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JEALOUS HATERS Book Club: The Mister, Chapter Four or “Demelssia Vision”

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Entertainment Weekly interviewed E.L. James about The Mister. And boy o’howdy, it’s really something else.

Entertainment Weekly: 50 Shades rather famously began as fan-fiction. Was there a particular work of pop culture or literature that inspired The Mister?

No, not really. The only inspiration I can say about this work is the hundreds of historical romances that I read over the years. […] There’s no direct inspiration. It’s a story that’s been hanging around in my head for a wee while. […]

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, pointing furiously and shouting, "You lie!"

There are a lot of gems in this interview, including James saying that she categorizes The Mister as an erotic romance because the sex scenes are descriptive and the “darkness” doesn’t come from within the characters (it’s not an erotic romance and that’s not what the definition of erotic romance is in the first place), and how she doesn’t want to be a part of conversations about on-page consent or our cultural treatment of women’s entertainment, but this was my favorite part:

Why do you think people love to hate on your work? Is there an element of they just can’t stand seeing a woman be so successful?

I think there’s an element of that yeah. I did it in my spare time, having fun, writing for myself. And I think that really pisses people off sometimes.

So, there you have it. Jealous Haters. I hereby remove The Mister from the Second Chance Book Club and rename it an emergency selection of the Jealous Haters Book Club.

Gavel noise.

The chapter opens with a “Dios mio!” No, sorry. A “Zot!” Demelssia interprets Moss’s confusion as anger. Through her eyes, we get another description of how hot Moss is:

Alessia freezes as his blazing green eyes meet her. Tall, lean, and half-naked, he towers over her. His hair is an unruly chestnut mess with gold highlights that glint beneath the chandelier in the hallway. He is as broad-shouldered as she remembers, but the tattoo on his upper arm is far more intricate than she recalls; all she can distinguish is a wing. A smattering of hair on his chest tapers down over a toned stomach. Then resumes beneath his navel and travels farther down into his jeans. The tight black denim is ripped at the knee. But it’s the hard line of his full lips and his eyes, the color of spring, in a handsome, unshaven face that make her look away.

First of all, I shared this passage with Bronwyn Green yesterday and her immediate response was, “Aidan Turner doesn’t have green eyes.” This was an incredibly on-brand remark for her to make. But here’s where I’m going to nitpick, from a craft perspective. Demelssia already knows how hot his body is. The reader already knows because we saw him through Demelssia’s POV. What we needed here was some comparison from Demelssia about how he looks awake vs. how he looks when he’s asleep. Are his eyes more intense? Is his expression harder? Does he seem so much bigger and more overwhelming when he’s standing in front of her, as opposed to when he’s lying in his bed? There’s nothing wrong with throwing in how hot a character is, but do it in a way that actually engages the reader beyond, “This guy was sexy two days ago and he’s still sexy now.”

Further proof that this little scene is there solely to remind the reader that they’re supposed to feel some sort of sexual tension between the characters with minimal authorial effort? Demelssia then thinks how attractive he is, worries he’s mad that she’s woken him up, and then worries she’ll get fired. That’s it, and we jump back into Moss’s POV. Which is a huge mistake; we haven’t hardly spent any time with her. We’ve been in Moss’s head for a while, so we can already kind of anticipate his reaction to finding her there. She can’t anticipate his reaction, therefore, her POV is going to be far more interesting and create way more tension than his.

Get out your Fifty Shades of Grey bingo cards:

Who the hell is this timid creature standing in my hallway? I’m completely bemused.

Don’t worry, all your old favorites are going to be here, I promise.

Let’s find out what Demelssia looks like:

An image from a forgotten dream developes like a Polaroid in my memory, an angel in blue hovering at my bedside. But that was days ago. Could it have been her? And now she’s here, rooted to the hallway floor, her impish face pale, her eyes downcast.

And:

Wide eyes, the color of a fine espresso and framed by the longest lashes I’ve ever seen, look up at me, then back at the floor.

Shit!

Even though I was still enjoying this book at this part, I did laugh at this. Who’s like, “Oh, that person has pretty eyes. Shit!” What is this extreme negative reaction about?

She’s at least a head shorter than me, perhaps five feet five to my six feet two. Her features are delicate: high cheekbones, an upturned nose, fair skin, pale lips. She looks like she needs a few days in the sun and a good hearty meal.

That last part is definitely something a person would say if they were a modern human being in this Year of Our Lord 2019 and not in, like, early 19th century Cornwall.

Her even white teeth chew at her upper lip as she refuses to meet my gaze.

Her upper lip? Sorry, this is all I’m seeing:

A bulldog looking up into the camera. It has an extremely bad underbite.

 

My whole body tightens in a hot, heavy rush as desire hits me like a demolition ball.

Fuck a duck!

No, you read that right. Yes, it’s in the book like that. No, I didn’t leave anything out in between those lines. Absolutely, the hero of this novel said “Fuck a duck!” because he got turned on. That is a real thing a human person wrote.

Anyway, he figures that she must be related to his cleaning lady, since she’s there, cleaning, and obviously, if she’s cleaning the house, she probably can’t speak English and I guess all immigrants apparently must be related. No shit, here’s what happens in his head:

Krystyna’s mastery of English extended to the words “yes” and “here,” which often meant lots of gesticulating on my part when I needed her to undertake tasks that went beyond her usual cleaning routine. This girl is probably Polish, too.

“I am cleaner, Mister,” she whispers, her eyes still downcast and her eyelashes fanned out above her luminous cheeks.

So, he sees a woman with a broom in her hand, assumes she’s foreign, and then she’s like, hey, let me throw some stilted English at you to confirm it. And I bring this up because we’re going to monitor her English as we go forward here. There is going to be a moment, not today, not this week, but soon, soon enough that you’ll regret it, that her speech patterns will be cause for such rage that your fury could heat the forges of a thousand dwarven mines.

Demelssia tells Moss that Krystyna went back to Poland, that Demelssia has been in England “since three weeks,” and, when prompted, that she speaks English:

“Yes. I speak English. My name is Alessia Demachi. I have been in your apartment since ten o’clock this morning.”

Wow. She really does speak English.

If you’re that impressed, Moss, wait until you hear what language you speak!

I’m skipping quite a few chunks of him talking about how entrancing her eyes are in between asking questions and getting aroused over and over. It falls into this clunky face-expletive-arousal combo that gets caught on a loop. No, seriously. Backtracking a moment:

[…]regarding me with large, liquid brown eyes. Eyes I could drown in. My mouth dries as my body comes to attention again.

Fuck!

And then:

Her lips are now rosy, her bottom lip plumper than her top, and she licks the upper one again.

Hell!

I’m aroused once more.

He’s so confused and disturbed by his incomprehensible horniness over her that he introduces himself as Maxim instead of Trevethick or Trevelyan, then announces that he’s going to the gym. As he walks away, we jump back into Demelssia’s POV, so that we can see him walking away.

She watches the flex and pull of the muscles on his back–right down to the two dimples that show just above the waistband of his jeans. It’s a distracting sight–very distracting.

The hits keep coming. It’s [adjective]. Very [adjective].

Demelssia, still interpreting Moss’s overwhelming passion for anger, is worried she’ll be fired and then she won’t be able to play the piano. I know that some of you have said in the comments that you hate that she plays his piano because it’s unprofessional or you’d hate someone touching your instruments, which I get, but this is really something I don’t find all that egregious. Demelssia is a musician with no instrument and I understand what that temptation would be so strong that she would risk everything just to play again. And I’m happy that she has at least something she cares about that makes her seem like a person; Ana never cared about anything passionately enough to focus on it as a character trait.

Just for funsies, let’s take a minute to tally up the things we know about both our hero and our heroine at this point:

Moss Troldark:

  • Tall, dark, and handsome
  • Newly-made earl
  • Uses sex as a workout
  • Uses workouts to escape his own head
  • Has at least one friend, Tom
  • Lost his virginity to his sister-in-law
  • Loved and envied his brother
  • Has a mom and a sister (this was in chapter three but I didn’t mention it)
  • Plays piano, guitar, and DJs
  • Is also a model and photographer
  • Has a tattoo
  • Can see the Thames from his apartment

Demelssia Carmachi:

  • Is fleeing a horrible past
  • Plays piano
  • Has synesthesia
  • Knows somebody named Magda
  • Speaks English
  • Knows were the old housekeeper went, I guess

Demelssia is basically just here to describe how hot Moss is and to worry that maybe she won’t get to play his piano anymore.

After Moss leaves, Demelssia goes to his room to clean:

She wonders why there’s a wide silk ribbon tied to the headboard but unwinds it and places it on his nightstand next to the cuffs.

