Okay, some links for you all.
In The Beginning, There Was Fanfic: From The Four Gospels To Fifty Shades is a really cool article on fanfiction, how it got started, the way the community functioned before the internet, and touches on the 50 Shades phenomenon. The author raises an interesting point:
As one leading fanfic site claims, “the majority of Twilight fanfic is porn”. Many of these stories will sound spookily familiar. In one: His Personal Assistant (2009), “Bella Swan, personal assistant to handsome, rich, successful Edward Cullen, decides to make oblivious boss fall in love with her”; in another (2009) “Edward is a millionaire obsessed with Isobella Swan”. One, The Submissive by Tara Me Sue, is described as “37 chapters of juicy graphic detail”, “Think Story of O meets Twilight minus the vampire stuff”. This story, which can be found on fanfiction.net, like the others above, predates the publication of Fifty Shades by two years and was not written by EL James.
So, not only is 50 Shades of Grey plagiarized from Twilight, it’s actually plagiarized from other Twilight fanfiction. Really let that sink in a moment, the fact that people are all:
Holy shit, did I really just do that? It must be the alcohol. I’ve had champagne plus four glasses of four different wines.
Shots! Shots shots shots shots! EVERYBODY!
Ana looks at Christian, and notices that he looks happy, but she knows he’s going to be really angry.
My subconscious has finally decided to make an appearance, and she’s wearing her Edvard Munch The Scream face.
I bet E.L. James has that poster in her office. Think of how much calmer this entire book would have been if that poster had just been Monet’s Water Lilies.
Now, I’ve noted a few places in this book and the last where an otherwise fine paragraph or sentence will be ruined by something utterly creepy. To illustrate this point, I’m going to show you two excerpts out of order. This is the excerpt that is just fine. It’s actually pretty well written, and something that would get me hot in any other book:
“I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.”
Oh, I know what I want right now. I gaze up at him, blinking through my maks. I just wish I could read what’s in his eyes.
“I’ll take option two, please,” I whisper frantically as the applause dies down. His lips part as he inhales sharply. Oh, that chiseled mouth – I want it on me, now. I ache for him. He gives me a radiant sincere smile that leaves me breathless.
“Suffering, are you? We’ll have to see what we can do about that,” he murmurs as he runs his fingers along my jaw.
See? Taken out of the context of Chedward and Anabella, that’s actually some pretty good sexual tension. So, what was it that completely destroyed that entire passage for me? This one, that came directly before it:
Christian leans over to me, a large, fake smile plastered across his face. He kisses my cheek and then moves closer to whisper in my ear in a very cold, controlled voice.
So, read that, and go back and read the other passage, so that they’re in the correct order. Literally everything that comes after large, fake smiles and cold, controlled voices is sinister and creepy. All of it.
Things do not get better. While sitting at the same table as his sister, parents, and grandparents, Christian takes Ana’s hand and…
Slowly and surreptitiously, so I don’t realize his game until it’s too late, he eases my hand up his leg and against his erection.
His parents. His grandparents. Same table.
Taking full advantage, I slowly caress him, letting my fingers explore. Christian keeps his hand over mine, hiding my bold fingers, while his thumb skates softly over the nape of my neck. His mouth opens as he gasps softly, and it’s the only reaction I can see to my inexperienced touch. But it means so much. He wants me. Everything south of my navel contracts. This is becoming unbearable.
It sure is, Ana. Seriously, wouldn’t all of this be painfully obvious? I get that there is an auction going on, and people are watching it. But I think I would notice if someone at my table was gasping because he was getting an under-the-table-handy. No auction is that enthralling, that anyone would miss that subtle detail. Also, I don’t think Ana’s touch can be accurately described as “inexperienced” anymore. They have sex almost every chapter. Of course, as the sex piles up (lol, “sex piles”), her euphemisms do seem to be getting more general. “Everything south of my navel,” could be her cunt, but it could also be her knees. I’m kind of imagining her legs stiffening up rigor mortis style and Ana toppling from her chair.
Now, let’s learn about pronoun agreement!
A week by Lake Adriana in Montana is the final lot for auction. Of course Mr. and Dr. Grey have a house in Montana, and the bidding escalates rapidly, but I am barely aware of it. I feel him growing beneath my fingers, and it makes me feel so powerful.
Do you see it? Let me give you a hint:
A week by Lake Adriana in Montana is the final lot for auction. Of course Mr. and Dr. Grey have a house in Montana, and the bidding escalates rapidly, but I am barely aware of it. I feel him growing beneath my fingers, and it makes me feel so powerful.
Yup. Due to clumsy writing, Ana is now jacking off Christian’s father. Or both of them. Maybe she’s got one in each hand? That has to attract some attention at the dinner table.
Ana and Christian want to sneak off and have sex, because they are at his parents’ house, after all, but Mia ruins their plan by bringing up the First Dance Auction.
