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Jealous Hater Book Club: The Mister chapter nine or, “At least we learned the coffee thing.”

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Aaaand we’re back! E.L. James is coyly hinting to the press that Hollywood is beating down her door to snap up The Mister. Which, you know. Makes a shit ton of sense. The Fifty Shades of Grey books grossed over a billion dollars. It would be madness for anyone to not buy them. Whether it would be worth it to make the film is a different story. While James obviously has a buttload of fans, many of them have been disappointed that the book isn’t like Fifty Shades of Grey, judging from online reviews. But there’s another interesting thing mentioned in this Metro article: James feels there’s a market for tie-in sex toys this time around, too.

This one doesn’t make as much sense to me. In Fifty Shades of Grey, sex toys featured prominently. Readers bought the toys because they were buying the fantasy of building their own Red Room in their bedside table drawer. The conflict of The Mister isn’t centered around what Maxim wants to put where in Alessia’s body. The plot is about sex trafficking. Will a line of sex toys branded around a book about human trafficking really…well. Of course, they’ll sell. People bought a line of sex toys inspired by an abusive relationship. But why would a company want to link their name to…you know what? Nevermind. Please enjoy this cheap plastic vibrator at a hundred dollar markup because it’s named Maxim. Try not to think about human trafficking while you’re getting off.

Demelssia runs down the fire escape because…then she’ll be outside with the guys looking for her? Because yeah, Moss was right: they are not immigration:

She had recognized Dante’s voice immediately, and all her suppressed memories had surfaced in a terrifying rush.

The dark.

The smell.

The fear.

The cold.

The smell.

Okay, we’re starting to–

Ugh. The smell.

No, we’ve got it. Thanks.

She’s worried that they may have attacked Moss and it’s all her fault. And then she realizes that if they found her at Moss’s house, they also probably know about Magda and Michal.

Magda.

Michal.

Mister…Maxim.

Is this a theater camp game? Are we supposed to keep the chain going? Mordechai. Margret. Mary. Marta. Maxwell. Moe. Marie. Mitchell.

Demelssia spends a paragraph vomiting in fear, then decides that she has to make sure “the Mister” is okay.

The first thing she has to do is check that the Mister is okay.

I would have thought that like, running away would have been a priority, but sure. Get captured by traffickers again to make sure your rich Earl boss is okay.

Taking a deep breath, she leaves her refuge between the dumpsters and makes her way back up the fire escape. She moves cautiously as a sense of self-preservation kicks in. She needs to know the coast is clear, but she cannot be seen by them. It’s six stories high, so by the time she reaches the fifth story, she’s winded.

No shit? She just ran down six stories of fire escape, puked vigorously, then ran back up? But I find it interesting that her sense of self-preservation kicks in when she’s…worried about someone else.

But why should words mean anything?

She looks through the window and sees Moss get something from his desk. Now that she knows he’s safe, she has to go check on Magda and Michal. She runs out of the back entrance.

Perhaps Dante and Ylli will be there waiting for her? They will be out front, surely?

Why? You don’t think they’re going to check alleys? Or like…fire escapes?

Same paragraph:

[…] there’s no sign of Dante and his sidekick, Ylli.

Why do we need their names twice, just a few lines apart? And why is Ylli being introduced as a sidekick in the second mention?

She keeps her head down and her hands in her pockets, and with each step she prays to her grandmother’s God to keep Magda and Michal safe.

I’m going to make fun of this because I’m a little shit. Her grandmother has her own personal God.

Now, the reason I’m making fun of it is that by the time I stopped reading ahead, this comment was never really explored. At the point I stopped reading, there hadn’t been a damn thing about whether or not Demelssia had lost her faith or something, which is the only reason a comment like this would have been interesting in the first place. Maybe it comes in later, but fuck it. I’m being petty and nobody can fight me because it’s too long a drive and I don’t go outside most days.

She says it over and over again, alternating between her native tongue and English.

Ruaji, Zot.

Ruaji, Zot.

God keep them safe.

I’m so glad E.L. James bought that dictionary so she could throw in such authentic Albanian touches as repeating “Zot” over and over in every chapter. According to Google translate, which, granted, can’t be relied on for most stuff, shows “God keep them safe,” as a much more complicated sentence. Maybe that’s not so. Maybe this was painstakingly researched.

In Moss’s POV, he’s understandably freaked out.

Where the fuck is she?

What the hell is she mixed up in?

What do I do?

How can she face those guys on her own?

Can I just say that it’s so fucking refreshing to see the male protagonist of this novel react decisively to a real threat? Not an imagined one he made up so he can gaslight her into believing that the world is too dangerous for her to roam without constant surveillance protection?

He decides to go after her and grabs his keys, then runs down to the garage and realizes he’s grabbed the wrong keys and has to take the Jaguar and not the Land Rover and this is an incredibly weird detail to include. Why does it matter to us why he took the Jaguar? I feel like James’s books are so pointlessly long because she includes all these little details we genuinely don’t need.

There’s a lot of traffic on the road, so he has time to think about the guys who came looking for Alessia:

They sounded Eastern European. They looked rough.

Behold, the second of the two flavors of immigrant in this book. You’re either infantile by virtue of not being from an English-speaking country, or you’re a criminal.

Moss considers for the first time that hey, maybe Demelssia is in the country illegally.

The "You Don't Say" meme

Demelssia is on the train, playing with her cross necklace.

It was her grandmother’s, and it’s the only possession she has that belonged to her dear nana.

