When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
It can only be assumed that the reason a literature student is interviewing an entrepreneur is because she’s already given up all hope of a career in literature, and has sold out to the tabloid industry, and is one of the many lower-down writers being assigned America’s Top Ten Upcoming Businessmen of 2011.
That student is Anastasia, Ana for short is. Following her love of romance novels, she is enrolled in the literature program at her community college. Truth be told, her professors think that her writing is much too romantic and flowery, but she still dream of one day writing the next Twilight series.
At the same time, she’s realized that her complete inexperience with any tangible romance leaves a gaping hole in her writing, so she takes an entry-level job at the tabloid company. She tells friends and family that she’s writing for a nationally distributed newspaper, then quickly changes the subject before they can ask any questions.
As soon as she enters businessman number three’s office, she stops dead in her tracks, for the person rising to great her is the most handsome man she’s ever seen. She barely notices how cold the hand that grips hers is, she’s too busy gazing into those bottomless eyes.
Tension begins to build as they chat about his business tactics, perfect family life. He tells her that he has one child, four years old that adores dancing. Somehow, the conversation keeps turning to Ana’s life: her hopes, her dreams, her desires.
It’s desire that tips the hormones over the edge, and before she knows quite what’s happening they’re making out on the desk. Everything seems wonderful, perfect, until Mr. Gray’s arm falls off.
Yes, Christian Grey is a zombie.
He confesses the truth, stating that he ate his wife and child’s brains months ago, and has been hiding the truth from the public. Whenever he gets too close to someone the urge is overpowering, except with Ana. Her childlike mindset reflects a general empty headedness that keeps her safe.
Ana knows that she should run away screaming like a rational person, but can’t bear to leave the tormented man. So begins her life of crime.
Even though her sheer stupidity keeps Ana relatively safe, Christian needs a steady supply of brains to stay alive, and Ana takes on the task of providing his dietary needs. Soon she’s staking out funerals, shovel in hand, waiting for dark to claim the dearly departed grey matter.
These daring escapades give Ana a sense of self worth, which proves to be detrimental as Christian begins to experience cravings during their nights together. At first both pretend not to notice his gnawing on her head, but soon enough Ana realizes that the more she thinks for herself, the more danger her life is in. Even with that knowledge she can’t bear to leave Christian.
Ana’s writing also improves. Her professors compliment her on not shying away from sensitive topics, and that empowerment causes her to quit her soulless tabloid job and begin plans for her great romance novel.
All of this progression becomes too much. During one of their trysts Christian pulls out a knife and makes a lunge for her head. Fortunately, all those nights of grave robbing had given Ana tones muscles, and she is able to fend him off. After spending some time tied in the closet, he regains control and the couple breaks up.
She leaves his penthouse feeling as if her very soul had been ripped to shreds, yet determined for the sake of that love to live her life to the fullest, and the book ends with a woefully misplaced Romeo and Juliet quote.