Once upon a time, in a land of poor grammar and an oversexed imagination, there lived a self-obsessed plain girl who was prone to thinking evil thoughts about her best friend and wallowing in her insecurities. One day she met a boy, a beautiful rich boy – who, after lavishing her with expensive modern technology, bent down on one knee and asked her the question every girl dreams of…. “Would you be my submissive?” After a great deal of unnecessary legal negotiation she accepted, and entered a world where pleasure, pain and unbearable references to her inner goddess were one. ..
To be honest, I blame the crazy bookshop lady – she brow-beat me into getting it. It was the moment she turned to page 177 to show me the ‘contract’ that I knew it was too late – “anal fisting” she whispered gleefully, and right then I had to get it, I had to get this over-hyped, over-publicised book – purely so I could mock it. What I didn’t realise though was that my life was about change that day… and not for the better.
To which of the two persons that I am thinking about ought I to give the preference?
The choice is easy, one is no better than the other.
Before I explain how this book altered my life – and really it did, I’ll give you the breakdown (just in case you haven’t been unfortunate enough to read this literary gem):
To cut a long (and very boring) story short, the plot centres on a girl who meets an attractive, wealthy man who gives her an Audi and a mac and then she lets him beat her repeatedly because even though he’s a fruit-loop, he has a sweet sensitive side that appeals to her materialistic schizophrenic self. He wants her to be his submissive and when she doesn’t understand what he means, he recommends she look up S&M on Wikipedia. On discovering Ana’s a virgin, Christian proves he’s a real gentleman because he promptly gets that technicality out the way before he beats/strangles her. There are many sex scenes. Many. Each more excruciating than the last. Christian has a red leather “playroom”, which smells of citrus – (because obviously there is nothing sexier than the aroma of a glade candle). She never uses the word vagina. She calls it her ‘sex’. That still confuses me. She eventually gives in to the S&M, but because she’s so super independent she resists the hard-core stuff, this is S&M 101 for a modern day feminist… She runs away in the end because she realises she craves love, much the same way he has an unexplained need to give a good flogging (but mainly because E.L James realised she was onto a good thing and could squeeze at least another two books out of this non-story). Reliable sources inform me that Ana ends up pregnant and he reforms. Never saw that one coming… I wouldn’t really know though because I would sooner gouge my own eyes out than read another of these books.
My issue with this book is not that it glamourizes domestic abuse or even that is paints women in their twenties as morons, my issue is that it is written REALLY, really badly and it’s really, really boring. Until now I rated the collaborative Kardashian novel ‘Dollhouse’ (a present, I did not buy this book nor do I condone doing so) as one of the worst things I had ever read. That was until I read 50 Shades, a book so much worse that each sentence acts as a blow to the head – you are left stupider, and that is a fact.
Here are my main reservations:
- “My Inner Goddess was doing the merengue with some salsa moves” I was a happier person before being introduced to the concept of an inner goddess, I can’t get that back.
- The many references to Christian’s long elegant fingers: “He extends a long-fingered hand to me”, remind me of salad fingers. All that is conjured up is the sound of rusty spoons, it took three years to expunge that noise from my memory.
- “He really is beautiful; no one should be this good-looking” THIS IS NOT OK. Just because he is hot does not make it acceptable for him to beat you. Plus he clearly isn’t that good looking because he has tousled copper curls; you are attracted to side-show-Bob Anastasia, the scariest looking cartoon-man ever drawn.
- The playroom. It is red, leather and smells of citrus. The dude has a playroom, he calls it the playroom.
- There were two especially traumatising scenarios: one with a fur glove and the other with a tampon. No further comment necessary or physically possible.
- “My insides practically contort with potent, needy, liquid desire”… food-poisoning imagery, is like, so hot.
- “My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot. Anticipation hangs heavy over my head like a dark tropical storm cloud. Butterflies flood my belly – as well as a darker, carnal, captivating ache as I try to imagine what he will do to me” Never have I read such poetic prose. Future generations may well be reading this in the classroom, this could be the future of literature.
- He has decadent hair. Decadent hair?
I realise that in condemning this book I may well sound like a crazy bra-burner – and all I can say to the people in love with Christian is that one day he will be old, a bad business decision will mean he is bankrupt and all you are left with is a wrinkly pauper who likes to tie you up when you buy the wrong flavoured pot-noodle. The oracle is right, as always, when assessing which character is the better it is patently clear that they are both as bad as each other. And this book is truly woeful. If you buy it, you will live with it in your mind forever… it’s really not worth it.