Welcome to the first Stuff Book Club day, where the spotlight is on YOU. You're invited to post reviews of our book of the week in the comments section. I want to know your opinions and what you think what makes a book great - or not.
Up this week is the erotic novel that has women everywhere in a flap. It's touted as "mummy porn", the author started writing it as Twilight fan fiction and now it's the fastest-selling paperback of all time (surpassing even Harry Potter).
Yep, it's Fifty Shades of Grey! Described on author E.L James' (photo below, thanks to Michael Lionstar) website as a "tale that will obsess you, possess you and stay with you forever", this is the polarising story that could bring literotica into the mainstream.
In the interest of "research", I read the trilogy over the space of one weekend. The things I do for you! They were easy reads, juicy in parts, though I skimmed over a few technically okay but boring chapters here and there.
Overall, I thought Fifty Shades was racy enough, but not ground-breaking in describing alternative lifestyles. It was basically a bodice ripper with a bit more kinkiness than usual.
The first book did some things well. The naughty bits were charged with sexual tension - a sensory feast in some parts - and the chemistry between Ana Steele and Christian Grey was palpable, if sketchy in parts.
The other two novels in the Fifty Shades family were not quite as thrilling. The last book, Fifty Shades Freed, could have done with heavy and stern editing. I found myself humming the Silverchair song Please Die Ana for several chapters.
James is no Anais Nin or Marquis de Sade (if you want something weightier, check him out), but she never claimed she wanted to be. My impression is that she wants to write popular fiction that sells, and accomplished that quite marvellously (J.K. Rowling would be proud).
All those column inches being poured into analysing the social, political and cultural currency of these books aren't worth it because, hey, it's not pretending to be anything but mainstream erotica. And that's what makes it fun for "mummies" everywhere.
The three best reader reviews posted below will win a complete set of the Fifty Shades trilogy, thanks to publisher Random House. That's Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed to obsess you, possess you and take away your next free weekend. We'll contact the winners by email.
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