The woman was mired in middle age and didn't seem like the kind to be swayed by "Mummy porn."
But she was almost breathless in her enthusiasm for this one. "It's called Shades and Grey and it's a trilogy. I don't read much but I couldn't put this down. I had to rush out to the store in the middle of the night to buy the next one. And I don't read much."
I don't think the fact it was a trilogy was the issue. She didn't seem the type to put her foot on the gas to get a copy of Return of the King.
Fifty Shades of Grey it seems is about a demure girl who starts a relationship with a billionaire who wants to dominate her on his yacht, in his Penthouse and just about anywhere else you can think of dominating an erstwhile demure girl.
I had never heard of it.
This may be because I have had my head in the sand for the last six months - or maybe just up my own bottom.
Now I come to think of it I recall some conversation a few weeks ago among wannabee authors about the rise of "Mummy Porn."
The argument goes something like this. If you sat on the train leafing through a copy of "White Hot Quivering Passion," you might get self conscious. But because everybody now has a Kindle, other folks can't tell what you are reading on the train - and you don't have to take it up to some sales assistant who will shout out in a loud voice: "Price check on "White Hot Quivering Passion."
Fifty Shades of Grey, according to the Daily Mail explores the "relationship between submissive graduate Anastasia Steele and manipulative billionaire Christian Grey who wants to dominate her in his 'red room of pain'."
It sounds like The Masque of the Red Death by Poe, but I doubt if it's anything like that.
Author E L James, who is outselling JK Rowling and everyone else in the stratosphere, is a previously little known writer in her late 40s who tends to show a lot of cleavage in her publicity shots, no doubt to be in tune with the racy nature of her novel.
I'm still curious about how a few spanking scenes can fill three novels but obviously it worked for Ms. James and her great big bulging pocket book.
Matthew Curry of Lovehoney, a seller of erotic books and other stuff, told the Daily Mail the novel has dragged the erotic sex industry cleanly out of its brown paper bag.
‘Not only has Lovehoney seen nearly a 400 per cent increase in sales of erotic fiction, but an increase in the sales of blindfolds, restraints, and intimately revealing lingerie as turned-on couples recreate some of the book's steamy chapters," he said.
All of this leaves a dilemma for us wannabe writers. Do we get off our high horses, read the thing and pen some "Mummy porn" in the hope that one day our cleavages will be featured in the Daily Mail (time to step up those gym sessions for me) or do we sit tight and hope it goes away?
When I first heard about this I had it pinned down as some LA fad. It left me feeling all British and superior. But it turns out E L James is British while her rather more eruidite and less accessible namesake Henry James was an American who hung out a lot in Britain.
So perhaps it's really Americans who are uptight about sex in the same way as many can be about religion while the Brits drop out and let it hang out.
Don't just take my word for it. Read this headline from the Palm Beach Post.
Brevard libraries pull erotic best-seller 'Fifty Shades of Grey'