The Albanian word for “grandma” is “gjyshi.” How you gettin’ “nana” out of that? I need some Albanians here. Common sense is telling me that “nana” could be due to the proximity of Albania and Italy and the fact that Italians say “nonna” but common sense and cultural and linguistic trends are not even remotely related. Of course, we learn something infuriating about said nana in the next chapter, so. But I’m picking it apart, anyway, because that’s why you’re here.

Anyway, she thinks about how her nana was religious and her parents weren’t, which, again, I guess sprinkle in info rather than dumping it in one huge clump later, but read the room. We’re in the middle of a tense escape sequence. We don’t need your family history. It’s slowing things down.

She devotes like four whole sentences to worrying about Magda and Michal before she starts thinking about Moss.

Maxim.

He kissed me.

Twice.

Twice!

You sure you don’t wanna tack on another “twice” there, for stylistic consistency?

He said lovely words. About her.

You’re beautiful.

You’re stunning.

And he kissed her!

That’s how I feel.

If circumstances were different, she would be ecstatic.

You mean circumstances like, if she wasn’t actively, right now, this very second, fleeing in terror from human traffickers? Look, I get it. I really do. It’s difficult to keep a story interesting when your characters are stuck in traffic or on a train. What are you supposed to do? Not show them in traffic and on a train? Jump ahead to when something actually happens? That way lies madness.

Anyway, she thinks about how Dante is gonna shatter her dreams again, and how awful it is that she accidentally led them to Maxim.

Zot! Her job.

She will be out of a job. Nobody wants trouble coming to their front door and criminals like Dante threatening them.

What will she do?

IDK, probably try to quit her job, but then Moss Troldark will ride up on his horse and bring her back despite people from her past making a violent attempt to kidnap her from his house? And then maybe Dante will like, IDK, find Jesus and come preach at the guests rudely at their baby’s christening.

That was a Poldark reference. I’m referencing Poldark because this is Poldark.

I speed down the A4, my mind hopping from Alessia to those men and then to Kit as I dodge through traffic.

Kit? What would you do?

Not slow down, apparently. I find it interesting that not a chapter has passed so far that Moss hasn’t thought about the way his brother died–in a motorcycle accident caused by reckless speed if I haven’t mentioned it before–but when he thinks about Kit while weaving in and out of traffic, he doesn’t think, oh, hey, maybe I should be more careful. Instead, he thinks about the vacation he and Kit took over the holidays.

And the day after New Year’s Day, Kit died.

Or killed himself.

There. I thought it.

My unspoken suspicion.

Damn it, Kit. You fucker.

WHOA, DOES THIS COME OUT OF LEFT FIELD. Suddenly, despite us being in his head through all this unfathomable grief, just now he’s mentioning that he thinks his brother committed suicide. Not, “I should slow down, this is how Kit died,” but “Kit probably killed himself.” There is literally still snow on the ground, we know that because it’s mentioned, and Moss is out there driving like an asshole thinking, “My brother died like this. Probably on purpose. I better not slow down.”

Because Moss has a horse car, he gets to Delmessia’s house before she does. He decides to intercept her on foot and runs to the train station, where he ignores a call from Elizaline while he waits.

Tiime suspends.

The doors open, and Alessia is first off the train.

Oh, thank fuck.

Relief nearly brings me to my knees, but just the sight of her calms me down.

Well, of course, your calmness was the thing I wondered most about. I was like, man, I hope he gets to her before the human traffickers do because I want him to be able to calm down.

We go into Delmessia’s POV for a preposterous three paragraphs.

When Alessia sees him, she stops short in complete astonishment. The other disembarking passengers stream past them as she and Maxim stare at each other, drinking each other in.

Then he says she left without saying goodbye, and we go back into his POV. Again, after three paragraphs. And to go find Magda and see if she’s safe. You’d think we would want to be in the POV of the character who has the highest stakes, right? But no, it’s far more important to be in Moss’s head so we can get all his thoughts about how shitty and small Magda’s house is and how much he hates instant coffee.

How does the coffee come up? Well, I’ll tell you. They go into Magda’s house, find that Magda and Michal aren’t there, so Demelssia makes coffee and tea.

She doesn’t freak out about her friends not being there. She doesn’t worry about what’s happened to them. Oh, hey, maybe she does, but we don’t know that because we’re not in her head and all we get to see is her returning to the only other place the traffickers associate with her to make coffee for her boss. And he doesn’t even like it. But I’m sure glad we have that information, which is far more crucial to the story than what’s happening with the person who is literally running for her life.

Moss asks her if she’s a failed asylum seeker (she isn’t), whether she’s in the country legally (she isn’t), and promises that he won’t tell the police about what’s going on. Finally, she tells him:

“The man who came to your apartment, his name is Dante.” Her voice is a pained whisper. “He brought me and some other girls from Albania to England.”

You know what would have been great? If we had an indication that maybe this was the first time she told someone, that she’s relieved to get it off her chest, that for some reason she can’t explain, she trusts Moss with this and feels it brings them closer together.

God, I’m glad we learned about the instant coffee thing, instead.

And everything about her falls into place.

Her reticence.

Her fear.

Of me.

Of men.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Rule of three!

Magda returns and they tell her what happened. You know, after we hear more about stuff that has nothing to do with the plot and the events that should be taking center stage:

The three of us are sitting at the table while Magda puffs on a brand of cigarette that is unfamiliar to me. I’ve declined her offer to try one. The last time I smoked a cigarette, it set off a chain of events that led to my explusion from school. I was thirteen and with a local girl in the grounds at Eton.

