It's Fifty Shades again, but from Christian's view, and not as good

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 June, 2015, 10:49pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 June, 2015, 10:49pm


I had no problem with the original Fifty Shades of Grey. I thought it was funny and perky, and I liked the fact that a woman got to write it on her kitchen table, rather than the other, less relaxing ways people make money in erotica.

In some ways, Grey, the follow-up to E.L. James' bestseller, is almost the same book. It is as if every line of dialogue, every legal contract that sets out Christian Grey's sub-dom relationship with Anastasia Steele - every email from the first volume - has been cut and pasted in. We follow each scene in the same order, except this time we see it from Christian's point of view.

This completely flips the narrative. The first book was a rather fun and fairly mild portrait of a woman's sexual fantasy. Yet it is almost impossible to read Grey and not assume the narrator is going to end up in jail. It is most reminiscent of those thrillers that open from the point of view of the heavy-breathing murderer stalking his prey.

Instead of lighthearted and repetitive mild S&M, the "love affair" is now the twisted work of an utter psychopath. Whenever Ana leaves the room, even just for two minutes, Christian assumes she's making out with another man.

One of the first things Christian does after he meets Anastasia - having slobbered all over her in the interview scene - is order a background check to find out everything about her. When she won't tell him where she is going, he accesses the darknet to pinpoint her location and goes to find her. (She loves this.) It's the same story if she delays in responding for any reason.

The first trilogy was a fantasy. This book is far more realistic - and creepy beyond belief. If my daughter wants to read Grey, I'd make sure she knows that if anyone ever treats her like this, she should run like the wind. Why? Because we know there are men who really think this way.

There is no happy ending to this story - unless there is a tremendous twist further down the line and these are Grey's prison diaries. That would, as Anastasia might put it, just about appease my inner goddess.

Grey by E.L. James (Arrow)

The Guardian