Fifty Shades of Grey book review

By Stephanie Kutner

On Mother’s Day, my fiance and I traveled to my grandfather’s friends’ house to celebrate. The women there, ranging in age from fifty-five to seventy, were all abuzz, talking about a book I had never heard of. My ears perked up, “Oh, what book?” I asked, trying to hide my excitement since in this day and age it is so rare to hear anyone raving about a book. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” they all responded. They were all reading it. Now, I left under the mistaken impression that this was a tween book that was deemed too raunchy for young readers.

When I went to research the book, I was scandalized. It has been very hard to shake the image of anyone, much less my grandfather’s septuagenarian friends, cozying up with this book. “Fifty Shades of Grey” has rapidly become the New York Times #1 Best Erotic Seller. The book, written by E. L. James, has sold over ten million copies. E.L. James (Erika Leonard, for any of those interested) began her writing career as a fan fiction writer for Twilight, and she has subsequently described the writing of the book as “her midlife crisis.”

The story is set largely in Seattle and centers around a relationship between a college graduate and a business magnate. Its fan base is surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, largely made up of married women over thirty. Hence the moniker bestowed upon it by various media agencies: “mommy porn.” A notable ridiculous plot point is the college student, Anastasia, is forced to sign a contract allowing the manipulative Christian complete control over her life. Christian is into all sorts of bedroom shenanigans, to put it mildly.

As a writer, this story fills me with inner conflict. On the one hand, I am ecstatic to see that controversy sells; that the time-honored tradition of becoming a best-seller through being deemed subversive — especially in the contemporary laissez-faire atmosphere of morality — is still alive and thriving. The controversy that brought Henry Miller, Vladimar Nabokov, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, D. H. Lawrence and Allen Ginsberg (to name just a handful) to the wider audiences they deserved has a pulse yet.

On the other hand, I do not champion this work in the least. The book is poorly written smut, which I know has been the sentiment through time immemorial of the townsfolk holding pitchforks dancing around in a book-burning circle, but hear me out. The characters have not progressed out of a high school mentality, particularly concerning teenage fantasies. It apparently didn’t suffice E.L. to make Christian Grey a millionaire. Instead, in keeping with the extravagant and ridiculous teenage fancy, he is a billionaire. The repetition of “shades,” “she turned fifty shades of red” etc., is grating, to put it politely. Then there’s the repetitiveness of characters’ quirks. The book is awash in raised eyebrows, pursed lips, blushes, flushes, whisperings, and the ever eloquent expressions of Ana’s “holy, double and triple crap.” Really, James was at her best here as that would have made an apt title.

Okay, I cannot continue to promote this by writing any more. I am staunchly morally opposed to continuing. I may as well be writing this on a cold New England shore in a buckled hat, or rather, a white bonnet and starched apron (in keeping with my gender.) On this, I am willing to be seen as a prude. Henry Miller wrote filthy things, but I have read and loved his work since I was fourteen because he did so with pervasive class, though that seems a contradictory term. This book, sweeping the nation, in the form of a rather sad tide of bored housewives with equally dull imaginations that haven’t progressed beyond high school, should be banned, as many libraries throughout the nation have done. Banned not for content but for lack thereof. That is all; I will abdicate my soap box now.

If you want to laugh hysterically, lookup the video of Gilbert Gottfried reading excerpts from this book. For those of you who have read thus far and still do not believe me, I present to you exhibits a-z: “My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.” “My inner goddess sits in the lotus position looking serene except for the sly, self-congratulatory smile on her face.” “My inner goddess jumps up and down with cheer-leading pom-poms shouting yes at me.” “My inner goddess looks like someone snatched her ice cream.” Voila. Believe me yet?

Read this article on Emma Watson and the possible 50 Shades of Grey Movie.…r-in-the-movie/

77 Responses to "Fifty Shades of Grey book review"

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  4. Janell Elizabeth Meyer   November 4, 2012 at 2:44 am

    “Anything For Georgetown And Other Stories” is erotic fiction with a focus on the fetishes of spanking and tickling.

    Monica is a spoiled Catholic schoolgirl with wealthy, successful parents. Despite her background, she hosts stripping parties for the boys of St. Veronica’s. She also bullies other students. She is a bit of an enigma at her school. The new guidance counselor finds out about her background, and offers her a deal: give up her racy past, and agree to be punished “his” way, and he will help her get into Georgetown University, her first choice college. However, the deal they strike becomes unbearable. Does Monica get into Georgetown?

    The other three stories in the collection focus on a woman who places a personal ad to jump start her sex life. Rebecca, who is almost a 40-year-old virgin, finally knows what she wants. But will she find a man to satisfy her, as well as one she can trust enough to fall in love with? The ebook is available on (Please deactivate the adult filter.) The print book is available for only $7 (excluding shipping and handling) through November on

  5. ana   July 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    lol i liked the book. it’s entertaining and hooks you in. then again i basically read anything that comes into my hands when i’m bored and i can eat everything up unless it’s too deperssing.

  6. Joseph   July 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    My wife bought it. I read it. I did not like it. The genre depicted is certainly alien to me. Most distressing however is the weakness sexual helplessness of the main character. Most women behave better. Oh, I know it is a novel!

  7. Lizzie   July 16, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Having been recommended, I purchased 50 Shades of Grey and found it to be considerably dull. The erotic content was not what bothered me, I found the book extremely difficult to read. It was repetitive and boring. I believe the book to be enjoyed by non-readers, who are less bothered about the story and plot lines, and prefer the excitement of erotica. When all is said and done, it is porn for women, and although I have no problems with that, it should not be promoted as a best seller. Too much money is being wasted on this poor excuse for a novel.

  8. chamiepop   July 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I read all three books in less than two weeks. I was waiting for the characters to actually grow up. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t enjoy some of the smexy parts, because I actually did. It’s just that, I was waiting, in the hopes of all hopes, for the characters to develop and for the story to actually progress in a better direction. I found it too shallow. I have to agree, the repetitive words were getting annoying especially Anastasia constantly saying, “Jeez” and “Holy Crap/Holy Cow”, etc. I’ve read too many fanfiction in my life and I’ve got to say that there are far more better writers out there. 🙂


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