Book Review: “Grey” by E.L. James

As a session break treat, I rewarded myself with guilty pleasure:  Trash Fiction. After four months of intensive graduate readings with the DeadHeads {to include Charles Darwin and Rene Descartes}, I found the ease of comfort reading to be the perfect balm. I devoured this piece in no time because reading for pleasure is such a different process than reading syntopically. Casual or pleasure reading does not require a pen or a critical lens.

This piece is a retelling of the original Fifty Shades of Grey series, with the narrator switched from Anastasia to Christian. James’ dedication is for the readers who wrote requests to hear Christian’s side of the story. The author complied with their wishes, and she wrote a near identical rendition of the original piece.

~ The ‘narrator swap’ could be an interesting method to explore in one’s writing, possibly as a cure for “writer’s block.” I will save this idea for a few of my stories that have come to a dead end – maybe another character could present another avenue for the story? Thanks to E.L. James for a refreshing idea for tired narrators. ~

I read the original version of Christian and Ana’s story in Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed because it was trending at the time. I ran and operated a salon and attempted to stay up with the current talk. I am going to say it was the summer of 2013 as I remember the Divas laying out by Ashley’s pool, the slow readers that they are lol, and me waiting for them to catch up. Because after reading the story…who could speak with a client about S&M? haha Nobody…but the plan still worked out as my clientele could tell after a look that I had read the books, and No, I was not shocked. For the image of The Stylist, I succeeded – I was mysterious and knowing, worldly even.

To sum up my opinion of the story itself:  an attempt to blend S&M with romance. Erotic? Yes, because the page is never absent of the word “fuck.” However, the main focus is romance – there must be love and “hearts and flowers” sentiments. Brava, to James as the intended female audience wants to see love conquer lust – women want men to fall in love with them and not just their nether regions. As I’ve stated before:  I am fairly well read. If looking for a definitive Erotica, check out Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy. After reading Rice, I do not remember feeling like it was a love story; whereas, James is definitely classified as a romance.

What was new to Christian’s side of the tale? Not as much as I expected; the reader is left with wanting “more” too. I hoped the story would be more about Christian’s life before Anastasia – we already know, Yes she was a virgin, blah blah blah. I wanted to see more of his ex-subs, especially Elena. What James gives the audience is limited flashbacks/dreams with scarcely a morsel to reveal his past. There is more action inside Christian’s business revealed – but who cares about that? James had already secured Mr. Grey as a successful businessman; this information is unneeded and a bore to read – especially when there are so many characteristics of Christian that the reader yearns to discover.

Grey covered only the first book; which means there should be two successive pieces to come. I won’t hold my breath for any revealing moments as I expect the second to follow the first.

James, E.L. Grey. New York:  Vintage Books, 2015.

James, E.L. Grey. New York:  Vintage Books, 2015.