After much insistence by a close friend, I gave in to her suggestion and picked up the first book in the series – 50 Shades of Grey. Yes, it is indeed a book on erotica but I found it so much more. It spoke of acceptance, romance, and facing one’s demons and above all – how love can truly change us. The main characters are the elusive Mr. Christian Grey and the doe eyed Ms. Anastasia Steele.
The trilogy takes you on a journey which brings with it twists and surprises you wouldn’t be able to foresee right till the third book in the series – 50 Shades Freed preceded by 50 Shades Darker.
It initially speaks about Grey’s fetish for BDSM – Bondage Domination Sadism Masochism – an exploration of one’s sexuality through means that combine pleasure and pain. The author is able to deliver her words in an extremely powerful and visual manner. One can imagine the scenario being carried out, his train of thought and her inexperience and shock at his ‘rules’, followed by her surprise upon enjoying most introductions by him into her untouched world.
It is quite easy for a reader to feel squeamish and judge him, if not familiar with the BDSM style. We cringe upon reading what brings him pleasure and her naivety and reaction to the same. It seems to be a classic example of a much experienced man influencing an inexperienced young woman and ‘exploiting’ her first tryst with a man. But then one is forced to remember that they are both consenting adults. Her initial discomfort with his rules for her as the submissive gradually give way to yearning for an understanding of his 50 shades.
Though part 1 is mostly erotic, ending with her coming to a realization that the BDSM lifestyle is not for her, she falls in love with the man, whom she knows little about beyond the bedroom.
It is pretty evident who is the dominant and the submissive between the two. But one can see the tables turning in the last 2 books in the series. How the meek and confused Steele finds her voice and is finally able to speak her mind without much apprehension. Her love for Grey and the desire to know him – the man behind the charisma and sex appeal and why he feels unloved, is enough to shake one’s belief in the book – that it is not all about the sex.
I soon found myself skipping the erotic scenes (as intriguing as they seemed!) to read about the characters behind it all. I may have been, perhaps, one of the few sappy romantics, to have actually cried upon reading about their love making, the tenderness described in his eyes and touch, his longing for her and her quest to seek beauty in his imperfections.
I soon fell in love with Grey and Steele – in their love and devotion for one another, the need to protect each other and the most integral part – the feeling that they belong to one another and one another only.
The trilogy draws on the journey of two individuals who may seem to have it all on the surface but each within themselves, feels inadequate. The psychological turmoil endured by Grey in his childhood is described as the root cause of his adult behavior and attitude. Steele’s hope and optimism might seem annoying initially but one has to remember at some point that it is this cynicism that we harbor in our minds and hearts that blocks us from seeing and experiencing love, even when it is staring us in the face.
The novel may have taken the world and more so women by storm – of course the sexual content of the book being the primary focus. But it would be a more fulfilling read if what we take away from it is the realization about just how potent our intrinsic needs are – the need to love and be loved and how to love! – By promising and committing oneself to making one’s partner feel worthy, adequate and appreciated. Perhaps then we would all move from our 50 shades of grey into a whole range of colors.