Again, I’m super glad we’re hearing about this instead of skipping right ahead to what’s going on with the traffickers. Also, I’m glad we all know that it was a lowly townie and not an Eton student who tempted him with nicotine. Now, what I want to know is, who got him into cocaine?

Oh, wait, no, I want to know what’s going on with the human trafficking. Sorry, it’s just so difficult to care when I’m not READING THE POV OF THE CHARACTER WHO ACTUALLY STANDS TO LOSE THE MOST.

Dante found Alessia via Facebook, where Michal posted a selfie of the two of them. She calls them, “the selfie” and “the Facebook” and Moss thinks it’s amusing, because who doesn’t find those endearing little quirks about their love interest while they’re talking about how they were tracked down by dangerous criminals?

Turns out, Magda is the one who sent the traffickers after Demelessia, after they threatened Michal. She gave them Moss’s address, even though she didn’t think they were really from immigration. Magda has no clue that Demelssia is on the run, but neither woman wants Moss to call the police. Which, like. You already promised you wouldn’t, Moss.

Moss decides that it’s not safe for anyone to stay at Magda’s house. Michal is already hiding with a friend. Moss doesn’t even want Demelssia to go look at the room she was interested in renting, because she could get kidnapped off the street.

We could all hole up in Trevelyan House in Cheyne Walk, but Caroline would ask questions, and I don’t want that–it’s too complicated. I could take Alessia back to my flat–but they’ve already been there. One of the other properties? Maryanne’s place? No.

Maybe you should take her to Cornwall. Where Poldark is set.

Perhaps I could take her to Cornwall. No one would find us there.

That’s right. Don’t fight your source material. Go with the flow.

Moss tells Demelssia that she’s going to come with him, and offers to put Magda and Michal up in a hotel or provide security. Magda is like, okay, but why are you doing this, and Moss thinks:

Because it’s the right thing to do?

No. I’m not that altruistic.

Because I want to be alone with Alessia? Yes. That’s the real reason.

Thanks for your honesty, I guess? I don’t find it particularly endearing to read about a hero who openly admits that he wouldn’t give a fuck if his housekeeper got kidnapped if he didn’t want to sleep with her.

In Alessia’s POV, she has every reaction we needed to see from inside her head while things were happening. For example, briefly touching on the fact that she’s never told anyone how she got to England. This is a throwaway sentence that isn’t explored further:

She’s a little in love with him–but she understands it’s a crush. And yet he’s the only person she’s told about how she came to England.

And that’s it. We not only missed her reaction in the moment, it’s not even momentous enough to get more than a line.

One of the things that bothers me about this section, too, is that Demelssia is like, well, Dante took my passport, so I’m stuck. It seems like the very first thing Moss should do is take her with him to the Albanian embassy and get a new passport. We know there’s an Albanian embassy in England because they want James to fuck off. And it seems like even though Moss is going, okay, I won’t call the police, he’s a rich white dude and he totally would call the police and flex his muscle to get her asylum. I feel like this plot is becoming very flimsy.

Magda doesn’t want Demelssia to go with Moss, but she also doesn’t know what Dante is after Demelssia for. Magda finally agrees to let Moss hire security for her and promises she won’t tell Demelssia’s mother about any of this. In Moss’s POV once more, he explains that his friend Tom set up a security company after he left the Army, and we get to see the whole phone call between them before Alessia says a tearful goodbye to Magda. Then Moss talks to the security guard who has already somehow arrived, and Alessia and Moss depart…

for Cornwall.

My impression so far: This entire chapter could have been so much shorter. And I think that’s the problem. I feel like it was a big problem with all of E.L. James’s books, so far. She’s not getting paid by the word, so I don’t understand the need to walk us through every painstaking detail of things we don’t need to know, like what the backstory is on Moss refusing a cigarette or why he drove one care instead of the other. The incessant head-hopping is made all the more infuriating when the hopping is always done into the wrong head at the wrong time. And now, we’re going to Cornwall, to a seaside retreat, where I’m sure things will not be at all like Poldark.

In other news, if you’re new here and you’ve been enjoying these recaps, feel free to throw a little something into my Kofi account if you are so moved (check out the top of the sidebar for the link). Blogging ain’t exactly the high-paying, glamorous field it appears to be at first glance. If you don’t have anything to spare, don’t feel bad, but maybe recommend Abigail Barnette books to your reader friends. That would be fucking rad, too!

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68 Comments

  1. Anon
    Anon

    I believe her about Hollywood and that makes me incredibly sad and I’m losing faith in humanity by the day.

    You know who I bet is eating this book up the most? Those soccer moms who think there’s a guy following them around Target just waiting to grab them or their child to sell into sex slavery because people who actually do human trafficking are TOTALLY going after the kids someone is going to immediately miss and also that middle-aged woman is going to bring in the big bucks (I say this as a middle-aged woman who knows my worth as a sex slave is pretty low these days). Or the people who believe human traffickers wait at airport pick-up areas for some random person to accidentally get into their car …

    I wonder how much grammar is in that dictionary? You can know the translation of a word without understanding how to use it. Like, in Spanish, something isn’t “a brown thing”; it’s “a thing brown.” But if you apply English grammar rules, you’ll say it backwards when applying it to Spanish. Which is probably what she did. She looked up words, but not grammar.

    OMG! Did Nana sell her into sex slavery????

