Fifty Shades of Grey

What is the story about?

Fifty Shades of Grey is the first novel in the Fifty Shades trilogy published in 2011, that follows the relationship between Anastasia Steele a young college graduate and Christian Grey a young business magnate. It is noted for its explicit erotic scenes that feature the sexual practices that are involved in BDSM.

The book has topped the best sellers list all around the world including the United States and the United Kingdom. It has sold over 70 million copies along with the second and third volumes Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, published in 2012. The book rights have been sold in 37 countries and have set the record for the fastest selling paper back of all time surpassing the Harry Potter series, the previous record holder.

The plot follows Anastasia who is attending Washing State University Vancouver with her best friend who writes for the school newspaper. When her friend becomes ill, Anastasia agrees to take her place and interview Christian Grey who is a young and very successful business entrepreneur. Right away she is attracted to him but she also finds him intimidating, as a result of this she stumbles through the interview and afterwards leaves thinking the interview went badly.

She is then surprised to run into him at the hardware store where she works where he proceeds to buy various items such as masking tape, cable ties, and rope. It is there that Christian leaves Ana his phone number in an attempt to set up a photo shot for pictures to go with the article. It this during this time that they begin to talk and learn about each other. After finishing her exams Ana receives a package from Christian containing first edition copies of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, which stuns her.

Later that night Ana goes out drinking with her friends and ends up drunk dialing Christian, who informs her that he will be coming to pick her up because of her inebriated state. Ana goes outside to get some fresh air, and Jose attempts to kiss her but is stopped by Christian's arrival. Ana leaves with Christian, but not before she discovers that Kate has been flirting with Christian's brother, Elliott. Later Ana wakes to find herself in Christian's hotel room, where he scolds her for not taking proper care of herself. Christian then reveals that he would like to have sex with her. He initially says that Ana will first have to fill out paperwork, but later goes back on this statement after making out with her in the elevator.

Ana goes on a date with Christian where he takes her in his helicopter to his apartment. Once there, Christian insists that she sign a non-disclosure agreement forbidding her to discuss anything that they do together, which Ana agrees to sign. He also mentions other paperwork, but first takes her to his playroom full of BDSM toys and gear. There Christian informs her that the second contract will be one of dominance and submission and that there will be no romantic relationship, only a sexual one.

The contract even forbids Ana from touching Christian or making eye contact with him. At this point, Christian realizes that Ana is a virgin and agrees to take her virginity without making her sign the contract. The two then have sex. The following morning Ana and Christian once again have sex, and his mother, who arrives moments after their sexual encounter, is surprised by the meeting, having previously thought Christian was homosexual because she had never seen him with a woman.

Christian later takes Ana out to eat, and he reveals to her that he lost his virginity at fifteen to one of his mother's friends and that his previous dominant/submissive relationships failed due to incompatibility. They plan to meet up again and Christian takes Ana home, where she discovers several job offers and admits to Kate that she and Christian have had sex.

Over the next few days Ana receives several packages from Christian. These include a laptop to enable the two of them to communicate, since she has never previously owned a computer, and a more detailed version of the dominant/submissive contract. She and Christian email each other, with Ana teasing him and refusing to honor parts of the contract, such as only eating foods from a specific list.

Ana later meets up with Christian to discuss the contract, only to grow overwhelmed by the potential BDSM arrangement and the potential of having a sexual relationship with Christian that is not romantic in nature. Because of these feelings Ana runs away from Christian and does not see him again until her college graduation, where he is a guest speaker. During this time, Ana agrees to sign the dominant/submissive contract.

Ana and Christian once again meet up to further discuss the contract, and they go over Ana's hard and soft limits. Ana is spanked for the first time by Christian; the experience leaves her both enticed and slightly confused. This confusion is exacerbated by Christian's lavish gifts, and the fact that he brings her to meet his family. The two continue with the arrangement without Ana having yet signed the contract. After successfully landing a job with Seattle Independent Publishing, Ana further bristles under the restrictions of the non-disclosure agreement and the complex relationship with Christian.

The tension between Ana and Christian eventually comes to a head after Ana asks Christian to punish her in order to show her how extreme a BDSM relationship with him could be. Christian fulfills Ana's request, beating her with a belt, only for Ana to realize that the two of them are incompatible. Devastated, Ana leaves Christian and returns to the apartment she shares with Kate.

The book had a restricted marketing budget and relied largely on blogs for early publicity, but sales were boosted on by word of mouth. The erotic nature of the book along with it's demographic of married women in their 30s has been dubbed mommy porn by the press. It has also been popular among teens and women in their 20s, part of its success has been attributed to viral marketing and the rise of e reader devices due to the books sexual content.

It has received very bad reviews by book critics with most reviews noting it's poor literary quality. Readers have described it as guilty fun and escapism, and not winning any prizes for its prose but easy to read.