What is it about the book Fifty Shades of Grey that has readers spellbound? Unlike the Twilight and subsequent Hunger Games phenomena, this one had me genuinely curious. It wasn’t because of the prospect of reading erotica or even because of the incredible and seemingly overnight popularity of the series (there are three novels in the Grey trilogy). What had me fascinated was the fact that people were dubbing it Mommy Porn, because the majority of readers were either married, over thirty, had children or all of the above.
Now in all seriousness, as a busy working mom, mommy porn would have to be pretty blush-worthy to get me to invest my precious free time on a 500 plus page novel. And the verdict surprised me. While I wouldn’t say this book had anything new to offer the world of literature, for what it was, it worked. I would label it erotica-lite. What I mean is, I was able to polish off this book in less than a week, all while simultaneously doing other Mommy things. The characters, as expected, mirror Bella and Edward of Twilight in the virginal young woman/powerful-unbelievably handsome slightly-older-man sense. While you can rest assured there are no vampires or supernatural beings in this book, a reader would be hard-pressed not to be able to connect the dots and see the similarities. This book was, after all, in its earliest stages, a Twilight fanfiction.
The writing wasn’t exceptional by any means. Trust me, there is some very good literary erotica out there if that’s your thing. I think what the popularity of this book has done, is to make women more comfortable with purchasing, reading and openly discussing erotic novels. No more hiding them away in your bedside table! This book also marks the first time for many readers to dabble into literature containing BDSM themes. While there is a strong undertone of dominant/submissive, pleasure/pain themes, it still is very watered down to presumably appeal to a mainstream audience and doesn’t really contain anything shock-worthy.
Oddly for me as a reader, I found the emotional relationship between Ana and Christian to be much more intriguing than the sexual one. Let’s not discredit the fact that sex clearly sells, but readers who are initially drawn to the book for it’s more-imagined-than-actual sexual raunchiness, may find themselves surprised that they keep coming back to the book more to discover how the relationship of the two main characters pans out.
While the book is much more about hype like its Twilight predecessor, than anything else, it does offer an easily accessible fantasy world for the busy mom who needs a break from the realities and demands of her work and family life. Consider it a fun beach read and a gateway drug of sorts to better erotica.