Jenny Reads Fifty Shades Of Midnight Sun: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 or “I would like to move along, but nothing is actually moving along here.”

Stephenie Meyer has announced that she’ll be releasing a new novel, a thriller called The Chemist. So I guess keep a look out for The Botanist, an erotic thriller from E.L. James.

Unrelated, I apologize for the delay on this recap. I recently got my driver’s license and I’ve found that all those people who drove you around when you didn’t have a license? They want you to drive them places now. Fancy that. Also, I’ve been shirking at my job a little bit to enjoy my new freedom. It was a lot easier to stick to my schedule when I wasn’t able to leave the village, anyway. The day after I got my license, I couldn’t figure out a reason to drive somewhere, so I took my dogs to McDonald’s.

Anyway, the novelty is starting to fade on the whole “putting pants on and going outside of the house” thing, so I plan to return to responsible workingness.

Onto the recap!

Maybe it’s because I’m from Michigan. Maybe it’s because I’m angry on behalf of people crushed into poverty under the grinding wheels of racism, government neglect, and corporate corruption. Maybe I just fucking hate this book. But when E.L. James starts the chapter with:

The thought of siting the electronics plant in Detroit is depressing.

I get this red hot ball of fury in my chest and I have to get up and walk away from the computer.

I loathe Detroit; it holds nothing but bad memories for me.

It holds bad memories for a lot of people. Maybe writers and, hell, just anyfuckingbody who wants to talk shit about Detroit can actually read the history of the city. Maybe they can learn how redlining, white flight, and industry decline led to the city becoming the arson and murder capitol of the world. Maybe they can imagine living in a city where, during the 1980′s, the week before Halloween every year could mean as many as eight hundred homes and businesses burning. Maybe they can learn about citizens becoming vigilantes in an attempt to chase out drug dealers and gangs. And maybe they can have a shred of respect for the people who remain, even when some parts of the city are without water, without electricity. Where children are educated in schools where toxic black mold slicks the walls. Maybe they can stop reducing them to nothing but shorthand character’s toughness or tragedy.

If you’ve never actually been to Detroit, if you’ve never actually seen what it’s like there? Don’t fucking write about it.

What makes me extra mad about this? He goes on to think:

But Michigan is offering excellent tax incentives.

ARRRRRGH. Okay, his bad memories come from his mother living in extreme poverty, being hooked on drugs, and being forced into sex work rather than choosing it for herself, right? So…why not bring your company there so that the same thing won’t happen to another kid? Maybe bringing jobs and some economic boost to the local economy–which only emerged from an $18.5 billion bankruptcy two years ago–might be a worthwhile thing to do with your deeply philanthropical philosophy.

But you’re too busy trying to spread tablets around the world.

Anyway, an email comes in from Ana at two minutes after midnight. Which is great, because otherwise all this would still be in the last chapter. He wonders why she’s still awake–because people in their twenties never stay awake until midnight–and reads the email. She says she’s made a list of issues she has with some clauses in the contracts, so he pulls it up. And I laugh and laugh and laugh, because:

Mr. Christian Grey of 301 Escala, Seattle, WA 98889


Miss Anastasia Steele of 1114 SW Green Street, Apartment 7, Haven Heights, Vancouver, WA 98888

are their addresses.

Just to explain briefly for anyone who isn’t American (or who is American but doesn’t send any mail), our address format doesn’t go:

Number Building, City, State Zip Code


Number Street, Apartment number, Neighborhood, City, State Zip Code

The latter looks more like some UK addresses I’ve seen (although I’m not an expert), which would make sense considering E.L. James is from the UK. Ana’s address isn’t real (I checked, out of fear that she’d actually pulled someone’s address off google), so it’s not a huge deal, but I laughed my ass off at Christian’s. The Escala is an actual building. She could have looked up the address. I’m also pretty amused that she picked the 98889 zip code, which was also an easy look-up. It’s also kind of funny that for Ana’s zip, she just changed the nine to an eight. I assume that James thinks every city has one zip code, with the numbers going up by a single digit when you move one city over, which, if you didn’t live here, why not just assume that, right? Because it’s not like anyone (outside of postal enthusiasts, I suppose) really care about that. It’s an insignificant detail, but as an American, it still tickles me. Also, I’m amused that either no editor bothered to correct this, or that they possibly suggested a correction and it was just ignored.

James includes the entire contract, which spans from page 175 to page 186, and I’m so relieved that we can skip those pages. It makes my job a lot easier. Chedward addresses Ana’s points on a case by case basis:

2: Not sure why this is solely for MY benefit–i.e., to explore MY sensuality and limits. I’m sure I wouldn’t need a ten-page contract to do that! Surely this is for YOUR benefit.

Fair point well made, Miss Steele!

Someone, and I can’t remember who, said, “Fair point, well made” to me without a shred of irony, and I wanted to jump down a well and never return to the land of the humans. Dwelling with Mole People in their subterranean cities would be preferable to ever having to hear that phrase again.

4: As you are aware, you are my only sexual partner. I don’t take drugs, and I’ve not had any blood transfusions. I’m probably safe. What about you?

True story: you can get STDs and have them your whole life without knowing, if your mother had them. For example, if your mother had Hep B, you can be a carrier for the rest of your life. If your mom had HPV or herpes, you can get it from a vaginal birth. So no, virginity is not a guarantee that you don’t have an STD, and considering Chedward’s low opinion of his birth mother, the fact that his mother is a doctor, and his fastidious attention to the matter, you’d think he would know that.

Another fair point! And it dawns on me that this is the first time I haven’t had to consider the sexual history of a partner. Well, that’s one advantage of screwing a virgin.

Ah, yes. The myth that fewer partners = no STDs/STIs. That’s fun. See above.

8: I can terminate at any time if I don’t think you’re sticking to the agreed limits. Okay–I like this.

I hope it won’t come to that, but it wouldn’t be the first time if it did.

No shit? I bet you won’t let her talk to those former subs, huh?

12. I cannot commit every weekend. I do have a life, or will have. Perhaps three out of four?

And she’ll have the opportunity to socialize with other men? She’ll realize what she’s missing. I’m not sure about this.

Miss Jay from America's Next Top Model, slowly putting his hand to his chest/neck area with an expression of utter disbelief.

So, he’s just confirmed exactly what critics of the books said all along. He intentionally isolates Ana so that she has no one around to point out how shitty he is to her. Remember when I said that, and people argued with me? “Oh, he’s protective of her, you don’t understand that because you’re a feminist/jealous/a hater/etc. But now we have proof, from the character’s own brain, that he doesn’t want her to be around other men because he doesn’t want her to have any frame of reference for what a real relationship would be like.

I never thought that my closest ally in bashing these books would be E.L. James herself, but here we have arrived.

Can I just make a note about the formatting here? I do not understand the choices they made with it. Ana’s notes on the contract are presented in plain text, slightly indented, while Christian’s lines are italicized. Why? Usually, you’d see this the other way around, with the text the character is reading printed in italics. The book is written in deep first person present tense. His thoughts here could easily be part of the narrative.

Ana’s list of objections and agreements goes on. One of the things I don’t get is where he demands that she sleep a certain amount of hours every night. How could he possibly tell? He doesn’t sleep with her, and she’ll only be with him two nights a week.

Anyway, he reads through them all:

Miss Steele has put some thought into this, more so than anyone else I’ve dealt with over this contract.

Now, wait a second. If this contract is so important, why would you enter into a Dom/sub relationship with someone who hadn’t put thought into it? Chedward’s inconsistency as a character continues to astonish me. He’s making Chedward in the original novels look positively reasonable by comparison.

