Bookclub: Fifty Shades of Grey. Let's discuss.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Welcome to Mamamia’s new FLASH Bookclub. Every so often (you won’t know exactly when – it’s all part of the FLASH!) we’ll be gathering here to talk about a popular book.

Because half the fun of reading a book is discussing it afterwards. Yes? We think so.

First up – we’re talking about Fifty Shades of Grey. This trilogy of erotic fanfiction has sold over 10 million copies worldwide and even beat Harry Potter for the title of the fastest-selling paperback of all time.

You’ve probably seen it in the window of every bookshop and in the handbag of every other woman. It’s been sitting at the top of the iBooks most popular list for longer than the duration of Kim Kardashian’s marriage.

But the true story here has been its massive success as an ebook as millions of women have discovered a discreet way to consume, well, porn.

Here’s the plot outline from the author’s website:

E.L.James, the author of Fifty Shades

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

If you’ve read it, you probably have an opinion of it. A strong one. Even if you haven’t read it, you probably have something to say.

We’re looking forward to seeing the movie version, if only just to see who they choose to play Christian Grey (a hot topic of debate in the office). Here are some ideas:

As for Anastasia Steele:


1. Talk about the genre of erotica fiction and the straightforward and graphic descriptions of sex in this book. What effect did the writing style and playful tone of the book have on these scenes?

2. Discuss the feelings that surfaced as your read about submissive/dominant relationships. Did it pique your curiosity? Did anything shock or offend you?

3. The book is marketed as “steamy erotica for suburban housewives”. Is this accurate? Do you think reading about intense sexual encounters enhances the sexual experience? Of the many sex scenes discuss your favorite or least favorite?

4. Discuss the meaning and significance of the book’s title. What do you think accounts for the overwhelming popularity of this book?

5. For the majority of people, the sex described pushes the limits of normal. With this in mind, were you able to relate to the human condition underlying the experiences? For example, did you understand the desire for this kind of experience and why each character was drawn to this?

6. Anastasia was surprised when she enjoyed and wanted more of the kinky sex. Discuss the implications of this? Do you think guilt or her lack of experience played into these feelings?

7. Did you feel a strong connection to either Christian or Anastasia? Did you find yourself siding with one more than the other?

8. What was your initial impression of Christian? As more of his background and personality was revealed, did your opinion of him change? Did his actions in any way surprise you? What is your favorite Christian phrase?

9. The author does an excellent job of weaving family drama into the story. For example, Anastasia has a strong bond with her stepfather and Christian is strongly attached to Mia and his parents. How important do you think this is to the story in general? How important were these bonds to Anastasia and Christian’s ability to form relationships?

10. Discuss the relationship Anastasia had with her mother? Did her mother offer enough of what is considered traditional motherly support? Was her influence on Anastasia more positive than negative? How do you think her mother felt about Anastasia’s relationship with Ray? Do you think either Anastasia or her mother had any regrets about the way things turned out?

11. There was a wonderful cast of supporting characters in this book. Who was your favorite and why.

12. What actor do you see playing the role of Christian and Ana?