You guys didn’t really think I would leave, for a week, right after Grey hit the stands, and NOT do a recap before I left? Are you high? Why did you fall for that?
So, while I’m in Gay, MI, which I have renamed it in honor of A Concerned Home Owner, relentlessly Gay, MI, please enjoy this recap until I return.
This way, my silence on the subject doesn’t lead people to believe that I’m actually dead.
If you haven’t read my recaps of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, here’s chapter one.
There are no chapters in this book, just dates. In recognition of this, here’s a new feature:
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On May 9, 2011, while Christian Grey was meeting Anastasia Rose Steele, beloved Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt was killed an horrific (look it up) cycling crash.
So, you’re going to learn a little bit about 2011, I think, with every chapter. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll learn a little something about ourselves. You’re welcome.
The book opens with Christian dreaming of his childhood. But you don’t know right away that it’s a dream, because it’s not in italics and its offset margin isn’t clear due to it taking up the whole first page. So, when I started reading:
I have three cars. They go fast across the floor. So fast. One is red. One is green. One is yellow.
I thought this was just Christian Grey’s internal monologue and I was like, ohhhhhh shit. I have like eight hundred pages of this left.
Luckily, he starts dreaming about his mommy, and how his car goes under the couch and she won’t help him get it (because she’s too stoned, I assume, because we learned in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy that she is a “crack whore”).
Not now, Maggot. Not now, she says.
As always, I can’t figure out how to do italics in this blog’s quotes, so just roll with underlines as italics.
Anyway, she calls him maggot. Wait. Maggot? Maggot…worm…grey…maggot…grey…
Baby Christian laments the loss of his car, which he will never get to play with again. Then:
I open my eyes and my dream fades in the early-morning light.
Ah, starting a story with a character waking up. How Not To Write A Book Unless You Are Douglas Adams and Then You Get A Pass 101.
Christian–pardon me, Chedward–gets out of bed, puts on a sweatsuit, and contemplates a run in the rain, a la the opening credits of the 50 Shades of Grey movie. Instead, he opts to run inside, on a treadmill, and he doesn’t even have the decency to listen to Annie Lennox’s version of “I Put A Spell On You” while he does it. The ingratitude. As he runs, he thinks about all the meetings he has coming up, that Bastille his trainer would be coming by, and that maybe he should have dinner with Elena, a.k.a. Mrs. Robinson.
I stop the treadmill, breathless, and head down to the shower to start another monotonous day.
This is how you always want to start your books, by the way. I mean, some people like to start their stories in the scene where the break in monotony that will propel the protagonist on their journey happens, but she goes a boldly different route, giving us an incomprehensible dream sequence and a guy talking about how boring his life is while we read about him being boring.
After a section break, we’re at the office, where Claude Bastille, the champion kickboxer who kickboxes so good he won an Olympic medal for it even though it’s not an Olympic sport, is just leaving.
I scowl at him as he turns and leaves. His parting words rub salt into my wounds because, despite my heroic attempts during our workout today, my personal trainer has kicked my ass. Bastille is the only one who can beat me, and now he wants another pound of flesh on the golf course.
I got so much shit for calling Ana a “Mary Sue” by people who dislike that term, because “you never hear of male characters getting called a Mary Sue!” Well, here’s your chance, and I hope it thrills you. Because Chedward is a Mary Sue. A Gary Stu. You know what? From now on and henceforth, all male Mary Sue characters will be known as Chedward Sue.
As I stare out the window at the Seattle skyline, the familiar ennui seeps unwelcome into my consciousness. My mood is as flat and gray as the weather.
Chedward is in a depressive episode wherein his entire life has become same. Nothing thrills him–except for a couple of cargo ships he’s sent to Sudan. Woe, but will anything in his life rattle him from his bleak, gray (grey?) Grey prison?
I have to endure an interview with the persistent Miss Kavanagh for the WSU student newspaper.Why the hell did I agree to this? I loathe interviews–inane questions from ill-informed, envious people intent on probing my private life. And she’s a student.
Whoa ho ho, let’s come down from our high horse there a little bit, buddy. She’s a student who’s about to graduate. You’re looking down on her? You dropped out of Harvard. Look, I don’t have a problem with people who don’t go to school (I didn’t finish college), but this dick was accepted at Harvard and quit because it was beneath him, but Kate is actually working hard to get an education. Also, “envious” people? Kate Kavanagh was, if I remember correctly, just trying to do a good job for the school newspaper to which she’d devoted a lot of effort during her lowly college student years.