They have another email exchange in which he tells her to stop emailing him, then she emails him, and he’s like, stop emailing me.

A few minutes pass and once I’m convinced she’s gone to bed, persuaded by my capital letters, I head into my bedroom. I take my laptop just in case she replies again.

You know what abusive people do? They set up contrary expectations so they can chastise you for not meeting them.

Christian decides that Ana has unrealistic ideas about what he wants for her. He sends her an email with the definition of the word “submissive” and tells her to keep it in mind when they meet to go over the contract. So basically, before she even agrees to be his sub, she has to sub during the negotiations, i.e., agree to do whatever he wants, regardless of her own desires.

Christian goes to sleep and dreams about his childhood–does this guy never have normal, naked at school dreams like everyone else?–and how he beat up his brother, etc. and he’s a monster, what have you. Then there’s a section break and Chedward is coming back from a run. Because he’s always coming back from a run. He immediately checks his email to see if she’s emailed him back (probably so he can scold her for doing so) and since she hasn’t, he decides that he’s going to forget about her for the day.

There’s another section break, and we’re at work with Chedward. Hey, here’s a writing tip. The brief paragraph that just gave us the email information? That could have been part of this next section. “I came in from my morning run hoping to find an email from Ana, but she hadn’t replied.” etc. Didn’t need to experience it in real time.

Actually, we don’t need to experience the next section in real time, either. Because it’s a video call with his assistant, Ros, about the tablet that better have some real fucking significance in this story, boy howdy, because we’ve certainly heard enough about it. Ros is frustrated with Christian’s absence in the office, and they discuss firing an employee. That’s it. It’s just some kind of boring proof that Christian does any work at all.

Nobody cares about the tablet. Get to the fuck contract already. If the tablet was part of a plot point that involved Ana, then it would need to be in the book. But this is (allegedly) a romance novel, right? If the heroine isn’t involved, if it doesn’t have any bearing on her whatsoever, I don’t give a shit.

Okay, here’s a for-example that does this right: Sustained by Emma Chase. The book is written in the hero’s first-person POV, just like with Grey. The hero is a lawyer, and we see two of the cases he’s working on. Both of the cases tie in directly with how the heroine changes the hero’s perspective on life and what’s important, and you see that going through the novel. He has clients who are shitty, shitty people, because at the beginning of the book, he’s a shitty, shitty person. Gradually, as he becomes less of a shitty person, we see him struggle more with representing these people, and we see his desire to be less shitty change the heroine’s life, too. That’s what makes the book so. fucking. good.

That doesn’t work with Grey. One, because the author doesn’t acknowledge, either in the text of the first series or in this book, or even in real life, that he’s not just a shitty hero, he’s the shittiest hero. And this business with the tablet? This isn’t influenced by Ana, and it doesn’t have any influence on Ana. We know this, because Christian Grey is a static character. He never changes. Making the tablet doesn’t change how he interacts with Ana, it doesn’t change their lives as a unit at all, so we don’t need to go on the journey of its creation.

What’s even more bizarre about this is that we’ve already seen in this book where James skips over dialogue between Ana and Christian, presumably to move the story along faster. So why add all this shit we don’t need? For example:

Over the past year, we’ve acquired three tech companies. Two are booming, surpassing all targets, and one is struggling despite Marco’s initial optimism. Lucas Woods heads it up; he’s turned out to be an idiot–all show, no substance. The money has gone to his head and he’s lost focus and squandered the lead his company once had in fiber optics. My gut says asset-strip the company, fire Woods, and merge their technology division into GEH.

But Ros thinks Lucas needs more time–and that we need time to plan if we’re going to liquidate and rebrand his company. If we do, it will involve expensive redundancies.

“I think Woods has had enough time to turn this around. He just won’t accept reality,” I say emphatically. “We need him gone, and I’d like Marco to estimate the cost of liquidating.”

“Marco wants to join us for this part of the call. I’ll get him to log in.”

That, by the way, is the line the section ends on. This whole thing is an elaborate set-up for a conference call we never see, with Marcos, a character we don’t know, and ends on what I assume is supposed to be a hook that will make us keep reading. This book is ridiculously long already, and this should have been trimmed down. I’m assuming it never saw developmental edits, though, because someone would have to be paid to do that, and why cut into the profits when these books are like printing money already?

After a break, Christian goes to the WSU campus for lunch with the president of the university.

As we approach the long driveway I can’t help looking out at all the students to see if I can spy Miss Steele. Alas, I don’t see her; she’s probably holed up in the library reading a classic.

Or, she could be not on campus at all, seeing as how she’s already finished college, and that’s what she was celebrating the night you took her to your hotel room and stripped her unconscious body.

There has been no reply to my last e-mail, but then she’s been working. Perhaps there’ll be something after lunch.

His mom calls and asks him to pick his sister up from the airport–wait, aren’t they super rich? Do they not have a driver? Can’t they afford a taxi, at least? Grace also asks about Ana, and Christian gives non-answers. Then he asks Taylor if he’ll see his daughter that weekend. And there’s another section break. So, it’s another pointless scene that could have easily been referred to, rather than lived through.

The next section begins:

I have managed to keep Anastasia Steele out of every waking thought today.

Unless he’s thinking about how he’s waiting for that email, and he hopes he’ll see her on campus, and he thinks of her reading in the library, etc.

During lunch there were times when I found myself imagining us in my playroom… What did she call it? The Red Room of Pain.

Oh, okay. The other thoughts he had of her weren’t sexual, so those don’t count. Because Ana isn’t a person. She’s a concept. She’s potential. So any thought of her beyond the contract is superfluous.

As Christian gets ready for yet. another. workout, Ana sends him an email. She counters his definition of “submissive” with the definition of “compromise”, and he replies by telling her that he’ll pick her up at seven the next day. Then, Elliot calls:

“Hey, hotshot. Kate’s asked me to hassle you about the move.”

“The move?”

“Kate and Ana, help moving, you dipshit.”

Again, aren’t the Greys rich? Isn’t Christian, specifically, the most rich person in the world or some bullshit? Can’t they hire movers to help Ana and Kate out?

And of course, Christian can’t possibly help, because he doesn’t want to give Ana “expectations.”

Ana emails him again and tells him that she would prefer to drive her own car and meet him somewhere. Which is reasonable, right? Because the last time she went anywhere with him, she ended up staying there until he decided he was ready to take her home. His response?

How irritating.

Yes, how irritating that someone would rather not commit to an entire evening at the mercy of your whims, especially when you’ve already made it clear that you consider her your submissive, regardless of her acceptance of the proposition.

He writes back:

Dear Miss Steele,

I refer to my e-mail dated May 24, 2011, sent at 1:27, and the definition contained therein.

Do you ever think you’ll be able to do what you’re told?

She isn’t his sub yet, but she should be submissive to him. Because that’s what he wants. Because his antisocial personality disorder leaves him unable to empathize with other people and see them as anything more than players in a grand show starring and directed by him. Ana has gone off script by not behaving exactly as he wishes her to behave.

Her response is slow, which does nothing for my mood.

Yet another example. She isn’t complying with what he thinks he’s owed.

She emails him again, with the subject line, “Intractable Men”, this time asking permission to drive.

Intractable? Me? Fuck. If our meeting goes as planned, her contrary behavior will be a thing of the past.

So, here’s something that bothered me throughout the first series, and I don’t know if I ever touched on it, because I couldn’t really put my finger on what was bothering me. With this line, I had a lightbulb moment. See, Christian doesn’t want to play a sexual game with Ana on the weekends. He doesn’t want a part-time sub. And he doesn’t want a full-time sub. He wants to fundamentally change Ana’s personality on every level. Not just in the playroom. Not just between them. He plans to make her into the woman he thinks she should be for him. He doesn’t want her to display “contrary behavior” ever again, because he doesn’t like it.