Is this…is this Mrs. Jones’s origin story?

After Demelssia wonders what the cuffs are for, we whiplash back to Moss’s POV. And he’s so mad, he has to curse in threes:

Bugger. Bugger. Bugger.

He can’t stop thinking of the intriguing young woman in his apartment and his body “clenches” a lot. IDK about anyone else, but when my “body clenches” on the treadmill, it means I need to move my workout to the bathroom if you catch my drift. Maybe that’s the case with Moss, too, because he stops the treadmill and moves on to weights, where he blames his attraction to the new housekeeper on his grief and stress.

And then we’re back in Demellsia’s POV. She’s in the laundry room, doing the ironing, when she hears Moss come back and leave again. Now, everyone needs to understand something, if you’re just joining us here at Trout Nation for the first time: I am a mother of two. My son is sixteen. My daughter is ten. What happens next made my blood boil. BOIL.

Once done, she goes to check his bedroom to see if he has left it in a mess. Sure enough, his gym clothes are scattered on the floor.

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

He knows she just cleaned his bedroom because earlier in the chapter he tells her she can start there. Plus, you know, he’d have come back to a clean bedroom. And he just throws his shit on the floor? Knowing that someone was just there and just cleaned it?

The Hormone Monster from Big Mouth yelling, "Rage, Rage, FUCKING RAGE!"

I’ll tell you another story. When I was a teenager, my mom used to pay a local lady to clean our house once a week. She was a short, round woman with long, dyed-red hair cut into a magnificently feathered mullet that reached her waist in the back. She enjoyed renaissance fairs and smoking Newport 100s while she cleaned. There was a tattoo on her hand. When I, all of twelve years old, asked her about the tattoo, she said, “Hell if I know! I had to have another party the next weekend just to find out how I got the damn thing!” She said this with her ever-present cigarette defying gravity on her bottom lip. The ash was at least an inch long. This woman would have, without any doubt, taken those sweaty gym clothes and crammed them into the fucking piano, then set it on fire.

That’s what Alessia should do.

But obviously, she does not. Because she wants to keep her job and she likes the piano. So, she sits down and plays it and we jump back to Moss’s POV. He’s going to lunch with his mother and his sister, Maryanne. They hug and almost cry before they get a table. And because this is an E.L. James novel, every unnamed female character must immediately make obvious her desire to spread for the hero:

“Two Bloody Marys,” I say to the hostess as she hands us each a menu and gives me a coy look, which I don’t return. She might have a fine arse and a cute smile, but I’m not in the mood to play.

I wonder what weird alternate reality E.L. James lives in where women just working their normal jobs outrageously and overtly flirt with every male in their path. This happened consistently in all the Fifty Shades books. No matter where Ana and Christian went together, a woman in tight clothing or wearing “too much” of some kind of makeup provided customer service that was a little too friendly, giving Ana a moment of triumph every time their sleazy seduction attempts failed to entice where her purity and shyness succeeded. And yes, while I usually warn against inferring things about a writer’s personality based on their fiction alone…it kind of seems like you wouldn’t want to be a pretty young woman waiting on James and her husband at a restaurant.

Oh, and like every single interaction with unnamed female characters in the service industry in the Fifty Shades series, this hostess “leaves with a disappointed pout.”

Moss’s sister has just returned from Cornwall (cue theme music) and he asks how the “Dowager” is. It’s what they call their mother, for some reason, even though she hates it. Maryanne says it’s difficult to tell what’s going on with their mother, but it seems like she’s hiding something. Maryanne, we learn, is a doctor.

She had followed her vocation, a calling that was born the day our father suffered a massive coronary and died from a heart attack. She was fifteen years old–and she wanted to save him. Our father’s death rocked each of us differently, and Kit most of all, given that he’d had to drop out of college and assume the earldom.

Maybe at this point, I’m just looking for similarities between these characters and Poldark characters, but Ross Poldark’s cousin, Verity, nurses her father after the heart attack that leaves Francis (Kit) the heir to Trenwith. This is one of those things where it would be a reach if “heart attack” and “female relative” were the only things this book had in common with the material it ripped off, but also doesn’t feel strong enough to include with all the other details, either, for fear of watering down the other similarities with accusations of nitpicking.

Their mother, Rowena, Countess of Trevethick, is a model-turned-magazine editor who jets between London and New York frequently and married the late Earl for his money and title. He loved her, she left him, the divorce caused his heart attack. There is not a lot of love between Moss and his mom as a result. I get it. She does not come off loveable or warm or motherly. When she finds out that Caroline isn’t getting anything in the will, Rowena says:

“You can’t let the poor girl starve. On the other hand, she has her trust fund, and when her father shuffles off his mortal coil, she’ll inherit a fortune. Kit chose wisely in that regard.”

Wait, Caroline already has a bunch of money? And she’s worried she’s going to be on the street because why?

Rowena suggests that Moss hire Elizabeth–sorry, I meant Caroline, obviously–to work on a housing development Kit had been overseeing when he died. Moss is like, hey, why don’t we let Caroline run her own life? And we find out that his name is actually Maximilian. So, when someone had to pick a short form of his name, rather than “Max” they went with…

Okay.

There’s apparently going to be a memorial service for Kit, and Rowena wants to hire one of her staff writers to come up with a eulogy, but Maryanne offers to do it. I’m on chapter seven and this memorial hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t seem like it’s going to be happening. I’ll be shocked if this isn’t one of those weird conversations we don’t really need to see.

Finally, we get to the meat and potatoes. He tells them that Elizaline might be pregnant, and when Rowena makes a snide comment about not having grandchildren, Moss makes a snide comment right back about how young Rowena’s boyfriends are. We get the overall sense from this scene that Rowena likes to control every move the family makes, so it’ll be interesting to see how much a part of the plot she actually is.

One Kindle Search Later: This is the only time we see Rowena on the page.

Moss goes out, gets drunk, comes home, and lays on his couch thinking about Demelssia and wondering if she’s too young. Then he gets a text from Caroline with a weird comment about how if he gets married, she’ll be “the dowager.” She asks if she can come over and he lies and says he’s not alone. She accuses him of “whoring,” because terms like “dowager” and “whoring” and “wastrel” are super common in modern speech. Restless, he sits down at his piano to compose. And of course, to think of Demelssia.

The notes ring out through the room. Evocative. Melancholic. Stirring me. Inspiring me.

I am cleaner, Mister.

Yes. I speak English. My name is Alessia Demachi.

Ah, yes, the heights of passion those words would inspire in anyone. How can he contain his bittersweet lust when she whispered such sensual secrets as what her job is and that she speaks English? Love like this, fiery yet tender, can be expressed only through song.

It’s complete. I’ve written a whole piece, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of achievement. How long have I been trying to do this? And all it took was meeting my new daily.

Wow, just think of the creative heights you could reach if you hired an exterminator.

This is where the chapter ends and where I leave you, my beautiful ones, until Monday.

My impression so far: At this point, I was starting to find the story a little eye-roll worthy. Mostly because it feels like the book should have been written in Maxim’s POV alone. We don’t get anywhere near equal time in Alessia’s head, and fifty percent of the time we do spend with her, we only learn things about him. It becomes clear pretty early on here that she’s not the person James wanted to be writing about at all.

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112 Comments

  1. Lisa
    Lisa

    So is Max Trevelyan related to Christian Trevelyan-Grey?? Does this mean Grey is part of the peerage too now? Is it ever addressed? Or did James just forget she already used that name?

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Angie
      Angie

      OMG I came here to ask the SAME Question. The article I read gave the book a scathing review for its horrible writing.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Hel
      Hel

      EW asked her but she leaves it open.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Nanani
    Nanani

    The question “Why do you think people love to hate on your work? Is there an element of they just can’t stand seeing a woman be so successful?” is fine

    It’s not NOT true that a lot of 50 shades backlash is based in misogyny, both of the “how dare woman be successful” variety and the “lol what even IS female sexuality” variety.

    It’s not what this review is about, and it may not even be the majority of the backlash, but the fact that a lot of mainstream culture will pick on anything by and for women is still true.

    Though the answer to the question is grating to the point of parody. Yes, EL, people are mad that you have the leisure to plagiarize novels in your spare time. That’s it >.>

    Is it the internalized misogyny that caused her to miss the point that badly?

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      I’m dying — I just posted my comment and then saw yours, which touches on the same issue of misogyny.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • And I commented on the same thing in the last installment. It’s almost like accusing other women of “jus’ bein’ jealous!” is a convenient excuse that’s used too much or something, darlings, isn’t it?!

