I’m going to ignore the obvious; the poor grammar, unnecessary description and troubling representation of the BDSM community. I’m going to ignore it all, because it’s been chewed over a ridiculous number of times and I don’t have anything new to add to that conversation. Not to mention it will probably turn this post into a ball of rage. That’s not to say I hate this book (truth be told I don’t), but as an aspiring author the popularity of such a slapdash novel is infuriating, and I don’t want to ignite a fire I’ve been dousing for the past two months.
What I will say is this: as a study of love between two disturbed individuals, 50 Shades works quite well. Christian is clearly a very damaged man, with his physical scars and an inability to see his childhood molester for what she really is. Ana, meanwhile, is incredibly immature for her age, and seems to have spent her life actively avoiding romantic relationships. I can only assume this is somehow related to her mother’s series of divorces, as it’s never explicitly said. Needless to say the combination of Ana’s insecurity and naivete, with Christian’s commitment issues and sexual proclivities leads to some interesting narrative moments. Some. At a certain point, it does become a meandering waltz towards an inevitable weepy-eyed end. (Ana’s eyes, not mine.)
I will also say, that the book struck a bit of a chord with me. Having just graduated, I wonder daily what I will spend the rest of my life doing, how I will support myself, whether I’ll find someone to spend the duration of life with, and in that way I did feel connected with Ana. I can see some vague appeal in being offered a life where you will never have to make any important decisions ever again, just live and be happy. I imagine for someone like Ana, who seems (for the best part of the book) to be lacking a personality beyond confusion and blushing, it would be a very easy life to fall into. But there’s a line to be drawn. There’s living comfortably, and there’s being someone’s pet. There’s having the choice to say no, and there’s signing a contract that means you always have to be ready and willing. Ultimately, I found myself reaffirmed in my quest to live independently, and to do the things I love on my own terms.
There are also a number of other things I’ve learned from this book:
Never date someone who asks you to sign an NDA before having sex
Never date someone who can and does track you down via GPS
Never date someone who wants to buy you clothes, a phone, a laptop and a car within the first month or so of knowing you
Listen to people you’ve known for years over those you’ve known for five minutes
These are all probably common sense things, but I feel like I have to note them down anyway, for the people who did find the book, “Romantic, liberating and totally addictive”.
Finally, my opinion on the film, and it’s trailer: honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing how it all turns out. From the look of the trailer I imagine it will be of a much higher quality than the book, and I’m very interested to see how Hollywood makes a film out of what is essentially a 514 page piece of pornography. That being said, I won’t be rushing out to see it on the silver screen. That’s not an experience I fancy having. I think I’ll wait until it’s a couple of quid on DVD.