ANNA MATEI discovers what all the excitement is about with our latest book for the month. Using the voucher in today's Oxford Mail (Thursday, August 2 - Page 22) get the book for half-price at Waterstones Oxford and Witney

THE BOOK: Fifty Shaes of Grey.

This is a good book. There, I’ve said it. I’m surprised that it is.

After all, I am not a mother. I’m not bored. I’m not what you’d call the target-audience. And I am really not one for bondage.

And in that last sentence you have the answer to why it is such a good book.

Paradox or not, this book supposedly about bondage is good because bondage does not actually happen (well, not that much).

It’s talked about, but mostly it’s just suspense.

And damn, E L James is good at suspense. You’ll find yourself chewing your nails, twirling your hair and shifting to the edge of your chair as your eyes race down the page to find out, AT LAST, what is going to happen.

And double-damn James is also good at real, everyday, mundane feelings. Like fear. And jealousy.

We’re all familiar with these, even if our loved one isn’t a messed-up, potentially molested billionaire whose idea of a committed relationship is to let us fly his glider.

As for the plot, it’s simple enough: Anastasia Steel meets Christian Grey (who has ‘Fifty Shades’ of mood swings), and falls in love with him. And he falls in love with her.

A promising start, so clearly things will have to go wrong. And here’s why they do: Grey is cold and mysterious like Edward Cullen from Twilight (you really can tell that the book started as Twilight fanfiction).

Ana has to negotiate her way through a relationship set out in a written contract as she tries to make him more human.

True to form, not everything goes to plan, but we do get some rare glimpses of ‘sad Christian’. Indeed, these glimpses carry the plot, even if Ana’s indecisive toying with bondage puts her on the list of those female protagonists you’d like to shake as you tell them to see some sense.

There is, of course, a lot of glitter too. Big houses, private jets and helicopters...

This book IS, as it’s been labelled, ‘mummy porn’.

It appeals to what women supposedly have (cooking skills for starters) and what they supposedly want (money and the luxury to love the man with it regardless of all that cash).

But more than anything, Fifty Shades of Grey is a racy plain-girl-meets-suave-but-dark-billionaire romance, and I suggest you read it like that.


It gives me cruel pleasure to say that E L James (who is in fact Erika Leonard) wrote the original Fifty Shades of Grey as Twilight fanfiction.
AND she ended up publishing the story in its own right because the site where the fanfiction was published had her remove the story – you see, it was considered too risque. Well, judging by her huge success with readers everywhere (she has already made around £6.5 million), it seems that there has been a change in public opinion since then.
I’ll be curious to see how the film, to be produced by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, fares.
E L James has set the precedent of pushing, no, knocking down the boundaries.
We must now wait and see how far cinemas – and cinema audiences – are willing to go.