Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Saturday, May 14, 2011 or “Lack of situational awareness makes our hero look like a serial killer.”

I have internet again. Our long national nightmare is over.

Here are some interesting things relating to E.L. James and the travesties she commits against humanity and the English language:

Also, several people emailed me to point this out, and I’m rolling:

Cover of Stephenie Meyer's The Host, featuring a close up of a face and one open eye.Cover of E.L. James's Grey, picturing a close up of a face and one open eye.

But perhaps my favorite of the bunch from this week is Janet Maslin’s review of Grey for The New York Times. Maslin writes:

Speaking of cries for help, Ms. James leaves herself badly exposed by this book’s flagrant air of desperation. Her own fans write better stories about Christian Grey than she does. The fact that hers is the hidebound, trademarked and much-copied version doesn’t make it the important one. She has let time stand still in order to capitalize on one big hit, but she’s working in such a fast-moving medium that her failure of imagination is dangerous. She didn’t exactly invent these characters in the first place: She was a “Twilight” fan who appropriated them, tweaked them and made them hugely salable for a while.

Someone please send Ms. James a whole bouquet of aloe plants for that sick burn.

On to the recap!

For added context, here’s the link to my recap of chapter two of Fifty Shades of Grey.

This Day In History:  Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and potential candidate for president of France, was charged with sexually assaulting a Manhattan hotel maid. (He later resigned from the IMF; the charges against him were dropped.) (source)

This chapter begins with the background check on Anastasia Rose Steele, including her address, cell number, social security number, banking info with account number and balance ($683.16, not shabby for an American college student), SAT score (2150, putting Ana in the top 97% of test takers because she’s so bright), where she works, who her father was, who her mother is (including all of her husbands), but nothing about Ana’s sexual orientation, relationships, politics, or religion.

I pore over the executive summary for the hundredth time since I received it two days ago, looking for some insight into the enigmatic Miss Anastasia Rose Steele.

Here’s a revolutionary and completely unconventional idea: talk to her. Don’t order a freaking background check on her. Half the things listed here are things they advise against talking about on a first date, for Christ’s sake.

I’m also confused about “executive summary,” and I think Christian is, too. An executive summary is a part of your business plan where you take all the businessy stuff like your mission statement and what your company does and projected future growth and all sorts of stuff that I don’t understand, and you put it in an outline so people can see that you know what you’re doing. And then, hopefully, they give you money.  It’s not a background check.

You’d think that the biggest and most important business guy ever in the whole wide entire world would know what that term meant. Like, if he’d watched even one episode of Dragon’s Den, he would know.

Anyway, Mr. Executive Summary is sitting in his car outside of Clayton’s hardware, where Ana works.

You’re a fool, Grey. Why are you here?

Because you’re a stalker. (Remember, the underlines aren’t in the text, I just can’t figure out italics in the quote function).

I’ve never pursued a woman before.

Because they fling themselves at him so often that he’s had to buy a protective suit, apparently.

Man in a Tyvek suit

Come get it, ladies.

The women I’ve had understood what I expected of them. My fear now is that Miss Steele is just too young and that she won’t be interested in what I have to offer.

Wasn’t Leela or Layla or Lila or Lily or who the fuck ever it was pretty young? She was still in college.

Will she even make a good submissive?

This is one of the main problems I have with these books, and with a lot of other BDSM romances. The assumption is that since the hero enjoys BDSM, every woman he sees is a potential sub. It’s not, “This woman seems interesting and I would like to get to know her.” It’s not even, “This woman is sexually attractive and I would like to have sex with her.” Just, “This woman will make a good sub. I can tell without speaking to her,” or “Will this woman make a good sub?” Like, are you interested in these women beyond what she can do for you, sexually, buddy?

Okay, so I know in Christian Grey’s case, that’s exactly what’s going on. He seems to view all women as either obnoxious and dripping for him, or possibly someone he can beat on to get a woody. Nothing in between.

If you’re looking for a book that calls out this trope, by the way, check out Fit by Rebekah Weatherspoon. When the hero tries to pull the instasub bullshit on the heroine, she reacts realistically. I almost stood up and cheered when I read it, but I was on a plane at the time and I didn’t feel like getting shot by an air marshal.

Her background check has produced nothing remarkable–except for the last fact, which has been at the forefront of my mind. It’s the reason I’m here. Why no boyfriend, Miss Steele? Sexual orientation unknown–perhaps she’s gay. I snort, thinking that unlikely.

Seriously? What is up with the “Well, s/he can’t possibly be gay” thing in this entire franchise? I feel like James equates heterosexuality with sexual attractiveness; “This person can’t possibly be gay, for I find them fuckable.”

I haven’t mentioned her to Flynn, and I’m glad because I’m now behaving like a stalker.

Krysten Ritter rolling her eyes

Really? You think so? You think now you’re acting like a stalker?


My favorite part of this paragraph, though, is that he goes on to say that he doesn’t want to mention his stalking of Ana to his therapist is because Chedward feels he just needs a distraction. But, uh, the distraction he’s chosen is the very stalking he feels like he shouldn’t mention to the aforementioned therapist. Yeah, I know I’m stalking this girl, but all I need to keep from stalking this girl is to stalk this girl. Okay, sure.  Also, beyond mentioning “solution-based-therapy shit,” Chedward never refers to Flynn as his therapist. This book makes the mistake of assuming that readers will have read Fifty Shades of Grey. A POV-swap retelling has to stand alone. A reader should be able to pick up either Grey or Fifty Shades of Grey and go, “Oh, I understand the whole story now,” (yes, even though it’s a cultural phenomenon), but instead this reads like a fanfic in a particularly ardent fandom that doesn’t need it pointed out to them that Harry Potter is a wizard.

You’ve come all this way. Let’s see if little Miss Steele is as appealing as you remember.

Showtime, Grey.

Beetlejuice saying "It's Showtime"

Chedward goes into the store:

I’d forgotten the possibilities that a hardware store could present to someone like me. I mainly shop online for my needs, but while I’m here, maybe I’ll stock up on a few items: Velcro, split rings–Yeah. Maybe I’ll find the delectable Miss Steele and have some fun.

Remember how he sounded like he might be a murderer in the first book? Yeah, he definitely sounds like a murderer.

Also, split rings? They’re good for aesthetic bondage, but they’re “split” rings for a reason. They can’t be used for anything that needs to support weight. Unless he’s talking about split rings as in key chains, in which case I have no fucking clue what he’s going to do with them, but I don’t want to find out. #pinchy

Cheward sees Ana eating her lunch at the counter, and she sucks some crumbs off her thumb and Cheward’s penis takes notice.

My body’s reaction is irritating. Maybe this will stop if I fetter, fuck, and flog her…and not necessarily in that order. Yeah. That’s what I need.

Okay, but…she hasn’t given any indication that she’s interested in any of that. You’re kind of assuming that you get to use her as the cure to your distracting penis issues. Also, does it matter what order you fetter, fuck, and flog someone? Does it make it more naughty if you fuck them, then tie them up? Or if you tie them up and flog them, then fuck them? I’m not understanding why “and not necessarily in that order” is supposed to be lascivious.

Ana spots Christian, and he likes that she gets flustered. Well, you’re in for a treat, pal, because flustered is like her M.O.

She’s dressed in a tight t-shirt and jeans, not the shapeless shit she was wearing earlier this week. She’s all long legs, narrow waist, and perfect tits.

This is interesting. In the original series, Christian goes on and on about how Ana is too thin, she needs to eat more, she needs to go to the gym (as outlined in the contract), etc. He makes these comments about her body again and again, despite her constant state of obvious insecurity. But inwardly he’s thinking that her body is perfect. So let’s whip out our handy chart of signs of abuse, shall we?

  • Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you.

Christian makes negative comments about Ana’s body in the original trilogy, and we see here that he actually thinks her body is fine. So the entire point of his “you need to eat/you’re too thin” thing isn’t because he didn’t get fed enough as a child. It’s because he’s an abusive psychopath.

There’s a weird line that I’m pretty sure was supposed to be italicized, but got fucked up in the formatting:

I’ve flown from Seattle just to see you, and the way you look right now, it was really worth the journey.

Okay, but…he was in a car a minute ago.

Ana reiterates that she would prefer to be called Ana, and a paragraph later he thinks:

Game on, Miss Steele.


Chedward tells her he’s looking for cable ties:

My request catches her off guard; she looks stunned.

I have to be really snotty here and say that over the past week, I read a writing book that went all sorts of anti-semicolon, and I know for a fact that one of the people who worked on the book will fight to death defending these books, so the semi-colon here pleases me beyond belief because that person is so super obnoxious and I got a mean little thrill writing this paragraph. And I’m going to celebrate it, because I deserve something good, damn it.

Oh, this is going to be fun. You’d be amazed what I can do with a few cable ties, baby.

For example, you can hold all your cords together under your desk so they don’t tangle. Seriously, if he thinks Ana is so meek and mild, why is he assuming her thoughts are going immediately to bondage?

Oh, right. She’s an instasub.

Ana offers to show him where the cable ties are, and he muses about what she’d look like naked in high heels.

“They’re with the electrical goods, aisle eight.” Her voice wavers and she blushes…

She is affected by me. Hope blooms in my chest.

She’s not gay, then. I smirk.

Or, she has social anxiety. Or, she thinks it’s weird that you’re in the store she works in, when she knows you live in Seattle, and she’s pretty sure you could just pay someone to do your shopping for you, and she’s flushed as a reaction to danger. But A+ for assuming that a woman having any sort of physical response to you is an indication of her sexuality.

Letting her walk ahead gives me the space and time to admire her fantastic ass.

Again, in the original series, Chedward repeatedly criticized her body because she was “too thin.”

She really is the whole package: sweet, polite, and beautiful, with all the physical attributes I value in a submissive. But the million-dollar question is, could she be a submissive? She probably knows nothing of the lifestyle–my lifestyle–but I very much want to introduce her to it. You are getting way ahead of yourself on this deal, Grey.

Yes, you are definitely getting way head of yourself. When we read Ana’s POV, we knew she was into him. But from Christian’s POV, we don’t know that. He’s decided that since he sexually desires her, the reverse must also be true, by virtue of his wanting. Earlier in the chapter, he has a thought about how he doesn’t like to wait for anything, and coupled with the rest of the scene, it’s really starting to feel like Cheward believes he’s entitled to every woman he’s attracted to, and disgusted by the ones he isn’t.

He’s also assuming a lot here, besides the part where he’s decided she’d want any sexual relationship at all. Why does he feel like Ana wouldn’t know about BDSM? Even before Fifty Shades of Grey, it wasn’t exactly a secret that BDSM existed. For all he knows, Ana is out there grinding cigarettes out on her sub’s tongue at night. But of course, the idea that he could possibly be wrong about anything doesn’t enter his head.

Ana asks if he’s in Portland on business:

Her voice is high; she’s feigning disinterest. It makes me want to laugh. Women rarely make me laugh.

Her disinterest must be feigned, because of course he’s the most desirable man who’s ever existed, and all women fawn over him. And he wants to laugh, not at something witty she’s said, but at her, for being so bad at disguising her obvious sexual interest in him. And women, other women? They don’t make him laugh.

How to tell if your heroine is made of wallpaper paste and inept characterization: You can only make her seem desirable if your hero is constantly putting down other women.

He tells her he’s there on business:

“All part of your feed-the-world plan?” She arches a brow, amused.

“Something like that,” I mutter. Is she laughing at me? Oh, I’d love to put a stop that if she is.

It’s totally okay for him to laugh at her, but if she seems even slightly amused by him, it must be stopped.

As Christian peruses the cable ties, he wonders if Ana would go out on a date with him. I think we’re supposed to get some feeling of anxiety from him, but how can we possibly believe he would be worried about Ana turning him down, when he’s clearly convinced that all women want him?

I select the longer ties. They are more flexible, after all, as they can accommodate two ankles and two wrists at once.

They can also shred the skin off those wrists and ankles, and they can be difficult to safely cut in an emergency. But we’ve read the original trilogy, so we already know that you don’t give a shit about the safety of your subs.

“Have you worked here long?” Of course, I already know the answer. Unlike some people I do my research.

I don’t know, guys. I feel like there’s very fine line between research and stalking. I’m not sure what side of that line ordering a background check for someone you’ve spoken to for like, ten minutes is on, but then again, what do I know? I’ve been told repeatedly on various forms of social media that I just don’t get this whole BDSM/romance/book thing.

Ana helps him find masking tape:

“I’ll take that one.” The wider tape is much more effective as a gag.

Why don’t you slap a piece on, pal?

animated .gif of Ellie Goulding in the "Love Me Like You Do" music video

What are you waiting foooooooooooor

 She pales. “Anything else?” Her voice is soft and husky.

Christ, I’m having the same effect on her as she has on me. Maybe…

Maybe she has something caught in her throat. Note that here, Ana paling is an indication of her favorable response to Chedward, when before it was blushing. In other words, no matter what she does, he knows she’s into him.

Now he needs some rope:

“This way.” She scoots up the aisle, giving me another chance to appreciate her fine ass.

Dog scratching butt on floor


Excuse me, Cheddie, but her ass was fantastic just pages ago. Now it’s “fine.” Are we downgrading her ass status here?

Christian takes the “natural filament” rope (Manila? Sisal? Hemp? Jute?) and admires Ana’s ability to measure five yards. He asks her if she was a Girl Scout, she says that’s not her thing, and he asks her what her thing is.

“Books,” she answers.

“What kind of books?”

“Oh, you know. The usual. The classics. British literature, mainly.”

British literature? The Brontës and Austen, I bet. All those romantic hearts-and-flowers types.

That’s not good.

Mr. Too-Smart-For-Harvard has distilled the whole of British literature down to three authors. I don’t think it’s that far-fetched to presume that he’s picked these specific “hearts-and-flowers types” because Ana is a woman, and therefore naturally only into romances. But fear not, dear Chedward. If she’s into the Brontës, she’s into deeply disturbing, abusive heroes.

Christian asks what Ana would recommend he buy, and she recommends coveralls.

You wouldn’t want to ruin your clothing.” She gestures to my jeans.

I can’t resist. “I could always take them off.”

“Um.” She flushes beat red and stares down.

animated gif of sexual harassment panda from South Park

Yeah, this isn’t sexy. She’s at work. She literally cannot escape you, because you are a customer and she could lose her job if you complain about her. Especially because you’re a bajillionaire and could spend all sorts of money in the store. But making Ana uncomfortable gets Chedward all hot under the collar:

She’s mortified, eyes still cast down. Christ, she does things to me.

Like getting a restraining order, hopefully.

“How’s the article coming along?” I ask, in the hope she might relax a little.

She looks up and gives me a brief relieved smile.


That’s what she said.

Ana tells Christian that Kate wants an original photo of him to use for the school paper. You know, I don’t remember that striking me as odd when I first read Fifty Shades of Grey, but it’s pretty ballsy for Kate to expect to get an original photo of someone as big and important as Christian Grey. I’m actually quite impressed with Kate now.