“The first dance will be with me, okay? And it won’t be on the dance floor,” he murmurs lasciviously into my ear. My giggles subside as anticipation fans the flames of my need. Oh yes! My inner goddess performs a perfect triple Salchow in her ice skates.
That bitch can do it all!
Christian gives Ana a kiss, and gives us all something to think about:
Glancing around, I realize that our fellow guests at the table are astonished. Of course, they’ve never seen Christian with a date before.
So, if they’re all astonished about that kiss on the cheek, what are the chances that they saw Ana fondling his dongle? Pretty high, right? He’s never appeared in public with a date before, so everyone is going to be watching him. It wouldn’t be a big deal if he was a womanizing billionaire like, oh, Tony Stark, right?
“Gentlemen, the highlight of the evening!” the MC booms over the babble of voices. “The moment you’ve all been waiting for! These twelve lovely ladies have all agreed to auction their first dance to the highest bidder!”
Oh no. I blush from head to toe. I hadn’t realized what this meant. How humiliating!
Okay, she didn’t realize what it meant when, on the last page, Mia said:
“The First Dance Auction. Come on!”
What else could you possibly infer from the words “first dance auction”? It’s one of the most cliche fundraising events of all time, too. Seriously, what did Ana think was going to happen up on that stage?
“It’s for a good cause,” Mia hisses at me, sensing my discomfort. “Besides, Christian will win.” She rolls her eyes. “I can’t imagine him letting anyone outbid him. He hasn’t taken his eyes off you all evening.”
Mia senses her discomfort because Alice is psychic.
So, you’ve probably already deduced that this is going to be yet another chance for Ana to prove her Mary Sueishness by earning the highest bid for her first dance. You might think that you are prepared for the cliche that is to come, and that you will be able to weather the storm. You are wrong. It’s so much worse than you could have imagined.
Yes, focus on the good cause, and Christian is bound to win. Let’s face it, he’s not short of a dime or two.
But it means spending more money on you! my subconscious snarls at me. But I don’t want to dance with anyone else – I can’t dance with anyone else – and it’s not spending money on me, he’s donating it to charity. Like the $24,000 he’s already spent? My subconscious narrows her eyes.
How dramatic can one person reasonably be about how another person spends their money? Or about dancing with someone else? Ana, you’re just going to dance with someone, not fuck them. And it’s going to raise money for drug addicted parents of small children, let’s not forget that.
“Now, gentlemen, pray gather around, and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches.”
Jeez! I feel like I’m in a meat market. I watch, horrified, as at least twenty men make their way to the stage area, Christian included, moving with easy grace between the tables and pausing to say a few hellos on the way.
Okay, maybe I was wrong, because this is starting to sound like a really, really fancy gang bang. “Comely and compliant?” That’s a bit creepy, isn’t it? Wasn’t there a scene like this in the movie where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman pretended to be into each other sexually, and no one was buying it? That had masks in it, didn’t it?
Christian is watching me like a hawk. Brawler Trevelyan-Grey – who would have known.
“How long ago?” I ask Mia.
She glances at me, nonplussed.
“How long ago was Christian brawling?”
“Early teens. Drove my parents crazy, coming home with cut lips and black eyes. He was expelled from two schools. He inflicted some serious damage on his opponents.”
Okay, the first time I read this chapter, I totally missed the part where Mia said that there might be a brawl, so it looked like the conversation was coming out of nowhere and I was super confused. So, for all the people who say, “Who has the time to read a book multiple times just to bitch about it?” this is one of those cases that proves that if you’re going to rip something absolutely apart, you have to read it a few times or risk criticizing an element of the work that isn’t actually flawed.
However, holy fuck, is this flawed. First of all, they’re on a stage in front of three hundred guests. And they’re having this conversation about something intensely personal. Guess what, you’re not invisible, ladies. Someone is going to see you talking, someone is going to pay attention to what you’re talking about. Second, oh, hey there proof that Christian shouldn’t be involved in BDSM. If you have serious anger issues, to the point that your frequent physical assaults of other people had actual medical consequences, maybe being a Dom isn’t for you. Just saying.
We don’t find out how much the next girl goes for, because Ana stops paying attention, but the bidding is up to $4,000. Let’s recap:
- Jada went for $5,000.
- Mariah went for $4,000.
- Jill’s only mentioned bid was $4,000.
So, what do you want to bet Mr. Grey bids for Ana?
“Beautiful Ana plays six musical instruments, speaks fluent Mandarin, is keen on yoga… well, gentlemen -” Before he can even finish his sentence Christian interrupts him, glaring at the MC through his mask.
“Ten thousand dollars.” I hear Lily’s gasp of disbelief behind me.
Did Lily bid? Also, why is Christian glaring at the MC? The MC is doing his job.
What? We all turn as one to a tall, impeccably dressed man standing to the left of the stage. I blink at Fifty. Shit, what will he make of this? But he’s scratching his chin and giving the stranger an ironic smile. It’s obvious Christian knows him. The stranger nods politely at Christian.