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
  3. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    Has it ever been pointed out that EL James is a misogynist? Because she really does seem to hate women, even her own female protagonists, given the way she has her sexy, rich, moody male leads treat them as subservient and try to control their lives after becoming instantly obsessed with them the moment they meet these demure, Bambi-eyed, virginal sacrifices — I mean, young ladies. James also seems to be into slut-shaming: Jenny, you point out the tight clothes and heavy makeup on the women who are turned away, pouting, from the overly-desirable hero. When I look at James and then at Dakota Johnson, I see a non-anorexic Ana. Maybe it’s the hair, I don’t know. But I’m beginning to think that EL is putting herself — albeit thinner — into her stories as this meek (the exact opposite of what she is, from what I’ve read and heard), plain (because there is nothing outstanding about James other than her overblown ego), but highly sought-after diamond-in-the-rough. I think she sees herself as these women, victims who were lonely but then become the object of every man’s boner and every painted whore in button-busting blouse’s enviable enemy. Again, I think James needs to talk to a therapist.

    And I’m sorry, but jumping on the #metoo bandwagon by presenting a character who was a victim of sex-trafficking is not going to endear her or her work to anyone who is a true abuse survivor. She continues to make it All About the Male, even from her heroine’s POV. That? Is not empowering to any woman who has been mistreated by men. This girl escaped from and is in hiding from men who hurt her. She should be terrified of men, jumping when they come near her, shaken, cautious — not checking out how hot they are. Once again, James proves she has not done her homework. She is just trying to appease all the people who criticized her for the abuse-disguised-as-romance of FSoG with a big ol’ middle finger salute as she continues to do what she always does in her one-note symphony of storytelling: demean women while the hero’s magic dick distracts everyone from what’s really going on. It’s bullshit.

    I can take comfort in the fact that 95% of the reviews I’ve seen — and I mean genuine, I-read-this-and-not-just-for-masturbatory-purposes reviews — have trashed the hell out of this book. They have called James out on everything from her unimpressive writing style (yes, others have picked up on the redundant use of words and the choppiness of sentences) to the poorly-developed characters. Oddly enough, no one has yet to spot the glaring parallels to Poldark. But give it time, I’m sure others are out there who will catch on. Just knowing that people are unimpressed and are finally seeing that James is a crappy writer is enough for me.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Alice
      Alice

      Thougth the same about the meeting and how it was weird she focused first and foremost on how hot he is instead of searching for signs of his anger in his body langage, fearing his anger etc.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
  4. Ren Benton
    Ren Benton

    I wanted to rewrite the Mr. Clean jingle as “Mister, Clean” for Moss Troldark’s ode to Demelssia, but I gave up because I’m not talented enough to work “fuck a duck” into the lyrics.

    Woe and shame.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      You just made me laugh so loud it scared my cats.

      You know what’s sad? I have used “fuck a duck” for years — YEARS — as an expletive. Now, I’m going to have to force it out of my vocabulary because of this book. I think I’ll replace it with, “Fuck EL James and the duck she rode in on.”

      Mister, Clean…Mister, Clean… Dammit, now it’s stuck in my head!

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Are you Northern? Because I’m originally from North Wales and the ONLY people I have EVER used ‘fuck a duck’ have been Northern. Possibly because it sounds hilarious in a proper Northern accent “fook a dook”.

        But no way is some dude from London by way of Cornwall using it, IMO.

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          Londoner here. I always thought it was a Cockney thing. I’ve said it myself a few times. Gone off it all of a sudden though, for some reason.

          April 20, 2019
          |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Mister, Clean gets naked in his bed
      And screws a lot of women
      Mister, Clean will let you clean his house
      And every room that’s in it.
      Floors, doors, walls, halls
      He’s so safe he has Trojans
      In all his waste baskets
      so your ‘jina looks clean as new!
      Mister, Clean gets tough on dangerous
      Women with nails near his dick [I think that one is too many syllables, but whatever]
      Mister, Clean gets naked in his bed
      And screws a lot of women
      Fuck a duck!
      Fuck a duck!
      Fuck a duck!

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ren Benton
        Ren Benton

        In lieu of a Grammy, please accept this internet that you have won. 😀

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
        • Anon
          Anon

          LMAO

          I am incredibly honored because I rarely am able to come up with anything like this ever. I wish I could take all the credit, but the idea was yours!

          April 19, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
            Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

            bahahahaha! That song is now stuck in my head. Love the commentary in the middle.

            April 20, 2019
      • Riea
        Riea

        I legit sang that out loud as I was reading it. Thank you

        May 6, 2019
        |Reply
  5. Alice
    Alice

    It’s interesting what you say about the piano, how she’s desperate enough to play it even if she knows she shouldn’t, but in that case it should be really shown in the story I think? Not make it as if it was a normal bonus in her work, especially since it seems she wants not to be noticed. But I guess that would give her too much personnality…

    Still wondering why Kit left nothing for his wife which apparently no one in the story really care about. Everyone says he was a great man, nothing say there was any problem between them so… why?

    Already tired of the misoginy that only the sister is saved from.

    Also out of context, when he remembers their meetings, the line “I am cleaner” felt super weird.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      He left nothing for his wife because Eel stole someone else’s story set in another century and doesn’t know how to modernize anything.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • New Fan
      New Fan

      Man… the alt fic to be written here. She’s the assassin sent in by some distant relatives to take out this whole line of inheritance so the Canadian cadet line can come in and take over the Earldom (the Greys perhaps?!? ).

      And she is “Cleaner”! She’ll take them all out, dissolving them in bathtubs and then disappear as mysteriously as she appears.

      And all that cold open bs was just to make her origin untraceable!

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        Your alt fic is awesome, New Fan.

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
      • Tami Marie Alexander
        Tami Marie Alexander

        Now THAT is something I’d read!

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        She’s the female version of “Leon, The Professional.”

        Her rules – no women, no cleaning under furniture.

        Her weapon of choice – sharpened mop handle.

        Her catchphrase – No loose ends. No witnesses. No dust.

        Damn, this makes me want to rewatch “Killing Eve.”

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply
  6. Anon
    Anon

    Does she think Poldark is some obscure story that no one is familiar with or …? I would say maybe she genuinely didn’t realize she was copying it, except that the specific details are way too close to be an accident.

    I mean, I had an idea inspired by RL events about a woman moving back home and reconnecting with a high school boyfriend and shortly after, there was a Nicholas Sparks book (movie based on the book maybe?) coming out with a similar plot and I hadn’t known about Sparks’ book. But I guarantee the stories would not have lined up so neatly beyond the initial premise, which is a common thing because people have similar ideas. But this is TOO DAMNED CLOSE. She’s a lying liar who lies.

    “I think there’s an element of that yeah. I did it in my spare time, having fun, writing for myself. And I think that really pisses people off sometimes.”

    Yeah. That’s why there’s so much hatred, anger and jealousy over Harry Potter, right?

    Anyway, all is right in my world again to see you once more hating on the Eel rather than giving her the benefit of the doubt we all know she never deserved.

    “… how he looks awake vs. how he looks when he’s asleep. Are his eyes more intense?”

    His eyes are more open when he’s awake. I still want to know how, before this moment, she knew what color his eyes were.

    And … cue the lip-biting.

    “‘I have been in your apartment since ten o’clock this morning.'”

    While that’s a relatively simple sentence to a native English speaker, it’s pretty complex for someone still learning. How does she speak that so well when she can only say, “I am cleaner,” a few lines above it? And, “Since three weeks”? I know, I know. Expecting sense from the Eel is wrong of me.

    Ah-ha! Moss gets runner’s trots! It all makes sense now.

    Told you Caroline wasn’t hurting for money. I TOLD YOU!!!

    Is the “mortal coil” line a deliberate misquote for effect or does Eel not know the phrase?

    I’m pretty sure Caroline is the dowager regardless of whether Moss gets married. I could have that wrong, but I’m pretty certain the two are completely separate. She’s the earl’s widow. Therefore, she is the dowager. And if I’m wrong, then I think to be dowager, she has to be the mother of the heir? Someone who knows a little better about these things, help me out so I don’t have to Google!

    Seven chapters in and this is all we have about the heroine?

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Alice
      Alice

      I hadn’t pay attention to the “I have been in your apartment since…” part at first but yep you’re right, it’s not simple for non-native speaker. You clearly learn a/the before the present perfect. Also I’ve checked and Albanian has determiners who seem pretty similar to English in use. I can imagine someone from a language like russian forgetting determiners, but if you already think in a way that requires one than…

      Also I read somewhere that in Albania she was studying to be an English teacher and I just… Please tell me it’s not true.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        I also think, if she hasn’t progressed past the “since three weeks,” then “ten o’clock this morning” might be a little too complex, as well. English is a rough language. I’m pretty good at knowing when I’m “talking” (through text) with someone who is a non-native speaker and someone who is and just has little grasp of their own language (not dialect, but just incapable of basic written communication). So I can pick up on it pretty well and tell what’s going to be more difficult for a non-native speaker.