Christian says he’d be willing to do a photo shoot, and makes mental plans to have Taylor (his bodyguard, another detail that isn’t mentioned because it’s assumed that the reader has read Fifty Shades of Grey) bring him some clothes and a laptop to the Heathman hotel. And of course, Chedward is willing to do this photo shoot because it means he’ll have more time to spend with Ana. She never once mentions that she’ll be at the photo shoot, but he assumes she will be, because Christian makes a whole lot of assumptions.

Christian gives Ana his card and instructs her to call him before ten A.M. the next day. Then this happens:

“Ana!” We both turn as a young man dressed in casual designer gear appears at the far end of the aisle. His eyes are all over Miss Anastasia Steele. Who the hell is this prick?

I’m sure I’ve seen this on the list of abusive qualities…oh yeah:

  • Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.

“Er, excuse me for a moment, Mr. Grey.” She walks toward him, and the asshole engulfs her in a gorilla-like hug. My blood runs cold. It’s a primal response.

Get your fucking paws off her.

Charlton Heston in Planet of The Apes, saying, "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape."

I fist my hands and am only slightly mollified when she doesn’t return his hug.

  • Has a history of abusing others.

Maybe this guy is her boyfriend. He looks the right age, and he can’t take his greedy little eyes off her. He holds her for a moment at arm’s length, examining her, then stands with his arm resting on her shoulder. It seems like a casual gesture, but I know he’s staking a claim and telling me to back off.

So…here’s the thing. Christian has known Ana for about twenty minutes to a half hour, total. None of that time was about interaction on a personal level. She came to his office on a professional errand, and now he has come to her place of employment as a customer. And he’s already this possessive, that he has to restrain himself from punching a guy she already knows, and who he reasons could be her boyfriend. Already, Ana is his property, and she’s not allowed to have a boyfriend, or really just any man at all in her life that she talks to. Because it makes Christian angry. And you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Or, you know. All the time. I basically don’t like him all the time.

Ana explains to Christian that the guy is Paul, brother of the store’s owner:

“I’ve known Paul ever since I’ve worked here, though we don’t see each other that often. He’s back from Princeton, where he’s studying business administration.” She’s babbling, giving me a long explanation and telling me they’re not together, I think.

Actually what she’s doing is already apologizing to you for daring to have friends. The fact that she feels the need to justify hugging someone she’s known for a long time is a good indication that she knows you’re already jealous and will possibly react unfavorably.

I’m relieved, but the extent of the relief I feel is unexpected, and it makes me frown. This woman has really gotten under my skin.

So, Chedward’s irrational and scary behavior isn’t his fault, you see. It’s Ana’s fault, for being so attractive to him, regardless of whether or not she’s courted that attraction.

  • Takes no responsibility for his or her behavior and blames others.

Christian handles this introduction with his characteristic kindness:

“Mr. Clayton.” My tone is deliberately clipped.

“Mr. Grey.” His handshake is limp, like his hair. Asshole. “Wait up–not the Christian Grey? Of Grey Enterprises holdings?”

Yeah, that’s me, you prick.

Every time I read the company name, it sounds worse.

In a heartbeat I watch him morph from territorial to obsequious.

Wait, he was being territorial? PAUL is territorial one in this situation? At least he knows the person he’s being territorial over.

Christian has what he needs, so his excuse has run out and he has to leave:

I’m out of time and I still don’t know if I’m going to see her again. I have to know whether there’s a hope in hell she might consider what I have in mind. How can I ask her?

I don’t know. How about after you’ve talked to her for more than an hour? Or when you’re in some kind of semi-regular sexual relationship? Or when you have any idea what she’s like as an actual person and not an object for you to project your sexual fantasies on? Any of those times would be appropriate.

Am I ready to take on a submissive who knows nothing? She’s going to need substantial training.


This is INFURIATING, even more so than the original trilogy. I’m only on the second chapter and I’m ready to burst something vital in my head. He hasn’t gotten to know anything about her at all, he’s decided on a personality for her and slapped it on like a decal on a stoner’s skateboard.

Ygritte from Game of Thrones

You know nothing, Chedward Grullen.

Ana rings up his purchases:

“That will be forty-three dollars, please.”

Is that all?

I know this is meant to convey that he’s ballin’ in the majors and can throw away forty whole bucks on stuff he doesn’t need, but I kind of thought the same thing. The coveralls alone should have been like, at least twenty-six bucks on their own.

Christian tells Ana that he’ll see her tomorrow and that he’s glad Kate didn’t do the interview, and he thinks Ana looks flattered by the remark. And she probably is, because in the original books, Ana consistently judges herself based on how much better she is than Kate.

Yes, against my better judgment, I want her. Now I have to wait…fucking wait…again.

Truly, you are a martyr.

Utilizing willpower that would make Elena proud, I keep  my eyes ahead as I take my cell out of my pocket and climb into the rental car.

So it’s a rental car. That clears up the whole flying business. But what exactly constitutes willpower in this scenario? Not asking a woman you don’t know if she’ll be your sex slave? Not just grabbing her and fucking her right there in the store? What he’s impatient with are normal human boundaries that everyone is expected to mind every single day.

My eyes flick to the rearview mirror, where I can see the shop door, but all I see is the quaint storefront. She’s not in the window, staring out at me.

It’s disappointing.

Bernadette Peters as the witch from Into The Woods, making a sarcastic face beside #Srlsly?

This is going to be a long ride, folks, if this is how highly Chedward thinks of himself. He’s truly expecting this woman he barely knows, whose sole interaction has been–say it with me–required professional contact, to be standing at the window, staring longingly at him.


You know, having read the original trilogy, I now kind of understand what happened to Lela or Leela or Layla or who the fuck ever. She wasn’t broken by Christian’s constant abuse, she was already in that obsessive state when their relationship started, which made her attractive to him. Then he manipulated the situation for his own edification until he was done with her. It’s all becoming so clear now.

Plus, this is a guy who’s like, “I don’t do romance,” and who doesn’t want any romantic entanglements with any of his sex partners, but he wants them to look after him with big, longing puppy eyes? And then he wonders why they fall in love with him?

This book is giving me new insight to his character, all right. I feel like I’m reading an “erotic” novel about a seven year old with poor impulse control.

Christian makes arrangements with Taylor (still doesn’t explain who Taylor is or what his function is, making him even less of a bodyguard and even more of a valet than he was in the original), and decides he’ll go for a hike to get some of his adrenaline out.

It’s been five hours with no phone call from the delectable Miss Steele.

You know what women get called if they contact a guy five hours after they last saw them? CRAZY. We get called CRAZY, Chedward.

I loathe waiting.

Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force

“Oh, really? ‘Cuz he only said it about thirty friggin’ times!”

What a waste of time it’s been chasing this woman.

I didn’t get what I wanted immediately, and I still haven’t gotten it five hours later, so she’s a waste of my time. SWOON.

Finally, as night falls upon the palace of loneliness that is Chedward’s soul, Ana calls him.

My face erupts in a shit-eating grin.

Can we strike the phrase “shit-eating grin” from the English language altogether, please? Everything about this sentence is a train wreck, from his erupting face to the fact that he’s attributing the wrong description for the emotion he should be feeling. A “shit-eating grin” is something someone has when they know they’re being purposely antagonistic, or they think they’re getting away with something. All Chedward did was answer the phone and get the result he’d hoped for when he gave Ana his number.

I hear her breath hitch and the sound travels directly to my groin.

Great. I’m affecting her. Like she’s affecting me.

If you’re not reading along at home, Chedward keeps using the word “affecting” to describe Ana’s reaction to him. He’s “affecting” her. I feel like at this point, she’s a medical experiment.

Ana tells him that the photoshoot is on, and she asks him to pick a convenient location.

In my room. Just you, me, and the cable ties.

And probably a chainsaw and some of his mother’s clothes.

dexter's mom, from the serial killer show, not the cartoon with the kid with the secret lab.