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Ashley
      Ashley

      Oh man, that bit about the women thinking the sex traffickers are following them around Target to steal their precious babies… you hit the nail on the head. I always roll my eyes at that histrionic shit. Like yeah, people steal children, but people looking to sexually traffic human beings are going to take people who will never be missed, often people whose families sell the into this or who have no families or any number of circumstances, but basically people who wont spark a huge man hunt when they disappear.

      April 30, 2019
      |Reply
    • Miriam Gillard
      Miriam Gillard

      I am waiting for FREED: CHRISTIANS POV. Won’t read The Mister until then.

      May 1, 2019
      |Reply
  2. Gwen
    Gwen

    I feel like the stylistic choice to stick to Alessia’s PoV for only like three paragraphs at a time COULD work with a better author. Like, maybe we only get snippets at first when she’s still new to the situation and Maxim is sizing her up, and as Maxim (being the audience-proxy) learns more about her and we get more insight into Alessia, that is symbolized by her PoV-sections getting longer at a time.

    Instead we only get like ten sentences at a time to showcase that Alessia is totally, 200% into Maxim, seemingly only to pre-emptively get any criticism of “We don’t KNOW she likes him so this is creepy” out of the way.

    Like, the bit where he tells him she was smuggled into the country! Maxim Learned A Thing about Alessia. WE, THE AUDIENCE, learned a thing. And this gives us more insight in her situation and damage and whatnot, so then we’d cut to her PoV, to give the audience an idea of the insight in her that Maxim got by hearing this, and where the previous Alessia-bits were only three paragraphs long this part could have been, idk, five or something.

    Or, like, they could switch off neatly every other chapter or half-chapter which one gets to further the story, then when tensions are high they can switch off every other paragraph instead to disorient the audience, and offer both of them the chance to react to things simultaneously.

    But instead just… nope. Boring Maxim gets to be the point of view character with Alessia offering occasional window dressing.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  3. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    I have no comment. I’m still coming down off the high from watching last night’s Game Of Thrones episode. Perhaps Erica thinks her novels match GOT’s in terms of epic-ness? Bwahahahahahahaha!!!! Clearly a legend in her own mind. Fade to obscurity, please, EEL.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      If Eel had written GoT I have a very bad feeling Joffery would have been the hero of the story. Or Heaven forbid, Ramsey! Cause she clearly likes the “bad boys”. *shiver*

      What is more infuriating about this story than 5o Shades of Abuse is that it has the potential to be a very good story. A young woman in a strange country just escaped sex traffickers and finds a friend in a rich playboy who has never faced anything “real” in his life. While she shows him that the world isn’t the orgy he sees it as, he proves to her that not everyone wants to use her (of course in Eel’s version he does want to use her for sex so that idea is dead on arrival).

      I have never seen or read Poldark but I imagine it is much better than this. Not only is it written by a better writer (I assume because I can’t imagine there is actually a worse writer out there) but it is also set in an era which much of this story would make actual sense.

      I can’t even with the idea of a line of sex toys based on a story about a victim of sex trafficking. I just can’t. Can’t… CAN’T!!!!!

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        If Eel had written GoT I have a very bad feeling Joffery would have been the hero of the story. Or Heaven forbid, Ramsey!

        But as we all know, Arya would have taken care of them . . . .

        The right way.

        🙂

        April 29, 2019
        |Reply
        • Tami Alexander
          Tami Alexander

          Both of you are my friends, now.

          And yes, last night was epic but I still have many questions.

          April 29, 2019
          |Reply
          • Jules
            Jules

            My main question, WTF happened? I couldn’t see anything. haha I sussed it out by the end montage but I watched most of the battle scenes asking my empty living room what was happening. Of course my living room, being the selfish jerk it is, wouldn’t tell me anything. I even had all the lights out. Still couldn’t see what was happening. Can’t these people schedule daytime battles? I mean really.

            Eel would never write an Arya character. She’s a female who is self sufficient and doesn’t need a man to validate her. That goes against everything Eel stands for. It’s actually scary that the mostly male GoT writers can write better female characters than an actual female.

            April 29, 2019
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Yeah, like “when is Jon going to learn how to fight like Arya and not Jon?”

            In the big battles Jon keeps having his butt handed to him and someone else saves it . . . .

            April 29, 2019
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Jules,

            Sorry, my comment was meant for Tami. But as far as your question goes, it was dark to help emphasize the scariness of the battle. Many battles are, this one especially so because of what the enemy truly was.

            Let’s be fair to EEL: she doesn’t write good male and female characters because her stories aren’t character driven. Arya could have been either gender, and we love her for her journey.

            EEL’s characters? Nah, things happen because EEL wants them to, not because the characters want them to. That’s the difference.

            April 29, 2019
          • Anon
            Anon

            @Jules —

            George RR Martin just writes people well in general. I think if it were up to D&D, we’d have had more Ana Steele-like women, but they had to go with the source material and the women (pretty much all of them) in the books are strong and independent.

            As for what happened? We’re all with you! lol Not only did I have to try to figure it out in the moment, but my husband — who has seen maybe five episodes ever — decided to sit and watch with me (despite insisting constantly that he “hates” the show) and ask a million questions about the plot and characters and then offer constant, “They’re all going to die,” commentary.

            Literally, when it first started he asked me, “What are they doing?”

            Me: Preparing to fight the dead. (The most simple, quick response I could think of.)

            Him: The dead? There are dead people coming? How are they going to kill them?

            And on it went … And then Bran warged and of course he was clueless. So that was fun.