        This whole passage is absolutely a mess and not at all consistent. Either she’s fluent or she’s not. Pick one!

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
    • Ren Benton
      Ren Benton

      I”m not going to spoil it, but when Jenny says “her speech patterns will be cause for such rage that your fury could heat the forges of a thousand dwarven mines,” believe her. “Too complex for a non-native English speaker” is giving ELJ way too much credit for the use of broken English.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • A. Noyd
      A. Noyd

      “‘I have been in your apartment since ten o’clock this morning.’”
      While that’s a relatively simple sentence to a native English speaker, it’s pretty complex for someone still learning. How does she speak that so well when she can only say, “I am cleaner,” a few lines above it? And, “Since three weeks”? I know, I know. Expecting sense from the Eel is wrong of me.

      Well, I don’t know what features of English an Albanian speaker in particular would find difficult, but, in general, this isn’t out of the ordinary for an ESL speaker.

      English’s rules about articles and possession are far more difficult to grasp than they seem, so dropping “a” or “your” before “cleaner” while getting the much more regular present perfect (“have been ~ since”) correct is something I see all the time as an English teacher. And inconsistent use of “since” and “for” doesn’t stand out as odd either since the distinction can be difficult to make on the fly.

      HOWEVER!!! I wouldn’t let James off the hook because she’s established Doe-Eyes here as being very conscious of her English usage. Even if she bungled a few things in a way natural for an ESL speaker, it’s odd that she wouldn’t reflect on that in the moment or try to correct herself, no matter how much nub chub she’s getting from seeing her boss’ ass dimples.

      Also, I think James simply lucked into a bit of plausibility here. After all, the way she has Doe-Eyes use Albanian vs English does not sound like a real bilingual person at all; it sounds like how non-bilinguals write bilingual people to give them a foreign flavor. For example, passionate interjections are something that learners tend to pick up and start using before anything else, but Doe-Eyes struggles with them for some reason. So my hopes aren’t high that James will achieve plausibility elsewhere.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Alice
        Alice

        What makes it more frustrating is that someone like ELJames could get all the ressources needed to write realistically an albanian speaking English (or for anything else like abuse, refugies etc.)

        Fun fact: I was curious about the determiners in Albanian so I searched it and the first site I found was centered on Albanian and the common mistakes they make in my langage because of the rules of Albanian. The very first link! I wasn’t even looking for that specifically!

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      Yup, the ‘broken English’ is also SUPER fucking classist.

      April 21, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        @Rebecca —

        Being classist is probably Eel’s intention, but to me, I would expect anyone learning a new language to speak it a bit brokenly because it’s hard! Well, it’s hard for me, anyway. I have a lot of Spanish education in my background, and I have multiple times in the past been able to — in a pinch — relay and gather information to and from someone who doesn’t speak English at all. But I don’t fool myself by thinking my grammar and even some of my words were correct. I just communicated well enough to be understood, which is good enough. lol You could have five Ph.Ds in astrophysics and been born into the poshest of posh families and still struggle with speaking a foreign language.

        But, yeah, Eeel being who she is probably doesn’t think that’s true.

        @Noyd —

        I will bow to your superior expertise. It just seems like such a more complex sentence for the character’s level of learning English to me. I, of course, could be completely wrong!

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
    • Bonnie
      Bonnie

      “Tall, lean, and half-naked”
      I expected a description to let us know which half, and then lol-ed at the possibility of the unexpected half, hoping it would be- “He’s wearing a regency period ruffled shirt and no pants”
      Kinda like that family guy episode where the dude is a merman but has a fish face and man legs.

      April 26, 2019
      |Reply
  7. Ilex
    Ilex

    Is Kit really and legally allowed to cut his wife out of his will? I don’t know about the UK, but a lot of states in the US have laws against disinheriting your spouse, no matter what kind of trust fund they may have on their own. I suppose there could have been a prenup agreeing that neither Kit nor Caroline would inherit from each other, but in that case it should be mentioned.

    Really, the story about the childhood/young adult relationships between Maxim, Caroline, and Kit and how it all ended up where this story begins sounds like a much more interesting book to me.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I don’t think Eel has a clue. For one, a peerage can only pass to the legal heir and the person currently inhabiting said peerage doesn’t have any choice in who gets those properties and incomes, etc. His personal wealth is another story. BUT … he dropped out of college and Moss says that his brother “worked for everything he had.” Except he inherited an earldom, so all he had to do was be the first born of the current earl.

      Unless Jenny’s left something out, I can’t tell what he had that actually belonged to him and could have been passed to a wife.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Raven
      Raven

      If there was a prenup saying that Caroline and Kit couldn’t inherit from each other, it wouldn’t be being treated like a giant surprise that Caroline isn’t getting any inheritance from him. So that can’t be it.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
  8. From that interview:

    Q: Have you been a lifelong romance reader then?

    A: “Yes, I think so. I started back in the day and really I mean dark ages. Jilly Cooper wrote a set of novels which were very popular with my friends at school and they were all girls’ names like Bella and Emily and Prudence. She was my introduction to romance. Apart from Jane Austen of course. ”

    THERE IS NOT ENOUGH EYE ROLLING IN THE WORLD.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Kate
      Kate

      I feel like Austen is the romance equivalent of philosophy’s Foucault: everyone references her, but precious few have *really* read her.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Everyone thinks that if you’re female and you read that you’re supposed to love Austen like it’s a badge of honor or right of passage. I cannot read Austen. I’ve tried. In college, I had to watch the movies because I could NOT read the books. I do not enjoy Austen at all.

      It’s like how people who were not English majors write English majors into their stories and they all read 500-year-old books that literally no one reads unless they have to. lol I guess it makes you deep?

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • I’m a goddamned lit scholar and professor, a feminist, AND a romance/fiction writer, and I can’t get through an Austen novel. Love the filmed adaptations, but not into the prose of that particular era. This does not make me better or worse than anyone else who does/doesn’t love Austen. However, I’m fairly certain that Eel read P&P in school, loves Bridget Jones, and watched the old P&P on Netflix a while back, and that’s the extent of her “loving Austen.”

        These days, saying you love Austen is like saying you’re really into music and Queen is your favorite band and you know Bohemian Rhapsody AND Radio Gaga.

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
        • Tami Marie Alexander
          Tami Marie Alexander

          As an old Queen fan (from the get-go), I am happy to see new people discovering their music through the Freddie bio-pic, especially if they are willing to dig past the Top 40 hits like BoRap. Same with Bowie. I met a little gal, I’m old enough to be her grandma, who gushed about him and she actually named one of his more obscure songs as a favorite. I teared up and wanted to say “Bless you, child.”

          But I’m with you about Austen. I had to read her to ghostwrite a book for a client “in the Jane Austen ‘voice'” per instruction. I did my research like a fiend, everything from period clothing to caste system to historical events of the Regency period (which battles were being fought and where, who was in command, blah blah blaaaah). I love history, too. It’s one of my turn-ons. But I am not a fan of Regency and the redundant stories Austen produced where you always had a forward-thinking young lady who refused to be married to someone she didn’t love and winds up with someone she initially cannot stand. Oh, yes — I loved the movies “Sense & Sensibility” (and I applaud Emma Thompson for being able to give an acceptance speech for the Oscar in the Jane Austen ‘voice’) and Colin Firth is yummy in everything he touches (because, well, he just is). But the Romance genre does not begin and end with Austen. I resent that kind of thinking, as much as I resent those people who didn’t know Paul McCartney was with another band before Wings (that might be cliche but I remember when it wasn’t; I also remember when Peter Gabriel was with Genesis before Phil Collins came along).

          Back when I was in high school, one of my best friends read those Harlequin Romances, and had every single book lining her bedroom walls. I would mock them, even make fun of the titles (“What are you reading this time? ‘Love’s Wet Knickers?'”). Again, I have ghostwritten many romances that have been well-received, but you know what? I don’t believe in any of it. I am one of those jaded people who has never experienced honest-to-goodness romance for myself. I know it exists — my mother married her first crush, after two failed abusive marriages (one to my father); I saw a guy get down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend during the fireworks finale at Disneyland, right in front of me, which made me say “Awww!” — but I don’t know what it’s like, for myself. I know it would not be like any of the tropes that are out there, because I’m not a trope kind of person.

