By now, most of you would be aware of my six days of forced holiday due to a trapped nerve. Most of my friends also know that I do not do ‘rest’ well. I am an impatient person at the best of times, I rise with the sun and hate being incapacitated. I don’t believe in illness, I hate pills and, having run a business which required my attention for a minimum of fourteen hours daily – and I mean seven days a week, 364 days a year (I took Christmas day off) – for eight years straight, I’ve learned a lot about focus, stamina and tenacity.
So this all guaranteed me a crazy state of mind by Saturday morning. Crazy is crazy for a reason – you can’t be held responsible for your actions. Or so they say. I claim it as the only excuse for my actions.
Stuck in a horizontal position and counting the minutes between one dose of pain relief to the next, I did the only thing my pain-addled brain could come up with: I read the 50 Shades Trilogy.
Until last Saturday, I had only read reviews and odd articles about it, the majority of which criticised either the author or the books for the writing quality, ethics, marketability, irresponsibility of the subject matter and so on. At over 13,000 reviews, I’m sure in themselves they would make interesting reading. Maybe the author could put them all together in a compilation, with the proceeds turned over to charity. It’s what Mr. Grey would have done.
But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this post because I was foolish enough to judge before knowing what I was talking about. It’s not what I usually do so, to assuage my conscience and give these titles a fair chance, here’s my opinion.
The quality of writing – the style, if you will – is on a 3-star level. I’ve read independently published books far better written, much more skilful, by hugely more talented authors. Having said that, I didn’t throw the books in the bin. I found the storyline moderately engaging and I did want to see what happened next.
Yes, it was repetitive, and yes, it was tedious in places. I learned to skip over the ‘oh, mys’ and eventually I glazed over the sex scenes. Two or three of these were nicely written, but not ‘hot’ enough to get my blood racing. There were just too many distracting bad writing habits that pulled me out of the story every other paragraph. It took a lot of concentration to ignore the worst and find the best.
And yes, there is a ‘best’.
I found E.L. James does do one thing right: the characters are exquisite. If you can cut through the cr** you will see that those people are real, as real as any I’ve ever met. They live in a fictional world and are placed in fictional circumstances, but they have depth and feelings and emotions. Lots of emotions. Ana is a strong, clever and resourceful young woman. Christian is a damaged man who is maturing slowly through the love he discovers. LOVE, not sex, not kink, not weirdness. Neither of them is perfect, but they love each other unconditionally, and that LOVE wins in the end.
There are many layers to the story. The way I see it, it probably was a love story to start with, and to that a polish of modernism, one of debauchery and one designed to shock and ensure media coverage have been added. Plus another few shades, in-between.
Would this have made it to #1 if it wasn’t for the shock factor? Certainly not. Not a good enough plot to ensure a top spot. A book needs more than emotion and characters to make it to the ‘good’ level.
To finish, I would like to add that my hasty post of June 20 was just that – a poorly-thought post written in a hurry. Here’s a link to it, should you feel the need to see why I castigate myself: https://ellamedler.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/playing-psycho/
I feel sorry for writing it and the reason is that I didn’t give this trilogy a fair chance. I got drawn in by the idea that our daughters need to be protected from people as broken as Christian Grey. I disagree, now that I’m better acquainted to his character.
Yes, he is not your average husband material. But we’re doing today’s youngsters an injustice. Because there aren’t many twenty-one year olds in today’s society that wouldn’t be able to get themselves out of such relationship at several points throughout, if they so wished – especially young people living in so-called developed, civilized countries who believe in educating their kids. Who are we to tell them what they should or shouldn’t choose anyway? As long as we taught them right, they should be allowed to live their own lives, make their own decisions and make love they way they like to.
And there is goodness in Christian Grey. He is not evil. He is damaged. Since when are we so ready to condemn a damaged person instead of helping him? How civilized are we, really? Judging by some of those one-star reviews on Amazon – not very.