“Miss Anastasia Steele is here to see you, Mr. Grey.”
“Steele? I was expecting Katherine Kavanagh.”
“It’s Miss Anastasia Steele who’s here, sir.”
I hate the unexpected.
Don’t worry, we hate her, too.
Well, well…Miss Kavanagh is unavailable. I know her father, Eamon, the owner of Kavanagh Media. We’ve done business together, and he seems like a shrewd operator and a rational human being. This interview is a favor to him–one that I mean to cash in on later when it suits me. And I have to admit I was vaguely curious about his daughter, interested to see if the apple has fallen far from the tree.
Not a lot of love for Kate, already. Jesus. I’m picturing E.L. at home, using a brunette Barbie like a hammer against a blond Barbie, screaming, “HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU! HE’LL NEVER LOVE YOU!”
A commotion at the door bring me to my feet as a whirl of long chestnut hair, pale limbs, and brown boots dives headfirst into my office.
Because of the use of “whirl” in this sentence, now all I see is Ana spiraling into Chedward’s office like a poorly styled football.
Repressing my natural annoyance at such clumsiness, I hurry over to the girl who has landed on her hands and knees on the floor.
Yeah, it’s totally natural to be annoyed when someone else falls. Like, if you’re doing pairs figure skating, for example.
One of the things I was hoping this book would clear up is the mystery of why Ana fell in the first place. I thought maybe, “She trips over the very expensive hole where the very expensive thing on my door latches into the floor…or something.” Anything. But all we get is that she’s falling for no reason, exactly as she was in the first book.
Now we’re going to need the floor’s POV on this.
Clear, embarrassed eyes meet mine and halt me in my tracks. They are the most extraordinary color, powder blue, and guileless, and for one awful moment, I think she can see right through me and I’m left…exposed. The thought is unnerving, so I dismiss it immediately.
She has a small, sweet face that is blushing now, an innocent, pale rose. I wonder briefly if all her skin is like that–flawless–and what it would look like pink and warmed from the bite of a cane.
Spoiler alert: he never finds out, because even though everyone talks a big game about canes in this series, nobody has ever gotten caned.
I stop my wayward thoughts, alarmed at their direction. What the hell are you thinking, Grey? This girl is much too young.
Let’s remember that at this point in the books, Ana is twenty-one, and he’s twenty-seven. You know, just so you can grapple with the obstacle of their impossible age gap as we read along.
She gapes at me, and I resist rolling my eyes.
My palm twitches.
Christian pretends that he doesn’t know she’s not Kate, because he’s trying to deliberately make her stop finding him hot. He’s good at what he does, because I’ve been dryer than sixty year old wallpaper since page one. Oh, and at this point, Ana has now blushed twice.
She’s quite attractive–slight, pale, with a mane of dark hair barely contained by a hair tie.
Just in case you weren’t aware of the definition of “brunette.”
“Miss Kavanagh is indisposed, so she sent me. I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Grey.” Her voice is quiet with a hesitant musicality, and she blinks erratically, long lashes fluttering.
She explains who she is, and that she studies literature.
A bashful, bookish type, eh? She looks it: poorly dressed, her slight frame hidden beneath a shapeless sweater, an A-line brown skirt, and utilitarian boots. Does she have any sense of style at all?
Seriously, E.L.? Do you even know what medium you’re working in right now? You’re going to basically insult every reader everywhere by having the “romantic hero” they love viewing bookishness as a bad thing? You realize that many of the women, like the ones who fawn over you at signings and appearances, actually consider themselves “bookish” due to their love of reading, right? You just had the man you want their panties to get wet over equate reading with ugliness and a lack of style.
And you’re doing this? Look, I’m not normally one to attack others for their physical appearances (outside of my head…in there, I’m a real judgmental bitch), but you have $95 million or whatever. Get your bangs out of your damn eyes and stop insulting your readers.
Chedward, of course, notices that Ana “doesn’t have an assertive bone in her body.” In the erotic romance industry, we like to call this, “Instasub,” wherein the Dom intuitively knows that the random woman he’s just met is a sexual submissive, without bothering to get to know more than her name.
