A lot has been said about the 'Fifty Shades...' series by British author E.L. James.
I, for one, have nothing new to say about it. Before I started reading the first book, I was hoping to discover something new in the world of erotica. But, alas, nothing really happened. Nothing made me blush. I felt as if I were reading a fifth-rate romance novel.
Absolutely nothing made me want to even finish it. But I plodded on, hoping against hope that the story would get better.
But it didn't. In fact, I became angry. I am upset that an intelligent woman would submit herself to a selfish (albeit handsome and wealthy) man just so she could convince him that she could change him; in other words, perhaps he would learn to love once he got over his need to dominate.
I appreciate the written word, and respect those authors who have the courage to put their stories out in the bookworld. But the 'Fifty Shades...' series embarrassed me, and not because of the sex and the S&M. Such an interesting premise, if written in a more sensitive and realistic way, could have become a welcome addition to a long list of classical erotica, but I found it to be a disappointment.
So, that brings me to a shortlist of books that did make me blush and smile...and add to my precious bookshelves.
Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors. Not only is she a talented writer, but she is a generous person. I met her at a manager's conference one year (when I was 7-months pregnant), and she made me sit down and take a load off. We had a wonderful, but short, conversation (we didn't discuss her new book; we talked motherhood), and my respect for her grew even larger. I recommend Anne's fantastic 'Beauty' series, written under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. A new spin on the age-old fairy tale, the real business begins at the beginning (as well it should), and her glorious words and intelligent characters are now part of classical erotica.
I first read the 'The Story of O', by Pauline Réage, when I was a teenager. Not only did it make me blush and consider sexual possibilities when I got a bit...older, but it is also a great contemporary erotic story.
'Lady Chatterley's Lover' is at the top of my list. D.H. Lawrence could write like no one else, and his sensitivity shines a subtle light throughout this story of an ignored noblewoman and her caretaker lover. Her dilemma is real; physically handicapped husband, or lusty lover? Lawrence took his story in the right direction and is one of the greatest classics in literature.
'The Life and Adventures of Fanny Hill', by John Cleland, is lusty, sexy, and I cheered on such an independent protagonist. Fanny knew what she wanted and went for it.
And don't forget Anaïs Nin's 'Delta of Venus' and 'Little Birds'. Her affair with author Henry Miller is the stuff of legend.
There is far worthier erotic literature out there, dear reader. Set aside 'Fifty Shades...' and explore some stories that will challenge you, make you blush, and appreciate the fact that these books still exist. Once you read them, you just might forget about a sniveling, needy girl and a man who just doesn't get it.