OMG. Is it Taylor? OMG. Is it Jack Hyde? OMG OMG OMG.
“Well, gentlemen! We have high rollers in the house this evening.” The MC’s excitement emanates through his harlequin mask as he turns to beam at Christian. This is a great show, but it’s at my expense. I want to wail.
Full disclosure: this post took me super long to write, not because of the stuff I’m writing, but because I spent literally two hours looking at each and every “Look at all the fucks I give” macro on the damned internet because I give so few fucks about Ana’s mortification that I had to get the exact. Right. One. There were Doctor Who ones, there was one of Renee Fleming, I’m telling you, there were a lot to choose from. There was a Darth Vader in a kilt riding a unicycle and playing the bag pipes one. But ultimately, MST3K won, because they seriously do not give a fuck and neither do I. Oh, poor Ana! You’re the belle of the ball again. That must be absolutely humiliating, to have two men fighting over a dance with you to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, while the other women have all gone for like, four. Oh, how horrifying, that such attention is being called to you, because you don’t like it, even though you fucking thrive on it, because you’re a Mary Sue so Mary Sueish that they’ll have to retire the goddamned term and start using “Anastasia Rose Steele” instead. Poor. Poor. You.
“Twenty,” counters Christian quietly.
The babble of the crowd has died. Everyone is staring at me, Christian, and Mr. Mysterious by the stage.
“Twenty-five,” the stranger says.
Could this be any more embarrassing?
I don’t know, Ana. You could be watching it happen. Second hand embarrassment is often more crushing than actual embarrassment. Trust me, I’m having it right now, for both you and the author.
Christian stares at him impassively, but he’s amused. All eyes are on Christian. What’s he going to do? My heart is in my mouth. I feel sick.
“One hundred thousand dollars,” he says, his voice ringing clear and loud through the tent.
Okay, fine. She’s embarrassed. And it is kind of an embarrassing thing. But you know what’s more embarrassing? Being the girl who went for $4,000, when Ana went for $100,000. Just saying. I know that it buys into the whole patriarchal thing of a woman being worth what a man believes she’s worth, but this is a fun, albeit cliche, activity to raise money for a charity that helps parents of small children get off drugs. Maybe keep that in focus, take the ego stroke, and shut the fuck up about it. No one forced you to participate. Mia is overbearing, but if you had said you didn’t want to do it, she wouldn’t have made you.
Ana asks Christian who the other bidder was, and he says that he’ll tell her later. They have time for a quick fuck before the first dance actually happens, so he spirits her away to Edward Cullen’s bedroom:
“This was my room,” he says quietly, standing by the door and locking it behind him.
It’s large, stark, and sparsely furnished. The walls are white, as is the furniture; a double bed, a desk and chair, shelves crammed with books and lined with various trophies for kickboxing, by the look of them. The walls are hung with movie posters: The Matrix, Fight Club, The Truman Show, and two framed posters featuring kickboxers. One is named Guiseppe DeNatale – I’ve never heard of him.
Wait, has she heard of the other one? I love how Ana’s mind works, like she expects she’s going to have this knowledge of kickboxing because she knows fucking everything because she’s so “bright.” “Oh, Guiseppe DeNatale? I’ve never heard of him. I should comment on how I’ve never heard of him, because the reader obviously trusts that I have encyclopedic knowledge of every subject on the planet, and I wouldn’t want to mislead them. With great intelligence comes great responsibility, to paraphrase Spiderman.”
“I’ve never brought a girl in here,” he murmurs.
Oh, play her the lullaby you wrote for her, Edward! Please do!
They have a brief discussion about how she wants him to spank her, but he won’t because he said he wouldn’t do the punishment thing anymore.
“I vowed to myself I would not spank you again, even if you begged me.”
“Please,” I beg.
Well, clears that up, right? He’s down to spank her if she promises to use the safe word if she needs to. And then, it’s on to our latest installment of Word Rep Theatre. Emphasis mine:
He swallows, then takes my hand, and moves toward the bed. Throwing the duvet aside, he sits down, grabs a pillow, and places it beside him. He gazes up at me standing beside him and suddenly tugs hard on my hand so that I fall across his lap. He shifts slightly so my body is resting on the bed, my chest on the pillow, my face to one side. Leaning over, he sweeps my hair over my shoulder and runs his fingers through the plume of feathers on my mask.
Sometimes, word rep is unavoidable. Not these times. None of those times. It could have easily read:
He swallows, then takes my hand and moves toward the bed. Throwing the duvet aside, he sits. He gazes up at me and tugs me down, so that I fall across his lap. He shifts slightly so my body is resting on the mattress, my chest on a pillow beside him, my face turned away. Leaning down, he sweeps my hair over my shoulder and runs his fingers through the plume of feathers on my mask.
