50 Shades of Grey: Book 1
Updated: Jul 7
50 Shades of Grey: Book 1
Author: E. L. James
All I have to say is WOW. What a fucking book. This fictional novel really caught me by surprise, and in a good way. This insatiable, erotic novel was articulated so intelligently, but some of the contents was extremely unnerving. I imagine that an author has to be daringly creative when creating their art, and also live a cavalier lifestyle, and always on the intrigue. I envision a writer always out meeting new people and seeing the world from a different lens, because how else would hey get their creative juices flowing. But with this book, I don’t know how the mind could conjure up this kind of material.
It's time to dissect.....
The novel centers around Anastasia (Ana) Steele, who is a young college student (and is about to graduate), who ends up meeting Christian Grey, a billionaire despot. Ana unexpectedly ends up interviewing Christian for her school newspaper, because Kate (Ana’s best friend), who is the editor of the school newspaper, could not make the interview because she was indisposed. This was the beginning of both a beautiful and dark love story.
When Ana first meets Christian, he literally takes her breath away, a feeling that she has never felt with anyone. When Ana interviewed Christian, there was an obvious attraction between the two. We later find out that Ana is a virgin, and the only kind of romantic stimulation she’s ever experienced was from the pages of her literary novels. During the interview, Christian mentioned that he wanted to possess all things. I think this should have been an eyeopener, and should have been a tall tale sign for Ana to run screaming for the hills, because to me, it showed how controlling Christian was. Christian was also keen with Ana, and more so beguiled by her—he later stalks her out, just so he can see her again. Inevitably, Christian finds Ana, and the rest is history.
As their interest grows in each other, before they can take the next step, Christian informs Ana that she would have to sign an NDA and contract before they can become intimate, and also informs her of his secular lifestyle. I’m talking whips, chains, bondage….I’m sure can envisage where I’m going with this. He was a dominant, and Ana would be considered his submissive—with that, he had rules that Ana would have to abide by. Christian had a playroom in his house where his submissive would give him ultimate control. Do you recall when I mentioned that Christian told Ana that he wanted to possess all things? She was later introduced to his playroom and confronted him about being a sadist, he instead mentioned “I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things.” I think that at this point, it was Ana’s cue to make a run for it, if she didn’t already have that incline or least made herself unable to believe this during the interview.
He then goes on to say “I have rules, and I want to comply with them. They are for your benefit and for my pleasure. Some of the rules included no touching him, no looking in his eyes unless given permission, sleeping in separate beds, call him Sir or Mr. Grey, become his sex slave whenever he requires, spanking, whipping, and many more wayward acts….If you follow these rules to my satisfaction, I shall reward you. If you don’t, I shall punish you, and you will learn.” Now, I really want Ana to run for the hills, but deep down, I want her to stay because I’m inappropriately interested in what Christian has in store for her.
When Christian tries to gauge Ana about what she liked and didn’t like about sex in her past experiences, she revealed that she was a virgin. As you can imagine, Christian was taken aback because what he was introducing to Ana, or rather, what he wanted to do to Ana, was not for someone who was inexperienced sexually, let alone a virgin. He deflowers Ana, and is willing to take things slow, and even compromise because the feelings he feels for her is something foreign to him. To be honest, I think both Christian and Ana’s life was in such ennui, and they were equally searching for that something that was lacking in their lives. Although this type of behavior was a lifestyle for Christian, he resorted to it out of his need for love and the control that he lacked as a child. Christian was adopted, but before he was adopted, he went through some psychological trauma, which he’s still dealing with as an adult. Ana, lived vicariously through the books that she read, and measured everyone against the characters from her stories. Although this book is fictional, under normal circumstances, we would often call this fate, even as crazy a story as it sounds. From the very first time Christian meets Ana, he is beguiled by Ana, and vice versa. Christian finds himself led astray from his usual norm, and experiences many first encounters with Ana. For instance, he’s never allowed anyone to sleep in his bed, no submissive has ever met his mother, he’s never slept at another woman’s house, no woman has ever flown on his private plane, he’s never ever loved anyone, hell, he’s never even been late for work (which he was for the first time because he slept comfortably at Ana’s). All these firsts with Ana.
