Well, I did it. I broke down and read the book du jour, 50 Shades of Grey. I’d tried to read it several weeks ago. I got to about page twenty and stopped. It seemed infantile and poorly written. But then, after expressing that thought, a friend of mine told me that I should get past that and read it because the story is very intriguing. So. I did.
I will say that my opinion of the writing has not changed. As a romance author I am chagrined to see this book become a media darling as it is a poor example of the craft. In fact, it’s not only a poor example of writing period – but a heinous misrepresentation of main stream romantic fiction. That’s not to say that there aren’t numerous fetish novels out there, there certainly are. And that, my friends is what this book is. It’s simply a fetish novel. But the few that I’ve read are much better written than this one and they were free.
So why all the fuss over this book if it’s simply a poorly written fetish novel? I have several thoughts on that.
Firstly, I must amend my previous statement. This isn’t simply a fetish novel. On the surface it is, and I think that’s how most people – even those who’ve read it may view it. If that’s the case, PM me and I can tell you where to find similar stories with superior writing. However, if you delve a little deeper, this is the story of a severely emotionally disturbed man and the young – very young, woman who falls in love with him despite the fact that he’s an emotional cripple.
And that is what I think makes this novel successful. Well, at least part of of the reason. I think so many people in our world are lost and yearning for love, but they feel remarkably unlovable. They want someone to sweep in, grab them by the heart and love them despite all of their dirty laundry. They yearn for someone to love them so much that they’re willing to go out of their comfort zone (way out) just to prove to them how important they are. Maybe then, they will finally feel that they are worthy of being loved.
But that’s what most romance is about isn’t it? About love and finding the perfect person regardless of who you are and what you’ve done. Finding the person that says, “I don’t care about your past, I love you for who you are.” So in that respect, this novel is a very stereo-typical romance. Two people who love each other despite their differences. The story is moving…disturbing on many levels…but moving, if you pare it down to the bare bones of a sad and abused young man growing up to be a sadistic, confused and emotionally tormented adult and the woman who hopes to rescue him, seemingly with his blessing.
The second, and most obvious reason for the success of this novel despite it’s horrible execution is that sex sells. Yes, I said it. As much as I hate the trite rejoinder, it’s true. They call it “mommy porn” for a reason. It’s a fetish novel, made legitimate by its respectable “best seller” wrapper. Why do women flock to it? Easy. It’s forbidden. Few of us know practicing Dominator/Submissives. Or if we do know them, we don’t know we know them! People want a peek into that world. Alas friends, a peek is about all I can tolerate.
I consider reading this tripe as “taking one for the team” – the romance team that is. I’m not a prude by any means. But reading about someone so dishearteningly broken, crushes my spirit. I feel sympathy, in boatloads for Mr. Grey. I read romance to be uplifted and while the ending of this novel hints at a glimmer of hope, it’s hard to find among all the debauchery. It’s not my kind of love. I don’t condemn it, because real love is a rare commodity and you should take it wherever you find it. But in this onerous tale, it’s not enjoyable or uplifting for me to read about.
As for you, dear reader you will have your own opinion as I have mine.