August 10, 2011

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James

Author: E.L. James
Title: Fifty Shades of Grey
Series: Fifty Shades
Publisher: The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing (2011)

Go to Amazon page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.
Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

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

This was one steamy read! If you are offended by BDSM descriptions, then probably this is not the book for you... But if you don’t mind, I’d like to recommend it because it had so much more going on.

The plot is fairly straightforward: Anna and Christian meet and the attraction there is undeniable. But of course, it can’t be that easy! Christian is not exactly after the most conventional of relationships, and even though what he feels for Anna goes beyond anything he has felt before, he’s not ready to let go of his deeply ingrained ways. Anna believes herself in love with Christian, but she has no experience in relationships and certainly Mr Grey is not a wide choice to start with. But still, the enter a tug-of-war game, both trying to stay together, both trying to make the other conform to what they need in a couple, and while it seems obvious how it’s going to end... Well, it’s not.

The characters are the great strength of this book and what make it move beyond most romance novels with a rich, hot guy and a happily ever after. Anna might be innocent and untested, but she is far from being easily pushed. She has a core of iron, if you will, that make her stand for what she wants, for what she believes in, even in front of overwhelming Christian Grey. I liked her because, even though she was the one being “wooed”, she was not prey (contrary to what might seem). Her character grows a lot through her encounters with Christian and I’m looking forward to what might happen after the explosive ending we have got ourselves in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Christian, on the other hand, might be the dream of any woman – educated, intelligent, incredibly hot and obscenely rich. On the outside, that is. His inside is dark and twisted, and while we are free to wonder why, the real reason that shaped him up is still to be revealed. But he’s not evil: he knows there is something not right with him, but he is too weak to triumph over his inner “demon”. For now, at least. Anna is slowly showing him to care for a person and not a property, to treat with tenderness and not possessiveness, to love and not pleasure. And he tries to learn, really... But.

Please note that I’m not familiar with the kind of sex life that Christian is leading and so I might be saying something ridiculous here, but I think this book had some deep themes beyond all the sex and the humorous banter and the sweet romance. I think it talks about what it is to love someone, and what lines should not be crossed for love. It talks about the “victim dream”, the “I’ll change him”, or the “I’ll help him” that is so common among victims, and it works through that one moment where love and self-respect are warring and something must give. It talks about an “attacker” that is not a monster, that believes he truly loves, but who is not able to stop. It talks about jealously and communication and, yes, violence.

Or perhaps I’m wrong and it does not talk about anything like that at all.

But it made me think.

I think you should give it a shot.


  1. Great review. The sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, is available for pre-order starting today at
    TWCS Publishing House

  2. A lovely review
    I wasnt sure which victim you refer to. Ana an imminent victim (or maybe martyr- since she knows what she does) with dream to save Christian (she lost her Dad & she's a carer). Or Chrisitan, who sounds like he is a victim from childhood now with victim’s passion to set the world right and fight back- except his victimizer has no name -so it’s the whole world/ life.
    I think you meant the former

  3. @Donna: Glad you liked it! I'm glad to hear the sequel is coming soon, I really want to check it out.

    @emilie00: Thanks, glad you liked the review! Also, you make a very valid point with your question: I was referring to Ana as imminent victim/martyr/carer, but Christian's character could also be considered one.

    However (and, everyone, please note that I am not talking from experience, that I might be saying something stupid and that I don't mean to offend) I would think that Christian *was* a victim and now he's trying to fight against his scars. While in some instances he seems to be doing right, for example regarding his concern about food and hunger, I believe that his deeply rooted need to hurt his partners is a left over from his victim past. While I understand that he might get pleasure from domination, and that this is his valid choice, I believe there is a line crossed when he "needs" to "hurt" the other, and that he must face his past in order to be able to really love Ana. I don't consider him a victim anymore, as he has moved past the vulnerable time when he could not protect himself (I think), but now he should deal with the fallout before he can consider himself healed from his past experiences - and it was, obviously, a very big psicological fallout.

    I don't know if that made any sense at all... I hope it did, somehow! What do you think?

  4. I didn't know you read Fifty Shades #1. :-) I'm a fan of the trilogy / series. Excellent review! I hear a lot of complaining (from other readers) about the "unhealthy" relationship between heroine and in not adequately portraying the bdsm lifestyle (I'm not familar with it either btw).
    It didn't feel like that to me at all, though. The fact that their blooming connection was so fragil,e and yes, at times very "victim" "I'll help him" oriented, made it so fascinating. That's what captured my interest. I, too, thought about the whole premise long after finishing the book. "Her character grows a lot" I agree! She was NOT prey. Couldn't have phrased it any better.

    1. I really need to read the follow-ups to this one. I don't know about the "unhealthy" relationship complains, but I liked it. The fact was that they got over the unhealthy things - they didn't fall prey to it, they fought against it, and the bittersweet ending proves that he's healing and she's strong enough. That's why I liked it, too.
      Thanks for the comment!