Nothing of value is lost by losing the word rep. This is actually a very common mistake a lot of writers make, thinking that they have to spell things out like assembly instructions, when it’s often just a few key words that get the description across. If you don’t believe me, read Tolkien’s Fellowship of The Ring and try to find the exact description of Rivendell. Then go look at what it looks like in the movie. Hardly any of the stuff you see in the movie is described in detail by Tolkien in the novel, but everyone had the exact same image of it in their heads, so that when they went to see the movie, they saw what they had seen when they’d read the book. It might be unfair to compare any author to Tolkien, but it’s just an example. Like J.K. Rowling with Privet Drive. She doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Privet Drive, but it still showed up in the movies as looking exactly the way people imagined it in the books. It’s not about using more words or more description, it’s about using the right words. Well, that and not repeating the same words over and over and over when it can be avoided.
Christian asks Ana if she really wants to be spanked, and why:
I groan as soon as his hand makes contact with my skin. I don’t know why… you tell me not to overthink. After a day like today – arguing about the money, Leila, Mrs. Robinson, the dossier on me, the road map, this lavish party, the masks, the alcohol, the silver balls, the auction… I want this.
Let’s pick out the bad reasons from the good:
Good reasons to want to be spanked:
- All geared up from Ben Wa balls.
- Inhibitions lowered by alcohol (now, this would be a bad reason to be all, “cane me!” but a light spanking with a bare hand would probably be okay).
- The roleplay mystery of wearing masks at a fancy party gets you all revved up.
Bad reasons to want to be spanked:
- Because you feel inferior in comparison to his ex-girlfriends who were more willing to explore BDSM fantasies, and to whom you’re afraid you’re going to lose him.
- Because you argued about money.
- Because he profoundly invaded your privacy.
I have no problem with Ana getting spanked, but let’s make sure it’s because she’s horny and wants it, okay? Not because she’s trying to prove that she can be just as good at getting spanked as his exes were.
He spanks her and fingers her for the next page, and then they have sex, and it’s super sexy, with Christian saying things like:
“This is going to be quick, baby,”
Oh, how I’ve longed to hear a man say that to me, let me tell you.
“Ana, shit,” he hisses as he comes, and the tortured sound sets me off again, spiraling into a healing orgasm that goes on and on and wrings me out and leaves me spent and breathless.
“Healing orgasm” sounds like it comes directly from one of those orgasmic birth books.
So, they get done and Ana notices a picture of a woman on a bulletin board in Christian’s room. She looks familiar, but it isn’t someone she can immediately place, and Christian won’t tell her who it is. So, it’s probably his bio mom.
They go back out to the dance floor for the first dance, and halfway through, the mysterious other bidder cuts in. It’s Dr. Flynn, Christian’s psychologist, so it’s super professional of him to be at a party at Christian’s parents’ house, right? I suppose one could make an argument that he’s a friend of the family, but in that case, shouldn’t he not be Christian’s doctor? We have a psychologist friend of the family, and she won’t work with any of us because of ethics or whatever. Or maybe I’m wrong, maybe we’re just way too cray for her. But I’m betting it’s not cool for a psychologist to hang out with patients in their down time.
The band strikes up another song, and Dr. Flynn pulls me into his arms. he’s much younger than I imagined, though I can’t see his face. He’s wearing a mask similar to Christian’s. He’s tall, but not as tall as Christian, and he doesn’t move with Christian’s easy grace.
Just in case you were wondering, Christian is still the most handsomest, most graciest, most awesomest.
What do I say to him? Why is Christian so fucked-up? Why did he bid on me? It’s the only thing I want to ask him, but somehow that seems rude.
I like that she thinks of two things she wants to ask him, but it’s singularly “only” the “only” thing she wants to ask him. She’s so “bright.”
“I’m glad to finally meet you, Anastasia. Are you enjoying yourself?” he asks.
“I was,” I whisper.
What a charmer, ladies and gents. And to think, it only costs $100k to dance with her.
Dr. Flynn asks if he’s the reason she’s not having fun anymore, and her answer is even more gracious:
“Dr. Flynn, you’re the shrink. You tell me.”
He grins. “That’s the problem, isn’t it? The shrink bit?”
I giggle. “I’m worried what I might reveal, so I’m a little self-conscious and intimidated. And really I only want to ask you about Christian.”
I’m not a mental health professional, but I think it must get really annoying to have everyone around you feel so certain that their brains are utterly fascinating to you and that you’re going to constantly be analyzing them. I bet Dr. Flynn has heard this kind of thing so many times that he wishes he could shoot lasers out of his eyes and incinerate anyone who jokes about the fact that he’s a psychologist.
He smiles. “First, this is a party so I’m not on duty,” he whispers conspiratorially. “And second, I really can’t talk to you about Christian. Besides,” he teases, “we’d need until Christmas.”
I gasp in shock.
“That’s a doctor’s joke, Anastasia.”
I flush, embarrassed, and then feel slightly resentful. He’s making a joke at Christian’s expense. “You’ve just confirmed what I’ve been saying to Christian… that you’re an expensive charlatan,” I admonish him.
