When the Fifty Shades of Grey movie was being filmed and then released, I frequently brought up 9 1/2 Weeks on our FB page. Aside from the same ending, I remember aspects of the 80s movie that seemed similar to FSOG. Author Stylo Fantôme mentioned to me that the book has even more similarities, so I knew I needed to check it out. See comparisons between the two stories after my review.
Before FSOG fans start ranting at me, I am not knocking the book or movie, I’ve read the series over five times and even went to the Today show premiere. I do find it interesting that most people mention Twilight because FSOG started as a Twilight fan fic. But I think, and I’m not alone in this thought, that the story has more similarities to 9 1/2 Weeks.
If you saw the Today show premiere, maybe you even caught when the director and Jamie Dornan shared a knowing look when it was mentioned that their movie was filmed in . . . 9 1/2 Weeks.
The purpose of this post is to give FSOG fans another book/movie they may enjoy. The movie is a bit dated, and while it’s not award winning material, there is no arguing that it is seriously HAWT, especially the unrated version. The book . . . well, you’ll see below what I thought . . .
Title: Nine and a Half Weeks (A Memoir of a Love Affair)
Author: Elizabeth McNeill
Length: 144 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars
The powerfully erotic memoir that inspired the legendary film with a forward by bestselling novelist Francine Prose. Nine and a Half Weeks is a true story so unusual, so passionate, and so extreme in its psychology and sexuality that it will take your breath away.
Elizabeth McNeill was an executive for a large corporation when she began an affair with a man she met casually. Their sexual excitement depended on a pattern of domination and humiliation, and as their relationship progressed they played out ever more dangerous and elaborate variations on that pattern of sadomasochism. By the end, Elizabeth had relinquished all control over her body — and her mind.
With a cool detachment that makes the experiences and sensations she describes all the more frightening in their intensity, Elizabeth McNeill deftly unfolds her story and invites you into the mesmerizing and dangerous world of Nine and a Half Weeks — a world you won’t soon forget.
This book has left me stunned. I just watched the movie again and felt emotionally drained after. This feels worse. Everything was amplified. The cross dressing scene. Speechless. The hotel scene was bad enough to watch, until I read the scene and it went further. I want to curl in the fetal position and cry for this woman.
I would love to read the male POV on this. Because he treats like he loves her and at the same time, wants to ruin her. Whhhhhhhyyyyyy?!?!?! We’ll never know since his name was never mentioned.
More thoughts later. I’m gonna drink a gallon of wine. (slight exaggeration)
Thoughts one day later
I’ve recovered slightly and can hopefully give you an idea of what to expect from this story. I’ve seen the movie several times and nothing would prepare me for this book.
The first third of this book I would rate as 3.5 stars. It was detailed and well written, but a bit boring. Her description of the inside of his closet was more detailed than that from Kristen Ashley. I was really scratching my head, wondering when we’d get to the good stuff.
And then in one chapter, she casually mentions some of the things he does for her.
One day he bought an outrageously expensive Kent of London hairbrush and beat me with it that evening. Its bruises persisted beyond all others. But every night he used it to brush my hair.
From 30% on in the story, I was highlighting the shit out of the book.
Neither character in this story is referred to by name, but since this is a memoir, we know the author is Elizabeth. To be consistent with the story, I’ll refer to them as she and he/her and him.
When she meets him at a street fair, the relationship seems to begin like all relationships. Slow, romantic. Making love. I’m not sure when or why their relationship changes, but it becomes clear that they have a Dom/Sub relationship, although its not defined as such. Her days have two distinct parts. During the day, she’s in control as a successful business woman. At night, from the moment she walks thru his door, she turns over full control to him. And she LOVES giving over this control.