Now, changes like that? Would last beyond the temporary relationship he wants with her, if he chose to end it. But that doesn’t matter. Beyond servicing him, Ana has no other purpose in life as far as he can see. She exists to be the thing he wants her to be, and so what if she comes out the other side as a completely different person.

No fucking wonder Leila needs serious psychological intervention.

Christian tells Ana to meet him at the hotel bar, and she emails him back, signing it, “Ana x”.

And I’m rewarded with a kiss. Ignoring how that makes me feel, I let her know that she’s welcome. My mood has lifted as I head to the hotel gym.

She sent me a kiss…

At this point, we’re all meant to swoon, because him having feels over that little x is supposed to be enough for us to overlook the rest of his behavior.

That’s the end of the chapter. The chapter where literally nothing important happens and the story doesn’t move forward at fucking all. All this one really did was further expose how scary and dangerous Christian Grey is.

118 thoughts on “Jenny Reads Fifty Shades Of Midnight Sun: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 or “I would like to move along, but nothing is actually moving along here.”

  1. Wait, I thought the X’s were hugs. I have nothing else to contribute except good god this chapter was boring and I’m sorry you had to suffer through it (and thank you for it as well), but aren’t the O’s kisses in XOXO?

      1. In my mind x is a NATO formation size indicator. As in ‘you’re wonderful have a brigade’. Maybe us military historians just see the world funny.

    1. I agree, I was always told that X’s were hugs because “arms crossed,” and O’s were kisses because of the O shape your lips make when pursed….

        1. True story: I once worked with a young woman who’d recently arrived in the UK from Swaziland. Extrapolating from what she’d seen since living here, she thought an X at the end of correspondence was shorthand for “thank you.” I just thought she was kind of sweet for putting little kisses on the end of her entries in the staff communication book and diary, but when she found out she was absolutely mortified that she’d been sending kisses to our boss for months.

    2. I always thought O’s were hugs, but anyway that’s not quite what’s being referenced here. The solitary X (or string of x’s) is a Britishism, and it always means a kiss.

    3. Signing off with an X at the end of your name is a common Britishism. Once again. Eel does not have any idea how Americans say or do things.

      1. Its more common for Americans to write “xoxo” right? That’s what I’ve always seen/received. Well that or SWAK (which I don’t know, if Chedward sent that to Ana I’d assume he meant “Smacked With A Kat o’nine tail” not “sealed with a kiss”…he doesn’t DO romance remember…

      2. Well to be fair to Eel some of this stuff blows my mind as a Brit. Like sure the address thing you could look up but the use of [name] X seems so ubiquitous I’m pretty amazed it’s not seen as standard in the US.

        We’re forced to munch through a lot of your culture of here so I think we can end up thinking we know more than we do :P One of the most interesting parts, for me, about Jenny’s recaps is when she goes “OMG what american would NEVER say/do that” and it completely goes over my head :D

        1. That’s what editors are for, so either the Eel’s didn’t do her job or the Eel wouldn’t listen to her.

        2. When I first moved over here, I was taken aback the first times I got email from colleagues signed “[Name] x.” Like, “Why is this person sending me a kiss? How unprofessional!” :)

          But, you know, this is why we discuss things in writing groups, and if someone is writing about a UK character from a US perspective, I can ask actual British people “Hey, what are Christmas traditions that are important?” or “What shows did you watch in 1993?” Eel, of course, doesn’t need any such silly accuracy in her details, since the only thing that matters is the power of GreySteele’s lurve.

        3. Thing is, you guys think you know our culture because you watch our TV shows and movies. But that’s like someone in the US watching Fawlty Towers and thinking it represents all British culture.

          1. I was so sure Fawlty Towers was a documentary about British life! You’ve ruined everything for me, Renee.

          2. @The-Great_Dragon — I’m so sorry! You can keep thinking that is you want! ;-)

            What’s more disappointing is that there’s a hotel in Cocoa Beach called Fawlty Towers and while it’s run by British people, they’re apparently perfectly nice to the guests. I say that’s just not authentic and refuse to ever stay there.

          3. I think “Keeping Up Appearances” is a documentary about British life. Actually, the Eel is probably worse than Hyacinth, with her frantic attempts to depict Posh Life. Surprised she didn’t give Chedward Royal Doulton with hand-painted periwinkles and room for a pony.

  2. I need to take all of the showers after reading those passages. Just ew. He is such a fucking scumbag. And all that talk about “well I haven’t had sex so I’m clean”/”screwing a virgin” just.. ugh. No. NO. Not sexy and definitely not romantic by a long shot.

  3. He really is a scumbag, isn’t he! And a dingbat. It doesn’t occur to the business genius that a person who has finished her final exams has no real reason to be at the university at all and will probably be very pleased to be able to do her reading anywhere but at the library.

    I’m pissed off with ELJ for tainting “Fair point” for me. It’s a useful expression and one I was inclined to use, but now I hesitate and have to think of something else.

    1. I side-eyed super hard at that “oh she must be reading a classic in the library” line too. First off, jackass, most uni libraries are for research (some do have popular fiction but it’s predominately for academic purposes and/or special collections). Also, it’s still hilarious to me that these books are so obsessed with Proper English Literature(tm) like it’s the only worthwhile reading material out there. Well, certainly more worthwhile than this nonsense, but you know what I mean.

      This series makes my ass twitch.

      1. Re: ” First off, jackass, most uni libraries are for research (some do have popular fiction but it’s predominately for academic purposes and/or special collections).”

        Eh… on that point, I’m okay to reluctantly give the Eel credit for thinking universities will have classic books in them. Most unis with decent English and/or literature programs have a decent collection of “classics” in their stacks, especially the ones the courses they offer cover; they aren’t counted the same as popular fiction at all in them.

        1. Yeah, and in the various colleges I’ve been in, there’s usually a “fun books” section where they have things like 50SoG, which kind of defeats the purpose of fun reading. I go to a state school, so I assume that one floor is devoted to lounging/hanging out for collaboration, one floor has all your computer/technology needs, there’s a floor or two for academic books, and a few offices designed to help students with research or adjusting to college life. In some schools, there’s a snack bar or cafe section, or at least a microwave. Lots of people like to hang out with friends in the library before class, or do assignments because the library has the strongest Internet connection. Even when I went to pharmacy school, which took itself super seriously and had medical books from the 1700′s, they had a rack of Harry Potters and Dr. Who DVDs. It depends largely on the campus culture, but libraries are often hangouts and places to get tutoring or acclimation tips. Sorry, I’m a college tour guide and as soon as I read your comment I went into orientation mode ;)

          Some students skip buying books for English because Austen and Fitzgerald are available in the library.

    2. I have a degree in English lit. I got it in the 1990s before the Internet was even as huge as it is now and I actually had to do most of my research in a library and I STILL didn’t spend all that much time in my campus library!

  4. Oh man. Weirdly enough my younger sister just shared with me that a guy we know has been emotionally, and verbally abusing her and sexually harassing her for the past few years. She was so confused and felt as if SHE had done things that made her deserve his anger and abuse. He insisted she was/should be how he described her as, claiming to know things about her life/dreams /plans that he couldn’t and didn’t know. His obsession with her sexual life was bizarre and his repeated insistence that he was obsessed with her body even though they never were in a relationship. And the kicker? He WAS/IS in relationships and currently is engaged to be married. The anger and spite that he heaped on her when hearing of guys who were interested in her was mind blowing. He didn’t want to be in a relationship and yet no one else could date her either. All I could say was “this guy, this f’ing guy.” Her feelings of shame speaks so strongly to of how these guys work and WHY books like this are so scary and horrible. Women THINK that guys have the right to speak to them in this way and abuse them and that if anything is wrong it is because they are doing the wrong. I want to burn this book to the ground and just scream at writing like this.