You wanna back the rude train up a fucking minute, Ana? First of all, you were totally down with Dr. Flynn spilling intimate personal details about Christian if it would help you in your quest to be OMG THE BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER WHO FIXES HIM YAY!, but when he won’t break with doctor/patient confidentiality for you, you believe he’s crossing a boundary by making a joke? So, it’s totally okay for you to go behind Christian’s back and ask his doctor for personal info, but his doctor making a joke about it is so totally inappropriate that you call him a “charlatan?” And not just calling him that, saying that you’ve called him that in the past, when you have no idea how he runs his practice, what his methods are, or if he’s actually helping Christian at all. You decided he was a charlatan because you think you can fix Christian better, with the magical healing power of your super vagina.
Of course, rather than get offended, Dr. Flynn is utterly charmed by Ana, because this book makes no goddamned sense:
Dr. Flynn snorts with laughter. “you could be on to something there.”
Ana grills him on where he’s from (England) and why he came to America (he doesn’t tell her).
He snorts. “No, Anastasia. that you don’t give much away.”
“There’s not much to give away,” I smile.
Their dance finishes and Christian comes back to claim her from the sinister Dr. Flynn.
“It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Anastasia.” He gives me his warm smile again, and I feel like I’ve passed some kind of hidden test.
Yes, because as I mentioned before, your brain is so fascinating that Dr. Flynn couldn’t help but analyze you outside of office hours.
Ana jokingly tells Christian that Dr. Flynn told her everything about him, and it turns into angst-o-rama times:
Christian tenses. “Well, in that case, I’ll get your bag. I’m sure you want nothing more to do with me,” he says softly.
I stop. “He didn’t tell me anything!” My voice fills with panic.
Christian blinks before relief floods his face. He pulls me into his arms again. “Then let’s enjoy this dance.” He beams down at me, reassuring me, and then spins me around.
Why would he think that I’d want to leave? It makes no sense.
Does anyone else feel like they’re reading about high schoolers? And not like, one high schooler and one really immature hundred year old dude who is a vampire, I mean like, two fourteen year olds? “I can’t dance with anyone else!” “You want to leave me now!” “I don’t want to leave you!” Ugh. You’re at a swanky party with lots of swanky people. Why don’t you just shut the fuck up and enjoy yourselves, already?
Ana goes to the bathroom, and on the way she gets sidelined by Mrs. Robinson, who wants to also act like a fourteen year old. She tells Ana that Christian is in love with her:
I am reeling. Christian loves me? He hasn’t said it, and this woman has told him that’s how he feels? How bizarre.
A hundred images dance through my head: the iPad, the gliding, flying to see me, all his actions, his possessiveness, $100,000 for a dance. Is this love?
No, it’s not love. He bought you the iPad to avoid telling you how he feels. He took you gliding because it’s an activity he enjoys. He flew to visit you in Georgia, yes, but he did it after you told him not to, because you wanted time away from him. He paid $100,000 for a dance because he wanted to display to everyone that he owns you. Possessiveness is not love. Nothing he has done has been an expression of love.
But on to Mrs. Robinson acting like a fourteen year old:
“I’ve never seen him so happy, and it’s obvious that you have feelings for him, too.” A brief smile flits across her lips. “That’s great, and I wish you both the best of everything. But what I wanted to say is if you hurt him again, I will find you, lady, and it won’t be pleasant when I do.”
Yeah, Ana. Now that you’re with him, you’re with him forever, because if you break up with him and hurt his feelings, Mrs. Robinson is going to beat you up. Because this is high school.
She stares at me, ice-cold blue eyes boring into my skull, trying to get under my mask.
Taken literally, that sentence is really funny, and implies that Ana is wearing the mask under her skull.
Just when I thought this entire chapter was just going to be one long, slow backslide into alcoholism for me, this happens:
“I’m laughing at your audacity, Mrs. Lincoln. Christian and I have nothing to do with you. And if I do leave him and you come looking for me, I’ll be waiting – don’t doubt it. And maybe I’ll give you a taste of your own medicine on behalf of the fifteen-year-old child you molested and probably fucked up even more than he already was.”
BOOM. Atomic burn. I’m even going to ignore the fact that Ana kind of threatens to molest Mrs. Robinson there, because she called her a molester to her face. Good for Ana!
Ana leaves the tent all angry, and still needing to pee, and Christian intercepts her, wanting to know what’s wrong. Ana tells him to ask Mrs. Robinson, and Christian says he’ll talk to her:
“You will do no such thing.” I cross my arms, my anger spiking again.
Okay, so what do you want him to do here, Ana? Because you’re mad at him for what Mrs. Robinson did, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. He can’t control whether or not she approaches you. But are you saying, “You will do no such thing,” because you don’t want him to confront his molester, or are you saying it because you don’t want him to talk to a woman who you feel is competition for his affection? I think it’s the latter. Yet, you somehow want him to make this situation right by you. The only way he can do this is by speaking to her, and yet if you ask him to do this, you’re asking him to defend you against his rapist.