            Anyway, I admin a private GOT discussion group and between us and using some articles floating around, I think we sort of got it all straight, especially the question of who actually died.

            April 30, 2019
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Anon, ‘the dead’ is too complex a construct for non-GOT fans. Rather, explain they’re ‘zombies.’ They’ll understand that.

            Oh, and after watching again last night, did you notice when zombie-Viserion was blue-flaming Winterfell that blue flame leaked from his neck from the damage he got after the aerial dogfight with Rhaegal?

            April 30, 2019
          • Anon
            Anon

            I didn’t notice, but I was somewhat distracted. I need a rewatch ASAP.

            April 30, 2019
  4. Jenny Fan
    Jenny Fan

    I love that in the Metro article you linked, there was a typo that read “James also revealed that a line of sex toys inspired by The MINISTER [caps mine] could go on sale…” Would those sex toys be better or worse than the ones inspired by The Mister?

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      “Minister” sex toys? Next thing you know, James will write about a woman who was abused by the clergy but is cured of her trauma by another man with a magic dick.

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Or some mid-level manager in the Ministry of Defence or UK Export Finance gets the hots for the coffee clerk . . .

        April 29, 2019
        |Reply
      • Sushi
        Sushi

        That would be more Poldark fanfic.

        April 30, 2019
        |Reply
  5. MayaB
    MayaB

    There are three things that bother me in this recap (okay, actually much more, but these are the biggest ones).

    First, if the talk is about religion in Albania, I immediately think of Islam. I’m from the Balkans myself and this is one of the dividing lines between most of the countries there (Christian) and Albanians (mostly Muslim).
    I just did a quick check on Wikipedia and, according to the English version, there are about 60% Muslims there, followed by 17% Christians and 23% from other religions / atheists / no answer. Only the mentioning of the cross made me realize that Demelssia is a Christian. I associate her behavior towards men (which could be explained by her backstory) and more importantly, the attitude of her family towards men with the Muslims today and with the Christians about 100 years ago. I’m not saying there are no conservative Christians or not-conservative Muslims today. Just that the whole combination of country of origin + behavior towards men sounds more Muslim *to me*. And even if EEL didn’t want to make it too cliché, I think this could have been the one moment where it would have been okay-ish. It would have added an extra layer of tension between her and Maxim because of this difference.
    On the other hand, maybe it’s good EEL didn’t do that. It could have been even worse to have to read the archetype Muslim villains.

    The second thing that bothers me is a minor detail. Maxim sees Demelssia at the tube, she sees him and they just stand there looking at each other… while everybody else is trying to get in / out of the train. I generally *hate* people who do that and the fact that the main characters just did it too definitely didn’t make them more likeable in my head.

    The third thing: Albanian is *not* a Slavic language. Most people who speak with an “Eastern European accent” do so because they are from Poland or Russia or any other Slavic language speaking countries. But the Romanians have a different accent than us, the Greek do too, and I’m pretty sure that Albanians also won’t have the accent of pretty much every villan from a Bond movie. So I’m not sure how Maxim directly defined, where the accent is coming from.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • MayaB
      MayaB

      And two last things. When read (better) books I try to pay attention to minor details, because I hope that they’ll be of big importance later in the book (Chechov’s gun and so on). Here it’s simply not possible. Pretty much like the named, but forgotten neighbor of Christian from the 50SOG series, there’s so much clutter here, that you can’t keep in mind even the details which are actually important.
      This book reminds me so much of the Handbook for Mortals. Overwhelmingly long chapters with close to little important going which is then repeated ad nauseam.

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
    • Nanani
      Nanani

      The more this goes on, the more I’m convinced Alessia was originally Polish, and then Eel took a vacation to Albania and decided to plaster on a quick backstory change without being very thorough or even caring about more than surface-level name dropping.

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
      • Vely
        Vely

        Does Polish have direct articles? Because I just read that Albanian doesn’t really have any direct articles, which means that it doesn’t make much sense that she calls it “the selfie” and “the Faccebook”.

        May 2, 2019
        |Reply
    • Pavlo
      Pavlo

      Re: your third concern, I think the Anglosphere doesn’t really care about Slavic vs. non-Slavic; there is a stereotypical “generic East European” accent, which includes the hard, rolling Rs and other “exotic” consonants, weird stresses/accents, etc. In this sense, yes, it makes sense that Hungarian, Romanian, the Baltic languages, and presumably Albanian, would be included.

      April 30, 2019
      |Reply
  6. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    It says something about the comprehension and education levels of people these days if they can read this and not think it’s total crap. I’m glad it’s getting shit reviews. EL’s claim that Hollyweird is beating on her door and all the other self-aggrandizing reminds me of another Big Fat Liar who is the subject of adulation by countless morons. And she’s just as delusional.

    It really needs to be shouted from every rooftop in social media that this is yet another ripoff of a popular series. James doesn’t have an original thought in her head which is why she writes meaningless details to pad the story. She is a fraud, and I wish more people realized it and stopped stuffing her pockets. The emperor has no clothes (and if you followed that line with “We won’t be invisible, we won’t be denied,” and caught the other references in this paragraph, I’ll know your a true Hamilton freak like me). Stop treating this poser like a literary genius!

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      Stupid phone…it’s YOU’RE, not YOUR!

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        It would still be lousy writing, but I’d at least give her some credit for an original story. She isn’t just a fraud — she’s a thief. She plagiarizes and makes millions from it while we’re expelling children from school for the same thing. She and her fawning readers are setting a terrible example. And the publisher should be ashamed.

