that isn’t decent and true is worth wasting time on….better to devote those hours on self-improvement.

  86. Denise Hall says:

    I’ve not read the book BUT thought the email received from the all girls school that my grandaugher attends was indicative of the contents. I can remember reading “Valley of the Dolls” when I was around 14 years old – can’t even remember the story now but still recall it was supposed to be pretty “racy” and that’s the point “racy” is very different to “porn” (which I’m lead to believe is what it is). As a grandmother I feel quite sad that all “our” young girls wherever they may be living are being subjected to all sorts of “not normal behaviour” in a relationship before their time but that’s me, I could be too prudish (don’t think I am!!) However, I’ll not waste my money and buy the book – maybe I can get a used copy from school!!

  87. Millie says:

    I am determined to be the next E.L. James for one reason & one reason only – THE MONEY! I read one paragraph of the book in the Sunday supplements & bingo, I knew I’d found my pot of gold. So Millie girl I thought, what do you know about that you could transfer into the next 50 Shades. You should see my notes mate they are burning up the pages – NOT! It seems I need to get out more, as every time I try to write a sex scene, it strangely morphs into a grocery list.
    Millie xx

  88. Songirl says:

    Oh boy…It is embarassing to admit knowing anything about this but here is the scoop.

    This was written as Twilight Fan fiction called Master of the Universe and posted on-line to the tune of 100+ chapters. For those unfamilliar with fan fiction, it is the hobby of writing alternate endings and additional stories, novels, sequels, epics about well loved characters people simply refuse to give up and post on the internet. There are long traditions of fanfiction for Harry Potter, Star Trek, Dr. Who…almost any novel or T.V. show you have ever heard of. Why is this allowed? Because the authors do it for fun and do not profit from borrowing the names, appearances, characteristics and settings that inspired their stories, however they have been changed. Stephanie Meyer allows her fans to use her characters this way. Many authors do not.

    This story is Edward and Bella reinvented as addicted to sex and control over vampires and blood. The story is rambling, and plot-hole ridden nonsense. It began as BDSM that E.L James appeared to tire of presenting in it’s squirmish glory midway through and she took a left turn to put Bella/Anna back in charge and lure Edward/Christian back to “vanilla sex” and love.

    This is a night-time soap opera with guns and sex, kidnappings, helicopter crashes, tampons and a lot of silly dialogue. In otherwords… everything but the kitchen sink.

    Why would anyone read it? It is a guilty pleasure, most would never admit to. There are shelves and shelves of romance novels available in every book store with Fabio on the cover. Embarrassing, right? Suddenly, Fifty Shades has hit mainstream, wrapped in a slightly less cringe inducing art, discussed on T.V in the news and on the New York Times list. It is also available on e-book. The 20th century version of a brown paper wrapper with no paper trail. Mommmy porn to read on your phone right there in plain sight. Everyone is reading it. Public permission has been granted to devour and discuss a “naughty book” that many women have never ever deigned to pick up out of the pile of same at the bookstore. Why do men support this? They like sex. There are an awful lot of inspired ladies out there right now.

    Further to this, the science is that experiencing pleasure in what you read releases brain chemicals and endorphins that mimic falling in love. You want more. You keep reading. It feels nice. It is the same process as becoming addicted.

    E.L James is a savvy media professional who saw an opportunity to turn her fanfiction base into paying customers. This caused controversy and many of her followers staunchly defended what others saw as exploitation of friends made in the Twilight fandom who supported her. She was not exactly known as someone who was very gracious towards those who promoted her for free. Then she hit the replace button for all the names and it became “Original Fiction” regardless of all the preformed characters used from Twilight.

    This is not literature, it is a cultural phenomenon that just crawled out of the shadows. Get ready for more.

  89. Justine says:

    My sister recommended the book and though I was dubious I downloaded a sample on my kindle. Two chapters were enough to see how poorly written the book was, and it held so little interest for me I didn’t bother buying the copy. Reading the reviews on Amazon sealed the deal for me; it seems that readers of erotic fiction had so many other, well written books to recommend, that if I fancy reading some of this genre, there is plenty of choice.

  90. Brenda says:

    I have no interest to read these books. I don’t feel any pressure to fit in with the masses and would rather read a book that has been recommended to me by someone who’s taste I trust. Funnily although I have heard these books discussed at length no one has personally recommended it to me.

