I can see my mother coloring with the title. My father has probably already blocked my page from showing on his computer again. But, I have to be honest, in the absolute desperation to escape the quiet in this house, I finally sat down this weekend and read all three novels by EL James’ now renown Fifty Shades of Grey. You know. Just to see what all the fuss was about.
From page 1 to the last page of Freed, I read and read, absorbing the dialogue, story line and undertone of a who done it that I did not expect.
The writing is good. It made me want to improve. And I liked the overall story.
But you don’t care about any of that. I know you don’t. You want me to talk about the thing that newscasters reported caused a baby boom in this country after all the women in America read it.
Yes. Yes. It’s in there. The canoodling, the experimenting, the teaching, the training. It’s all there. And EL James has a very keen awareness that using certain words over actual “dirty” ones makes all of us sit on the brink, waiting to exhale.
But, truth be told – and I will duck for the millions of baby bottles about to be thrown at my head – the books made me mad.
Well – they made me more than mad, if we are being honest. There were times that my head was boiling. Literally spinning out of control, wondering of no one else sees it, angry, mad.
Why? Because this Cinderella story bound up neatly with a grey patterned tie is the same ole same ole. “Change a man and he will be the one of your dreams.”
Because that has worked so well for so many, it seems totally realistic.
Yes, I found Anastatia to be a strong woman. Yes, I found Christian Grey to be a lost boy wounded by his past. And yes, I think that two people can totally fall in love, make lifelong desires moot and live happily ever after gushing nonsensical love terms at each other at every moment of every second of every… nano second… in 5 weeks time.
Totally seems realistic to me. You?
Here is the deal. In my current state of extremely happily divorced, I see the world differently. I see it more realistically. I see the images and the chatter and the Prince meets Princess world I am raising my daughters in and I am a little miffed.
What percentage of our population has to get divorced before we see that hammering our minds with the impossible dream of life long love sets up to create expectations that are unachievable?
Relationship are work. Hard. Hard. HARD. HARD. Work. And, to be frank, I think there is some underlying thought that once the ring goes on, our jobs are done. I can speak first hand and say I thought that. I thought my ex-husbands philandering ways were immediately cut off once I slid that ring on his finger. I had claimed him. He would have to change now. We are married.
Uhh… not so much.
In fact, the deeper we got into the relationship, the less the ring meant and the more problems we had. Because neither of us put the work in at the same time. We did not talk, we did not spend time together. Heck, we didn’t even like each other once our first daughter was born. How could we? Marriage changed our expectations of each other and not knowing that by talking about it was our downfall.
And though I can beat myself up all day – my parents will need a refund on their therapy bills for me, please – the truth is what else was I to expect?
However, though the fantasy laid out if the trilogy is all well and good – and could open up a new discussion among couples that could lead to a healthier relationship – it is all the hunt and the drama and none of the real life that follows. Ironically, the real life of settling down and having a family is the epilogue. I felt bad for it. Left out as the book leaps ahead three years with no explanation of how they are supposedly both still so happy… with kids.
Because of my less than stellar childhood, I know life was not perfect. But because of the perpetual, “When you find someone and you get married it is amazing and perfect and wonderful and OH MY!!” claims that friend who leaves out stress, children, money, other women and -err – life, I believed it could be. Oh, and by friends I mean Cinderella, Julia Roberts and those women who pose for romance novel covers.
Because no one I know now would ever say that to me. At least not to my face.
The thing is, I am all for spreading hope, romance and love through the world. And I want my girls to grow up knowing they they should be loved by whomever their hearts direct them to. But not at the costs of reality. Or their dignity.
Or their pride.
Look, I am not a skeptic. My parents have been married over 40 years and they still hold hands and share every meal. I watch them with longing, wondering if more people followed their hearts and not their expectations, would happier couples emerge?
But they had to compromise. And by compromise I mean agree not to feed me to the wolves when I was a teenager. But they have a deep, palatable love that makes me know it is out there. However, my mom does not own any glass slippers and my dad does not have a saber.
They live in reality. That working together instead of changing each other benefits them and everyone they come in contact with.
So, while I highly recommend The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy – maybe not in one weekend though, my eyes hurt – I think that it has to be read with a more open mind. That it has to be understood that it really is fiction in so many ways.
It is a Cinderella story. Maybe not your traditional plain old ‘vanilla’ one. But one none the less. And though we all need one every once in a while, it can not be what we live our life to achieve.
We should live our life to make our reality work best for us. Not try to live up to a created fantasy that only leads us to fail.
What did you think of the book? I want to know!
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