        April 30, 2019
        |Reply
  7. H. Savinien
    H. Savinien

    James is so much more interested in her male lead than any of her other characters, I imagine she assumes all her readers are as well.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  8. Coco
    Coco

    I’m can’t wait for the twist ending where it’s revealed that there never was a Maxim, he’s been Kit the whole time. Caroline was the one who died under suspicious circumstances, and Alessia was hired by Caroline’s wealthy family to discover whether or not Kit is a murderer. Alessia translating in her head is to help her remember the Albanian of her assumed identity.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Mana
      Mana

      And, I’d read that.

      I mean really! Pulling off a twist like that would be good.

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
  9. Ange (the 2nd)
    Ange (the 2nd)

    The detail which is baffling me is: British buildings don’t tend to have external fire escapes. James is British, so why doesn’t she know that?

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Some do, though. Oldish blocks of posh flats in central London are quite likely to, compared with elsewhere.

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
  10. Dove
    Dove

    This entire chapter could have been so much shorter. And I think that’s the problem. I feel like it was a big problem with all of E.L. James’s books, so far. She’s not getting paid by the word, so I don’t understand the need to walk us through every painstaking detail of things we don’t need to know, like what the backstory is on Moss refusing a cigarette or why he drove one care instead of the other.

    I think that’s the issue of coming up with little details at that moment, which seem brilliant, and then her not having a full editor to point out they’d be better in another chapter instead (or that she never fully fleshed them out/thought them through/revised with research, like that photography room scene.)

    I also suspect that she just didn’t edit it down as harshly as it needed to be because she’s too in love with her own words. Or she thinks true novels are super long and she takes herself too seriously. Both could be true. Either way, I agree with all of your assessments.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      Or drastically misinterpreting the editor telling her to flesh them out. Much like a grant application I read, where ‘fleshed out prose’ ended up being ‘tell the readers all about the experience of entering a standard grocery store, including the fact that there were two sets of automatic doors, but leave out how they got from the apartment to the grocery store even though the conversation was continuous.’

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
      • Tami Marie Alexander
        Tami Marie Alexander

        Do you really think James would even listen to an editor? To borrow from Dave Chappelle, “I’m EL James, bitch!”

        April 29, 2019
        |Reply
  11. Heidi Aphrodite
    Heidi Aphrodite

    I have full-body-eye-rolled and snorted so many times through these recaps. I don’t know what I’ll do when I move from my quiet, lonely cube to one in the center of my floor this week. Either way, though, I’m counting the full-body-eye-roll as cardio and using it to justify eating the snacks I need because of the exhaustion from knowing such bad writing exists.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  12. Ayu Ohseki
    Ayu Ohseki

    Maxim already sounds like a brand of condom to me, so I’m not surprised to hear about the sex toy tie-ins, no matter how badly conceived they are.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • thegreatdragon
      thegreatdragon

      I’m glad I’m not the only one

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
  13. Ren Benton
    Ren Benton

    “The incessant head-hopping is made all the more infuriating when the hopping is always done into the wrong head at the wrong time.”

    At least subconsciously, she knows she can’t write the emotional depth of a character with something to lose, so she reliably shies away from doing so.

    “Magda. Michal. Mister…Maxim.”

    This is the smallest of small things, but BECAUSE it’s so basic, it needs to be said: There are 26 letters in this alphabet we’re using and no excuse for using so many M names, that are also 2 syllables, that also limit vowels to A and I. The lack of language awareness at the “gee, this sounds awfully samey-same” level is, to the surprise of no one, a poor foundation for everything else.

    Of course, we’re talking about someone who won’t acknowledge any particular “inspiration” for these totally original masterpieces, so recognizing samey-same is obviously not her strong suit.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  14. Gretel
    Gretel

    1. I fucking knew that stupid selfie would come back to bite her in the ass! I forgot to write it in my other comments but I was blinded my so much rage, I just…forgot. And this is especially infuriating because Alessia is supposed to be paranoid and scared of all men, yet she lets Michal not only take a picture with her in it, she’s okay with him posting it online. And apparently the profile must be open for public because otherwise they wouldn’t have found her withing DAYS.

    I don’t want pictures of me online and I hide my identity because I want to avoid specific people finding me, including my abusive father. And Alessia, who’s an illegal immigrant AND who ran away from sex traffickers is just totally on board with being photographed and her face plastered on the internet.
    Yeah, sure.
    Fuck off, EL.

    2. >so I don’t understand the need to walk us through every painstaking detail of things we don’t need to know,

    I agree.
    Bad authors think that good books have details and descriptions and world-building but they don’t know how to properly use those tools. They get it ass-backwards: important emotional moments and plotpoints are summarized, lack detail and emotional impact, and sometimes even happen off screen!
    While unimportant, mundanen, even boring things that add nothing to the story are described in great detail. They don’t understand that what you, as the author, decide to describe in detail will signal to the reader “this is important” and they don’t understand that it has to have a message.