Close your eyes, Dexter.

I hang up before she senses my excitement and how pleased I am. Leaning back in my chair, I gaze at the darkening skyline and run both my hands through my hair.

How the hell am I going to close this deal?

I guess it’s a good thing you have all those kidnapping supplies, huh?

That’s all for this chapter. Stay tuned for further recaps, and recaps of Jamie McGuire’s Apolonia, which no, I have not abandoned in favor of this mess. I can handle more than one mess at a time.

308 thoughts on “Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Saturday, May 14, 2011 or “Lack of situational awareness makes our hero look like a serial killer.”

  1. Re: Kate and the photos: Ballsy, yes, but a decent editor would have sent a photographer with Ana to get the stills done right there. A CEO, especially THE Christian Grey of Christian Grey’s Super-Important Enterprises Holdings Incorporated Limited Company Associates Partners LLC, would not have the time to do the interview and the photo shoot on separate days.

    Unless he desperately wants to rape and torture the editor’s BFF, I guess.

    Also, Christian’s jealousy over Paul = Edward’s rage over Mike playing with Bella’s hair in Midnight Sun. So, add that to the rip-off tally, which has probably reached the length of Michigan Stadium by now.

    1. It actually isn’t unusual to do a photo shoot separate from the interview. However, it’s something that would have been discussed BEFORE the interview, not after.

  2. This. Fucking. Guy.

    But omg, I lost it at “Scoot.” I’m so glad you’re recapping this mess. I read the book and was TRULY hoping that EL would redeem herself by making Christian less… less of himself. But nope! She truly went above and beyond to make him into the worst “romantic” character in literary history.

  3. This is terrifying.

    People read this and think it’s fucking romantic and I think I’m just going to move to the moon.

  4. I’m tempted to start imagining Chedward as Beetlejuice after reading this, but frankly, Beetlejuice deserves better.

    A+ recap as always. Thanks for wading through this pile of shit so we don’t have to. Your sacrifice will not be in vain.

  5. “Of course, I already know the answer. Unlike some people I do my research.”

    Unlike most people, you gross asshat. Ugh, something about that line creeps me out so much it literally made me shudder.

    1. It doesn’t make sense. Usually when you say “unlike some people,” you have someone specific in mind and you’re being sarcastic and maybe a little insulting. But who is he talking about? What people does he mean?

      James uses expressions she doesn’t understand and they come off so weird.

      1. I think he’s referring to Ana who clearly hasn’t done her research before her interview with him, so that sentence actually makes sense. At least if you’re not taking into account that he’s talking about the woman he’s allegedly attracted to…

        1. I took it as a dig from ELJames to anyone who calls her out on her lack of awareness in writing. She does her research, okay? She knows about all kinds of shit. Except maybe how to get from Portland to Seattle, or what BDSM is, or that page in Wikipedia she references that is something else entirely. But she can ignore insignificant details like that, obviously.

      2. He was speaking about the original interview when Ana showed up with several questions and comments showing she had not done any background work for the interview. He was very disgruntled that she had not done any research before wasting his time.

  6. I feel like there’s something deeply wrong with associating this trainwreck with Beetlejuice, no matter how tangentially, because Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice was at least weirdly charismatic and very funny whereas I have toilet brushes with more charm than Christian.

    I don’t know how you manage to do these recaps, Jenny. You’re only on the second chapter and even on the first I wanted to be sick. You truly have willpower of iron.

  7. I’ve seen the phrase ‘executive summary’ used to refer to a summary at the start of a long report – the Cochrane review does them for their medical reviews – so you read a 10 page cut down version of the 200 pages with all the detail. If anything, that usage makes even less sense because surely obsessive Chedward would be reading the fine print about Ana’s life, and not just the bullet points.

    Once again I am very weirded out by the internalised misogyny James must have going on to write this stuff. However, it seems like there is some backlash against the books now that people can see exactly what Christian is thinking, and can no longer come with with excuses for his actions. I kinda hope this might cause some people to question whether the brooding handsome creepydude in their life is really an anguished soul who can be healed with love, or if he might in fact be an asshole like this guy.

  8. “I’m also confused about ‘executive summary’ …”

    It can just mean a boiled-down version of a larger document. We do an “executive summary” at work to send to board chairs with just the facts, ma’am, rather than the full report with all the guts attached.

    These excerpts are just so horrible. I mean, usually writers get better the more they do it, even if they never get GOOD at it. But she got worse …

    Oh and a million people posted the Twitter Q&A articles to my FB wall and I was going to link them to you, but then I saw two of yours were quoted in separate articles, so I figured you knew about it. :-) It was glorious.

    “Christian makes negative comments about Ana’s body in the original trilogy, and we see here that he actually thinks her body is fine. So the entire point of his “you need to eat/you’re too thin” thing isn’t because he didn’t get fed enough as a child. It’s because he’s an abusive psychopath.”

    Or because James is a shit writer who doesn’t remember that part — or doesn’t see the problem here. Gah! She’s such a terrible writer!!!

    “And he’s already this possessive”

    And this is the stuff all these women are fawning over, too.

    1. “These excerpts are just so horrible. I mean, usually writers get better the more they do it, even if they never get GOOD at it. But she got worse …”

      I don’t think she’s gotten worse, necessarily. I think she’s just really successful and knows that she can publish any sort of garbage and see it sell like candy.

      What you said about her probably forgetting about Ana being too thin (according to CG) is probably spot on. But it struck me as her just not being able to come up with any other reason besides a nice ass that Christian would be all over her. I don’t know which is worse, really.

    2. Or…. EL has heard the commentary about how negative he was about her body and is using this as her chance to say “see, NO! he thinks she’s HAWT!”

      This is her do-over chance to prove all the negative reviews wrong….. Its a huge steaming pile of failure of a do-over it seems….But Im attributing everything that doesn’t jive with the original series to “see, it wasn’t so bad” re-writing.

  9. I’ve had my doubts, but I think this book has sealed it for me.
    This is not real. Actually, James is some sort of genius on another level than any other human, and she’s been testing all of us all these years just to find out if we’re ready for good things. After we failed miserably with FSOG, she decided to release this. This is basically her saying, ‘Hey, I’m being really obvious now! Nothing in this is healthy or sexy!’

    I mean, sheesh, I’ve heard some crazy arguments as far as Fifty Shades was concerned, but it’s like James has deliberately given us proof that Christian Grey is a psycho.

    “Am I ready to take on a submissive who knows nothing? She’s going to need substantial training.”

    This sort of thing, it should just scream at people. In the last books we saw him treat her like an object time and time again, but some people (really optimistic and forgiving people, I guess) sort of held onto the idea that maybe he was a sweet guy under that pile of horrible personality. But he literally -thinks- about this girl he barely knows like she’s a dog who needs to be trained to fulfill his sexual fantasies. Jenny, you made a great point; he doesn’t know anything about her experience sexually, and he’s making all these erroneous assumptions. But I gotta admit, I noticed that a lot less than I did the fact that he just never actually thinks of her like she’s a person. He can’t teach her, he can’t guide her, he can’t introduce her to this after building a relationship with her — no, he has to -train- her.

    I try not to judge, but I can’t stop myself from giving people this really weird, sort of disappointed/confused look when they tell me they like these books. Can you imagine somebody saying ‘E.L. James is my favourite author’? Hooboy.

  10. British Literature. Includes works by Dickens, H.G Wells, Conan Doyle, Shelley, and J.K. Rowling, among many many many others. Hell, I’m reading British Literature right now. It involves an epic quest by rabbits in which the second half is all about their need to get does in their warren. Mmm. So romantic.
    I mean, yes, all Ana appears to read is classic romance, and sure, romance is fun to read, but the automatic assumption that a woman who reads must be reading romance and nothing else (isn’t she an English major? Surely some of her set texts must break the mould?) makes me want to hurl the entire contents of my bookshelves at Christian’s head. And there’s a lot of books there. Order of the Phoenix alone could cause some major damage.

