I wasn’t among the first readers, but last year I relented and bought Fifty Shades of Grey after having read numerous reviews for and against the trilogy. – And now I’ve finally read it. It is amazing how popular, a romantic/erotic fantasy has become and how many people have strong opinions for or against it.
I applaud E. L. James for writing three books that provoke and intrigue so many people across the globe. That is truly amazing! Many critical or negative reviews note that the narrative and plot are somewhat lacking. That is not so in my opinion, the story was clear. I seriously doubt that E. L. James aspires to win the Nobel Prize in Literature or the Man Booker International Prize. The story, however, hits home with a wide (albeit mostly female) audience.
Somewhere I read, “Women don’t watch porn, they read it”. I haven’t been able to find the quotation again, but a photo of two women in line to buy Fifty Shades of Grey with their noses in the book already accompanied it. How true or false the statement is, I cannot say, but a quick glance at various bestseller lists seems to confirm the assumption. Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t the first of its kind. Generations of men and women have read provocative or illicit books on the sly from Fanny Hill and Lady Chatterley’s Lover to The Story of O and Delta of Venus. There is nothing revolutionary about that, but what I find interesting is the way Fifty Shades of Grey has exploded in our midst. It has even developed into a franchise with books, movie, and merchandise – even nail polish!
The other book series that I immediately think of as having a similar reach – although to a different demographic – is the Harry Potter series. Hogwart’s and the Escala are worlds apart, but the popularity of the two series and the scope of their reach is comparable.
I find that notable similarities between these two (and other popular series) include the fact that they are a series of books, where readers get to follow the characters further than a single novel allows, and the definition of their universe. The depicted universes may be different, but whether it is a world of wizards and muggles or of doms and subs, it has to be different than the general readers everyday life, contain a generous dash of fantasy speaking to our inner needs and desires and be portrayed clearly and believably to the reader.
What are your thoughts on the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey? Share your comment below.