    1. Forgive my poor sentence structure, I’m writing this on my phone while playing chasing games with my two year old nephew.

      1. Yes, well no. She finally called him out and has started to see the abuse he was heaping on her. I think she has some Stockholm syndrome going on. I want to snap this guy like a twig. We are working on getting meeting where she confronts him. For her health and also for his future wife’s sake. Gah, both my “forgive my English” posts posted. Silly internet.

    2. Forgive my poor English, typing on a cell and simultaneously playing chasing games with my 2 year old nephew, caused some errors.

  5. So, uh, when does this guy start getting redeemed, or was that just a lie the Eel put out in hopes it would make her haters interested?

  6. A new 50 Shades recap post? On my birthday? Aw, you shouldn’t have! It’s way too generous of you! =D

  7. I had a moment of confusion when Chedward talked about “merging their technology division into GEH” (probably because “Grey Enterprises Holdings” is still such a stupid-sounding company name that my brain wants to block it out) and thought that some editor accidentally inserted their opinion of this book before giving up and sending it off to the printers. “GEH” pretty much sounds like what I say every time I read another passage in which Chedward tells us how his dick feels about things, although I might spell it more like “geuuurgh.”

    1. I’ve read quite a lot of criticism of the name “Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.”, but it makes sense to me. A holding company is essentially a company created to buy and own shares in other companies rather than conduct a business itself, and that seems to be what Grey does. He buys other companies (i.e. buys their shares) and GEH Inc. holds those shares and then either breaks the company down and sells off the shares in the viable pieces, or, if the particular business or piece of the business interests him, he keeps it and knocks it into shape and runs the company as one of the enterprises his holding company owns or he sells the bit he doesn’t want and merges the bit he likes into another of the companies GEH owns. It appears that the State of Washington permits a corporation to only have one director so Grey could own and run the show without a board of directors. As sole director and shareholder, he is answerable to no-one.

      1. Ok, there’s a couple of problems with the name Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.
        For one thing, an enterprise is a company that provides a service or product of some sort- simply put, a business. Now, a holding is not a service or a production business. By its very nature, it is simply there to “hold onto” other businesses. So right there, you have a conflict, because once you have a “holdings”, it’s no longer “enterprises” because a “holdings” is a collection of subsidiary “enterprises”. The two structures serve completely different functions. The correct break down would be more like “Grey Enterprises Inc, a subsidiary of Grey Holdings, Inc.”
        Also, according to this definition from the Houston Chronicle:
        “A holding company is an organization that contains other companies called subsidiaries. The company must present consolidated financial statements to its investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its managers and Board of Directors generally maintain control of the subsidiaries. In the United States, a holding company must hold greater than 80 percent of the shareholders’ voting rights in order to receive any tax benefits.
        Investopedia has this to say about holdings:
        A holding company’s operations consist of overseeing the companies it owns. It can hire and fire managers if necessary, but those companies’ managers are responsible for their own operations; the holding company is not. Although the holding company does not manage the day-to-day operations of the companies it controls, the owners should still understand how these their subsidiaries operate to evaluate the businesses’ performance and prospects on an ongoing basis.

        So he can brag about his authority, but the simple fact is that if his company is a holdings he has very little say about the running of his subsidiaries, which undercuts his speech about being in absolute control of all things and being the only boss.

        Next, there’s the Inc. Now it is possible in some small corporations to be the sole owner because they are technically the only board of directors. Bear in mind that this applies to small corporation owners who set their business up that way for tax purposes. He makes a big show of how he employs 40,000 people, and that if he wanted to sell his business that over 20,000 people would lose their jobs, excuse me, that they would “struggle to make their mortgage payments”.
        (Which strikes me as an impractical boast, because he would just sell out and most of those people would probably just transfer over to the new owners with shuffling at the management level. Why would anyone fire every single person who already knows the job required to make his or her new business venture successful? Especially since a Holdings doesn’t control anything beyond management decisions, he couldn’t prevent the new owners or even the present management from choosing who to keep employed.)

        According to Investopedia:
        “A corporation is created (incorporated) by a group of shareholders who have ownership of the corporation, represented by their holding of common stock. Shareholders elect a board of directors (generally receiving one vote per share) who appoint and oversee management of the corporation. Although a corporation does not necessarily have to be for profit, the vast majority of corporations are set up with the goal of providing a return for its shareholders. When you purchase stock you are becoming part owner in a corporation.”

        A quote above stated that he would have to own at least 80 percent interest to receive tax benefits, but at 80 percent he would still have to report to stock holders, and he would still have a board of directors to deal with.

        Is it possible to have a single shareholder in a corporation? Yes. Is it possible that one person is making every single decision for over 40,000 people? Highly improbable, especially when we see how Ros gets angry at him when he blows off a company meeting to just sit around texting Ana. Remember that scene from the original trilogy? Does that sound like a man who understands and is responsible for the decision regarding every single person in his employ? Which is what would be necessary if he didn’t have a board or stockholders.

        Those are some of the most glaring problems with his company name. The company title doesn’t line up with the claims he makes to Ana in the interview. As it is, he just looks like he’s trying to be pretentious and doesn’t even know what those words mean.

        1. Yes, there are definitely problems with Grey’s boasts, especially since we don’t have any real evidence of him ever actually doing very much at all of any substance. My point was that I have no problem, in theory, with the name of his company, for the reasons I outlined. I do not wish to get into a detailed debate about US – and particularly Washington State – corporate law because I do not practise in that country or indeed in the field of corporate law in my own jurisdiction, but what I do know tells me that – in theory at least – the name of the company and what he purports to do is not totally outrageous or outside the realms of possibility. In theory.

          What GEH does and its structure would be set out in the articles of incorporation, and Grey would probably have been the incorporator and he would have decided what went into the articles when he had them drafted and submitted for approval and registration.

          There is a technical difference between a holding company, which solely owns shares in other corporations, and a parent company, which itself carries on a business, or enterprise, as well as having subsidiaries. What they do is very similar though, and parent companies are often referred to as holding companies. His company purchases companies that carries on enterprises, hence “Enterprises Holdings”. That makes sense to me.

          If Grey is sole director and shareholder of GEH Inc., he would, for all practical intents and purposes be the sole operator of the companies he buys if GEH bought all the shares and all the rights attaching to those shares. The agreements he entered into for the purchase of those companies would reflect his requirements, and the purchases would be likely to involve amending the purchased company’s articles of incorporation so he can do what he wants with the company GEH buys and also ensure the purchase enabled him to make the hiring and firing decisions as far as the company’s management staff are concerned. He would do deals with the existing CEOs to either pay them out and see them leave, or to stay on on terms that suit him.

          In theory it all makes sense to me and is possible, if highly unlikely because he is a nutter who makes decisions based on where the object of his obsession works.

          1. I think, at the very least, we can all agree that he’d be exponentially busier dealing w/ all this stuff than he’s shown in the books. (Like, dude should barely have time to sleep, let alone work out and stalk people.)

            Either he has Total Control and zero spare time, or he just fobs off all his work to other people. Canon says option 2.

            Or, you know, he’s a mob boss and the business is just a front. And he can name it whatever he wants, Ana, because he owns this town!

