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The Secret Life of E.L. James by Marc Shapiro

19 Feb

The Secret Life of E.L. James

Paperback, 174 pages
Published December 17th 2012 by Riverdale Avenue Books
Rating:3/5 Stars

Description:

Discover the secrets behind the Red Room of Pain 

The intricacies of making love in the backseat of an expensive sports car 

The rough and tumble process of editing Fifty Shades of Grey Find out where the name E.L. James really comes from 

And finally the step by step process by which this middle-aged British mother of two came up with the international best-selling erotic romance series that has sold more copies than Harry Potter 

NY Times best-selling biographer Marc Shapiro uncovers the inspiration and secrets behind this writing sensation, explaining how she did it with exclusive interviews with her editors and early fans. Marc Shapiro is the NY Times best-selling author of J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter, Justin Bieber: The Fever! and many other best-selling celebrity biographies. He has been a free-lance entertainment journalist for more than twenty-five years, covering film, television, and music for a number of national and international newspapers and magazines.

Review:

***This copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

The blurb for this book sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Except that it wasn’t, not really. To be honest, I’ve got to admit that it can’t be easy writing an un-authorized biography these days. With all sorts of information about virtually everybody freely available on the internet and the book’s subject not participating in the work, it must be all but impossible to come up with information that isn’t already widely available in the public arena. And writing a book about a phenomenon like E.L. James and her trilogy only makes that problem bigger. The lady and her books have been written and talked about by anybody and everybody; from professional reviewers and journalists to fellow authors and enthusiastic amateurs like me. So my first observation about this book is that it didn’t contain anything that was new or surprising to me and I it would astonish me if anybody else interested in this author will find anything they didn’t already know in this book. 


My second observation is that the blurb makes this book sound a bit more exciting than it actually is. For example, if you’re hoping to discover something exciting about that “red room of pain” you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Yes, the room gets mentioned, but not in the way you might imagine or hope.

And then there are the mistakes. I came across two bits of information that I know for sure were wrong. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books are a quartet and not a trilogy as stated in this work. And “Need” by Sherri Hayes is not her second book, although it is the second title in her wonderful “Finding Anna” series. The worry of course is that if I can pick up on two mistakes this easily, there could well be a lot more misinformation here that I haven’t picked up on. I don’t know and am willing to give Mr. Shapiro the benefit of the doubt but I would say: reader beware.

And finally I want to point out one inconsistency that annoyed me. In the first part of the book, when Marc Shapiro writes about the days when James first started writing her story, he states that she wrote for her personal pleasure with no thoughts of getting published, never mind fame and fortune. By the time he gets to the end of the book though, he is suddenly telling us what a clever business woman she is and that she had been planning her marketing strategy from a very early stage. Obviously it can only be one or the other, and this book doesn’t tell us which one it is.

I also think this might be a nice little book for anyone who wants to have all their information on E.L. James together in one place. Marc Shapiro has taken all the bits and pieces available in the media and arranged them in a very accessible way, saving fans the trouble of having to do the work themselves. And with James having many millions of enthusiastic fans I am sure there is a good market for this book.

This is a nice little book about an interesting author provided you’re not hoping to discover anything you didn’t already know.

-Ana @SoMsnyBooksSoLittleTime

 

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