The nights were palpable and fierce, razors, outlined so clearly as to be luminous. A different country, its landscape and currency plain; heat, fear, cold, pleasure, glut, pain, desire, overwhelming lust.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that a lot of people felt FSOG to be abusive. I think this stems from a lack of understanding about BDSM. I can’t even begin to imagine what they would think of this book. Her nights are spent handcuffed to furniture or tied to the table at his feet while he feeds her. At one point, he allows her masseur to hit her with a belt . . . . 50 times. My back hurt just reading about that scene.
“I want you to shut the fuck up.” He stuffs most of one handkerchief into my mouth and ties the second one tightly across it.
As you’d expect from someone with a dominant personality, he’s not big on the word no. In his world, he will do EVERYTHING for her, and he expects her to give him EVERYTHING he asks in return. If she doesn’t want to do something, she knows where the door is. He says they negotiate, but they really don’t. It’s clear cut that she follow his commands or else.
This story, as is clear, takes place over 9 1/2 weeks, and as those weeks progresses, he pushes her further, testing her limits. It’s with this escalation that you start to question her sanity. Why is she doing all of this for him? I get being in love, but the pressure he put on her to perform seemed damaging.
I’ll be blunt, since my review may or may not guide you to purchase the book. I don’t think many women could handle this story. While there is love (on her end), I wouldn’t call this romantic. And as I mentioned in my intro, the hotel scene is really hard to read, I felt like it was a kick to the gut. (SPOILER: I have no idea why she didn’t leave him, but it doesn’t take much more.)
I’m always reading about a heroine saying that the male character ruined her for other men. After reading this book. I believe this man defined that term. He clearly RUINED her in every sense of the word. It’s not hot. It’s sad.
If you feel you can handle an intense Dom/Sub relationship about pushing limits, this is a well written account. You’ve read my warnings, so I’ll leave it up to you. Just prepare for some heartache and a wicked book hangover.
Here is just some of the similarities and differences I noticed:
Kicking off with a BIG ONE, in the movie, the main character’s name is John G-R-A-Y. Interesting, right?
The FSOG movie received little interest from men, other than being dragged along with their women. While Dakota did a great job in FSOG, in my opinion, she did not drive men to the theater. Sorry, but it’s true. 9 1/2 Weeks on the other hand appealed to both women and men, with a casting of two seriously good looking characters. Being a female, I can even admit Kim Basinger and her rocking body oozed sex appeal in the movie.
Controlling male lead.
Very different female lead characters. Ana in FSOG has NO sexual experience. Not even masturbation. AS IF!
In 9 1/2 Weeks, the woman is divorced with obvious sexual experience. One of the hottest scenes involves Kim Basinger alone, masturbating.
Blindfolds, ice and floggers, oh my!
This is where the 9 1/2 Weeks book and movie are very different. In the movie, Rourke’s character is just playful with these items, whereas the man in the book uses blindfolds, handcuffs and a flogger, or belt or brush, in dominant and often painful moments. FSOG seemed a bit in between the level of domination with Grey’s Red Room and his previous subs.
Tampons! Yes, both men remove them in the books.
Our male lead in the 9 1/2 Weeks book takes it one step further in also inserting them. Also, he’s a Red Wing fan and I don’t mean hockey.
“I eat you while you’re menstruating and we both like that.”
When the men pull out their belts, and yes, this happens in both movies, this marks the beginning of the end.
In 9 1/2 Weeks, the hotel scene is really the end point. And as I mentioned in my book review, it is so much worse in print than on screen.
FSOG takes place in less than 9 1/2 Weeks.
There are more similarities and differences, but I’ll leave it to you to figure those out. I can only assume that EL James was inspired by 9 1/2 Weeks, but she takes the story in a completely different direction as Ana slowly breaks down Christian’s walls and the love story builds. Ignoring the ending of the 9 1/2 Weeks movie with Rourke’s heartbreaking words, I had a hard time thinking the man in the book loved her. I believe he cared for her deeply, but got so caught up in the game of pushing her limits, that he lost compassion for her pain, and that’s not love in my mind.