It’s hard to imagine that anyone hasn’t heard of E L James’ controversial and sensuous romance series Fifty Shades of Grey. What began as fanfiction inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling Twilight Saga transformed into a hit series all its own, and now, ten years later, James has released Freed (Bloom Books) — Fifty Shades Freed from Christian’s perspective — a novel that could perhaps be the Fifty Shades swan song.

Whether you’re a fan of the series or not, you could not have participated in pop culture over the last decade without coming in contact with James’ work at some point or another. The film adaptations (starring Dakota Johnson opposite Jamie Dornan) made more than a billion dollars at the box office. Additionally, the trilogy itself sold over 165 million copies worldwide. It’s clear readers and moviegoers alike fell hard and fast for the magnetic, steamy love affair between the demure, literature student Anastasia Steele and the attractive young billionaire Christian Grey. 

JAMES’ RETURN TO HER PROVOCATIVE ROMANCE

If this fiery trilogy and subsequent film franchise weren’t enough to satiate her millions of adoring fans, James returned to her bestseller in 2015 with the release of Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian. This new book saw the author climbing inside her leading man’s head to gift readers a deeper (and darker) perspective on the love story that first captivated them four years earlier. 

James had never intended for this alternate point of view to become its own series. In a recent GMA interview, she explained: “I’d written a couple of chapters from Christian’s point of view … for charity events and things I’d organized within the fandom.” She later put these bonus chapters at the end of Fifty Shades Freed, the final book in the Fifty Shades trilogy, and readers begged her for more.

James said writing Grey was “enormous fun.” She released the sequel, Darker, in 2017, but then stepped back from the project to write a stand-alone romance entitled The Mister. Since then, devoted readers have been clamoring for the final Christian Grey novel, and the pandemic finally presented James with the opportunity to sit down and write Freed, which fans may be excited to learn fills in a six-week gap in the Fifty Shades Freed timeline.

A FAREWELL TO ANA AND CHRISTIAN’S LOVE STORY?

In Freed, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele tie the knot — but marriage brings its own challenges. Though their passion burns hotter and deeper than ever, Ana’s defiant spirit continues to stir Christian’s darkest fears and tests his need for control. As old rivalries and resentments endanger them both, one misjudgment threatens to tear them apart.

James said of the project, “This story has been a labour of love, one that my readers have been eagerly awaiting. For me, just as for Anastasia Steele, Christian is a challenging, infuriating, and endlessly fascinating character. Living in his head is exhausting, but I got to explore aspects of his life in Freed that we only glimpsed in the original trilogy, and to follow his emotional growth in response to Ana’s love and compassion.”

With Freed finally published, the question on everyone’s mind is “Will this be the end for the Fifty Shades series?” James says, “We’ve left [Ana and Christian] in a good place. Let’s leave them in a good place … but I always say, ‘Never say never.’” 

Readers will just have to wait and see.


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Photo by Nino Muñoz

About E L James:

E L James is an incurable romantic and self-confessed fangirl. After 25 years of working in television, she decided to pursue a childhood dream and write stories that readers could take to their hearts. The result was the controversial and sensuous romance Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. In 2015, she published the #1 bestseller Grey, the story of Fifty Shades of Grey from the perspective of Christian Grey, and in 2017, its chart-topping sequel, Darker. Her books have been published in fifty languages and have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide.

James has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s “Most Influential People in the World” and Publishers Weekly’s “Person of the Year.” Fifty Shades of Grey stayed on The New York Times Bestseller List for 133 consecutive weeks. Fifty Shades Freed won the Goodreads Choice Award (2012), and Fifty Shades of Grey was selected as one of the 100 Great Reads, as voted by readers, in PBS’s The Great American Read (2018).

She co-produced for Universal Studios the Fifty Shades movies, which made more than a billion dollars at the box office. The third installment, Fifty Shades Freed, won the People’s Choice Award for Drama in 2018.

E L James is blessed with two wonderful sons and lives with her husband, the novelist and screenwriter Niall Leonard, and their West Highland terriers in the leafy suburbs of West London.