Obviously, in this situation the only thing to do is say, “Look, she’s way too possessive of you. I’m not going to try and cross her path again, let’s just avoid her and let the cray cray die down.” So that’s what they do.
HA! No, I’m totally kidding. Ana calls Mrs. Robinson “old” (I thought she was forty) and then goes to the bathroom, and then when she comes back out:
Christian is on the phone some distance away and out of earshot of the few people laughing and chatting nearby. As I get closer, I can hear him. He’s very terse.
“Why did you change your mind? I thought we’d agreed. Well, leave her alone… This is the first regular relationship I’ve ever had, and I don’t want you jeopardizing it through some misplaced concern for me. Leave. Her. Alone. I mean it, Elena.”
Wait a second… aren’t they at the same party? Why is he calling her?
“How’s the old news?”
Har har. We all remember Ana’s description of Mrs. Robinson, right? That she looked like she was in her late thirties or early forties? You’re not going to be twenty-two forever, Ana. Your youth and ability to wear low-waisted jeans will fade. And when that day happens, I hope Christian dumps your ass for a twenty-two year old blonde with pigtails and lipstick you don’t approve of.
Christian asks Ana if she wants to stay for the fireworks, and she is all about fireworks, so they’re going to stay.
“We’ll stay and watch them, then.” He puts his arms around me and pulls me close. “Don’t let her come between us, please.”
Well, that’s really not Ana’s responsibility, is it? Mrs. Robinson is actively trying to come between the two of you. She’s the one to blame. The best course of action is to ignore her, not call her the second Ana goes to the bathroom. He goes on to say that Mrs. Robinson is a good friend. How good a friend can she be if she took sexual advantage of him as a child? And if Christian rejects the idea that his relationship with Mrs. Robinson is wrong, then wouldn’t it be his job to make sure Mrs. Robinson doesn’t come between them? The fact that Christian feels helpless and unable to control the situation with Mrs. Robinson only reinforces what we already knew, that she’s a creeper and Christian is her prey. So now Ana and Christian and Mrs. Robinson are locked in this chain of abuse. Mrs. Robinson has abused Christian, so Christian reacts to her as though she were an abuser, Christian is currently abusing Ana, so Ana reacts to him as though he were an abuser.
Christian’s dad wants to dance the last dance with Ana (I guess to pay her back for the under the table bad grammar action earlier in the chapter), and to feel her out to make sure she can afford the $24k bid she made during the auction.
“I’m delighted to be able to contribute. I unexpectedly came into some money. I don’t need it. And it’s such a worthy cause.”
He smiles down at me, and I seize the opportunity for some innocent inquiries. Carpe diem, my subconscious hisses from behind her hand.
How does someone “hiss” a phrase with no sibilant consonants? And you know, if my son was a billionaire, and his broke ass college student girlfriend was so casual about dropping $24k, I would be on full gold digger alert. Especially if I knew she lived rent free with a roommate whose parents have supported her financially all through college.
“Christian told me a little about his past, so I think it’s appropriate to support your work,” I add, hoping that this might encourage Carrick to give me a small insight into the mystery that is his son.
Way to carpe that diem, Ana, in a totally passive way.
Carrick tells Ana that he’s never seen Christian so “buoyant,” and that it’s clearly all Ana’s doing. He tells her that Dr. Grey was on duty when Christian was brought into the emergency room, and that he didn’t speak for two years after his bio mom’s death. Playing the piano was what made Christian start to come out of his shell, as did the addition of Mia to the family.
“He’s always been such a loner. We never thought we’d see him with anyone. Whatever you’re doing, please don’t stop. We’d like to see him happy.” He stops suddenly, as if he’s overstepped the mark. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
I don’t know if it’s that Carrick “overstepped the mark” or that the author just showed her hand. You know how when you start filling up a glass of water when you’re really thirsty, halfway is good, full is better, but it gets to that point that the glass is overfull and if you try to take a drink, you just get water everywhere? This chapter. This chapter is equivalent to exactly that. If one person had commented, “Hey, you guys make a cute couple,” I wouldn’t have noticed so much. If maybe one other person had also commented on Ana and Christian’s relationship, it would have still seemed like the characters were reassuring Ana that they liked her and her involvement with Christian. but somehow, when Carrick does it, near the end of a chapter that has been an endless parade of “You’re so good for him/you’re totally saving him just like you wanted to/you guys are going to get married and have babies forever!” I suddenly snapped and realized that this is the author trying to force the reader to accept them as a couple. “All these fictional characters think the relationship is love everlasting,” I imagine E.L. James screaming at the computer as she mashes two paper doll characters together in front of the screen, “so you have to, as well, reader! Because I say so!”