          So when people say things like, “Oh, I’ve always been a big romance fan!” I often wonder what they’re using as a frame of reference? Is EL James in a romantic relationship with her husband, or is he just hanging on because she’s got money? Because I cannot fathom anyone being in love with someone like her. I picture her husband like the teacher in Pink Floyd’s The Wall (“…when they got home at night their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them within inches of their lives…”). It must really piss him off, deep down, that he’s now known as “Mr. Fifty Shades” because he was writing original fiction long before her and then one day she decided to plagiarize the Twilight books (and he…didn’t…discourage her? seriously, how can he be a writer and teach writing, and not say “Dear, you do realize what you’re doing is stealing from these other authors…”). But I guess when you’re married to a cash cow, you keep your lips zipped.

          April 19, 2019
          |Reply
      • Denny
        Denny

        I studied English Lit (albeit at a German university) and we had to read 500 year old books that no-one has ever heard off. Vathek? Anyone? Okay, that’s only 300 years old but still. For the exam after two years in my Masters we had to choose works covering four centuries and the fields of fiction, poetry and drama.
        We also had take classes in Old English and translate such things as Bible passages and other works.

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
      • Squim
        Squim

        I do love Jane Austen, I’ve read everything she wrote that still remains (her letters, unfinished novels, juvenilia. All of it). She’s not a romance novelist. She’s a satirist. And it pisses me off when idiots like EL James cite her as if she’s the origin of tripe like hers. I get not liking Austen, but she understood characterisation and motivation brilliantly, and far far better than someone like James could pretend to.

        (Also, ahem. English Literature degree holder who specialised in Old and Middle English, here. I love me some 500 year old plus books).

        April 23, 2019
        |Reply
        • Seriously. These dummies read/watch “Wuthering Heights” or “Romeo and Juliet” and think it’s beautiful romance, and completely miss the effing points of those stories and couples.

          I am seriously surprised that we haven’t seen them doing this shit with Gatsby yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
        • Ariel
          Ariel

          „She’s not a romance novelist. She’s a satirist.”

          ^ This.

          To be honest, i never quite understood the notion of her being a romance author. And now i wonder, if the label would have stuck so well, had she been a man. Me thinks not.

          I mean, in „Sense and sensibility” Marianne doesn’t end up with her youthful, handsome, witty and charming suitor, but instead settles for a guy, who could be her father and who she hadn’t given a second thought to before learning the truth about Willoughby’s character. And doesn’t he also have a thing for her solely because she reminds him of the girl he loved in his youth?

          That’s how a cynical realist and not a romantic writes about relationships.

          Also, i know i’m the minority here, but i really don’t understand why Mr. Darcy is always pointed to as some platonic ideal of a romantic hero. I get it, the guy’s honourable and blah blah blah, but what’s really his appeal? He’s a socially awkward, slightly misantropic grump, who doesn’t like or doesn’t know how to have fun and the only interesting thing about him is that he’s a great sparring partner, when it comes to debates. Yeah, he’s self-aware enough to take Lizzy’s critisms and change his stance on social positions in the sphere of aristocracy, but is that really enough? I just…don’t quite get it. (And this is coming from a socially awkward grump, too.)

          P.S. There’s a great bit of dialogue in the lovely “Miss Austen Regrets” movie, wherein Austen is having a conversation with her niece about “Pride and Prejudice.” The niece is young and drunk on the ideals of love. She compliments her aunt on writing the romance between Darcy and Lizzy so beautifully and Jane snarkily replies with something like “if you pay attention, you’d notice that Elizabeth only starts considering marrying Darcy after she sees how big his estate is.” Her niece is appalled.

          When I first saw that scene, I was kind of shocked. Then it really tickled me. I have no idea, whether there’s any truth to it, but the idea that it could be is rather funny. I’m curious, if, as someone well-versed in all things Austen, you have any knowledge on that particular subject.

          April 23, 2019
          |Reply
    • Appoline
      Appoline

      I only liked Pride and Prejudice as much as I did because by the time we got to it in class, anything that wasn’t in Homeric verse was like music to my ears

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
  9. JessC
    JessC

    Was the lip biting included out of spite? Because if I had been mocked for ridiculous lip biting lifted from the Twilight movie, I might have taken the executive decision of it not being a thing in the book that’s supposed to redeem my reputation.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
  10. Anna Claire
    Anna Claire

    Why the hell did Maxi-Pad’s brother have to drop out of college to be a earl?? I would think he’d want to have some sort of degree. And wouldn’t he have people to sort of run things until he graduated at least? This is another instance where stuff made sense in the original story, but not once it’s been shoved into the 21st century.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      Why the hell did Maxi-Pad’s brother have to drop out of college to be a earl??

      I was wondering that, too. What exactly does an earl do these years? Plus whatever they do, wouldn’t they do it better with a degree in business, or philosophy, or social work, or whatever the heck would apply?

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • Denny
        Denny

        That struck me as odd as well. If the earl is rich a degree in business would only help to manage the estate and the business side of things.
        The Earl of Cadogan, one of the richest peers, for example owns and manages a lot of property in London. Knowing the business side of things is a good idea. Or hiring good managers who can take care of business, especially if the earl suddenly dies and the heir is still young and at college.
        Interestingly enough the son and heir of the Earl of Cadogan served with the RAF. Unsusualy choice to the son of a billionaire.
        Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster and even richer than the Earl of Cadogan, studied countryside managment because that family owns a lot of real estate, hotels, shopping enters and so on, managed by a company that was founded in 1677. That date is mind-boggling.
        It is interesting that the Duke is not working for his own company but another company. None of the managers are family members.

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
        • Ilex
          Ilex

          That’s all very interesting, Denny! Thank you. I love the things I learn from the comments here.

          April 20, 2019
          |Reply
      • He didn’t have to drop out, and probably shouldn’t’ve. Earls and other nobles rather famously take bespoke land management courses at elite unis. Wills came to Cambridge for his.

        April 19, 2019
        |Reply
  11. Sushi
    Sushi

    I think I’ve heard the phrase “fuck a duck” like, three times in my whole entire British life and never in that sort of context.
    I have to admit, the moment you mentioned he had a sister, I thought “ah, that’ll be Verity then” so you’re way more restrained than I am.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Sushi
      Sushi

      Longer comment now. I started rewatching Poldark ’cause the first two seasons are kind of fuzzy in my mind now, and maybe I’m totally wrong and the first love marrying a close male relative and then sleeping with the hero when her husband dies parallels and the Cornish mines are all a huge coincidence, but if this really is based/inspired by it, I think I’ve figured out why I’m irritated EL skipped over the big bit where Ross was poor. Presumably it’s because rich billionaires are her thing and she wasn’t interested in writing a story where her hero had to actually go out and make the money first when she could be writing about rich people possessions, but in doing so, she’s put in a power imbalance that wasn’t so apparent between Ross and Demelza. I’m not gonna say there wasn’t one at all, there was definitely a class divide, but unlike most upper class people, Ross didn’t think he was better than poor people. He knew they only thing separating them was money and a good name, and he only had one of those. So while he did have Jud and Prudie working for him (which he couldn’t really afford, he mostly kept them on out of loyalty and pity), they didn’t do the work alone, he was right there, working with them, repairing and cleaning his neglected house and lands. And he didn’t hire Demelza because he needed a kitchen maid, his primary motivation in hiring her was to give her a reason not to go home to her abusive father. But here, Max’s motivation in hiring a cleaner seems to be because he can’t be bothered putting his dirty clothes in the laundry. He’s Ross without having to go through the struggles that made Ross a decent character in the first place.

      And if it turns out I’m completely wrong and he’s not Ross Poldark after all, she’s still his cleaner, he’s still rich and lazy, and the power imbalance is still there and still a valid complaint.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      When I was a kid in the US Midwest 40 years ago, we (friends & similar-aged family members) went through a phase of saying “fuck a duck” all the time, with the occasional “fuck a duck on the back of a truck” for variation. But I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say those words together in 35 years by now.

      April 20, 2019
      |Reply
      • Fluffy
        Fluffy

        I’ve been trying to figure out when/where “fuck a duck” entered my vocabulary since reading everyone’s thoughts here. It’s not a phrase I think often, but it has its uses. My dad/aunts/uncles would be a bit older than you and from the Midwest, maybe that’s my entry point?

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply
        • I remember it from high school. “Fuck a four-legged duck” was our variation.

          I would also like to point out that I graduated when Reagan was still president.

          April 20, 2019
          |Reply
          • Ilex
            Ilex

            I would also like to point out that I graduated when Reagan was still president.

            Which makes us and E.L. around the same age … so she’s just dating herself with this phrase. Or maybe hoping to bring it back? “It’s so retro it’s cool again!”

            April 20, 2019
          • Sigyn
            Sigyn

            I, a 28-year-old Californian, use “fuck a duck” on occasion, but also I’m weird.