Throughout the novel, Christian continues to obsessively attempt to control Ana, while also using sex as a weapon. We find out that the birth of his lifestyle was introduced to him by mother’s friend, Mrs. Robinson, when he was fifteen years old, and although I honestly think it hindered his psychological development, it also helped him with discipline, as well as his success as a business man. He was always getting into trouble as an adolescent, and this new lifestyle that he was introduced to, ironically helped steer him in the right direction. I asked myself how Christian’s sensual abuse was different from domestic abuse. Well, to be frank, I thought it was different when Christian beat/spanked Ana, it was out of lascivious desire, whereas the domestic abuse would beat out of anger and spite. Although the psychology behind the two were totally different, the end result of the abused is the same. On one occasion when Ana disobeyed Christian by rolling her eyes, it was time for Ana to experience the sensual discipline. After the experience, Ana was clearly distraught after Christian spanked her by slapping fire out her ass countless times. Ana was never beat as a child, so there was no way of knowing what the encounter would feel like, so when she finally experienced the disciplinary action, she broke down. Although she wanted to please Christian, because obviously this action pleasures him, she felt that she was losing who she was and didn’t understand how Christian would be happy and turned on by hurting her. On another note, I thought it was interesting how E.L. James noted bible references, when she referred to Ana as Eve in the Garden Of Eden, and Christian being the serpent whom she couldn’t resist, considering its blasphemy. One of the best parts of this novel, for me at least, was the witty banter email correspondence between Ana and Christian. It was so adorable, and showcased Christians playful side, which was a great contrast to his stern exterior. I also think this is part of what made Christian fall in love with Ana. Ana allowed Christian to not take himself too seriously, and allow him to loosen his tie a little. One of the worst parts of this novel was when Christian used sex as a weapon. On many occasions, when Ana would “defy” him, he would punish her by not allowing her to fully release sexually. I won’t go into graphic details, but it was quite demoralizing. One particular occasion, was when Ana didn’t inform him that she was visiting her mother in Georgia, and when she went out to lunch with her male friend, Jose. When he found out about it, he punished her during sex by getting sexual gratification for himself, and withholding it from Ana, essentially not allowing her to release.
Throughout the novel, Ana experienced sex from a different landscape. Since Ana is a novice sexually, she didn’t know if sex was always like what she has been experiencing with Christian. He is showing her interminable pleasure in ways that she could have never imagined. In addition, she loves him, even with all his baggage, and at this point, she can’t really see life without him—I wonder if it’s the dick talking to her? Christian equally loves Ana, although he can’t admit it, because he feels like he’s incapable. All his actions toward Ana, including compromising with her on his contract, which he has never done with any of his other submissives, in a uncanny way showcases his feelings for her. Although, throughout the novel, Ana doesn’t actually sign the contract, and they both still participate in the acts of the contract. As the novel reaches the end, Christian admits to Ana, “I want to hurt you. But not beyond anything that you couldn’t take.....I just need it.” He actually knew the reason, but he didn’t tell Ana why. He knew that if he expressed his true intention to her, then that would be the end of their relationship, and he was not ready to give her up yet. Ana decides to allow Christian to punish her in the worst way possible. She figures that if Christian shows her the worst, in that how bad it can get as he punishes her, she can find out if she can handle it once and for all... He spanks/beats her with a belt, and Ana finds out that she couldn’t take it. Ana says inconsolably, “This is what you really like? Me, like this?” Christian previously said that he wasn’t a sadist, so why does it turn him on sexually when he punishes and spanks/beats her, or anyone for that matter. I was happy, yet also so achingly sad that Ana finally got this wake-up call. Ana knew deep down that although she loved Christian, she would never be able to give him what he needed—which was his unspoken sadism. I think when Christian saw how distraught Ana was, he admitted to her that he wasn’t right for her, and he should let her go. When Ana confessed to Christian that she had fallen in love with him, he was horrified, because he knew he could never give her the kind of love that she needed. He was too fucked up. When Ana left, they were both feeling desolate, and that was hard to read. As much as I enjoyed this, I was equally as poignant in this end.
I think after reading this novel, one would definitely question their own relationship, reeling with some newfound desire of lascivious passion. But there were some disturbing behaviors. As sexy as some scenes appeared in the novel, and by sexy, I mean your significant other desiring you and finding you beautiful no matter the condition, I think that there were just some things that were too erotic for me. For instance, when Christian had white wine in his mouth during one of his and Ana’s encounters, then transferred the wine from his mouth into Ana’s mouth. I don’t think I could ever implore myself to do this. I don’t even like anyone drinking out of my cup—and maybe that’s the problem. And when Ana was on her period, and Christian took her tampon out, and they made love. I just couldn’t even dare, or maybe I need to be more in tune with my sensuality. To be candid, the entire novel was filled with exotic and outwardly episodes, yet, I still felt stimulated. Although, as I previously stated, I don’t think I could ever be brazen enough to try some of the acts. One could also say that maybe I just haven’t met the right person. All thoughts aside, I need more of this book, and I’ll unequivocally be reading book 2: 50 Shades Darker, and of course and I’ll keep you posted.