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The vulnerable Mr Grey

When a book is this popular its difficult to resist the lure of knowing what all the fuss is about. The reviews present a melee of compulsion, disgust, blushing smiles, scathing criticism and not least of all, addictive pleasure. The more polarity I saw the more intrigued I became.

Have a listen…

The review on FromeFM 96.6 certainly piqued interest. Not least of all because our views (Annie Lionnet and I) don’t appear to have been explored previously – at least, I haven’t been able to find anything similar. For that alone it is worth adding to the pot of opinion. Its good to be a little provocative… I know three people at least who have decided to read 50 Shades of Grey just from listening to the radio show! If you haven’t already heard it, click below;

FromeFM 96.6 – 50 Shades review with Annie Lionnet

The main characters and ‘story’ are wrapped in layer upon layer of erotic sexual intent. I get the escapism and the ‘mummy porn’ tag – what I don’t get quite so comfortably is the (in some cases) incredibly aggressive criticism of what EL James has created. There’s so much more to it. Some reviewers would have us think that Ana is some ditzy, empty headed, docile creature who allows herself to be manipulated and dominated. The perception cultivated in some reviews is of a rather pathetic, mindless human being and a poor example to women of today. Au contraire !

The characters

I like Ana very much. She’s broad minded, intelligent, strong, she knows who she is and she values herself. She knows where her limits are and what she is prepared to accept, and decline. She’s inexperienced but adventurous. What’s wrong with that? She’s prepared to open her mind (and her body) to new experiences, new feelings. She’s brave and daring, she’ll try anything once, she’s certainly ballsy.

Now think outside the 50 Shades box…isn’t new experience and adventure what we encourage in the name of personal development and self awareness? Does it matter that the veneer of this ‘story’ is so sexual? Are we not all in search of more knowledge, more life enriching experience? There is a much more profound message in the depths of 50 Shades – two people, both outside of their comfort zone, both protecting themselves, both in love with the other but equally dogged by fear, for vastly different reasons.

The perception of male domination, pain, power and suffering I admit can be distasteful but lets not take it out of context. Everything, and I do mean everything, is consensual. It does get to the point where Ana has to admit that she cannot stomach Christian’s ‘f**ked up’ desires and she walks away. All through the process and the development of the characters, she challenges and pushes Christian for explanations and reasons. She wont sign the contract, she cannot be bought. She risks angering, even losing him to ensure her own worth is recognized. I like her a lot.

Now Christian. The depiction of his character is an Adonis absolute. Add to that his success, intelligence, presence, power, wicked sense of humour and romantic gestures and it’s quite a seductive mix. Come on, it is. He’s used to getting his own way. He’s had a string of submissives, he doesn’t do touching, sleeping together, making love, or love itself. It’s not for him, until he meets Ana. He is, by his own admission, bewitched by her, he’s forced to make concessions that he’s never made before, he’ll do anything for her, including a 3000 mile trip just to say ‘hi’. He is disarmed by Ana, bewildered by how vulnerable he feels. He’s blown away by her in every sense. It transpires that he has had an horrific start to life. A crack addict for a mother who dies when he is four. The abuse he suffered is hinted at but not confirmed. There are reasons for him being who he is and Ana has the compassion and the love to want to know more, she wants to understand. Until he hurts her – she asks him to, she doesn’t remember to use the safe word, she draws the line. She gives him back the elaborate gifts and returns to her ‘normal’ life. Bereft, shattered and heartbroken.

The kicker

She is utterly enchanted by this man, deeply in love. Alongside his more extreme sexual demands he is also sweet, kind and gentle. But she walks away.

Of course I hear you yell, anyone would! Would they? Would they walk away from the wealth and the lifestyle and the material possessions ? The adventure, the exhilaration, the excitement and heady anticipation of what lies around the corner? Away from financial security? Away from love? I’m not so sure.

She walked away because she valued herself. She wanted to be true to who she is. She listened to her instinct and didn’t allow the seductive material wealth and dreamlike existence to sway her from the abhorrence she felt. Don’t you think that’s refreshing?

Here’s the kicker for me. If we took what I’ve described as a metaphor for general life, take out the whips and cuffs and the decadent lifestyle and boil it down to the basics – what are they?

Self value, trust, love, fear, honesty, truth. I could go on but you get the picture.

How many of us stay in situations that we don’t feel comfortable in? How many of us ignore our instincts because it’s ‘easier’? It takes real courage and strength to stand up for what you believe in and the rewards aren’t always immediate. Are Annie and I the only ones who think that the character of Ana is a rather fabulous one? Her self possession and maturity are inspiring, she challenges constantly despite the consequences and she respects herself. I like this chick.

We’re reviewing ‘50 Shades Darker’ next Saturday 18th at 4.30pm on FromeFM 96.6 and online – can’t wait!

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For the fabulous Annie (another one!) so enjoying these reviews, it’s a joy to have your viewpoint and your support, looking forward to next week! you can find Annie through her website and/or listen in to what she has to say on 50 Shades… 

Much love Axx

About Anni Hood

A sassie Brit from the north east of England, Anni left to explore the world many years ago and has spent recent years globetrotting for both work and pleasure. Somewhere in the melee of culture, inspiration and joie de vivre, she discovered a great passion not only for sport, fitness and activity, but also a zeal for all things healthy.

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