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This week...it's the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon
WORD of mouth is a powerful thing - and it has secured a fortune for British author EL James.
Her book Fifty Shades of Grey is currently top of the UK fiction bestseller list and the biggest selling paperback in the world. Someone you know is definitely reading a copy right now…
Set in Seattle, the books tell the story of the relationship between a beautiful, yet very innocent, young student named Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, a powerful businessman she is sent to interview. Where things take a slightly different route than conventional bestselling love stories is when he reveals - early on in book one - that he is what's known in certain circles as a dominant, and would like her to become his submissive.
What follows are three tomes full of explicit scenes which have had ladies all over the land giggling like schoolgirls, ensuring they're fast being recommended to friends, spreading their popularity like wildfire. And as a result of consumer demand, this erotic fiction has become mainstream, 'mommy porn', as it has been dubbed, now available to pick up in the supermarket aisles alongside your groceries.
EL James, who has given talks to American audiences full of grateful middle-aged women who swears she has brought them to life again, is now set to make countless millions from the inevitable film versions, in which it will be interesting to see how much of the rude content remains. Famous actors have been declaring their desire to play Christian, knowing the part will do for its performer what Twilight did for R-Patz. There are even rumours that Angelina Jolie will direct.
Having, of course, read all three, I am not surprised that the books have become such a hit, given their conventionality. The lead male is just what a lot of women want; he's an irresistible combination of power, looks, money, brains, class, generosity and, essentially, is a bit troubled too. A puzzle who can only be solved by one woman who wins his heart where countless others have failed. Mr Darcy, anyone? Richard Gere in Pretty Woman (Christian also plays the piano, just like Edward Lewis)? The list is endless.
I also wonder if EL James, actually a privately educated British woman named Erika Leonard, (a mother of two teenage sons, who developed the books from a piece of Twilight fan fiction she was writing) wasn't a little bit inspired by Steven Shainberg's fabulous 2002 film Secretary. Maggie Gyllenhaal's recovering anorexic finds peace as a submissive to her dominant boss, the interestingly named E. Edward Grey, played by James Spader.
Regardless, wherever EL James' ideas came from, there are a lot of grateful women out there!