    I just read a fanfiction where the stupidest details were described in length. One was about how the couple was walking along the beach. The water and waves, the colors, the weather – all the described in detail with flowery language when it was just that, a beach. Then the author described cocktails in excrutiating pain: the shape and height of the glass, the color of the drink, the fruits and the straw, how much alcohol they had, how X wanted virgin cocktails but Y wanted with alcohol so X had to get it with because he wanted to make Y happy and so they had servants place the cocktails in specific ways on the table and it looked like this.
    All the wile the chapter was about how far they’ve come as a couple. Instead with get paragraphs describing the cocktails and the discussion before the serving and the arrangement of the glasses…

    The scene in the recap reminded me so much of the one scene in the first book when EL dedicates pages on the logistics of who drives whom home with which car after the photoshoot.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  15. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    >her grandmother’s God
    Her grandmother is Christian and presumably the God Alessia keeps invoking is the Christian God, so this “her grandmother’s God” distinction right now just feels really annoying. And since the narrator is apparently anglicizing everything Alessia thinks, also otherizing : “Dear Reader, Alessia is thinking about God, and I really want you to remember that Their God Is Not Like Ours”.

    It’s also amazing how much EL James does not care about the heroine in this.

    Re: the whole passport thing, I’m not sure she can just walk to the embassy and ask for a new passport, because they’d probably want to check her VISA and she does not have one.

    However, Maxim is rich as fuck. Even if he somehow does not have the means to get her a VISA anyway, can’t he just book a private jet and fly to, idk, Austria or Germany or France or Italy, where she doesn’t need a VISA so she can waltz into the embassy and say all her stuff was stolen and get it all done again?

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • S
      S

      I agree! Especially on how EEL doesn’t care about her heroine. Why write characters you don’t even care about?

      May 5, 2019
      |Reply
  16. Hannah
    Hannah

    You know what annoys me most about E L James making it big? She’s a terrible writer who writes terrible stories using stolen characters. It annoys me even more when I know someone who is writing original children’s stories that are brilliantly written and can’t get published.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Tami Marie Alexander
      Tami Marie Alexander

      That’s my beef, too — aside from her glorifying abuse with her first set of novels and now diminishing the trauma of sex trafficking victims.

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
  17. Jess
    Jess

    Every time I see Maxim called Moss, all I can see is Moss from The IT Crowd. And I’m laughing at my mental image of Moss trying to choose between the Jaguar and the Range Rover!

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • C
      C

      The decision is probably giving him a hot ear

      April 29, 2019
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      This story with IT Crowd Moss would be hilarious.

      April 30, 2019
      |Reply
  18. thegreatdragon
    thegreatdragon

    Idk if this is a consequence of the recaps or if the level of repetition in the book is truly this extreme, but I’m exhausted having to read everything twice. The amount of times the characters repeat things – especially simple thoughts/phrases – is annoying.

    “I’ve got to go.

    I’ve got to GO!”

    It gets tiring paragraph after paragraph. I’m not usually one to ask for description, but it wouldn’t hurt to focus a little more on describing things.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Maria
    Maria

    all this talk of kit is making me consider changing a character’s name from a wip i have. this is twice now that an author i dislike has used that name and it’s killing me a little.
    btw thanks maxim for the late game reveal that you think your brother committed suicide. i can see places where james maybe tried to foreshadow it, but it is kind of wild that this theory shows up for the first time in this chapter. the chapter where so much else is suddenly happening unrelated to kit. the chapter that should be focusing on alessia.
    i also think it’s hilarious maxim doesn’t like instant coffee when his name is literally a brand of korean instant coffee. maybe he’ll come around to it later, a la ouran high school host club.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  20. Seth
    Seth

    On a slightly more positive note, I did witness a really funny conversation today where a slightly older lady came into a bookstore I happened to be in to return her copy of this crap.

    She was all “I didn’t realise it was by the same lady who wrote 50 Shades of Grey! It had too much sex for me to be honest.”

    I was trying not to bust a gut laughing in the corner while the person behind the counter was diplomatically saying worse books than 50 Shades existed but I think that might be up for debate really.

    This book though…ELJ just keeps proving she can’t write at all since all she’s doing is stealing other people’s plots over and over again! But even then her writing itself just straight up suuuuucks.

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “I was trying not to bust a gut laughing in the corner while the person behind the counter was diplomatically saying worse books than 50 Shades existed.”

      That person should get an award for being able to say that with a straight face.

      I would love to watch that debate though.

      “There are worse books then 50 Shades.”

      “Oh, yeah, name one!”

      “um… 50 Shades Darker” (Or whatever the fork the other books were called)

      April 30, 2019
      |Reply
      • If you want a good laugh, look at the book sections of a charity shop. TEEMING with Fifty Shades. You don’t see that with Harry Potter, GoT, or any other bestselling series. IIRC, one of the shop chains in the UK had to stop taking copies because they already had too many. Like, in the tens of thousands.

        April 30, 2019
        |Reply
        • Anon
          Anon

          I have read books that were at least as bad as 50 in the writing department. But at least they weren’t plagiarized. And I don’t recall any of them having the other things that make 50 such a piece of crap, like glorifying and romanticizing abuse. So even a terrible piece of writing is better if it at least doesn’t try to make evil a good thing, I guess.

          I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with worse writing, though.

          April 30, 2019
          |Reply
        • Artemis
          Artemis

          The sex shop where I used to work had a thing where we’d accept trade-ins of copies of FSoG in exchange for an actual, instructional non-fiction book on BDSM.

          The staff of the used bookstore across the street was so swamped with FSoG books that we eventually had to cut them off from trading anymore in.

          May 12, 2019
          |Reply
  21. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    It seems like the very first thing Moss should do is take her with him to the Albanian embassy and get a new passport. We know there’s an Albanian embassy in England because they want James to fuck off.

    THIS!