    1. Right?? This was a hugely annoying thing for me through the FSOG trilogy, to be honest. Every time another book was mentioned at all it was just there to make Ana seem intelligent and sophisticated.

      I think I remember something like…
      “My inner goddess peeks up from her book – the complete works of Charles Dickens.”

      And it’s just like, aaaagh! It’s -just- like Christian calling television ‘drivel’. It’s not smart, it’s not attractive, it’s just boring. And I guess some of it might come from the fact that, honestly, I don’t recognize a lot of the books they mention. I’m not sure if that makes me stupid or something, but their immediate reaction to “I read books :D” being “hmm oh yes she must be referring to the brontës. blew thru that when i was 4 lmao” just kills me. I’d love Ana 1000000x more if she just picked up Harry Potter.

      1. I have an English degree and read a lot of the mentioned books in high school and college. A few I’ve chosen to read as an adult just to round out my resume, you could say.

        But this “English majors only read high-brow, complicated, 18th-century literature” trope is annoying. I love all kinds of literature. I’m making my way through Janet Evanovich and Him Butcher right now. I read non-fiction (LOVE Alison Weir — if you haven’t read her, you should). I’ve read everything Amy Tan ever wrote. And some classic literature I just don’t even like at all. I HATED Great Gatsby and I still haven’t found a Fitzgerald that doesn’t make me nauseated.

        People who love to read love to read. But even so, I cannot even peripherally consider any installment of the 50 Shades debacle to be a real book. lol

        I don’t normally care what people read or enjoy, even if I hated it. But this? I judge you if you like this.

        1. I was an English major. After being forced to read things like Clarissa (worst book ever – until FSOG and the complete works of Laurell Hamilton), the entire Moby Dick, and a bazillion other really long books, I decided on the last day of university to never read anything again that I didn’t want to. I spent the next summer reading nothing but Harlequins!

          1. Rowan: Try miniseries of Clarissa with Sean Bean. WAY better than endless books–good acting and surprisingly good script.
            And yeah, I’m an English major too, and there are plenty of destructive men and fallen women even in Austen and Dickens (Wickham and anybody, Willoughby and anybody, Steerforth and Li’l Emily). In those days, authors not only wouldn’t spell it out, since many things were read aloud to the family, but NEEDN’T spell it out, because those who were old enough could read between the lines.

          2. It’s not even just the “classics” that are terrible that you have to read as an English major (A Tale of Two Cities…*shudder*). I took a sci-fi class and was forced to read Neuromancer. Terrible book. I think I cleansed my palate with Robert Jordan.

            It did introduce me to some great books I never would have discovered on my own and some really interesting literary history (Aphra Behn Oroonoko and Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto spring to mind, probably because I wrote a paper on them), but it also introduced me to some terrible, terrible books.

        2. Here, here! I also really dislike The Great Gatsby. And Hemingway. His style of writing does absolutely nothing for me.

          People who claim to read only classic literature remind me of people stuck in the sixties or seventies music-wise. There’s a lot of good stuff being written and made right now. People who refuse to see that are just missing out.

          1. As far as Hemingway, I liked The Sun Also Rises OK and A Movable Feast was brilliant. But I can’t get into his other stuff. I do like his writing style a lot, even if the stories he tells aren’t always my taste. Fitzgerald annots me.

            I found this quote from Wilkie Collins on Pinterest the other day that says, “I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story.” I choose books to read based on whether the story is interesting. Sometimes I get lucky and it’s an excellent book. Sometimes it’s Gone Girl or The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Practical Magic (which was almost as badly written as 50).

            Being a classic doesn’t automatically mean I’m going to like it. I don’t like Jane Austen, either. I do enjoy Hawthorne and Victor Hugo. When I finally read Catcher in the Rye, I couldn’t figure out why so many people loved it. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me.

            My middle and high school leisure reads were VC Andrews and Sidney Sheldon! And I seriously hate this trope of English majors being mousy introverts with lousy social skills. I am a bit introverted, but I also care about my appearance and have a very active social life. I just happen to love reading and have a talent for writing, which I use to my financial advantage.

            In college, everyone thought I wanted to be a teacher because of my chosen major. Nope. Nope. Nope.

          2. Love Fitzgerald, hate Hemingway, and my colleagues in grad school were a bunch of medievalists who got drunk and MST3K’d Ninja movies, got drunk and yelled at the TV during football games…or just got drunk.

            Because mousy and shy.

          3. Reply to Renee:

            I first read A Farewell to Arms and that one was not to my taste, but fine otherwise. The Sun Also Rises was where I went, ‘Yeah, I don’t like this.’ I don’t like Hemingway’s minimalist, muted style when it comes to emotions. If the characters don’t even seem to care, then why should I care?

            Now that I’m getting older, I am in the habit of rereading stuff and sometimes that yields surprising results. E.g., I hated Wuthering Heights when I first read it, because Catherina and Heathcliff are awful. I am currently reading it for the second time and (though the main characters are still dicks) I am liking the story itself quite a bit.

            Plus, now that I’ve read more I can appreciate the story AND the writing. In the past, I considered the writing just a vehicle for the plot, but nowadays I can enjoy prose and style too. I absolutely adore ‘The Constant Gardener’ but the story didn’t interest me at all. I barely remember what the book was about, in fact. Oh, but the writing was so lovely.

            The first thing people say when they hear what I read at university is also ‘so, you’re gonna be a teacher,’ which is at the top of my nope-list too. I enjoy tutoring (usually students in their late teens, early twenties) but standing in front of a class full of children? Never.

          4. Lieke –

            I’m just not good at teaching. I’ve done some tutoring, but I struggle with it. I’m a good writer and editor, though, so I do that. I’ve been a journalist and now I write dull reports for a state agency and proofread/edit documents for other departments. And I do some freelance stuff.

            One of my freelance gigs is writing study guides and the company assigns the books. I’ve done three so far. What I love most about it (it doesn’t pay well for the amount of work, but it’s fun) is that they give me “modern classics,” so I get to read things I might not otherwise have even known about. I’ve done three so far and the books are excellent. The most recent one is called I Pity the Poor Immigrant. As the child of a non-practicing Jewish father, it really hit home. It’s more high-brow, but it’s well done and doesn’t feel like the author is condescending. The funny thing about James is that while she’s a terrible writer in every way possible (terrible prose, terrible/nonexistent plot, etc.), she writes in a condescending manner, as though she thinks she’s smarter and better than other writers and all her critics and maybe even her own fans.

            I can totally appreciate good prose even in books that have plots I don’t care for (Gone Girl — Flynn can write well enough, but the story fell flat for me and I didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t like them, but I didn’t dislike them, so I didn’t care what happened to them.). If 50 at least had good prose, I would give it some credit. But it doesn’t.

            I didn’t care for Wuthering Heights. The story didn’t do anything for me. Maybe a re-read would help.

          5. Reply to Renee:

            I don’t like standing in front of a big group of people, so I know that I wouldn’t like teaching. I’d probably be terrible at it too, because of that.

            Yes, James does write as if she believes her readers are idiots. Constantly repeating and explaining what was already incredibly obvious.

            The weird thing about rereading Wuthering Heights is that this time around I enjoy the exact thing I couldn’t stand before. The characters’ awfullness just really amuses me now, for some reason.