Well, I don’t really know if we call it that. I made that up. But we remark upon this phenomenon enough, that’s what we should call it.
he intuitively guesses she’s appreciating the paintings in his office:
“They’re lovely. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary,” she says dreamily, lost in the exquisite, fine artistry of Trouton’s work. Her profile is delicate–an upturned nose, soft, full lips–and in her words she has captured my sentiments exactly. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary. It’s a keen observation. Miss Steele is bright.
In her acknowledgments, E.L. James thanks “The FP ladies for help with my Americanisms.” So I just wanted to let you know, FP ladies, that I’m sorry you wasted your time. No American man who isn’t a PhD in English thinks like this in his talk-head. It would be more like, “Her profile is pretty hot. I like her nose. Mouth’s good, too. And she totally gets what I like about Trouton, so she’s pretty smart.”
As I sit down opposite her, I try to bridle my thoughts.
And now we’re in a historical romance!
It’s obvious she’s never done this before, but for some reason I can’t fathom, I find it amusing. Under normal circumstances her maladroitness would irritate the hell out of me, but now I hide my smile beneath my index finger and resist the urge to set it up for her myself.
Set what up? Your finger? Your smile? Her maladroitness? Normal circumstances? The reason you can’t fathom? Because those are all nouns that have come between her fumbling with the tape recorder and you deciding to set it up for her.
Since we already know that they have children at the end of the trilogy, this impatient thing is going to make him a great father.
As she fumbles and grows more and more flustered, it occurs to me that I could refine her motor skills with the aid of a riding crop. Adeptly used, it can bring even the most skittish to heel.
Okay, we’ve got bridle, riding crop, bringing skittish things to heel… I feel like there is a lot of pony play missing from the original trilogy.
“S-Sorry, I’m not used to this.”
I can tell, baby, but right now I don’t give a damn because I can’t take my eyes off your mouth.
Baby. She’s been in his office for like five minutes, and he’s mentally calling her baby.
I need another moment to marshal my thoughts.
Horses, marshals, we are in a western, dear reader.
Ana asks if she can record Chedward’s answers, and he’s like, you’re asking me after you fumbled with that recorder all this time, etc. You remember the drill from the first book and the movie, right?
She blinks, her eyes large and lost for a moment, and I’m overcome by an unfamiliar twinge of guilt.
It is “unfamiliar” for him to feel guilty about being rude and condescending to people. Oh, swoon, where is my Christian Grey?
Ana asks Christian if Kate told him what the interview was for, and he tells her it’s about the commencement address he’ll be giving at WSU. He doesn’t actually want to do it, but it will bring more publicity to the school and might help them match the grant money they’ve given him. Ana looks surprised to learn this, and Chedward is insulted that she didn’t come to the interview prepared (didn’t I say just the exact same thing in the first chapter recap? DIDN’T I?)
Ana asks him the “to what do you owe your success” question, and this is his reaction:
I trot out my usual response about having exceptional people working for me. People I trust, insofar as I trust anyone, and pay well–blah, blah, blah… But Miss Steele, the simple fact is, I’m brilliant at what I do. For me it’s like falling off a log.
Ana asks him if he’s just lucky, and he is deeply insulted.
Flaunting my erudition, I quote the words of Andrew Carnegie, my favorite industrialist.
“Flaunting my erudition.” Someone please remove the thesaurus from Ms. James’s computer. Thank you.
Ana calls Christian a control freak.
I glare at her, hoping to intimidate her.
How are we supposed to buy Grey as this Master of The Universe type when he’s unnerved by someone he’s already dismissed as beneath him?
That attractive blush steals across her face, and she bites that lip again.
Oh man, this is like a trip down memory lane, but if memory lane was paved in broken glass and painful stupidity.
“Don’t you have a board to answer to?”
“I own my company. I don’t have to answer to a board.” She should know this.
Maybe she knows how real corporations run, and what CEO’s actually do? And that a corporation the size of Grey Holdings Industrial Blah Blah Blah I’m Special INC. would almost certainly have a board of directors or share holders?
As stupid and unbearable as Ana was, I’m like not even halfway through the first chapter and I would rather be re-reading 50 Shades of Grey.
She knows I’m pissed, and for some inexplicable reason this pleases me.
It’s not inexplicable. You’re an abusive piece of shit. This all makes perfect sense.
Ana asks him what he does to “chill out.”
Sailing, flying, fucking…testing the limits of attractive brunettes like her, and bringing them to heel.