  8. “Beyond servicing him, Ana has no other purpose in life as far as he can see. She exists to be the thing he wants her to be, and so what if she comes out the other side as a completely different person.”

    And what really grinds my gears is that he never truly develops beyond this point. The fans keep insisting that I read all three books because he changes by the end of book three. But I read the last chapter and epilogue, and he’s still dictating how she’s going to give birth to her own child and he’s still pressuring her to quit her job to be a full-time mom/sex-slave. The only thing that really changes is Ana’s reaction to his outlandish behavior; i.e. instead of objecting, she just laughs it off as “oh, you crazy stalker control-freak you, lol.”

    I haven’t given the second and third book a lot of serious consideration (mostly because I don’t want to pay for them), but it seems more like poor writing than anything. I don’t think EL James can show genuine character development when she can’t even write a consistent character. Instead, she keeps telling the reader (through character dialogue) that Ana is changing Christian and hopes we’ll just go along with it.

    1. As I see it, the only thing about Christian Grey that really changes is that he stops hitting Ana. That was the thing that separated them after the belting: the physical punishments. That was the thing she told him she would never let him do again. And – to the extent a spoiler alert is relevant in the context of these comments ………. SPOILER ALERT ………. somewhere in “Grey” I think Flynn asks Grey if he’s considered not hitting Ana. I reckon that he hadn’t, and he does because he wants her back – for reasons that still elude me, because she’s a dope – so he modifies his behaviour just enough to get her to agree to come back. And she is still sufficiently frightened of ending up as a lonely old cat lady who will never have an orgasm again that she puts up with his control-freakery and the various other forms of non-hurty punishment that Grey still dishes out. She allows him to modify her behaviour and every time she shows a bit of backbone a fuse melts in her brain and she giggles and forgets what was bothering her.

      I’m thinking that maybe at some stage he hypnotises her into forgetting any pesky independent thoughts her overthinking has raised. Perhaps he accidentally discovered that she’s like a chicken and can be hypnotised by a simple action: all he has to do is wave his dick in front of her eyes when she kneels down to give him head and he can make her empty her mind. Perhaps the trigger phrase is “stop overthinking” and – presto! – she giggles and all is right in the world again. :D

  9. Is anybody actually buying this book? I took one out of the library months ago, but gave up less than a quarter in, and have just been reading Jenny’s “recraps” ever since.

    1. Not me. I am only reading recaps. I will not donate another penny to James’ bank account. Maybe if I see it remaindered one day for 50c, or at a charity book sale….

    2. I bought the first book because one of my friends was reading it, and I had only heard that there were many sex scenes. I should’ve asked her more about it first. Whoops…

    3. Last time I check, there were three copies of Grey at one of our libraries. No way in hell am I getting that book, even if James doesn’t get one pretty penny from library reads.

      1. There actually is some sort of tabulation at libraries of how many times a book is checked out. I don’t know if it directly affects royalties, but it is definitely factored into whether the library will purchase more copies of that book to satisfy heavy demand or request other books by that author. When librarians particularly detest a book but are forced to possess a copy by a central system, they simply don’t put it out on the shelves. Therefore, it will be checked out only if someone specifically puts in a request for it.

        1. “When librarians particularly detest a book but are forced to possess a copy by a central system, they simply don’t put it out on the shelves. Therefore, it will be checked out only if someone specifically puts in a request for it.”

          Omg, what? Where?? Is that really a thing? We don’t do that here. We just put the crappy book we hate right on the shelf where it goes. Intellectual freedom!

        2. In Australia (and maybe the UK and Canada), we have something called Public Lending Rights. Which unfortunately means Eel makes money off library borrows :-(

    4. I managed to find the audiobooks for the first three on YouTube. I started this one, but I couldn’t do it. Somehow, it’s even worse.

      I haven’t given a penny for any of them and I won’t. But this book is still featured prominently on bookstore shelves, front and center. They’re pushing it hard. I was actually pretty depressed by the “best-seller” shelves at Books-A-Million the other day.

  10. Vancouver isn’t the “next city over” from Seattle in any case. It’s like 3 hours away on the Oregon border. Past Tacoma, and Olympia …
    And why not just use the actual zip code? It’s not something you need to make up!

    1. I’m surprised she hasn’t heard of Olympia. Courtney Love wrote a song trashing it, and Liv Tyler performed it as a one-woman mosh-pit in the movie “Stealing Beauty.” Chedward could just as easily have had his bitter, deprived childhood THERE.

      1. That’s almost a 3 hour drive and you need a passport/special license to cross the border!

        Not to mention, we don’t use zip codes with 5 numbers at all, we use postal codes with 3 numbers, 3 letters…

      2. When I first started listening to the books, I thought that was where they were set because everything was so British and Canada still has some things that are more British than American and I was really confused!

  11. >Do you ever think you’ll be able to do what you’re told?

    And that right there is why I would respond with, “Have a nice life.” Any indication of Red Pill, and I’m history. I’d block his emails, change my phone number, and move on to a restraining order if necessary (in his case, I’m thinking yes), because Christian Grey is Roosh V.

    1. Roosh? LTTSF (Laughing Til The Snot Flies)!
      Surfed his nauseating website. Do any of those routines actually work?

    2. You’re far more polite than me. I’d have told him to fuck off. I wouldn’t care if he had a nice life or not.

  12. Here is what’s making me crazy: there are gaps that could be interestingly filled. All these bullshit new scenes at work should be new scenes WITH ELENA. Hello??? Obviously?????? The only interesting things that happened outside Ana’s POV in the first stories were the times Christian talked about Ana to Elena. If she is the one who found him girls in the past, he would be processing this with her the whole way through, and then James could build out her villainy, show how she’s manipulating Christian. If James really wanted to respond to to criticisms of Christian’s character, she could show how those came from Elena and were anchored in her abuse instead of making his POV so inherently contradictory. It’s RIGHT THERE. It could almost not suck! And what do we have instead? Tablets.

    1. Oh, yeah! James missed a golden opportunity to write a really interesting psychological study about how Elena’s abuse affected Christian, and consequently his relationship with Ana. But, of course, this all started out as a story about vampires, so that aspect probably never entered her mind at the time, and now she’s got her millions in the bank, why would she care? She already had her millions in the bank and she has demonstrated that serious research is not her forte, and she already knows that her target audience is easily pleased.

    2. If I thought James could even remotely pull that off, it would have been a nice addition. However, she’s already beaten into the readers’ heads that Elena is EVIL because she’s OLDER and BLONDE and, like, maybe raped a teenager but DID I MENTION SHE’S A WOMAN. So seeing it from Christian’s point of view, I’m surprised Elena’s not twirling a mustache and backhanding kittens every time she’s in a scene, because that’s the level of subtlety I’ve come to expect from this series.

      1. I still contend that James wrote this to make fun of Twilight, not to just copy it. Then, when people liked it, she went with the “it’s about erotic BDSM!!!!!” and also developed her disgust with humanity at large, which she evinces so often.

  13. So, here’s something that bothered me throughout the first series, and I don’t know if I ever touched on it, because I couldn’t really put my finger on what was bothering me. With this line, I had a lightbulb moment. See, Christian doesn’t want to play a sexual game with Ana on the weekends. He doesn’t want a part-time sub. And he doesn’t want a full-time sub. He wants to fundamentally change Ana’s personality on every level. Not just in the playroom. Not just between them. He plans to make her into the woman he thinks she should be for him. He doesn’t want her to display “contrary behavior” ever again, because he doesn’t like it.

    Now, changes like that? Would last beyond the temporary relationship he wants with her, if he chose to end it. But that doesn’t matter. Beyond servicing him, Ana has no other purpose in life as far as he can see. She exists to be the thing he wants her to be, and so what if she comes out the other side as a completely different person.