Well, that’s not how it works. Nothing really happens in the bulk of this chapter, apart from Ana showing up at this party and impressing everyone (making a huge bid, having a huge sum of money bid on her), and then having little side conversations with people who reassure her that she’s the best thing that ever happened to Christian. Even Mrs. Robinson, who does it in a jealous way, is moved to threaten physical harm should Ana ever bar access to her magic hootchie and its healing powers from Christian Grey. That’s the entire point of this chapter, in fact, to clumsily show the reader the magical power of the love between Chedward and Anabella without actually doing the super hard work of building their personalities and forging their relationship in an organic way.
What’s even more enraging is that once the dance ends and Christian comes back to claim Ana, this happens:
“I think my dad likes you,” Christian mutters as he watches his dad mingle with the crowd.
“What’s not to like?” I peek coquettishly up at him through my lashes.
“Good point well made, Miss Steele.” He pulls me into an embrace as the band starts to play “It Had to Be You.”
Just in case you missed it, reader, Ana is amazing. She charms or threatens everyone she meets, by virtue of being super duper awesome. And in case you’re still not getting it, she’s going to pretend false modesty in the vein of, “Aw, shucks, I know nobody really likes me, so it’s okay if I say they do,” and then a song about how fucking perfect she is starts playing.
This woman. This fucking woman.
I also want to take this opportunity to point out that before she dances with his father, Christian tells Ana the fireworks are going to be in five minutes. Then she dances an entire song (“Come Fly With Me”) with Carrick, and she’s now going to dance to another song and then start walking toward the firework display after the paragraph break. So, it seems like that would all take longer than five minutes. Nit. Picked.
Everyone takes off their masks to watch the fireworks by the dock, and Ana spots the security team:
Christian has his arm around me, but I’m aware that Taylor and Sawyer are close by, probably because we’re in a crowd now. They are looking anywhere but at the dockside where two technicians dressed in black are making their final preparations.
That’s right. Look everywhere BUT at the guys with tons of explosives. They seem legit.
Unfortunately, no one is hit with a stray firework, and it’s the most glittering and amazing fireworks display ever, obviously. The MC tells the crowd that the benefit has raised $1,853,000, and then Christian and Ana are ready to leave, to get home to more sexy times, probably.
He glances up again, and Taylor is close, the crowd dispersing around us. They don’t speak but something passes between them.
Just heads up, I’m never going to get tired of using the telepathic conversation pictures. NEVER.
Taylor makes them wait until the crowd disperses, because he’s like, on high alert or something:
“I think that fireworks display probably aged him a hundred years,” he adds.
“Doesn’t he like fireworks?”
Christian gazes down at me fondly and shakes his head but doesn’t elaborate.
OMG. You guys, Taylor is really coming together. I bet he was a Navy SEAL or something. OMG.
Oh, this is a good time to clear something up:
“You were quite overcome, Miss Steele. A most satisfactory outcome, if I recall.” He smiles salaciously. “Incidentally, where are they?”
“The silver balls? In my bag.”
Okay, so here’s the thing. Last recap, everyone was like, “What did she do with the balls?!” And I feared it would turn out like the panties thing, where I didn’t remind everyone in the one chapter that Christian still had Ana’s panties, and people were all, “How did her panties magically reappear?” I never mentioned it, because 1) I can’t reproduce every line of these books, that would strain the boundaries of fair use. So please, don’t use these recaps to find continuity errors. If there is a continuity error, I will probably point it out, unless I miss it, but unless you’ve read the books and found it that way, don’t be all, “She had these silver balls and they just disappeared!” Because then some anonymous commenter comes in (as they did with the panties) and claims that I’m purposely not excerpting bits of this book in an attempt to make it look worse than it is. Which is not the case. Actually, leaving out huge chunks of text makes the book more readable. And 2) I usually will only excerpt things that are problematic or move the story along. Ana putting the Ben Wa balls in her purse didn’t fulfill either requirement, so I didn’t mention it. So, you know. Just so we’re all on the same page here.
Mia wants Ana and Christian to stay for the after party, but Christian says they can’t, because they have a big day the next day. Ana doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but she goes along with it. Then Mia invites Ana to go to the mall, and Ana graciously accepts:
“Sure, Mia.” I grin, though in the back of my mind I’m wondering how since I have to work for a living.
I have to work for a living, too, Ana, but I can still grin. Seriously, how shitty is it to respond to an invitation with that thought? Way to belittle Mia, who is just trying to be friendly, by immediately thinking she’s lazy and too rich.
We can’t leave the party without one more reassurance that Ana is OMGSAVINGCHRISTIAN’SLIFE! and that OMGEVERYONEWITHAVAGINAISSUPERJEALOUS!:
“I like seeing you happy,” she says sweetly and kisses him on the cheek. “Bye. You guys have fun.” She skips off toward her waiting friends – among them Lily, who looks even more sour-faced without her mask.
I wonder idly where Sean is.