I feel like E.L. couldn’t take a harder stance against her own creation if she stood up at a podium and said she was writing all of this as a social experiment to bring abuse and rape culture to light in our society. That she’s doing this on accident is either horrifying or hilarious. Hilarifying. Hilorifying.
Ana continues the interview, and the questions are as boring this time around as they were the last time. There’s more Kate bashing:
“Because I’m a benefactor of the university, and for all intents and purposes, I couldn’t get Miss Kavanagh off my back. She badgered and badgered my PR people, and I admire that kind of tenacity.” But I’m glad it’s you who turned up and not her.
because it’s very important that the reader know that Kate is unworthy of Chedward’s attention.
Ana asks him why he’s interested in farming technologies, and he explains it’s because he cares about people getting enough food.
She regards me with a puzzled look, as if I’m a conundrum, but there’s no way I want her seeing into my dark soul.
His Tumblr bio is “Welcome to my twisted mind.”
Ana asks him if his end goal is to possess things, and she calls him “the ultimate consumer.”
She sounds like a rich kid who’s had all she ever wanted, but as I take a closer look at her clothes–she’s dressed in clothes from some cheap store like Old Navy or H&M–I know that isn’t it. She hasn’t grown up in an affluent household.
Look, I write some capitalist trash. Hardcore, wealth worshipping, brand-name dropping capitalist trash. But at least I try to not insult my readers who are spending their money on my books and giving me the privilege of buying those “cheap” clothes from Old Navy. It’s very difficult to read a statement like this, even from a fictional character’s point of view, and give E.L. James the benefit of the doubt about how she regards her readership, especially in light of comments she’s made regarding her “lifestyle” and her “perch” above other Twilight fans.
Ana asks him more questions about his personal life, the fact that he was adopted, that he has no family aside from his parents and siblings, and then:
“Are you gay, Mr. Grey?”
What the hell!
I cannot believe she’s said that out loud! Ironically, the question even my own family will not ask. How dare she! I have a sudden urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her over my knee, spank her, and then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied behind her back. That would answer her ridiculous question.
How fragile, the skin of Chedward’s masculinity, like a soap bubble adrift on the vast bathtub of his own homophobia. As a reader, I’m supposed to be turned on by his virility and iron-clad heterosexuality, that can only be proved by an act of violence and rape in retaliation for ever questioning it.
And of course, Ana apologizes for making such an unforgivable implication, and admits that she didn’t come up with the questions.
“Did you volunteer to do this interview?” I ask, and I’m rewarded with her submissive look: she’s nervous about my reaction. I like the effect I have on her.
He enjoys intimidating her and making her uncomfortable, and of course, more “Instasub” mentality.
Chedward’s secretary comes in, and he tells her to cancel his next meeting, so he can enjoy making Ana nervous and uncomfortable even more!
“You’re driving back to Vancouver?” I glance out the window. It’s one hell of a drive, and it’s raining. She shouldn’t be driving in this weather, but I can’t forbid her. The thought irritates me.
It irritates him that he can’t control the actions of a stranger. You know who he reminds me of?
She wants out of my office, and to my surprise, I don’t want her to go.
Well, just rape her, like you wanted to do earlier.
I can’t let her go like this. It’s obviously she’s desperate to leave.
I’m not entirely sure this could get creepier, but I know in my deepest, truest heart that it will.
As Christian walks Ana out, he asks her if she came in with a coat. When she says she did:
I give Olivia a pointed look and she immediately leaps up to retrieve a navy jacket, passing it to me with her usual simpering expression. Christ, Olivia is annoying–mooning over me all the time.
It must be terrible for you, Chedward, to believe yourself to be the paragon of manly perfection and to have people fall for it. Don’t worry, if Olivia were inside your head right now, she would not be simpering. You’re safe from her insatiable desires.
The jacket is worn and cheap. Miss Anastasia Steele should be better dressed.
Who are you, Mr. Blackwell?
Ana leaves, and Christian demands that Andrea get Welch on the phone.
As I sit at my desk and wait for the call, I look at the paintings on the wall of my office, and Miss Steele’s words drift back to me. “Raising the ordinary to extraordinary.” She could so easily have been describing herself.
My phone buzzes. “I have Mr. Welch on the line for you.”
“Put him through.”
“Welch, I need a background check.”
See, creepier already!
Stay tuned for the next recap, which really will be after the 27th.