    No fucking wonder Leila needs serious psychological intervention.

    ^^ This right here. He is presenting a sexual novice with a 24/7 total power exchange contract while billing it as a submissive contract. Those are considered hardcore even in the BDSM community, and here he is trying to trick her into a relationship that she isn’t in a position to understand let alone find the right words for since he won’t even give her the words that she needs to research the topic on her own to gain a clear understanding. Also, seeing what happened to his ex? That would be a huge red flag. The fact that James has her jealous of Leila instead of worried about her, or suspicious of what part Christian may have had (did have) in making her like that is truly disturbing to see.

    1. This shit makes me especially angry because it’s pretty much exactly what was done to me years ago. I was 18, I was completely sexually inexperienced, Wikipedia didn’t exist yet (hell, Google was still a relatively new thing), and I had only the vaguest idea what “BDSM” entailed, but it sounded sort of exciting, so when the older guy I had a crush on told me that it meant I had to do absolutely everything he wanted, 24/7/365, and I wasn’t allowed to set limits, I believed him. When he told me that it meant we had to keep our entire relationship a secret from other people because “they wouldn’t understand,” I didn’t think that made any sense and it made me very unhappy, but he’d already established that I didn’t get to “defy” him, so I went along with it. When he would do things I didn’t like at all and I’d ask him to stop or tell him he was hurting me, he’d act all wounded and lecture me on how I agreed to submit to him and didn’t I want to be a good submissive? Didn’t he deserve better from me, given how he so kindly put up with all the “bad” things I did? I look back on the years I wasted in a miserable, abusive relationship with a predatory asshole and I wish like hell someone had been able to take me aside and say, “Hey…this isn’t actually how any of this is supposed to work. None of this is romantic. None of this is sexy. None of this is what a loving relationship or even a vaguely respectful relationship looks like. He’s not being kinky – he’s being an abusive sack of crap.”

      So when that exact same relationship model is marketed as a super sexy thing to aspire to, when James outright has her “hero” talk about how he has to keep the girl he’s preying on from interacting with other people or talking to anyone about their relationship because she might figure out that he’s a dick, when his inner monologue explicitly states that his goal has nothing to do with “actually make this person I ostensibly like happy” and everything to do with “make her do what I want her to do and be what I want her to be, whether she likes that or not,” saying that it makes me see red is an understatement, to say the least. Not even because I lived through it and it was awful, but because I know that my ex is still out there finding girls half his age to manipulate, and because I know he’s far from the only scumbag doing the same thing. And it is so infuriating to know that if any of those inexperienced young people read the books that are being sold as as the Definitive Sexy Romantic BDSM Story, the message they’re going to get is, “Yep, it’s totally normal for a partner to isolate you from your friends and family and order you not to talk about your relationship! It’s perfectly reasonable for him to respond to you setting clear limits by saying, ‘Well, I don’t want you to set that limit, so you don’t get to set it’! If you agree to do anything sexual with him, that’s pretty much blanket consent to 24/7 total power exchange, even if you never actually agreed to that at all! Being actively terrified that your partner will physically harm you if you don’t do whatever he wants is just part of being kinky!” And so on, and so forth, selling abuse as kink and manipulation as love.

      Bleh. Anyway, Chedward is a douchebag and I hate him even more than I did after the original trilogy (which I didn’t think was possible!), and I really, really wish this dumb story ended with Ana setting his stupid Christian-Grey-flavored-lollipop on fire.

      1. Ever seen the video to “Jar of Hearts”? Guys like these are Dementors, sucking the soul out of you, but if the victims join forces instead of being divided by jealousy, they can stand up to them and reclaim their souls and their lives.

        1. How about “Angels” by Within Temptation, too? For extra irony, some of the more moronic Twihards thought the song was perfect for Edward and Bella’s relationship because of the line “sparkling angel.” Also, the singer shoots down the terrible past excuse with a “yeah, but you still could’ve not done horrible things.” (It’s way more eloquent than how I said it.)

          1. Why do fans of crappy songs misinterpret songs so badly? Like, did they even listen to the lyrics? “You took my heart, deceived me right from the start”, don’t those sound like lyrics for an ideal relationship?

            EL James is one of those idiots too. She picked out the songs “Possession” by Sarah McLachlan and “Every Breath You Take” by the Police as songs for her Fifty Shades soundtrack, not seeming to realize that these songs reinforce that Christian Grey is an abusive stalker.

          2. SamB: Just saw the vid for “Angels” today. Reminds me of the movie “The Vanishing” (particularly the dark French original), except a much more satisfying ending. How could ANYONE think that represented an ideal relationship?

      2. Christian trying to get a totally inexperienced (and ignorant) Ana to sign a BDSM contract of any sort at this point would disgust me, but trying to pass off a 24/7 TPE contract as a submissive contract just adds to the I HATE THIS DUDE CAN HE DIE ALREADY pain.

      3. Little late, but I am SO SORRY that this happened to you. That is atrocious!

        I’ll admit that I’ve been placating myself w/ this series awfulness by going “At least this couldn’t REALLY happen in real life. Not often, at least. And not full on, like w/ the bdsm and 24/7 abuse.” But I’m horrified to see how wrong I was about that.

        Domestic abuse is bad enough, but a relationship that is nearly identical to this? Not worse, but just a new kind of terrible that makes this series even worse.

        I’m glad you got out of it.

  14. I don’t live on my college campus, and I’m pretty much only there if I need to do something for class. Once classes and exams are done, nobody’s there. I think E. L James is confusing freshman with graduates.

  15. “This isn’t influenced by Ana, and it doesn’t have any influence on Ana”

    I’d like to add *and it doesn’t tell us anything about Cheddars as a person*. In my opinion, descriptions that aren’t directly related to the partner of relationship are okay if they offer valuable insights into the character’s life (which, I guess, might influence the relationship at least indirectly) and helps the reader get to know the character. But that passage doesn’t really tell us anything about Cheddar’s values or experiences of anything, it’s really just filler…

    1. Aaaand that was supposed to be *Chedward, not Cheddars/Cheddar’s. Not sure if that’s an autocorrect fail or win…

  16. “ex’s and oh oh ohs they haunt me, like this book that’s so daunting, but my fans they want me, to recap it all, but I hate James so exes and ohs.”

    So I’m a dork but I thought my parody was funny.

  17. You can be infected with HIV by your mother in-utero too. I’m surprised that Christian doesn’t know that, since that’s something I learned in elementary school.

    “And she’ll have the opportunity to socialize with other men? She’ll realize what she’s missing. I’m not sure about this.”
    This makes me livid. FUCK YOU, you controlling piece of festering maggot-ridden dog shit, I hope your prick falls off. I dated a guy who did that – “oh, everyone’s shitty but me, people will hurt you, no one will treat you right (ha!) the way I do.” This is classic abusive behavior.
    And fuck this “he’s protective” bullshit. Ana might have the brains and self-protective instincts of a turnip, but she’s a grown-ass woman, she doesn’t need some asshole dictating how she sleeps, eats, exercises, and dresses, and who she interacts with.

    And HOLY FUCK THIS BOOK IS SO BORING. When it’s not infuriating me it could easily be a cure for insomnia.

    1. “I alone love you
      I alone tempt you
      I alone love you
      Fear is not the end of this!”
      (Of course, it sounded more intriguing in Live’s version.)

    2. Another way to read that ‘she’ll realise what she’s missing’ line is Chedward being all self-deprecating (which I guess is E.L. trying to making him more human??) and worrying that Ana will realise she’s missing out on nice, normal guys not haunted by the ghosts of their pasts and not into WILD and INTENSE SEX like he is. Which in turn can be interpreted that he’s so possessive and pathetic he won’t let Ana even talk to other men out of fear she’ll run off with them, the better alternative to him. It’s also classic abusive behaviour, and it’s just as terrible as the behaviour you described, because whichever way you slice it Christian is the lowest piece of shit on Earth.

  18. Normally I enjoy your reviews, but I’ve honestly gotten to the point where I can’t stomach FSOG related posts anymore. I made it about halfway though before realizing this.

    I’ve been very discouraged lately, with my writing. Reading half of this post has convinced me that I am still a better writer than someone who actually got published, so, thank you for that.

  19. Christian is so blatantly horrible and yet he has women rubbing out one for him? Why are they so ok with this? I’m so confused.

  20. From a recent college graduate: If Ana is a senior who’s finished exams and lives off campus, she’s probably going to go there during the day anymore. Unless she has stuff there to retrieve, they really don’t want students loitering around. It really shows that Christian really doesn’t think about anyone but himself if he expects her to just materialize with no thought to reality. Someone would logically assume she was at home, packing and getting ready for that move he refuses to help with.
    Whenever I read about Christian commanding Ana to do things over email, I’m reminded of when my mother angrily asks our dogs who peed on the floor. Emotional manipulation doesn’t really work on canines, and capital letters in an email doesn’t really make your typed words more commanding (of course, thanks to the original series we know that Ana actually does what he says instead of thinking, “What are you going to do about it?” and watching tv all night out of spite.)
    So I guess his other fifteen subs weren’t people who had to work on the weekend, like doctors, nurses, retail workers, lawyer, or business owners. And then there’s that whole “normal people who DON’T have a housekeeper having to do things like laundry, shopping, and cleaning on the weekends.” Does he just expect her to plan her entire week around him… oh wait, yes.
    I’m guessing that Chedward’s company most likely has a board that no one told him about so they could actually get shit done. Has he actually done any work, or has he just talked about being so busy and complaining about locations? Like, I don’t know anything about how major corporations work and probably couldn’t write well about it, but that just means I wouldn’t put that in a story.

  21. ‘At this point, we’re all meant to swoon, because him having feels over that little x is supposed to be enough for us to overlook the rest of his behavior.’

    This may just be me having a particularly bad week while feminist, but …yeah. This. This shit doesn’t end with this book. When women do bad things, we get set on fire. When men do bad things, well, people make mistakes. We have to make sure to forgive them right away (Brock Turner, etc…).

    Basically, women are told to overlook the bad behavior of men. And then in the instances where this stuff becomes abusive, who is to blame? Well, the woman, of course! She should have seen this coming, and she should have read the mind of her abuser! Never mind that we tell women to be endlessly forgiving and understanding of men. We teach girls to look for clues that a man is ‘good,’ rather than running at the first red flags.

    1. Out of curiosity, is E. L. James being criticized more for the imappropriate sexual politics of her books than Brett Easton Lewis was for the rape and torture in “American Psycho?” If so than the above criticism can be applied to her. (NOTE: I’m not defending her, I just think it’s interesting.) Or can both books be considered too different for comparison?

      1. I’m not sure you can compare the two. Ellis’s character *was* a murderer and a rapist and presented as such, whereas Christian Grey was an abusive man presented as a romantic hero. Also, there’s no societal pressure to become a murderer and a rapist, whereas there is societal pressure on women to accept abusive behavior as romance.
        It was kind of interesting, though, that when Ellis said he wanted to write the 50 Shades screenplay, people suddenly acted like this book they had derided for two years as “mommy porn” might suddenly have merit.

      2. What I find more interesting is how people respond to “Lolita.”

        Before reading it, I assumed Nabikov presented it as a love story because so many people interpret it that way and actually blame Lola for her own abuse and rape. but he doesn’t present it that way at all. Humbert Humbert is a horrible, nasty, evil man. Nabikov writes him that way and it’s brilliant. And yet, the general public — even people whose lives revolve around interpreting literature — review the book as though it’s meant to be a romance and as though Lola is some kind of terrible person and Humbert is the victim.

        I guess in a way that attitude predicts the way 50 has been received and perceived. We shouldn’t be surprised.

        1. Wow, Ouch. I’ve seen this attitude before w/ literature, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Yet somehow I always am.

          (Like how people think ‘Every Breath You Take’ is romantic, but Sting wrote it about stalking.)

        2. Humbert is a brilliantly depicted unreliable narrator. He charms with word play, leavens his self-pity with self-deprecating humor, and tries (often successfully) to lure the reader into sympathizing at least with his contempt postwar pop culture. Like Poe’s and Browning’s unreliable narrators, he gives hints here and there that the way he sees the world, and above all, the way he sees himself, are not to be trusted. Not all readers catch the hints.

          I didn’t when I was 14 and read it for the first time. Humbert had that whole tortured artist thing going, so I thought he was fascinating. Oh, to have a brilliant, obsessive mind perceive me as an irresistible nymphet, instead of the lumpy-looking little dweeb my classmates saw!

          Then my 9th grade English teacher asked me to stay after school and read the book with him. He was physically repellent and a pompous jackass, not intriguing at all. I pretended I hadn’t already read the book and had no idea why he wanted me to read it, but I made sure I was never alone with him after that.

          It made me view the book differently. Lo is very flirtatious with Humbert in the beginning, and she’s had sexual exploration with other kids, but her willingness to experiment sexually disappears after her experience with Humbert. Nabokov gives more than a few clues that the change in Lo’s feelings for Humbert isn’t just fickleness on her part, but some readers don’t want to see that any more than Humbert does.

          1. I wouldn’t criticize a 14-year-old for misreading it. (Though I’d sit said 14-year-old down and explain it!) My beef is with adults, and particularly adults who make their living studying literature, who read it that way. And there are plenty of them.

            I read Lolita as an adult and while Nabikov has Humbert present himself as the victim and the hero, as an adult reading the book, Humbert very clearly is neither and does NOT come across that way at all. Nabikov makes it clear that Humbert is a manipulator, an abuser and a sociopath. Lolita is a child. A flirtatious child, sure, but no more than any other teenage girl would be. She’s normal. Her behavior changes and acting out are classic reactions to sexual abuse. I was amazed at Nabikov’s insight for the time in which he wrote the book, when those things were swept under the rug.

            There is no doubt, as a mature reader, that Nabikov intends to portray Humbert as a criminal and an abuser and Lola as a victim. And yet grown adults read it and see her as a seducer and him as her innocent victim. That’s sick. But knowing that, I’m not surprised (as I said) at the reaction to 50 Shades.

      3. Ellis has been condemned for his treatment of women, but it’s notable that at least Ellis knew he was writing about a monster.

  22. I get irrationally angry every time I hear/see “Fair point, well made” and the word “Unsettling” now. If nothing else, these books have ruined two perfectly good phrases for me.

  23. “ARRRRRGH. Okay, his bad memories come from his mother living in extreme poverty, being hooked on drugs, and being forced into sex work rather than choosing it for herself, right? So…why not bring your company there so that the same thing won’t happen to another kid? Maybe bringing jobs and some economic boost to the local economy–which only emerged from an $18.5 billion bankruptcy two years ago–might be a worthwhile thing to do with your deeply philanthropical philosophy.”

    I have thought this same thing strongly since reading your first recaps. Sure, Detroit is Chedward’s shitty past setting, but as a super wealthy dude with (supposedly) a few charities he already supports, why is he not more into the idea of helping a population in need through providing employment? Is this not what wealthy businesspeople are always saying their boon to society is – being “job creators?” This fucking book, man.

