Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

This falls under the category provocative romance. Erika Leonard James, former TV Executive and mother of two, spun the Fifty Shades trilogy which have together sold 35 million copies in the US and 70 million copies worldwide, shocking even the author. After reading the first, on second attempt, and finishing it, even I am shocked. A bit. Not by the contents, but by the success. Ms. James has been ranked by the Times magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2012. What is happening the the global reader?
Arrow Books, 514 p,

Why am I shocked? Because there is nothing much in the book to make you want to actually want to read it completely. Nowhere do you feel a sense of urgency to know what will happen to the two protagonists because somehow you know they are secure even in their weird relationship. Their biggest problems are where and when to have sex and how (Mr. Grey's problem is how not to hurt her so much that she does not run away from his red room of pain) and whether to sign an agreement agreeing to be this slightly perverted businessman's submissive sex slave (the twenty two year old virgin Ms. Anastasia Steele's problem). This dilemma of the two continues throughout the book along with pages and pages of sex (bad) thrown in and pages and pages of juvenile emails sent by the two to one another. That is about it.

But let me begin at the beginning. Christian Grey, the handsome, delicious, lovely, delectable, so good looking, arrogant, business magnate who is never seen with a woman all his life is taken by a normal twenty two year old college student Anastasia Steele who goes to interview him for the college magazine. He is completely smitten by her and so is she. Now comes the catch. Mr. Grey does not, or rather cannot, have plain vanilla sex. He has some fifty odd variants that he wants and by the looks of it, that is all he is doing for a living, and perhaps that is how he has made a fortune too. Ms. Steele is shown as an intelligent woman to start with but you realise that maybe she is not as smart as she gets into an out of control relationship with Mr. Dark History who has had a troubled childhood and craves to be spanked which shows why she is there in the first place. And after that there is a series of romps of which the less said the better.

As fantasies and sex writing goes Ms. James is not a patch on Mr. Harold Robbins who still holds the gold standard for that. Its a tough form of writing - this passion and sex writing bit - and few can pull it off convincingly. Closer home in India Anita Nair is the only one who can do it with great ease and style - its a rare art. For a provocative romance the least it should do is provoke but E.L. James really does not, so the fantasy writing did not work for me. The characters are too one dimensional right now and their motives to jump into bed at all times with the exclusion of all else seems rather tiresome. Does the romance hold? Not for me. I grew tired of it after the first 100 pages and finished it only because I was still searching for some reason why someone wrote a 514 page book around this and why it became such a rage. Not just one, a trilogy! Would I read the second book? No. (But that does not take anything away from Ms. James and I wish her all the success and more.) If there's one thing, I'd ask her to invest some more passion in the scenes so they drag the reader in. Right now its rather dispassionate and hard in a flat manner. Would I recommend it to you. Not unless you have time to waste.

No comments: