Soccer moms and women’s book clubs have been downloading an erotic story of bondage, safe words and some pretty hardcore “”toys” on Kindles, Nooks and I-Pads from suburbs of L.A. to the Upper East Side of Manhattan and even in the fly over zones.
Who would have guessed “Fifty Shades of Grey,” first of a trilogy from British TV exec EL James, would send women reading under the sheets during an election cycle when birth control is blamed for the disintegration of the American family?
In a “Today Show” segment, Dr. Drew Pinsky and relationship guru Logan Levkoff discussed the popular book originally imprinted by The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House. Dr. Drew who never got around to reading the 356 pages proclaimed the book “actual violence against women.” I’ve always been suspicious of critics who haven’t actually read the material.
When my suburban L.A. book club chose this selection for our current read, I downloaded the racy romance on my Kindle as soon as I got home under the covers. As a writer, I wanted to understand the “big deal.” Is this book the millennial edition of “The Story of O” or just another Harlequin bodice-ripper with a touch of BDSM?
To get to the (slapped and baby-oiled) bottom of this, I’ll give you the basic plot of the story. Virginal lit student Anastasia Steele meets breathtakingly handsome multimillionaire Christian Grey when she is drafted by her college magazine editor roommate to interview the tech entrepreneur for an article. Grey’s the kind of guy who owns a fleet of Audi sports cars, a private jet and a helicopter which he lands on the roof of his state of the art Seattle high-rise. He was also selected to give the commencement address at Anastasia’s college.
Not surprisingly, sparks fly. Ms. Steele, intrigued by the more sophisticated Grey, is somewhat shocked when he shows up to buy rope and duct tape at the local hardware store where she’s worked her way through college. Hmm…
Christian Grey offers her a proposal -- not the kind accompanied by a four-carat dazzler and a bridal registry. I’m not offering any spoilers so you may need to fork up the $6.95 for the download, which I finished reading in one sitting.
Though I’ve read of suburban wives who’ve purchased grey silk ties like the one used by Christian Grey in his escapades for their husbands, I’m not sure most women plan to follow up with cat o’nine tails and punishment canes. I suspect the appeal of “Shades of Grey” has more to do with the romance than handcuffs and the sting of slaps across a bottom.
See, without giving too much away, Mr. Grey’s tragic formative years left him incapable of love and affection until the toothsome co-ed shows up in his office. Will the Bachelor of the Year finally fall in love and change his (pretty kinky) ways? Will the Jane Austen-loving virgin compromise her ideals for the love of tall, dark and handsome with a well-funded portfolio and a penthouse with a sparkling view of the Seattle skyline?
“Shades of Grey” is a love story. (Rich and kinky) boy meets (inexperienced and naïve) girl. Boy almost loses girl because of his decidedly non-vanilla sexual proclivities. Remember the scene in “Pretty Woman” when Julia Robert’s hooker with a heart of gold informs the gallant Edward she doesn’t kiss her clients? Who ends up in a lip-locked embrace on the fire escape during the last scene? Romance whether on the Kindle or big screen or in a dog-eared novel often features lovers who change when they meet “the one.”
“Shades of Grey” is no different. Well, except for the catalogue of S & M toys and some pretty explicit sex scenes!