I found this to be an interesting read, because the writer captured my attention from the beginning pages by introducing Ana, who is about to graduate from college and her initial meeting with an intriguing businessman, Christian Grey. When they first touch each other during the traditional hand shake, they feel an electrical surge....or spark. Ana, a virgin, is overwhelmed by this new erotic feeling. She feels unsure of herself and frightened, but is extremely attracted to this handsome, young, successful man. Throughout the book, Ana has conversations "in her head" between her conscience who urges caution, and her alter-ego which urges her forward.
Without any delay, Christian pursues Ana, showering her with expensive gifts...which she reluctantly receives, and he finally seduces her. Only Christian is no ordinary Romeo. He has a play room, furnished with fetish toys. Ana is alternately fascinated and repelled. Christian presents Ana with a relationship contract, outlining the lifestyle he wants her to join. One of the items in the contract involves spanking, which Ana reluctantly permits. By the end of the book, as spanking becomes more painful and abusive, Ana leaves Christian.
There is little doubt that Ana and Christian are obsessed with each other. Ana realizes that due to Christian's traumatic childhood, he doesn't experience pleasure/love outside of a controlled environment. He has learned to function sexually/emotionally by practicing a "master/slave" lifestyle. Admittedly, many parts of this book are sensual. However, I was left with a feeling of deep sadness for Christian, who seems incapable of living a normal lifestyle....but also for Ana, who in her need for self-respect, has found the strength to walk away from being abused by the man she loves. I found myself cheering for her strength of character, while crying for her devastation and loss of Christian.
There are two sequels to this book which continue the saga of Ana and Christian, and although their story is compelling, I don't find it uplifting, and doubt that I'll invest in reading further. I fear that this cannot end happily....or well for either character.