Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy
by E.J. James
Fifty Shades of Grey is a New York Times #1 bestselling erotic fiction paperback and e-book by E. L. James. Set largely in Seattle, it is the first installment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of BDSM. The second and third volumes are entitled Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed respectively. The New York Times noted that the series has sold around ten million copies, with book rights having been sold in 37 countries.
Reading Between the Lines
Well, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the controversial “Fifty Shades of Grey” book by E.L. James (see it under the book of the month). With almost 5000 reviews under Amazon, everyone has an opinion of this book that sells itself as erotica, a romance novel or a BDSM manual, depending on your opinion. While many readers criticize the book for its bad writing, poor character development and repetitive language, I see something different. Something that I think that most couples can use, and take to heart.
Yes, the writing isn’t great, and the language is limited at best. The sex scenes are good enough for authentic erotica, and that is the first benefit of this book for couples. I have recommended the book as a tool for several couples in my practice, all with good results. If you are looking for a little spice, couples can re-enact the scenes (which they have) and really enjoyed the change in their sex lives.
While the sex scenes are titillating, E.L. James does a really good job in two other areas: trust and compromise. One of the main characters (Christian) has had severe sexual and physical abuse in his past, and must learn to have complete, total trust in his partner in order to move forward in the growing relationship. This is no easy task, and his partner (Ana) is very careful to take things at a slow speed, allowing Christian to make incremental steps towards sexual healing of his past.
These two characters must compromise at every step of the relationship, communicating to each other when they aren’t being clear, and creating their boundaries within their sexual and emotional experiences. They are continually aware of their own and their partner’s needs and wants, and negotiate their differences. As they readily compromise and trust each other, their emotional intimacy grows, and this is the key that expands their sexual intimacy as well.
So in my book, as erotica this book gets a decent grade. As a primer for fundamental principles that create great relationships, Fifty Shades gets an A.