            April 21, 2019
          • Anon
            Anon

            I hear or read people use “fuck a duck” every once in a while. It’s kind of a silly expression and used for silly things or to make light of a bad turn of events or whatever. It’s not an everyday phrase and is definitely an odd choice for this character, regardless.

            I can’t say for sure and of my British friends have used it in front of me, but I also probably wouldn’t remember. Americans for certain use it on occasion. Not enough that I would ever write dialogue (inner or outer) using that phrase in 99.9% of cases.

            April 22, 2019
  12. Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)
    Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting)

    All I can think in the “fuck a duck” scene is “UP! DOWN! UP! DOWN!” …and yeah, Poldim, that sounds exhausting.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
  13. Maggie
    Maggie

    So, um… I’m Polish and I’m really torn apart this whole can/can’t speak English sequence. On the one hand, yeah, there are a lot of people who went abroad looking for job or just ended up in different country because of some unfortunate circumstances and can’t actually speak the language of this country very well. But first, I think majority of Poles who leave for job go somewhere closer, like Germany. Those that I know of that went further probably did so for some political reasons, like the war or communism. This is all 20th century thing though, communism was abolished in the beginning of 90s. Also, political emmigrants were usually intelectuals, but if they weren’t, 30 years is enough to learn a language, especially English. Second, I think that James is seriously underestimating linguistic capabilities of immigrants from Eastern Europe (also, Poland is actually in Middle Europe, but oh well). Like, ok, Moss wouldn’t have long thrilling conversations with Krystyna, but when you’re looking for job abroad and you DON’T know the language, even the basis… you have to have very good recommendations and I’m not sure if bajillioner earl would be so desperate as to hire housemaids that he can’t easily communicate with.
    But typing all this reminded me of absolutely hilarious and embarassing thing that happened to me a year ago. I’m an English student and as I was waiting for bus to come back home, I’ve noticed some guys looking at me. It was next to Warsaw Central Railway Station, and there are a lot of weird people there. So I noticed them, and I started to freak out, I have no idea why. I’m rather shy but not to such extent, I must’ve had really bad day. And suddenly they start walking in my direction. I’m super stressed out, I really don’t want to deal with them, they will either ask me for money or maybe something worse, get away from me, get away, whatever they say I’ll just say no… And the dude gets closer and he asks (in English) “Hey, do you speak English?” And I just shake my head with deadpan expression.
    He seemed a little bit surprised and left. I was standing for like a whole minute patting myself mentally on the back, proud and relieved. And then I realised what actually happened. Since that day I had countless occasions to help random foreigners on the street, but I just sometimes recall that event as the most baffling thing I’ve ever done.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Denny
      Denny

      Maybe she used Melania Trump as an example for an immigrant? Considering how long she’s been living in the USA and the opportunities she’s had, her English is pretty bad.
      But some people simply don’t have an ear for another language.
      There are people here in Germany who moved here forty or fifty years ago from Turky and they are still struggling with the grammar. But German grammar is a lot more complicated than English.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
      • MayaB
        MayaB

        The Gastarbeiter in Germany are not only speaking Turkish because “they don’t have an ear for another language”. The problems there are much deeper. I’ll mention only living in enclosed communities where Turkish is the main language. Regarding the grammar I must agree. I learned German for many years and I live in Germany since 2011. Despite all this I still make some grammar mistakes with the cases (Akkusativ, Dativ etc). They are my biggest enemy.

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply
    • A. Noyd
      A. Noyd

      Second, I think that James is seriously underestimating linguistic capabilities of immigrants from Eastern Europe

      Perhaps Krystyna spoke great English but pretended she was less fluent so she wouldn’t have to talk to Mr. Ass-Dimples. (No, I know; that’s giving James too much credit.)

      Also, I’m an American living in Japan and I speak Japanese semi-fluently. But if the public TV channel representatives come by to collect dues, I try to pretend my Japanese skills are terrible. For some reason, I can never make this look natural. I always fuck up somehow. The last time, I ended up speaking broken English instead of broken Japanese by mistake. Luckily, the dues-collector’s English wasn’t good enough to notice.

      April 19, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      @Maggie

      Ummm, dude, when Poland joined EU in 2001 there was a massive exodus of people immigrating to the UK specifically in search of employment. It’s become such a popular destination of us Poles, that the “Polish plumber” has been a cultural meme in Britain for decades now. There are tens upon tens of thousands of Polish people working and living all over UK nowadays. There was even an anti-Pole backlash ever since the idea of Brexit had been introduced, with graffitis of charming statements such as “Poles, go home” cropping up all over the place.

      So the idea of a Polish cleaning lady working in London is the one detail James got right in this mess of a book.

      April 20, 2019
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        * destination FOR us Poles

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply
      • Maggie
        Maggie

        Oh, okay, that makes sense. Still, I think she exaggerated with this presentation and I’m not sure if I like it.

        April 20, 2019
        |Reply
        • Ariel
          Ariel

          It’s possible you don’t like it, because James is clearly an elitist snob, who can’t write poor people or minorities for shit.

          She did it in „Fifty Shades”, where the rich, white folk are kind, loving and generous, while the poor mother from Detroit is demonized and José speaks in random, unnatural Spanish exclamantions, despite having been born in the US.

          A similiar thing is happening here. The rich, titled guy gets to ruminate on his previous relationship to Caroline, his conflicted love for his brother, his financial situation and plans for the future, while the immigrant lady gets: „omg, he’s so hot! He has a piano! I am cleaner!”

          He’s a fully formed (well, as fully formed as you can get, when you’re being written by E.L. James) person with complex emotions, who has eloquent conversations with people in his life and she is a two dimensional stereotype with no friends, whose thoughts revolve around his physical appearance and his property (the piano) and whose English is an unrealistic mix of symplistic sentences („i am cleaner”) and grammatically correct ones („i’ve been in your apartment since 10 o’clock this morning”).

          Honestly, the broken English bothers me too. Maybe it’s because lingustic mistakes have been used to mock and demean immigrants everywhere since time immemorial. Maybe it’s because we both know, that English is laughably easy to learn compared to Polish or any other Central/Eastern European language. Maybe it’s because „poor immigrant making childlike mistakes in their speech” is such a huge stereotype.

          April 20, 2019
          |Reply
          • Tami Alexander
            Tami Alexander

            All I can think about now is Consuela from Family Guy.

            “No, no…Meester Mister no home… I clean. You have Lemon Pledge?”

            April 20, 2019
          • Lucy
            Lucy

            James ‘entire representation of Albanians is horrifying.

            April 20, 2019
          • Alice
            Alice

            It is so weird we know so little of her when it could actually make us want more to see her getting a better life (after all her job in itself doesn’t equal terrible life despite what eljames might think.)

            Where does she live? Does she live with someone? with what I heard about London she could need to. How long does it take her to go to her job? Again with London’s prices, she may be quite far from the center. How did she find her job? If it’s solely thanks to Krystyna, how did they even talked if she didn’t speak English? Is she working under a fake name if she’s running from danger? Is she trying to get asylum? Is she in contact with associations helping women in her situation? Is she doing anything besides being ready to be saved by a rich white man?

            April 21, 2019
          • Masha
            Masha

            @Maggie & @Ariel

            While the Polish plumber/cleaner is highly probable, I was a bit thrown by Krystyna being described as “old”. The ’00s migration wave would be, at best, in their late forties now. But I guess Krystyna had to be an outlier so that Maxim short-circuits at the mere idea of a cleaner being remotely attractive.

            As for the language, though – someone noted (commenting on the previous recap, I think) that some grammatically complex sentences are actually easier to remember that the infernal English articles, and having corrected/edited/re-translated countless texts written by Polish native speakers in English, I would be inclined to agree. Maybe it’s because English is often taught this way in classrooms – endless repetitions of tenses and corresponding phraseology plus vocab cramming. Maybe it’s that we don’t really have articles in Polish. I don’t know why, but that’s the way it is, at least from my observations.

            To show this on an example, I’m self-taught, and though I’ve worked with the language for years, I still occasionally struggle with “for” vs. “since”, but I don’t think I’ve ever misplaced an article* and always have to insert bazillions of them into whatever I’m editing. And I hope this doesn’t come off as mean or patronising, but if you look at your own long comment, Maggie – you have a vast vocabulary and great fluency of expression, and I’d say that just about the only thing that’s not at native speaker level (or close enough)… are the few missing articles.

            Now, I don’t know the first thing about Albanian – Alice mentions above that it does have determinants – but since the UK is now home to a million Poles and only up to a hundred thousand Albanians, and ELJ is hardly the queen of research, it stands to reason she might’ve had a Polish cleaner herself and modelled Ana 2.0’s speech patterns after her. Just a guess, but hey, that would still count as improvement in the “research” department!

