Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Why Fifty Shades Is Like Music



I went to a sponsored dinner recently and on the table were little gifts. It’s everywhere. And I wondered what the secret is?

Have you read it? The book that everyone’s talking about? I know I heard (Courier Mail Aug 22 2012) that combining the three book sales comes to 2.7 million copies sold in Australia. Amazing when there’s just under 23 million of us. Every where I go, groups of women are talking about it. People who haven’t read a book for years have read all three. Is it the same where you live?


A man I met on the train was very derogatory about people who had read it. I wasn’t interested enough to ask if he had read anything in the last few years. My husband made a very good observation and I’d like to share it with you. He said ‘Stories and storytelling that people choose are really like music and musicians. So simple. I love that analogy.


Some people love classical, blues or country. Then occasionally, say a country star, shines so brightly that everyone falls in love with the song. And it doesn’t have to be the most technically exact performance, just strike a chord, or an idea, or a fantasy. 


Now as a very young thing I loved The Partridge family and thought David Cassidy was worth swooning over. I’ve belted out ‘I Think I Love You,’ (probably his most famous song) and still know all the words when it pops up on a CD mix one of my boys made for me. Or Ted Mulry, ‘Jump In My Car. (I did try to put the link in there but it didn’t transfer) It’s on u-tube though. Not many technical riffs, so not a ‘literary’ song, but the tunes like that, they make me smile, big grin smiles. Story songs.


My husband shakes his head. He likes Southern Rock, great drumming and fab slide guitar, when seriously I can barely hear the instruments unless I strain because I’m listening to the words. Listening to the story. That’s the draw for me.


Back to Fifty Shades. I know it’s fantasy, I find the concept intriguing, as a teenager I read The Story Of O, and again I’m so pleased I can satisfy curiosity from the comfort of my armchair. I’m only 56% through the first novel,  so my kindle says, and enjoying it very much. As usual I’m a bit slow jumping on the bandwagon here, but as a writer, it makes me think about what appeals and I really don’t think its all about the sex. 


To me, that’s just the platform that propelled the story into stardom. I think it’s a romance and a well written one at that but I’ve read other comments that weren’t in agreement. That’s okay, tastes vary, and I find it easy to read. It sold to 2.7 k buyers in one small country. And the draw for me is how the young inexperienced heroine can change him. I haven’t read much so maybe I will be disappointed but that’s what I’m looking for in it. 


So why do people like a particular book or particular author. And why do they dislike certain ones and feel so emotional about it they scream. There’s a whole load of books out there I wouldn’t read and others love. A bit like the different discussions about self-publishing or e-publishers who of course are appealing to lots of readers. ‘Long Live The Difference.‘ Just like in music. Different tastes are great…especially if you love a medical romance.  Love to hear your thoughts

xx Fi



28 thoughts on “Why Fifty Shades Is Like Music”

  1. Just as there are genres and subgenres of books it is the same in music–well done. And I have no idea who has and who has not read 50 Shades… It is not something I have read and I don’t know anyone who has read it! LOL

  2. I have read all three but I didn’t like it. Everyone talks about the romance underneath, to me it’s about loving someone so much you are willing to do anything for them and put up with their crap. I just think the book sends the wrong message.
    I can see the analogy between music and books, just because I prefer one genre doesn’t mean I ignore the latest hit

      1. Absolutely, so many people say they are waiting for the copies to come, someone else at work has it. Which makes me wonder how many more people have read it 🙂

    1. Yep, had a conversation with someone who read it because her daughter had read it, and that was very confronting for her. If someone tells me a movie is really sad, No matter how great it’s supposed to be, I probably won’t watch it. Its not how I want to feel at the end of a movie. Thanks for commenting, Christa. Xx Fi

  3. Great and thought provoking post, Fiona and I love the analogy. I haven’t read it because erotica isn’t my “music” but my take is that it was underground for a long time with a dedicated following of readers before it burst through and people started buying it to “See what all the fuss was about,” so it must tug on the emotions of enough people. My tennis team are divided into three…those that enjoyed it, those that couldn’t read past the fifty pages and those of us who aren’t going to pick it up at all.
    I bet we’re divided on music tastes as well!

