Words cannot adequately express how much I loathed this book. I know, I know it was written by a woman. Who is earning piles of money from it and it's sequels. Women can write drek just like men. Hey baby, look what a long way we've come.
Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are a couple who meet and become involved in an S and M relationship. He spanks her, ties her up, handcuffs her, gags her, orders her around and makes her call him sir. But here's the feminist twist. He can't do any of these things to her unless she gives her permission. She likes being abused, it turns her on.
How we have evolved. She's in charge. He's in charge. What difference does it make? I can't stand either of them.
I think it is an insult to people who really have been abused (and didn't ask for it) to trivialize their pain by pretending it's glamorous and sexy and fun. Claiming to like abuse probably has more to with self hate than with erotic pleasure.
He abuses her then they exchange endless emails discussing their relationship. That's pretty much the plot. In the end he whips her bare bottom with a belt because she asked him to and then she gets angry and storms out because it hurts. Imagine that. Getting whipped with a belt hurts. Who knew?
Did I mention that they're both gorgeous and he's fabulously wealthy and powerful and loves to shower her with expensive gifts? I can't help wondering how many copies this book would sell if Anastasia and Christian were middle aged, overweight and poor. At first I thought that this was just another variation on that old chestnut that women secretly want to be beaten and humiliated. Then I realized it was also another variation on that old chestnut that men secretly or not so secretly want to beat and humiliate women. It's porn with a cloak of respectability because her descriptions aren't that anatomically graphic and the protagonists are white, rich and beautiful.
Why is this book so popular? I don't know. It's not exactly suspenseful. The characters don't change, they are the same at the end of the book as they are at the beginning. True they break up, but there are two sequels so you can be sure they will be together again soon for ever more kinky adventures. It pretends to be all feministy because she consents to her abuse. If it really wanted to be feminist it would explore why she wants to be abused in the first place. But it's not interested in that. It's interested in selling zillions of copies by exploiting our voyeuristic instincts. And it's succeeding. This is a depressing book.