    1. “why is he not more into the idea of helping a population in need through providing employment?”

      Considering how much he blames his mother for their situation, I always kinda got the idea from Chedward (and EL, by extension) that poor people deserve to be poor, and therefore he doesn’t want to help a place like Detroit, that really should just pick itself up by the bootstraps already and become a hotbed of millionaires. On the other (racist) hand, Africa is so helpless and degenerate and can’t pick itself up by the bootstraps, so he has to help them. Africa, you see, DESERVES to be helped, while Detroit just deserves to rot in its own filth for not trying hard enough.

      Honestly not sure which is worse . . . they’re kinda two sides of the same horrible coin.

  24. “ARRRRRGH. Okay, his bad memories come from his mother living in extreme poverty, being hooked on drugs, and being forced into sex work rather than choosing it for herself, right? So…why not bring your company there so that the same thing won’t happen to another kid?”

    I thought the same but James misses so many opportunities to actually make this series decent. Did she think non- Twilight fans are stupid just like she thinks Twilight fans who read her fan fic version?

    1. She must, considering how superior she’s always acting. That woman’s got an ego the size of the freaking milky way…

      1. Which is hilarious considering a child has better writing and plotting skills than her. The facts that she fights ANYONE who tried to edit or fix her garbage is even more of a joke, so I don’t know where she gets her ego unless she’s a female Christian Grey.

  25. Eliot and Kate seem so nice and normal! I’d much rather read the book about them. This fucking guy could kind of flail through the background every now and then while Kate worries about her friend Ana and Eliot worries about his dipshit brother. Most of the story would be Eliot and Kate being normal and nice. Ana could be in their wedding and suddenly realize what a good relationship is, and then discreetly dump Chedward right after the reception. In an email. Sent from her secret moon base.

    1. Don’t give Eel ideas…she’ll try to do one from their POV, maybe TWO (one from each of them), and make a hash of it.

      1. Hahahahaha, that would be amazing! I’d hate read the hell out of that.

        “I had fun dancing with you!” said Kate. “But I’m super drunk now and I’ma go out for waffles with some guy friends. See ya!”
        Eliot sighed. If he could only be as awesome as his brother, he could order Kate into the car and take her to his hotel room and refuse to let her leave. His member drooped sadly, thinking about how Chedward was superior in every way.
        Kate stumbled out of the bar, shirt buttoned incorrectly. “Gee,” she thought, “I must really be doing something wrong. Eliot hasn’t kidnapped me even one time. I wish I could be more like Ana! Maybe if I give her my plum dress, she’ll tell me her secrets.” Her inner goddess did another Jello shot.

        1. Fortunately, I wasn’t eating or drinking when I read your comment. I hate when food gets in my nose.
          The sad thing is, your version is unquestionably BETTER than anything the Eel could produce.

          1. Thank you! I haven’t read any of the books, so that was 100% inspired by these fantastic recaps.

        2. The sad thing is, if Eel DID write a book like that — which she wouldn’t, because Kate is blonde and therefore not intelligent or otherwise worthy to sustain a story — it would be full of references to how wonderful Ana and Chedward are, because she just hasn’t pounded that into our heads enough. But I doubt she would, not just because of the blonde thing but because she wouldn’t be able to stand INTENTIONALLY making Chedward look bad, since Kate absolutely hated his guts for most of the series.

  26. You had me at Mole People. :-P

    I had to think about the formatting thing a moment, but ultimately I’m actually okay with it. The series has had character’s internal thoughts in italics most often so far, so I can see quoting Ana’s email in block quotes just to keep the whole thing reasonably consistent. And E.L. James strikes me as *exactly* the sort to write horrible, harmful series, then be proud of herself for being such a stickler over keeping her formatting the same book to book.

    (Obviously, any mistakes wouldn’t really count in her mind anyway. I’ve dealt with enough people like this to know–they have arbitrary hard-line rules on which they pride themselves. If someone calls them out on a mistake that lies outside the jurisdiction of those weirdly specific rules (like US addresses apparently do for James), it gets waved aside as unimportant, and the person calling them out is being too picky. I’m sure there was no winning for James’s editors.)

    I’m starting to think it’s actually Christian, not Ana, who’s E.L. James’s dream avatar. Rich, likes to do things harmful to women, refuses to be called out on BS, never admits to a mistake, is loved by fawning people despite all this…

    As for “He wants to fundamentally change Ana’s personality on every level,” I kind of thought, “Well, yeah, obvs; isn’t that the whole *point* of these books?” when I read that. But maybe it isn’t obvious unless you’ve lived through it multiple times and then spent ridiculous numbers of hours processing the trauma; idk. It’s not a fate I’d wish on anyone, but yeah, that’s what these books are about.

    The women (and other genders, but let’s focus on the majority) who read these books and enjoy them are fantasizing about being remade into an image of perfect female submission. Ana isn’t blond in part because our media portrays blond-haired women as more fun-loving/confident/vacuous; Ana is the epitome of wilting-flower poor, sad brunette who can’t stay away from bad men because her self-esteem is so low (because of not being blond, presumably).

    There’s immense power in fantasizing about oneself this way, because it justifies and gives narrative weight to whatever someone has suffered or is going through. Twilight and similar works that put the usually sidekick-y wilting-flower character into the protagonist’s role are tapping into a deep need to have abuse and victimhood *mean* something, or at least be interesting to the world. “If I can’t feel better about myself, I might as well be like one of those chicks,” the readers’ thinking might go, “because then at least I’ll be pretty and my sad, abused state will seem romantic and intriguing to others.”

    By offering up Ana as a role model/wish-fulfillment vehicle, E.L. James is doing to readers what Christian is doing to Ana–creating a compelling image of “romantic” submission to mold herself into. On many levels, the observation that this is about changing personalities is completely correct. This is about making abuse victims (who are incredibly common by the numbers) suffer more.

    That’s accomplished through putting forth an ideal of silence, passivity, compliance, and dependence, then juxtaposing that ideal with the cliche of “all worth it for love”. (Or, as you put it, “At this point, we’re all meant to swoon, because him having feels over that little x is supposed to be enough for us to overlook the rest of his behavior.”)

    Sorry so long…I started writing, then just kept getting more depressed as I went along, lol. I was waiting until I got angry again, but it just never happened. :-/

  27. “I’m starting to think it’s actually Christian, not Ana, who’s E.L. James’s dream avatar. Rich, likes to do things harmful to women, refuses to be called out on BS, never admits to a mistake, is loved by fawning people despite all this…”

    I recall she did say Christian’s controlling nature, more or less, came from her. Interesting considering Christian gets everything he wants in the end.

  28. Okay, so, I went and read Sustained because you said it was really good. It *was* pretty good…but also deeply problematic to me. (Insert disclaimer about people being able to enjoy works of media even while criticizing the sh***y aspects.)

    I mean, I was starting to find Jake actively creepy by the last third of the book, because he can’t seem to recognize people’s boundaries at all. He also never actually apologizes for most of his bad behavior; he just kind of…shows up at the house repeatedly for make-up sex without taking anything back.

    Obviously, he compares pretty favorably with Chedward “This F***ing Guy” Grullen, but then, for that to be an unfavorable comparison, you’d have to be Patrick Bateman. Still, I think maybe you’re giving Sustained more of a pass because at least it’s pretty well-written. But when the book has protagonist who hits a bunch of the “Warning Signs of an Abuser” red flags, I kind of want to hear you call that out. Idk. :-/

    TL;DR: Becoming more conscious on social justice issues has ruined me for all media, and I want others to share my pain. :-P

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>