            *and now that I wrote this, it’s more than 300% certain that I forgot an article somewhere in this comment.

            April 21, 2019
    • Sigyn
      Sigyn

      That is pretty funny! I do the same thing regularly, although in my case, I live in a mostly Spanish-speaking neighborhood and, while I don’t speak Spanish, it’s not hard to understand “Habla español?” I always say no.

      April 21, 2019
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  14. WuBomei
    WuBomei

    Now that you’re calling him Moss, I can’t help but picture him as Richard Ayoade, who both deserves better but also makes the reading even more entertaining.

    Also, I’m reminded of many years ago, when I lived in Florida, and one day at work ran into Julio Iglesias, Jr. I think someone had to tell me who he actually was, but I was dumbstruck because he was literally the most beautiful man I’d ever seen IRL. Pictures don’t do him justice. He had that skin that only great genes and millions of dollars can achieve.
    Which is to say the fact that all the women Moss bumps into start flirting effortlessly makes me think he’s not nearly as hot as he thinks he is.

    April 19, 2019
    |Reply
    • Moss as Richard Ayoade? OK, cool, now I’m going to picture every chapter of this as ending with Ayoade saying “Thank you for reading, if indeed you still are.”

      April 20, 2019
      |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Bwahahaha, you just made my day with that reference.

      Just imagine Moss, with his dead eyed stare and awkward social demeanour meeting our beautiful Demelssia, she of the longest lashes in the realm, for the first time:

      Moss, finds Lashy Demelssia in his hallway: stares blankly ahead

      Demelssia: I am…cleaner?

      Moss: stares some more

      Demelssia: So…i’ve been working in your flat since 10 o’clock…I guess…i’ll get back to it?

      Moss: staaaaares.

      Demelssia POV:

      Oh my god, he’s so hot, look at his back, look at this muscles, look at the way he’s walking away from me, his spine so rigid he’s about to get a muscle cramp. I bite my lip albanianly and flush. I am wet…down there.

      April 20, 2019
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    • Sigyn
      Sigyn

      I am 100% here for that. I freeze up around the hottest guy I’ve ever seen (not a celebrity but still), even though I can easily flirt with men I don’t find all that attractive.

      Alternatively, we are in Moss’s head. He is probably imagining that waitress flirting with him.

      April 21, 2019
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  15. Perlite
    Perlite

    “Her even white teeth chew at her upper lip as she refuses to meet my gaze.” Guess Eel’s protagonists have to switch between that and their bottom lip, lest they chew it off.

    April 19, 2019
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  16. cher
    cher

    Throwing clothing on the floor of a newly cleaned room is exactly why someone like this idiot hires immigrants to clean – they believe they have more power over their employee that way, and thus can treat them like shit. Most people I’ve cleaned for have been incredibly respectful and often kind, but those uber rich types often want to try shit like ruining a room we just cleaned and thinking we will meekly turn around and clean it again for no extra charge. Theyre wrong.

    But with someone who has a tenuous position, as an new immigrant might, they’ll push and push and push while pinching every penny.

    April 19, 2019
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    • But I’m sure his fucking her will empower her in all sorts of ways, just like Ana totally had all the power with Christian.

      April 20, 2019
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  17. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    So when he said that he was going to the gym, I pictured Chris from The Good Place ripping off his shirt every time Eleanor asked him too many questions. It would make the book more entertaining if Maxi-pad left so what’s-her-bucket can play the piano in peace.

    I say “Fuck a duck” the same way I’d say “oh shit” when something happens, not when something sexy happens. This fucking book. On a happy note, I’m loving Poldark.

    Thank you Jenny for reading this so I don’t have to!

    April 19, 2019
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  18. marie
    marie

    This is a more fifty-shades related comment, but I told my Columbian boyfriend about José’s “Dios mios”, and he got pretty annoyed. On this book, I will say that it is pretty cringey that he assumes she’s foreign because she’s the cleaner.

    Will say, even if this is plagiarized, at least she chose something more compelling than Twilight to plagiarize. It is weird how much of the story does seem very much like it should be a hundred years ago though.

    April 20, 2019
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  19. Ariel
    Ariel

    God damn it, Jenny, that bulldog photo completely slayed me. :))))

    You are the queen of hilarious memes. Long may you reign.

    April 20, 2019
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  20. Errapel
    Errapel

    Oh deary me… what’s the betting that her headscarf is covering flame red hair (like Demelsa on the TV Poldark, I haven’t read the books so can’t comment there…)

    I think the timeline is a little off from Poldark, in that (again, TV version, haven’t read book), spoilers! Ross meets Demelza after Elizabeth marries his cousin, but years before the poor sod’s death. And then sleeps with Elizabeth once he hears she’s going to marry his rival. (Well, ‘sleeps with’ is off, that scene was super rapey, but I guess that’s par for the course with bodice ripper style sex scenes).

    And she’s an immigrant? Cool, that’s a neat twist. I mean there’s a big power imbalance there (you know, wealthy, powerful man, romances his poor, vulnerable servant), but I understand that’s also not an uncommon trope in this genre. What’s the betting she’s been trafficked or something? Because I can’t imagine anything original showing up in the narrative.

    April 20, 2019
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  21. Maria
    Maria

    aaaaaaaaaaaa i just had a crazy thought! el james wrote this other fic called safe haven before master of the universe where bella was a hotel maid with a dark secret and while i know we’ve figured out this is just a modern day au poldark, is it possible she’s cannibalizing safe haven, too? the whole “maid/employer” dynamic just suddenly struck me as something el james has definitely done before

    April 20, 2019
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    • Alice
      Alice

      I’d be really curious to know if that’s the case! It wouldn’t surprise me.

      April 20, 2019
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    • I am so goddamned sick of this fucked up power dynamic that is IRL abuse or harassment or at the VERY least unethical being used as shorthand for “romaaaaaance” without any real interrogation or attempts to even address it in a meaningful way.

      April 20, 2019
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      • (I mean, seriously, just gender-flip it. The older, wealthy, noblewoman creeps on the young immigrant hired male housekeeper, who is overwhelmed by her attention. Creepy AF, isn’t it?)

        April 20, 2019
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    • Ariel
      Ariel

      *smacks hand on forehead*

      Damn, you’re right! I can’t believe that slipped my mind, considering i saw Folding Ideas mention it in his first video essay only recently!

      If i recall correctly, „Safe haven” has Edward be an incredibly rich movie star, who just can’t help but notice how hot his shy maid is, so i think the possibility of James coming back to that particular well is rather strong.

      April 20, 2019
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  22. “it kind of seems like you wouldn’t want to be a pretty young woman waiting on James and her husband at a restaurant.”

    For damn sure you wouldn’t be getting a tip. More likely she’d be complaining about you to the manager bc she’d be CONVINCED you were flirting with her husband.

    April 20, 2019
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  23. Izzy
    Izzy

    E.L. James has been getting away with plagiarism for nearly a decade now, I’m not even close to surprised she’s continuing the trend.

    Even if this wasn’t Modern Day AU Poldark fanfic this chapter still would have killed any hope I had for this book. First of all because James still can’t write for shit. Second because I’ve never liked the trope of “Person A can’t help but notice how hot Person B is even in situations that absolutely do not call for it.” For example if Person A is injured and Person B is stitching them up while admiring their bloodstained six pack. Or worse, Person A is agressively getting in the face of Person B who thinks to themself that even angry their love interest is so hot. This isn’t exclusive to bad writing and it’s not usually a deal breaker for me but if an author chooses to take a break from whatever tension they’re trying to build to remind the reader that the previously established as attractive character is still attractive, as if that were the biggest concern their readers might have, well I’m deducting points for that. And James already started off in the single digits here.

    Also wouldn’t the company not Demelza but hell if I remember her actual name works for have at the very least left a message for Moss that he was getting a new “daily” so he wouldn’t be alarmed at finding a stranger in his house?

    And to wrap up this long winded comment, now that I know Moss is constantly swearing at his own boner (something I have vague memories of happening a lot in Grey) I pray we are at least spared not Demelza taking an Ana like approach to her own orgasms. You know, like they’re something to be feared rather than anticipated or enjoyed.

    April 20, 2019
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  24. Fluffy
    Fluffy

    Re: Jane Austen (I can’t bring myself to add to the thread above when the boxes are already so skinny on my phone.)

    I listened to a really interesting book called “Jane Austen, Secret Radical” by Helena Kelly. The author’s thesis is that Austen meant for her books to be commentary on current events, and she makes her point using historical data and Austen’s novels and letters. I can’t remember which books dealt with what, but as examples of the current event commentary, one was about England and the Church, one about England’s culpability in the enslavement of African people, etc.