          6. Lieke –

            When awful characters are written that way well and on purpose, I love it. I’ve mentioned Lolita here before. Humbert Humbert is beyond evil and cringe-worthy, but he’s a great character! That book is fantastic. With this, we’re supposed to like and root for the characters, but they’re awful. James thinks they’re romantic and they make me want to hurl. Had she purposely written about terrible people who were supposed to be terrible, this could have been a great book. A good writer could have made a great book out of this material.

            I just remembered a funny story about someone I was once in a conversation with about the ASOIAF series. She had I think a graduate degree in English and she was “shocked” that she enjoyed the books because they were “entertainment for the masses” and she really never read “that kind of thing.”

            I pointed out that Shakespeare, in his day (as you said), was “entertainment for the masses.” So was Austen. Most of the writers we look back on as “greats” and whose work we call classic was just written to entertain. Just because a lot of people enjoy something doesn’t make it dumb or bad or not worth people’s time. I love ASOIAF. That it’s so popular makes me happy, along with Harry Potter. It tells me there are still people out there who have some taste. Every time I think about how popular 50 is, I try to remind myself of the other things that are popular that actually deserve it!

          7. Reply to Renee:

            Exactly! Popularity does not automatically make something shitty. It’s strange and snobby to think that obscure indie things are always better.

            I have to admit, though, that I am a bit wary of really popular books, because if someone has sold so many copies then a huge part of its readership is going to consist of people who are not regular readers (and. thus, sometimes don’t have the most discerning taste).

          8. Lieke –

            If a popular book’s premise interests me and the writing seems decent, I will usually give it a shot. Sometimes it works out (The Help) and sometimes not. But even if a book is terrible, I’ve never regretted having read it.

            I learn from the bad books probably more than I learn from the good ones. And even non-discerning readers sometimes still pick the good stuff. I’m actually shocked sometimes when I meet someone who loves 50 as much as anyone can love 50, but also loves books that are actually really great. I can’t fathom how these people can have read some of these awesome books and still think 50 is good!

          9. Renee: Maybe that’s why I DO like _Wuthering Heights_, because I read it as Emily Bronte absolutely intending her leads to be awful. One’s a psychotic, the other’s a psychopath, and just as a further poke at the “Silver Fork” novels (19th-century glitz, featuring aristocratic characters with wealth and/or political clout), the leads are two farmkids from BF West Yorkshire. Emily and her siblings used to do their own fanfic, with Branwell’s toy soldiers, actual historical persons like the Duke of Wellington, and the imaginary kingdoms of Angria and Gondal. She had to be WELL aware what she was doing when she had bewildered Londoner Mr. Lockwood listening to stories about these troglodytes in the West Riding.

          10. Violetta –

            Before I read it, all I ever heard about it was that it was this great romance. So maybe that’s why I didn’t like it, because it definitely was not what I expected. And I don’t think it was ever intended to be a romance. There is a lot of weird misinterpretation out there.

            An awful lot of people think Lolita is a love story, and not in an ironic sense. They really thing Lolita was a temptress and Humbert was her victim somehow and that he genuinely loved her. I read that and went, “What is WRONG with people???!!!” How do you get that idea from that book? Same with WH. I guess I need to re-read WH with different expectations.

        3. THIS.

          I hated “The Great Gatsby” and thought “The Catcher in the Rye” was some of the most pretentious crap I ever had the misfortune to read (and I was in high school, then). Even now, while I’m working towards an English degree, there’s a lot of literature I’m not crazy about. It says a lot that there’s only one book out of my current class’s reading list that I’m genuinely excited to read about (“The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells). I’d much rather read the Dresden Files or whatever YA novel that’s caught my attention (just finished “The Girl From the Well” and it was creepy and brilliant) than anything by the Brontes. The only classic writer I enjoy is Shakespeare (cliché, I know) and even then I prefer watching his plays to reading them.

          Granted, I’m focusing on creative writing more than literature. But still!

          Actually, I’d love to see something where the hero finds out that the heroine is studying literature and assumes she’s into Austen and the Brontes. But then the heroine’s all “Actually, I prefer the works of Jonathan Swift and Nathaniel Hawthorne” or even “Nah, I’m into the old epics like Beowulf. I’ve even learned to speak a bit of Anglo-Saxon!”

          1. I’d love to see them expect Austen and the Brontes and the character to be really in to EA Poe but NOT be your typical high school goth.

            In my Lit classes both Poe and Twain were by far and away the authors I was the most excited about and the most in to. I’ve been a fan of Twain since I was in elementary school and I love that each time I re-read Huck Finn or read through his short stories I get something else out of them.

          2. I just want a heroine who loves Jane Eyre like I do because of the social commentary on (white) women and Jane’s relationships with Rochester and St. John Rivers that explores what these romances mean for Jane’s quest for fulfillment and not just shorthand for someone who likes romances.

        4. Omg someone else who studied English and hates The Great Gatsby and Fitzgerald’s writing as much as me! I feel like Jen just when he meets Kira in The Dark Crystal. <3

          1. IKR? I feel way less alone now. I hated The Great Gatsby, but my teacher was always trying to get me to love it as much as she did. And she was a -huge- fan of it. I mean, she had a freakin’ lunchbox.
            Also all the Dresden love is making me feel warm and fuzzy.

          2. Katelyn– Omg I’ve had teacher try to get me to like this book too. I read and analyzed it five fucking times throughout high school and getting my bachelors, it still sucks.

        5. Well said. I have a degree in English (creative writing) and I much prefer genre fiction to literary fiction, which is something certain instructors gave me considerable grief for (to say nothing of my confession that I was an ex-fanfic author–you’d think I’d said I tortured small animals). Luckily, once I got to my final capstone workshop, we’d evolved to a pretty diverse bunch. People who liked travel lit, people who liked revisionist fairy tales, the one requisite dude with a manbun who was going to be the next David Foster Wallace…but none of these people fit EL’s mythical notion of an English major as someone who only reads proper, highbrow English lit.

        6. As the holder of an MA in English literature, I can definitely attest to this. Having spent most of my graduate years buried in medieval texts (and not just Chaucer!) I couldn’t wait to read something fun and in modern English in my free time. Assuming English majors only want to read the same books they study in school like assuming, idk, that math majors only want to do math problems or science majors only like to read textbooks.

          It’s also pretty laughable that writers of this trope always cite the same cliché British/American authors/books probably plucked from the syllabus of a required freshman survey course. There is *so* much more literature out there and you know… 4 years is a long time to study and a lot of books to read. Do they really think all English majors spend all that time/effort on the same limited selection of British/American pop culture staples?

          1. Seems to be the case, Unicorner.

            I think most people who decide to major in English do so because they discovered they loved to read when they were quite young and probably started with pop-up books. No one starts out reading Proust, FPS.

            I did fall in love with Shakespeare when my mother took me to see MacBeth when I was 5, but I prefer watching Shakespeare to reading it. They’re plays. They’re meant to be watched and not read. But as a kid, unless it was something a teacher assigned, I just read what I enjoyed and I have continued that.

            I love that high school and college introduced me to a variety of books — classic and modern — but I don’t choose books based on what some stuffy professor says is good. I don’t know many people who do and those who do that usually do it to sound smarter than they are. They probably have a secret stash of Harlequins somewhere that they read when no one is looking.

            Just this year, I’ve read Tolstoy and Evanovich and everything in between!

        7. I’ve always found that people who want to sound smarter than they are, only talk about reading a small handful of “important” writers and books. Whereas people who enjoy reading, will read a wide variety of things, and want to discuss what they’ve read, whether it’s the complete works of Dickens or the back of a potato chip bag.