    1. But how interesting that two thirds of your team have picked it up and read atleast fifty pages. Isnt it. Is there another book that 66% have picked up? Even Twighlight, as mentioned before, maybe Harry Potter’s first book? Fascinating isnt it. Thanks for your thoughts, Fiona xx Fi

  4. Well I’m probably not going to read it. I didn’t get into Harry Potter or Twilight either. However I like your husband’s comparison. It would be a really bland grey world if everyone liked the same things.

    1. I didn’t rush out and get on the Harry Potter bandwagon ( I did read the first three but not right away) or the Twilight (still haven’t read the Twilight books or those JR Ward Brotherhood book everyone at Harlequin was talking about

      1. Thanks again, Christa, your post influenced me with answering Fiona’s comment. Again everyone is different. I love it. My fav. Book of all time is Cross Stitch, or Outlander, and I only found that by recommendation. Xx Fi

  5. I admit I bought the first book to see what the fuss was all about, and ended up reading all three within a few weeks. While there were certainly things I didn’t care for, the series held my attention. And I felt the hero did quite a bit of growing over the course of the stories. I do think you’re right, though. Tastes in reading vary as much as tastes in music (says a girl who loves country music). And 50 Shades was not at all something I expected to like, so I was suprised to find myself cicking “buy” on the second and third books!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Tina, and I agree with you about things that you can skim over in a book if you dont like it. i’m not keen on the idea of a movie for just that reason. And I think a lot of other readers were surprised too, Tina.
      Great stuff xx Fi

  6. Read the first one and wanted to give the heroine a good shake. But since it was fan fic and based on twilight that’s not surprising as I always wanted to give Bella a shake too!
    I was uncomfortable with the control aspects of the story probably because I do a lot of work in the gender based violence field. I worry that young women will take this as an example. For that reason I didn’t read the other two.

    1. Smiled at you wanting to give Bella a shake, Scarlet, me too. But then, sigh, she was so in love. 🙂
      Re nasty people out there, as a midwife I see those too, I guess I have to assume people will know for the majority of us it’s fantasy and we have rights to say yes and no. I think it’s a little like the furore about Harry Potter books encouraging people to use magic. And then there’s that song, “I Like The Way It Hurts”. My eighteen year old son played that for me, and even I can hear it’s a beautiful tune, just the story is confronting. When I questioned him he said, “Oh mum, It’s just a song.” Thanks so much for commenting
      xx fi

  7. Great post, Fi! And nice use of those accessories from the Harlequin Naughty or Nice dinner!

    Excellent analogy by your hubby about music and reading. There are a few songs that have really grabbed me – some are huge hits so obviously they “speak” to everyone but every now and then the song will be something totally obscure. Something that I’ve loved but for some reason it’s kinda passed by nearly everyone else.

    I haven’t read 50 Shades and I’m not sure if I will… no plans at this stage – so I can’t comment about the book. But it’s so interesting to read everyone’s comments.

    1. Thanks, Sharon, yep, I’m finding it really interesting, too. I woke up yesterday, realised I had a blog ’cause I was away at a two day course, and went yikes. The night before a bunch of midwives were discussing it and it’s funny how often it comes up now if someone knows you write. ‘So, have you written a book like FSOG?’ Snort? xx So enjoying the blog and maybe will have more useful answers. xx Finext time someone asks.

  8. Hi Fi

    I have been loaned the first two but haven’t started reading them yet. I’m not sure then that I’m in a position to comment on 50 Shades in particular.
    I suspect that some of the sex scenes in some of the Harlequin Mills and Boon is just as hot- if not hotter- so it should come as no surprise that women like reading sexy books!
    I have heard people say/ blog that the violence in the book is too close to domestic violence and that disturbs me, but as I said before, I can’t comment as I haven’t read them. Interestingly I have just finished reading Wuthering Heights for the second time and there is a fair degree of violence- including what we’d call domestic abuse in that book. Somehow I never noticed before.
    I also remember- when I was at university- someone castigating me for reading Enid Blyton when I was a child (I loved the Famous Five)- because Enid Blyton only wrote about happy, middle class families. My response to that- her books made a reader out of me.
    Even now I read almost anything. Crime, romance, historical, biographies- the back of cereal packets if I’m stuck- and I can’t even think of a life without books. I guess I’m saying each to their own and as long as people are reading and experiencing a different world- then it doesn’t matter what we read!

