Fifty Shades of Grey: at last, some perfect literary writing!

Fed up with all the criticism of E. L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” for its alleged lack of literary prowess? Fear not – all can be forgiven … thanks to some of the tome’s splendidly written, very funny Amazon reviews. Here are some of my favourites…

This reviewer obviously wasn’t impressed by Mr Grey’s obvious expertise in ending world poverty and creating global peace while playing the Moonlight Sonata with one hand and thrashing Ana’s behind with the other. I really wanted Ana to lead Christian Grey on, says the stalwart reviewer, and then turn the tables on him in some way, expose him to ridicule or just slap him in the face with a wet kipper.” Good idea, although being Mr Grey he might have found the wet kipper a major turn-on.

A reviewer from California was concerned that Ana was chewing her lips so much she risked turning them into a Double Whopper without the bun or the pickles. If you take out the parts where the female character is blushing or chewing her lips, the book will be down to about 50 pages. Almost on every single page, there is a whole section devoted to her blushing, chewing her lips or wondering “Jeez” about something or another.”

A Texan reviewer obviously got caught up in the repetitive mood when penning this creative tribute to the book’s writing style:  “I blush. I gasp. He touches me “down there.” I gasp again. He gasps. We both gasp. I blush some more. I gasp some more. I refer to my genitals as “down there” a few more times. I blush some more. Sorry, I mean I “flush” some more. I bite my lip. He gasps a lot more. More gasping. More blushing/flushing. More lip biting. Still more gasping. Goodness me, she was so busy blushing, flushing and gasping that she only managed to bite her lips once. There’s hope for Ana yet.

Repetition is also an issue for this reviewer: “I’m convinced the author has a computer macro that she hits to insert one of her limited repertoire of facial expressions whenever she needs one. According to my Kindle search function, characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian’s lips “quirk up” 16 times, Christian “cocks his head to one side” 17 times, characters “purse” their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times. When do they find time to have sex, I wonder?

The author’s knowledge of geography crops up in several reviewers’ pieces, e.g. “surely the author must realize that Portland, Seattle and Vancouver are not co-located,”  “…you don’t drive through Portland to get to Seattle from Vancouver,” etc. As yet another reviewer put it, “where was the publisher’s editor? Asleep?”

What about the reviewers who loved the book and gave it five stars?? The sincerest, to start…

“There is a lot of sex, but there is more to this book too. You fall in love with the charters. You start to get emotional about their trials and tribulations.”

“OMG – Christian Grey is so very hot hot hot…. and Ana… holy cowzzzz…. what a well written book… couldn’t put it down even for a minute… took that Kindle everywhere with me…”

“I think this book was exciting to read. The storie was well written and engaging and something that is generally a dirty secret…”

Really? OK…

“What we get is an emotional rollercoaster of sensual awakening. The attraction between these two is like gasoline to a raging fire. What really makes this story shine, however, is watching these two struggle with the emotional ramifacations of their blooming emotional attachment. It goes beyond physical, beyond the need to possess or dominate. And neither or them know how to handle it. It’s dark, addictingly so. It’s a character driven story where our hero and heroine get way in over their heads.”

Some valid points…

“It always makes me wonder about people who read fiction (make believe stories) that they expect it to be about reality. So many of the reviews complain about aspects of this book not being realistic, as fiction that is the author’s choice.”

“I won’t say that I haven’t rolled my eyes (which is a dangerous thing to in this story, ha!) at a few plot devices in 50SoG or haven’t noticed all the British-isms that show up in this American setting. There is also a lack of sophistication in some parts of the story, but its the author’s first work and, well, its mostly amazing so those things don’t disturb me at all. The brilliant “bits” (see what I did there?) are so good that it’s worth suspending my belief at certain points and forgiving the author’s incorrect use of a term or two. “

And some five star reviews from the practical types…

“Lights really easily … found a discarded copy of this book on the beach last fri evening, used it to start a lovely little camp fire .. was really pleased with it .”

“It’s the perfect size to fit into my toaster. You wouldn’t believe the different shades of grey smoke that come out after 10 minutes.”

NB: on there are over 12,000 reviews of which nearly 5,000 are five star and nearly 4,000 are one star, and on there are more than 4,500 reviews of which nearly 2,000 are five star and nearly 1,500 are one star. Please note that my choices above are based on how much they made me laugh, not on what I personally think of the book.

Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? What did you think of it?

Now, let’s get going with 50 shades of good nonfiction writing:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“How To Write Winning Non-fiction”…all you need to know to write a good non-fiction book and get it published


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  1. Repetition repetition repetition and no valid storyline – not worth the couple of hours to read

  2. I haven’t read it, not planning on it. Let’s face it reading about sex isn’t nearly as interesting as doing it… did I just say that? Hilarious post!

  3. I haven’t read it either, but I did hear a talk on the radio, where two male librarians were asked whether they had read it.

    The first one said, he was going to but hadn’t, although his wife had already read and enjoyed it.

    The second one said that he read just a few paragraphs here and there and he came to the conclusion that all those who read and enjoyed it clearly had a problem with sex!

    There was no further comment from the first one 😉

  4. The reviews are funnier than the book. I know so many people who’ve started it but found it so appalling they couldnt finish it… but EL James is now £6 million better off….

  5. I loved Fifty Shades, some people said it was too repetitive, but it’s the style and the colorful language that draws you in

  6. Agreed. There’s a reason this is the most popular book of the year. The critics can be too harsh, they should just enjoy it.

    • I think you misinterpreted the irony, actually. Please note, readers, that this commenter sells PDF versions of the 50 shades books. If you want my advice, save the money and just think “orgasm.” It will achieve a similar effect.

  7. Suzan,

    Thank you for the good laugh! I was working on my own book and needed a break very badly.

    I tried to read a few pages of 50SoG and I have to be honest. I find it silly and badly written. With that said, I understand the appeal — and talk about it in my upcoming book (hint hint! lol).

    More seriously, some of the reviews are really creative.

    • Hi Cendrine … I made myself read the whole book but it was hard work. More than anything it was the repetitiousness that made me want to throw myself off a bridge … but hey, as I said in another comment above, the author is now a multi-millionaire and maybe we should learn some sort of lesson from that. Perhaps … crap sells?? 😉


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