    April 29, 2019
    |Reply
  22. Bunny
    Bunny

    I binged all the recaps tonight. Why did she have to use Poldark? Why? This is why we can have nice things. It was funny at first but tying in sex trafficking is just NOPE. At least I had some laughs.

    April 30, 2019
    |Reply
  23. Chris
    Chris

    It might have been pointed out by someone else already, but regarding the whole POV change thing… I honestly think EL doesn’t know she’s switching narrators. I sometimes teach creative writing and this mistake is not uncommon in the work of (very) inexperienced writers. I think EL thinks she’s written an omniscient narrator, in the present tense to “give it more urgency” (and no editor could talk her out of that one).

    It would explain why she sometimes switches POV for just a couple of sentences and why it’s written in this clumsy present tense. It’s not a POV switch, it’s not realising the multitude of narrations a writer could choose to employ (rather than “first person, because it says “I” in the text”, and “omniscient narrator, because we get into the minds of more characters than just one”).

    April 30, 2019
    |Reply
    • This.

      This is how I wrote when I was 14.

      Also, back in the 80s, head-hopping was very common in popular fiction like romance novels and Sweet Valley High. James probably hasn’t read much fiction since then, and it shows.

      April 30, 2019
      |Reply
      • Tami Marie Alexander
        Tami Marie Alexander

        I wrote in first-person as a child, too. Then in my teens, I switched to third-person. I was taught that if you wanted to jump to a different character’s POV in the same scene, you put a space or a * or some other indicator to show that you are moving to the other person’s viewpoint — otherwise, it’s a mess. Nowadays, I tend to go with the Paul Zindel “Pigman” manner of writing from different POVs, and that’s to split it up by chapters (e.g., Chapter 1 would be all Alessia’s POV, then Chapter 2 would be Maxim, etc). Clearly, EL has no grasp of the basics and that’s why this narrative is all over the place. I would have pitched this book in the recycling bin, by now.

        May 2, 2019
        |Reply
  24. Jeanne
    Jeanne

    “Kit? What would you do?“

    I assume that is a typo and that is supposed to read “KITT ? What would you do?”

    And KITT of course answers Michael Knight.

    I mean Poldark.

    Sorry, meant Moss.

    April 30, 2019
    |Reply
  25. Erin
    Erin

    Anyone else feel that reading Jenny’s wonderful recaps has helped them improve their own writing? I admit I used to write like EL, but I was in high school, so I think I get a pass. Plus, I wasn’t even attempting to publish.

    April 30, 2019
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      Yes. I am learning so much from Jenny. It’s actually been very helpful in pointing out little traps I fall into in my own writing, like focusing on something I think is really cool but doesn’t really add anything to my story. I’m a JK Rowling type writer in that I have written out the entire history of the fictional town my story is set in. This history has very little to do with the story other than that it was founded by one of her ancestors and I want to digress into that history all the time but realize that would probably be better as it’s own book.

      I am not a published author and far from that point, so I don’t really have an editor or anything so it is hard sometimes to get out of my own way. Jenny has helped me look at my work more critically which is awesome! Maybe the only good thing to come out of these horrible, plagiarized nightmare books. lol

      May 1, 2019
      |Reply
      • Erin
        Erin

        I 100% agree!! Thank you, Jenny, for helping us improve our own writing!!

        May 2, 2019
        |Reply
  26. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    Instead of naming the sex toys after the guy, EL wants to name them after wacky neurological phenomenon so everyone can be like the girl and think about it while they masturbate.

    May 1, 2019
    |Reply
  27. S
    S

    Oh of course the bad guy is named Dante. Such a sinister-sounding name.

    I have a friend who complained that her roommate’s room smells like jizz and Cheetos. Just gonna headcanon that that’s “the smell” Alessia is cringing about.

    Instant coffee reminds me of the anime Ouran High School Host Club and how Tamaki freaks out over “commoner’s coffee”. Except he *liked* it.

    May 5, 2019
    |Reply
  28. Dinah Lord
    Dinah Lord

    James is British, and I assume she has been to London. You do not “speed” along the A4, EVER. You’re lucky if you can *average* 30mph along any road out of central London. It’s why people take the Underground.

    The suggestion that Alessia was originally Polish does make sense (in terms of the language mistakes she makes, and the Catholicism), except that she’d have been able to come legitimately to the UK without a visa, which Albanians can’t do since they’re not in the EU, which removes half of the plot McGuffin.

    May 7, 2019
    |Reply
  29. Artemis
    Artemis

    I have been out of the sex toy business for just over a year, and the thought of another line of poorly-made, HORRIBLY named E.L. James tie-toys still makes me want to cry.

    Never forget the “‘Holy Cow!’ Wand Vibrator.” Never forget.

    May 12, 2019
    |Reply
  30. Wub
    Wub

    A couple of the things that irk you are just British.

    “Nana” is a fairly common bit of dialect for grandmother, much less formal than “grandmother” and slightly less formal than “grandma”. ELJ is probably trying for that level of intimacy translated, but it’s falling flat on you Yanks because you don’t have it. It would, of course, be nice if ELJ tried to look up a proper affectionate term in Albanian, but she doesn’t seem to have done

    In a previous chapter, “Heir and a spare” isn’t a Witty Remark by James or a piece of direct cruelty the way it’s used with Cedric in Harry Potter. It’s the fairly standard British slang for a long-standing situation in the aristocracy where both parties make damn sure the first two kids are legitimate (the “spare” in case anything happens to the heir), and are then presumed free to make their own arrangements since they’ve provided for the succession.

    May 15, 2019
    |Reply

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