        8. I agree completely! I did a double major in English and Theatre Performance. While I read “the classics” I also took a class on Victorian pornography, children’s literature and BTVS. I also read everything (whattup fellow Jim Butcher reader) and it ranges from comics, and bad teen fiction to yes classics and Pulitzer prize winners. Mostly I read a bunch of enjoyable crap because being an English major and being made to read dry post modern stuff meant “fun reading” became fluffier.

        9. If there are people I know that like these books but don’t recognise the MASSIVE issues with it I just despair. But how can you read these and not see how much Christian reads as the killer in plain sight in a crap horror film. The kind that might as well have the neon sign flashing above him saying killer and everyone around them just doesn’t clock it.

          Thank you for reminding me of Alison Weir. I have a bunch of her audiobooks I hadn’t listened to, gonna get cracking on them they’re great!

      2. I’d like Ana so much more if in between all those old classics, she had a guilty pleasure for something silly and/or trashy. Like if she read Sweet Valley Twins for nostalgia’s sake, or trashy bonkbusters. Or even if she did things like debate which actors played the best Darcy’s and Heathcliffe’s or what her fantasy cast lists would be. But you’re right, they’re just namedropped as proof of Ana’s great intelligence.

        1. Also, the books she’s reading to show that she’s super duper smart… are mainly pretty straightforward in terms of plot, style, etc. Lady isn’t exactly tackling Ulysses.

          (n.b., I am completely aware of the way in which my criticism is linked to my own taste in literature, which is its own kind of snobbery.)

          1. But then she also COMPLETELY misses the entire plot of Tess and somehow thinks it’s a romance. That was one of the most un romantic books I’ve ever read. It was utterly tragic and if I recall, Hardy was not shy about saying “yes, it is tragic. That’s the point!”

            And wasn’t Ana doing a dissertation or something on Tess? How the hell did she graduate?!

        2. That would give Ana something suspiciously close to a personality. EL James would never let a travesty like that occur.

        3. I would LOVE an english-major heroine obsessed with Sweet Valley books! Or dinosaurs! I’m dying for a scene in which she participates in a lecture discussing existentialist themes in french literature by casually quoting Raptor Red or Jurassic Park.

          1. OH MY GOD! Raptor red as used for comparative literature- I died a mini happy death right there. Raptor red is one of my favorite books and I’ve met so few people who’ve actually read it.

          2. Afflixi, this comment reminds me of when a bunch of us taking English Lit went to see Legends of the Fall during college (yes, I know this dates me horribly) and left the theatre discussing the thematic elements among other things that just make me think “Man, we were pretentious!” lol

        4. Sushi – In between all the young adult and adult novels I read (usually urban fantasy stuff), I freely admit I’ll read any Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books. In college I sold all my “kids’ books” (including Babysitters’ Club and Sweet Valley stuff) but I kept the books about my three favourite detectives.

          Ana’s book snobbery is no fun, it makes me want to smack her in the fact with a Harlequin romance novel (or Jenny’s The Boss, hah!). Trashy stories with no plot can be fun sometimes!

      3. This passed me by in the original recap, but it sticks out now. Dickens got paid by the word, and he made that blatantly clear. His “complete works” would not be so much a single book as a fucking mountain of paper. Seriously, if you look up his complete works, you get ~35-volume sets. She can’t even namedrop right.
        To paraphrase Jenny once upon a time, screw you, E.L. James. You’re not as smart as you think you are.

        1. You’re not kidding. I got one of those sets at a book sale ($1 per volume), and even though my set isn’t complete, it still took more than one box from the liquor store to pack it up when I moved. James has forgotten (or never knew about) obscure things like “Dombey & Son” or once-popular things like “Pickwick Papers ” that haven’t been turned into endless miniseries or musicals.

    2. Agreed. I hate how “literate” women in fiction only read mainstream romance classics and are in love with Mr. Rochester or Mr. Darcy.

      Don’t get me wrong–if any of you commenters do that then that’s your business. What bothers me is when it’s supposed to be some sign that they’re literate. EVERYBODY’S HEARD OF THOSE BOOKS. You might as well claim that they’re enormous film buffs because they’ve watched Citizen Kane once.

      1. This brings something else to mind, too. Like, if Anastasia was an English Major who happened to enjoy only those books, fine, but I think what really tipped me over the edge was that Christian happened to like the same exact books, too. And through that, we’re meant to believe that this indicates that they’re both super intelligent — and not just that, but they’re “properly” intelligent.

        It would have been so much easier to handle if Christian was like, “Uh – never read that. I’m way more into —-”. Instead, at least in my case, I know that both characters would look down on the sort of things I read. What would be even better than that is if they actually took the time to explore eachothers’ interests. My boyfriend got me into poetry, and he won’t stop watching/reading Harry Potter after I forced him to check it out. Why do I keep expecting so much?

        And another thing was the nagging feeling that this isn’t really about Ana or Christian at all. Instead, it’s a self-insert of E.L. really wanting to come across as well-read and refined. I wonder if she’s too good for television?

        1. “It would have been so much easier to handle if Christian was like, “Uh – never read that. I’m way more into —-”.”

          I think that’s why I liked Gus so much in The Fault In Our Stars. He seemed a bit pretentious to start with, exactly the kind of guy that would name-drop old classics, then we found out his favourite book was actually a video game tie-in novel and he suddenly seemed a lot more real and believable. I bet Christian would enjoy some Dan Brown or Andy McNab, but you just know he’d never try them because it’s popular, which means it’s drivel, because he’s sooooo much better than everyone else.

          1. Yeah, exactly! And it’s just such TINY things that could have made him so much better, too. James didn’t even have to try hard. Instead she just went ‘domineering smart dude’ and wrote him flatter than a pancake.

            It’d be so nice if she name dropped those classics and he quickly agreed, name dropped back, but we later discovered that he only did that to impress her, and he’s actually reading some cheesy romance novel. I think I’d like that better than the other way around, too, just to give a softer side to Christian. The whole ‘dominating’ thing swallows his entire personality and everything in his life, and it’s sooooo -boring-, ugh. It’s like James thinks that if Christian stops being this controlling, powerful, sexy, sophisticated man for even a split second the reader will suddenly have to hate him.

          2. Too true, Sushi. And I like the fact that Hazel’s faborite book was modern high-brow stuff instead of the stereotypical “YA heroine favorite novels.” (That is, Brontë sisters, Jane Austen, or Romeo and Juliet. Because in the world of books, teen girls only read classics if there’s romance to be found. Ugh.)

      2. THANK YOU!!!!!

        Maybe if they name-dropped Laurence or Stein I’d be marginally more impressed, but there’s nothing ‘intelligent’ about reading Pride & Prejudice; I read it when I was in 5th grade and even then I felt like it wasn’t an accomplishment at all.

    3. There’s this line in the FSoG movie that epitomises this stupid attitude.

      Here it is: ‘Tell me, was it Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, or Thomas Hardy who first made you fall in love with literature?’

      The amount of ridiculous assumptions in that sentence just makes me want to go HULK SMASH! on something.

      Fact: You can only fall in love with literature because of those three authors. Can’t be anyone else, apparently. I mean, it’s not like there are other authors from other countries and other time periods who write in other genres who might have sparked a love for literature.

      Fuck you, E.L. James. Fuck you right in the eye.

        1. Damn. I guess I have to turn in my degree and all my class credits since it was Ann M Martin that got me really hooked on reading. (Though, my dad’s old copies of Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Tom Sawyer helped.)

      1. Wow, that’s too bad. I guess The Berenstain Bears would have too low-brow. Such a shame that I feel in love with books before I started kindergarten.

        1. If you’re a pleb, you’re at least not alone in being one. I tore through all Famous Five books in absurd record time. (Mostly because I loved, loved, loved that there were books with a character like George.)

