Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin (A.K.A. Andrew Shaffer) is a parody of E.L. James’s series, Fifty Shades of Grey. The debut encompasses various other aspects of pop culture, offering witty commentary from both the protagonist, Anna Steal, and her romantic interest, Earl Grey.
Shaffer is aware that Anna is not the most reliable character in his book and he plays with this revelation. Anna acts as his example when he criticizes the weak female protagonists literature has adopted, the narcissistic male billionaire characters, and the farfetched plot twists employed in recent novels.
Shaffer persuades his readers to notice the flaws in our current society. He challenges us to question who we are idolizing and what the effects of such adoration could be. He also comments on the state of the modern novel. A terrifying prediction that rings true if we continue to entertain weak protagonists and the relationships they have with other characters. Whereas humorous for the most part, this novel is a serious examination of the ludicrous fads overwhelming society.
Shaffer’s writing is fast-paced, fresh, and entertaining. This book does require some knowledge of Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight, since the underlying dark humor isn’t always blatantly clear. A person not privy to the general plots of either books may not understand the meaning behind Shaffer’s satirical novel.
The reader must observe Shaffer’s ability to comment on the cliches of erotic and romantic literature without seeming pretentious. This can be seen when he creates a hysterical mood that shatters the illusion of romance by overusing cliched words. The word "Gaze" appears to be one of his favourites.
There are moments where the humor tends to feel a bit forced, the jokes slipping right past me. But for the greater part, I could not stop laughing. Shaffer is able to draw out humor from content that is disturbing in nature.
Andrew Shaffer’s book is a mean feat, considering he wrote it in 10 days. A satirical look at pop culture and our society, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is a comical debut that will have you giggling until the conclusion.