Christian and Ana say goodbye to his parents, but not his grandparents, who, Ana must remind you, she does not care for:
Fortunately, Grace’s parents have retired for the evening, so at least I am spared their enthusiasm.
Ugh, I know. It’s so fucking terrible when people like you and behave in a way that makes you feel welcome. Guh.
As they walk to the car, Ana asks Christian what he means by “big day tomorrow,” and his answer (and her response to it) should probably turn you into a quaking ball of rage:
“Dr. Greene is coming to sort you out. Plus, I have a surprise for you.”
“Dr. Green!” I halt.
“Because I hate condoms,” he says quietly. His eyes glint in the soft light from the paper lanterns, gauging my reaction.
No matter how romantic the soft fucking light from the paper fucking lanterns is, I’m sorry, E.L., but you cannot make forced birth control sexy. I feel like I’m rapidly approaching that line between hating the book and hating the author as a person for all the terrible shit she’s feeding to women everywhere. How romantic, ladies! The hero of your dreams refers to going to the gynecologist as having a “big day” and thinks you need to be “sorted out” because your pesky fertility is interfering with his sexual pleasure. I’m so wet. Oh, that’s because I started drinking at about seven-o-clock last night and didn’t stop for breakfast because I’m in a state of alcoholic despair about the way women in the western world clamor to be treated like fucking livestock and we as a culture throw handfuls of money at the stupid jerk asses who feel that this is the romantic ideal, so I missed my mouth when I tried for that last swig of cheap wine.
Lucky for me, before I can have a moral quandary about crossing that book/author line, E.L. does me a solid and pushes me right the fuck over it:
“It’s my body,” I mutter, annoyed that he hasn’t asked me.
“It’s mine, too,” he whispers.
Oh, shit is that a rich white guy telling a woman he has ownership over her body? I would call Chedward a Republican Conservative, except he seems to like feeding poor people, so maybe he’s a Libertarian?
I gaze up at him as various guests pass by, ignoring us. He looks so earnest. Yes, my body is his… he knows it better than I do.
BECAUSE YOU’VE KEPT YOURSELF PURPOSELY IGNORANT! There are tons of resources out there for women to learn about their bodies, but you’re one of the women who apparently has no hinderance like a strict religious upbringing or prior sexual abuse or any of the other horrible circumstances that keep women ignorant of their bodies who simply CHOOSES TO BE FUCKING STUPID ABOUT YOUR BODY! BECAUSE YOU WERE WAITING FOR A MAN TO TELL YOU WHAT IS UP!
“You look hot like this,” I whisper. Actually he looks hot all the time, but really hot like this.
IT’S OKAY THAT HE WAS GOING TO FORCE ME ONTO HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL GUYS, BECAUSE HE’S REALLY HOT ALL THE TIME.
I may have misjudged you. And you have definitely misjudged me. Call me if you need to fill in any of the blanks – we could have lunch. Christian doesn’t want me talking to you, but I would be more than happy to help. Don’t get me wrong, I approve, believe me – but so help me, if you hurt him… He’s been hurt enough. Call me: (206) 279-6261
She even signs the note “Mrs. Robinson,” meaning Christian told her all about his conversations with Ana. That’s probably healthy. But maybe I’m “misjudging” a grown woman who would fuck a child. I need the blanks filled in. Someone call that number, I’m dying to know if it’s a real phone number, but I don’t have the balls to call it myself, lest it be some kind of high-frequency mind control noise that will trick me into liking this book.
In case you were wondering if Ana really sees Mrs. Robinson as a rapist or competition, when Christian says he’ll deal with her on Monday, Ana thinks:
And though I’m ashamed to admit it, a very small part of me is pleased. My subconscious nods sagely. Elena is pissing him off, and this can only be good – surely.
Ana falls asleep in the car, and Christian wakes her up when they pull up to his building. Due to yet another grammatical error, Ana has a little conversation with Sawyer. Emphasis mine:
As we stand in the elevator, I lean against him, putting my head against his shoulder. Sawyer stands in front of us, shifting uncomfortably.
“It’s been a long day, eh, Anastasia?”
“You’re not very talkative.”
I nod and he grins.
“Come. I’ll put you to bed.” He takes my hand as we exist the elevator, but we stop in the foyer when Sawyer holds up his hand.
So, there you see some pronoun confusion. Sawyer is the last male character with an action before the dialogue, so it looks like Sawyer is the one speaking. But then we find out after the fact that it was Christian, and good thing, because I’m betting if Sawyer said he was going to put Ana to bed, Christian would have him killed. Probably by Taylor.
Ana and Christian find out that the tires on Ana’s Audi have been slashed, and someone threw paint all over it. Obviously, Leila did it, and now they’re concerned she’s gotten into the apartment. Well, everyone except Christian, who says, “She can’t get into the apartment.” Which is not true, because she did it before, when he was in Georgia. But whatever. The chapter ends with Ana standing in the hallway while security guards (their names are, I shit you not, “Ryan” and “Reynolds”) check the apartment for intruders.