    1. Several comments brought up the topic of domestic violence related to FSOG and other books, such as Wuthering Heights. I was a stage mom for 11 years while my girls were going through school and in every musical the school put on. They overlapped on one musical, Carousel. Does anyone (besides other stage moms/dads) know the plot? It’s no HEA love story, neither is Oliver. Both of the musical heroines are victims of DV. Julie, in Carousel sings about, “what’s the use of wondering if he’s good of if he’s bad”… and there is a line in the second act that made me shudder about how [the blow] it didn’t really hurt because she loved him.

      Oh gag, me with a spoon, what a terrible message to give our girls. We used that musical as a teachable moment. And in Oliver, the heroine, Nancy, is killed off stage near the end of the musical by her domestic partner. She’s murdered! And we have high school students all over the country performing these musicals. But should we censor schools–tell them not to produce these musicals? No. I don’t believe we should. Instead we should use them as vehicles for teaching what healthy and unhealthy relationships entail.

      1. Lost my response to you, Nan, just found it was missing, and I really appreciate your thoughtful input. (and loved the ‘ gag me with a spoon” made me laugh out loud.) I so agree with you.

        I couldnt be a stage mom, snifff, none of my boys were keen on performance. Did a role play at a midwifery conference as the septic mother alst week. Was told I had real apptitude. Snort.
        Thanks so much for leaving your comment xx Fi

    2. Lost my response to you, Anne, sorry, only just realised. Great comment, and loved your Enid Blyton comment too. I loved Famous Five. Can’t imagine a world without books and that comes with diversity. Have just done a library talk and sat and spoke to all and the differences in what they were keen to write was inspiring
      Thanks again xx Fi

  9. I so agree, Anne. I love that people who haven’t read for a while, have been reminded how they can get lost in a book. Feel compelled to buy a next book or even just talk about their experience with friends. Such a spike in the idea of reading is always great. xx Fi

  10. Ooh Fi, good topic! About to rant so consider yourselves warned……
    I think good bloody on E L James. I have the book on my iPad waiting patiently (why aren’t there more hours in the day??) she may have her critics but there are a lot of people out there lovin it and I think good, great! It’s great for all of us. Jst like your hubbies music analogy – different strokes for different folks. But to take first a fan fic serialsed blog that became an indie book that then became a world wide phenomena – how incredibly wondrously amazing is that?
    I somehow think we miss the point in all this. E L James has shown us ANYTHING is possible and I find that amazingly incredible.
    Sorry….rant over…..
    Btw. I agree that Love The Way It Hurts is tough subject matter but am in awe of how succinctly it sums up the sick co- dependence that often evolves in domestic violence situations. I think the song tackles that well and somehow makes it just that more heart breaking.
    PS Love love love Jump In My Car!

    1. Not a rant. I so agree, Amy. Loving the comments. Am talking at local library again today to cater to sudden spike in writers who have always wanted to send something out but haven’t yet. 🙂 A lot to do with discussions of best sellers that are so prolific at the moment. Always come home from these talks with fresh motivation when you see the determination grow and someone says ‘ yes, I will send it in.’ wish me luck. xx Fi

  11. FF here. I probably won’t read it. I would read the first 5 books of Harry Potter. I didn’t read Twilight series. I didn’t read The Da Vinci Code. I guess I am a curmudgeon!

  12. Thanks FF. lovely to hear from you as always. Yep, again a different type of music. Curmudgeon? Not a word I hear often, and had a lovely time on google looking for something that vaguely resembles you. None there. 🙂
    I liked only one definition of curmudgeon ( and now I can spell it) that says, curmudgeon’s …”Don’t hate mankind, just mankind’s absurdities.”
    Thanks for the fun research xx Fi

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