Can’t be arsed to read ‘Fifty Shades’? Here’s all you need to know about EL James’s kinky tale in five easy pieces
She wrote it while commuting
The first draft of ‘Fifty Shades’ was a mucky work of ‘Twilight’ fan fiction, posted online by ‘Snowqueens Icedragon’ (aka EL James, real name Erika Leonard). She wrote part of it on her phone, making her millions as she sat on the train every day. So now she’s free to get on with playing Candy Crush.
It’s about a contract
In the book, virginal student journo Anastasia (Ana) Steele interviews Christian Grey, a young billionaire concealing a troubled past and a taste for BDSM. He then spends 500 pages buying her stuff and attempting to make her sign a contract agreeing to be his sex slave, while she pushes for a ‘normal’ relationship.
There’s a lot of sex
The novel’s 14 sex scenes run to roughly the same length as Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, as Ana and Christian clock up a spectacular 38 orgasms. Ana is tied up five times, spanked twice, flogged once, and has additional adventures with a riding crop, a leather belt and some beads. There’s also an alarming scene involving a tampon.
It’s ideal for drinking games
The prose is famously ropey, and Ana’s comedy exclamations are an irresistible invitation to play cliché bingo. She squawks ‘jeez!’ 81 times, though her favourites begin with ‘holy’. Among them, ‘holy shit!’, ‘holy cow!’, ‘holy Moses!’ and (best of all) ‘holy mackerel!’ On average, one of these trips off Ana’s tongue every three pages – though, disappointingly, she never addresses them to Batman.
There are sequels
The novel ends on a major cliffhanger, and the trilogy continues with ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ and ‘Fifty Shades Freed’. Studio execs have been coy, but follow-ups seem likely. When probed about it via Twitter in 2013, James replied, gleefully, ‘Three books. Three films. :)’
By Joly Braime
Now read our interview with ‘Fifty Shades’ star Jamie Dornan.