After our exclusive interview with author E.L. James, published on Monday and Tuesday, Elizabeth Joyce and Dan Wainwright give their verdicts. Click here to read the interview in Monday and Tuesday's digital edition of Shropshire Star for just 69p
Fifty Shades of Grey may be the biggest bestseller, but what’s all the fuss about?
After our exclusive interview with author E.L. James, published on Monday and Tuesday, Elizabeth Joyce and Dan Wainwright give their verdicts.
So Christian Grey is the new Heathcliff. Tortured, brooding and consumed by passion.
Hmm, I don’t know what book you lot are reading but in my copy of Fifty Shades of Grey he is nothing more than a pretty-boy pipsqueak.
Forget the Red Room of Pain, the most shocking element of FSOG is that women find this spoilt brat alluring.
When I settled down with my £3.99 copy of the smutty sensation, I was expecting a mean and moody Daniel Craig-type. A smouldering billionaire in his late-40s with a nice sideline in Lamborghinis and leather.
When anorak Anastasia revealed this supposed master of the universe was just 27, I almost binned it straight away. Almost.
Grey. Is. A. Child. Forget all this dark-secret and tortured-soul nonsense, that’s just teenage angst.
He can’t cut it as the self-proclaimed authoritative “Dominant”. I think, if anything, he’s too nice (although that may say more about me than him. Psychologist, anyone?). He takes Anastasia on a romantic gliding trip, showers her in thoughtful gifts and is nothing short of lovey-dovey at times.
Err, where is the shocking bit in all this? Where is this dark and dangerous man everyone keeps raving about?
OK, there’s a fair share a filth involved and I can see why it might get the pulses racing of a few bored housewives. But really, this is the man the whole country’s fallen for? I must be missing something.
And another thing, he’s a cheeseball. The linen shirts, all-white interior design and fancy shower oil? It was like spending time with the flashest of low-league footballers.
He swans about all day sending soppy emails dotted with winking smiley faces. That’s right, the dreaded, so-cheesy-it-hurts winking smiley face.
It almost made me roll my eyes. But we all know that’s not allowed, don’t we ladies?
I had to see what everyone was on about. Women of my acquaintance have been talking openly about how Fifty Shades of Grey has “changed their lives”.
I knew a bit about what I was letting myself in for thanks to listening to people openly talking about it as though it were a new instalment of Harry Potter.
Only this isn’t about wizards and wands (snigger). It’s a mucky book for girls.
It’s written for women readers in mind in the way that some of those magazines you see behind little plastic panels are aimed at a certain type of man.
My natural curiosity got the better of me. I haven’t seen mass readership of a series on this scale since the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larson or the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels. Branches of WH Smith have posters in the window telling people whether or not it's in shop. The three books have been numbers one, two and three on the bestseller list.
And yet it’s almost become fashionable to slate it. People I know are either giddy with naughty excitement or ridiculing its “atrocious” dialogue.
As far as I was concerned, giving it a go was the least I could do. Quite simply, this isn’t for men. It’s erotic, but not in the way that men generally like it. If this was one of those naughty movies you hear so much about (not that I’ve ever seen one) and it was written by a man it’d all be over in an hour.
The dialogue is trashy, there’s no two ways about it, although that is one of the things that makes it easy to read in little bits. The various descriptions during the sex scenes are more funny than saucy. At one point Ana says she feels like she’s on the spin cycle of a washing machine.
It could have had potential, though. James paints Grey as a billionaire with a tortured past – a bit like Batman.
But I fail to see what’s so impressive about him. Other than his money, his toned body, his smouldering good looks and the fact that he drops everything at a moment’s notice to be with the woman in his life . . . oh, hang on . . .