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.
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.
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?
[…] 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.
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.
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.
He kissed me.
You sure you don’t wanna tack on another “twice” there, for stylistic consistency?
He said lovely words. About her.
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.
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.
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…
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!