  91. auntybelle says:

    FSOG is abysmal writing. In real life I am a journalist. My topics are serious, so of course I enjoy light fiction as a relief. But sloppy, cliched, teen writing is hardly a relief–it grates on the mind.

    Of course, we all envy the success. Still, this particular success is perhaps evidence of something in our culture we rarely examine, hence the lure.

    BTW, your blog a very frequent click for me!

  92. Laura says:

    It seems to me that, apart from terrible writing, (based on excerpts I’ve read – I will not be buying the book), the subject matter takes women a few steps back in our collective consciousness. If this had been written by a man, we would all be up in arms.

  93. Wendy says:

    Lol! I have to laugh because I did not think this trilogy was all that!
    I read the complete trilogy last February when I was bed/ couch ridden with a broken knee cap.
    Yes, sex in the story is graphic, I found myself skimming over it after a while. The storie is really about a young girl falling for a very handsome, very charismatic, very rich guy who takes her to places she has never known existed, physically and mentally.
    I grew up in the very sexually open late 60’s/70’s ( i am 54)and while I was not very sexually active, I had to wonder, if that were me at that time, would I have gone along with him on this type of adventure. You have to remember, she was a virgin and had nothing to compare. I dont think she could ask her mother or anyone else for that matter, if they were being “trussed up” like a roasted chicken!!
    In the end, and when I finished the book, I feel people made to much of the sex in the story and did not focus on the story of the man and woman.

  94. Vicki says:

    I want to thank you all for such fantastic comments… it was makes these kinds of posts so interesting and rewarding to engage in.
    You are the best readers and you are all so greatly appreciated… reading and commenting on blogs takes time… and none of us has enough time… so again, thank you for spending it here…xv

  95. Vivienne says:

    No, I haven’t read it. It is very funny to see young men (at the end of their 20s) picking up (probably their mom’s or girlfriend’s) order in our bookshop.

    I feel like wickedly making fun of them, pretending I thought they bought it for themselves.

    In Hungary, currently the translator is the laughing stock of the matter, as he (besides many other mistakes) translated the musical band Kings of Leon to/as Lionking. So in the Hungarian version Grey listens to the Disney theme song. Can you imagine? The brute softy or what? :)

  96. Cathy says:

    I hadn’t even heard about the books until I read your post – but I was intrigued by the virtual and evidently still on going fire storm of responses, so I read all of them and feel certain that I will not be reading any of the books. Too many other great reads out there and frankly too little time to read them. However, yesterday while at the hair salon, my stylist and ALL the ladies – patrons and employees were absolutely abuzz about these books. My stylist admits to “never reading” but said she couldn’t put the books down. So I say “bravo” to the author for getting those who “never read” to turn off the TV or set down the tablet. Maybe it will spark a reading craze. And isn’t the being there more important than how you get there?

  97. yes! had wondered the very same thing — what all the crazy fuss was about — a friend read them and thought they were terribly written, and since had had very little time to read in the past year, thought it might be best to save for other novels out there? let me know if you decide and what you thought! x

  98. Rebecca says:

    Must add to Vicki – I usually just read your blog in my Google reader. It is not as lovely that way but sooo much easier. I seldom leave a comment as it is impossible in the reader. I wanted to know if others thought this book was not worth the time.

    I wish you to know I really enjoy your writing, your lovely home in France and your insight into life. Pictures are divine.

  99. Jean says:

    Cote de Texas has an interesting story about 50 Shades.

  100. nora says:

    It’s so badly written and it’s not sexy. Lady Chatterly it ain’t – that was a great novel with wonderful sex scenes. This is a stupid pretentious unbelievable story about a young girl in thrall to a creepy older man that usually American women would find offensive. Can’t figure out how it got so popular.

    Maybe it’s jusb sour grapes – I’m mad I didn’t write it and sell all those books! But seriously, don’t waste your time. Read Lady Chatterly’s lover – although 50 shades only takes about 2 hours to read, and LC”s Lover will take you a week… because it’s good.

    • Moushka says:

      Please ladies, get your facts straight. Christian Grey is 29, Ana is 22. This is not “…a story about a young girl in thrall to a creepy older man…” Both characters are caricatures, as are the situations.

      These books are not literature, they were written to make money. Perhaps not why you or I would write a book, but obviously money is what James had in mind. And she succeeded. This discussion would be better framed in terms of a marketing analysis rather than a book review. “Fifty Shades” is a novelty in the form of a three volume book.

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