    April 20, 2019
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    • Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
      Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

      I need to track down this book. I adore Jane Austin and enjoy modern adaptations of her stories, especially Bridget Jones’ Diary and Clueless. I know she’s not for everyone and that’s fine. I laughed so hard I cried during Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

      But! All those people acknowledged the source material. Same for Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. It’s Harry/Draco fanfic that’s not actually H/D fanfic. However, while there are nods to HP, it’s very different. But read Fangirl first. 🙂

      April 20, 2019
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    • Anon
      Anon

      I don’t hate Austen. I just can’t read her books. The writing makes my eyes glaze over on page 1 and even some of the movies are unwatchable to me.

      My issue isn’t that Austen is bad or not worth reading if you enjoy her. Just that it’s such an obnoxious stereotype: “Oh! A woman who likes to read! Obviously, Jane Austen is your favorite author!”

      It’s especially prevalent in books by people like Eel. Every English major who shows up in a book or movie loves Austen and that just isn’t the way it works. Some people do. Some don’t. It’s not a given! I think she was revolutionary for her time, though.

      April 22, 2019
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  25. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    “Maxim” for Maximillian may be a nod to Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” You’ll know if the third act involves the two of them married and Caroline’s house burning down.

    April 20, 2019
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    • Totally went there, too. Or if there is an Alt-Mrs. Jones causing all sorts of trouble for DemelzanaNoName

      April 20, 2019
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  26. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    The description – arousal – profanity thing reminds me of a Sin with Sebastian song where he sings “I want to be near you, FUCK!” In the bridge. And “Fuck a duck!” makes me think of Garfunkel and Oates’ “Sex with Ducks.”

    April 21, 2019
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  27. Kim
    Kim

    I’m unfamiliar with Poldark, so all I’m getting is a smoothie of Jane Eyre and Once (because she’s an immigrant who plays piano and he composes, I’m guessing they’re going to make beautiful music together at some point) with a TBSP of Rebecca thrown in, just for the Maxim thing…though id be very surprised if James hasn’t read Rebecca and Jane Eyre, then again HER female protagonists have no interior life at all…

    April 21, 2019
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  28. E.
    E.

    I bristle every time when the woman plays music but the man composes it. It just… ugh. Irritates me. Women compose music all the time. Why is it never the other way around? The guy singing or playing well and the woman creating the art? Is it some sexist bullshit?

    April 21, 2019
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  29. Alice
    Alice

    Also, am I the only one who wondered if the headscarf meant she might be muslim before thinking no way the author writes that?

    April 21, 2019
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    • Ariel
      Ariel

      I’m replaying to your comment directed at me and Maggie here, since Jenny’s blog won’t let me reply directly to that one. Jenny’s blog is clearly as much of a sadist as Chedward.

      1) I completely missed Krystyna’s age descriptor. God job, brain, good job. So, in the case of her being old, i’ve got to agree – it’s not impossible she’s over 40 or older, but it makes it a bit less likely. But you’re probably right, her „old” age and probable unnatractiveness was likely used as a juxtaposition to our doe eyed, innocent looking heroine.

      (By the way, does anybody else think, that her being first described as an angel combined with the blue head scarf and blue coat is a rather unsubtle allusion to the Virgin Mary? Mary has been often times depicted with a loose, blue scarf covering her hair and she is, after all, a symbol of feminine purity and chastity. And we all know much James lurves sexually untouched heroines.)

      2) I did see the comment you mention and since you’re in agreement with that poster and also a professional translator, i take your point. But it’s still odd to me, heh, since i’ve always found the rules for using articles much simpler, than the complexities of English grammar. Especially the basic ones, like „a”, „an” and „the.” They seem to me like the kind of thing that is actually pretty easy to memorize. Oh well.

      But then again, i’ve been taught English as a child, so perhaps i’ve simply forgotten that i struggled with them and/or i’m simply unable to comprehend how much more difficult learning English as an adult would be (i don’t know whether Demelssia learned the language as an adult, but for some reason i assume she did.)

      P.S. From what i can tell, no, you haven’t missed any articles. 🙂

      P.P.S. Oh god, if E. L. actually did have a Polish housekeeper/cleaner, hers would be a memoir i’d be DYING to read. 😀

      April 21, 2019
      |Reply
      • Alice
        Alice

        I think at the end of the day what you will find difficult about a new langage are the thinks which differ the most from your own + the sounds that don’t exist in your own. Which is why a/the seem easy to me because it’s basically the same, whereas the present perfect is more difficult because our tenses don’t work in the same way. There are also countries who have a better educational system for langage than others. Also, I’m suddenly very curious about the impact of internet and the abilty to access so easily to content in original version. When I was learning, DVD were about to appear, so just watching a tv show or a movie in English was tough. It’s so different now!

        So I guess you have to really figure how an albanian woman would speak, not any foreign person, because the mistakes won’t be the same. For example one very common issue when you start is translating word for word what you think in your native langage, but that won’t produce the same mistakes depending on what it is.

        April 22, 2019
        |Reply
        • Masha
          Masha

          I think it’s yes and no. You’re definitely right about sounds – it’s even maintained that after a certain age, people can’t learn to make new sounds anymore, just close approximations (fun fact! Poles have a much easier time with Japanese than English speakers do, because the set of required sounds is much more similar).

          But as for grammar and the like, I’d say it’s mostly that input translates into output. If a student is made to repeat thousands of sentences with “has been” + ing thousands of times, they’re more likely to internalise that and never stumble over this particular hurdle in the future. Conversely, if someone learns by osmosis, so to speak, they’ll hear “have A go at” or “with THE prime minister” or what have you over and over again and will absorb those phrases as natural. They’ll hear grammatical constructs, too, and will be able to repeat them, but that will be intuitive and not based in any knowledge of language “rules”. I mean, I’ve taught courses at University level, and if you asked me now “which one is past perfect”, I’d have to Google it (I’m not particularly proud of that, I really should have bloody learned by now, but thankfully I left teaching behind ;)). On the other hand, there are people whose grammar is far more intricate and flawless than mine, but who will stumble on colloquialisms or determinants.

          … and then, of course, there are the lucky sods who seem to absorb languages out of fucking air, but we all hold a uniform, jealous front against those fuckers ;P

          Just out of curiosity, Alice, what language do you originally speak?

          And, whoohooo, it seems there’s at least as strong a contingent of Poles in Jenny’s comment section as there is in the UK’s service sector 😉

          April 22, 2019
          |Reply
          • Ariel
            Ariel

            Re: contigent of Poles.

            I know, right? Suddenly you realise Poles had descended on Jenny’s blog like so much pierogi-eating locusts at some in the past, but you never knew! :))))

            April 22, 2019
          • Alice
            Alice

            French!

            April 23, 2019
        • Ariel
          Ariel

          „I think at the end of the day what you will find difficult about a new language are the things which differ the most from your own.”

          Good point. I remember being confused about all the rules concerning the tenses. How you’re supposed to use present perfect in conjuction with present perfect continous and how that differs from using past perfect in conjuction with present perfect and oy vey, that was hard.

          Also, good god, yes, DVDs and the ability to choose whether you watched the movie in the original language, but with subtitles in your own language or alternatively, with dubbing changed so much. Suddenly you could actually learn English from watching movies and tv shows you enjoyed, thus making learning a fun experience.

          Same goes for music and the ability to check the original lyrics online and use those for an exercise in translation or simply finding the translated version, so you could learn from that. Internet was so helpful in keeping you interested in learning more and more English, since there was always some pop culture tidbit you really wanted to understand.

          April 22, 2019
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  30. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon

    Re the green eyes – I have just been googling photos of Robin Ellis, the original Ross Poldark, to see if he has them! From the photos I could find, I don’t think so but I am not totally sure. And EL is old like me so it could well be that like me she remembers the original from her childhood and prefers it (I definitely prefer the original Demelza).

    April 22, 2019
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    • Rhiannon
      Rhiannon

      Now I look at the description again I am definitely getting a Robin Ellis vibe.

      April 23, 2019
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  31. Martha
    Martha

    That part about her licking her upper lip immediately made me think of the McPoyles from it’s always sunny.

    April 23, 2019
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  32. Thanks for another informative site. Where else could I get that type of information written in such a perfect method? I’ve a challenge that I am simply now working on, and I have been on the look out for such information.

    May 2, 2019
    |Reply
  33. Michaela Grey
    Michaela Grey

    I tried to read all the comments but I may have missed it – has it been commented on how Alessia Demachi is literally just Demelza in a different order with a few extra letters thrown in? Fun with anagrams!

    May 6, 2019
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