          And thank you all for starting this particular sub-thread… it made me dig “Die Rote Zora” and “Momo” back out of my memory banks. I’ll have to track down English translations so I can share the joy with my Beloved.

          1. I was just reading through his and thinking about the books that started my love for reading. And there you are: mentioning ‘die rote Zora’ and Michael Ende! Let’s be plebs together!

          2. Linda:
            Hooray my fellow pleb and German author reading buddy! Did you by any chance read “Krabat” too? That was another early one that got me hooked on books…

          3. Neurite:
            Yes! Of course! I loved Krabat, still do.
            But I have to admit, the one that got me into reading in english(german is my native language in case you didn’t guess that one yet) was indeed Jane Austen. P&P and Persuasion are high up on my list of all time favorites. Can we still be book buddies? :)

        2. I first got obsessed with reading when I was introduced to modern classics like “Donald Duck bombs Germany”. True story. My italian grandmother was left with a whole bunch of anti-Nazi propaganda for kids at the end of the war and my father and I learnt how to read from those. My horrified mother tried to sprinkle a bit of harmless ” Mickey Mouse’s magical circus” in there but the damage was done. I think that’s where my love for gritty reboots comes from.

      2. I can’t recall what exactly sparked my love of reading, but I can honestly say it sure as hell wasn’t those three authors. In fact, it was my parents who sparked said love.

        1. Same. My mum remarried when I was four, and in a bonding session, my new stepdad introduced me to Narnia. First book love! Obviously, at four, I was doing it wrong, and my stepfather is a cruel, cruel man (although he loves history and model trains, so I really don’t see it?)

          Also, his mother gave me Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was 16. I only read it because I respected her so freaking much. Hell, I probably only liked it because she was the one recommending it, at the time I was either re-reading my pre-teen favourites or devouring books meant for adults, she skewed my norm.

          1. When I was 9, I read “War and Peace” (out of order, just the Natasha parts, then just the Andrei parts, etc.) because I’d seen the Russian miniseries. I also read the Bobbsey Twins. When I was 12, I read “Canterbury Tales,” first in modern English, then in Middle, because I’d heard the original was dirtier (it is). I also read everything that Paul Zindel and S.E. Hinton ever wrote. I didn’t read Narnia or Little House until I was an adult, and I loved them both immediately. I still like the Alice books.
            Because a GOOD STORY.
            You know, that thing the Eel has to crib, because she has none of her own?
            As for Austen, I read her as a teen, but it took me years to appreciate what she was poking fun at, because I didn’t understand the class system of her time well enough to see where the satire was.

      3. I got my English Lit and Comp Lit degree having never been assigned even one of those authors. I started reading Austen on my own around sophomore year; I didn’t read the other two until sometime in the last two or three years (college is well over a decade behind me). I liked Hardy all right, loved Charlotte Bronte, absolutely hated Emily Bronte (I didn’t just dislike the characters and plot of WH but also found the writing itself dull).

        I learned to love reading because of fairy tales, Tolkein, and Lewis. I almost exclusively read fantasy, sci-fi, and fairy tale/folklore/mythology analyses through high school (I essentially wanted to be some combination of Jack Zipes and Joseph Campell), but I also enjoyed the literature I was assigned, especially Hamlet, Catcher in the Rye, and Cry, the Beloved Country.

        About halfway through my lit degree, I fell in love with teaching writing. I still read lit, but my class schedule reflected my shift in purpose and I took fewer lit courses and more writing, linguistics, and pedagogy courses. My degree reflected an emphasis in education rather than in any area of lit.

        I also developed an interest in Spanish literature, politics, rhetoric, history, and sociology. Those probably make up about 70% of what I read now, the rest filled with my still beloved sci-fi and fantasy (another Dresden fan here!), YA (I teach adolescents, so I must keep up on YA; most of the time I enjoy that), modern and contemporary world literature in Spanish and English recommended by friends and/or book clubs, books and journals that help me be a good teacher, and the occasional classic.

        I’m rambling because it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep, but my point is this: if anyone had said to me what Grey said to Ana, especially with the cocky confidence I assume Christian speaks with, I would have burst out laughing. The English majors at my university had diverse tastes, as did our professors; to make the kind of assumption he did about any one of us — no matter how shy or socially awkward — would be absurd.

        And Ana, who seems to fit that bizarre stereotype that only exists in these kinds of books, probably would not have graduated because she clearly can’t do the three things English majors of just about any type (but certainly students of literature) must do well: analyze, research, and critically think. Through that analysis and research, by the way, we learn quite a bit about life, and that seems to not have happpened in Ana’s case. We all know her hallucinations (I’m not sure what else to call her inner goddess and subconscious) keep her from any kind of critical thought.

    4. The Brontes and Austen are also covered in AP lit classes in high school, so there’s that.

      But you’re on point. I did take two Brit lit courses during undergrad. I think that what E.L James is omitting or forgetting is that those Romantic literary classics are with a capital R, not a lower case one. They’re all not hearts and flowers. “Romantic” just refers to the time period of 1800-1850 when all of these works of literature were being written. While some of the books do get a “happy ending”, they mostly deal with social standing, class concerns, and marrying for necessity more than for love. Additionally, Ana would have had to read more than those three authors as a lit major. I had to take several Brit and American lit classes and I wasn’t even going into literature. Chedward is just too stupid to know any of this. E.L. James should have learned about Romanticism when studying history. I know I did.

    5. I wandered over here when several of us over at Dlisted were discussing the 50SoG movie sweeping the Razzies, naturally our discussion mentioned Jenny and her hilarious reading of the series. I’ve been enjoying myself with reading Jenny’s reviews of 50 Shades of Midnight Sun.

      I wanted to thunderpunch EL James in the taint when I read the crack about the Brontes and Austen. People forget how scandalous Jane Eyre was in the 1840s, or that Anne Bronte (the forgotten Bronte) wrote about alcoholism and the destruction of family in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
      Jane Austen also made pointed social commentary in her novels–what she talked about between the lines might earn a biiiiiig deal now, but in the late 1700s-early 1800 was potent.

  11. Ok, I sat and watched the “scoot” gif and laughed about that line for a little longer than was probably mature.

  12. Even knowing how 50 Shades goes, I have trouble seeing this ending w/ Ana not getting murdered.

    The sad thing is that Christian Grey could have been written as at least marginally sympathetic. There was no reason he had to be this creepy. Despite how unsettling his outward behavior was in 50 Shades, his internal monologue could have softened him slightly and actually made him the awkward, misunderstood guy Ana built him up to be. But this problem has the same problem that Midnight Sun had – the male interest is so creepy that it just ruins whatever romance there was from the heroine’s POV. At least SMeyer had the good sense not to publish hers.

    1. Yeah! See, that was sort of what I was waiting for. I was genuinely curious as to whether James was going to make Christian this inwardly sympathetic, albeit socially confused guy who doesn’t know how to connect with another person. I shouldn’t have to struggle this much asking myself for ONE redeeming quality in the protagonist.

      …his tie?

  13. “Let me introduce you, my innocent potential sub, to my Red Room of Pain!” I look at Anna. I want to see the shock in her face as I reveals this secret to her. How mortified she will be. She’ll hate it, until I bend her over and fu…

    “An impressive quantity of toys, but it could really use a little variation. I have some sites you could look at with a really good inventory. Well, I say sites, but I don’t have a laptop so I get all my stuff via mail order. The companies do have websites though, I’ve been told. If we do start playing together, I’ll have to bring some of my own stuff.”

    “Your own stuff?” I fist my hands. This woman had been misleading me. How could she keep this a secret like this from me? “You never said you’d played before.”

    “Well, neither did you until you showed me this room. It’s not something I share easily.” Anna leaned forward and looked suggestively through her eyelashes. “Is that a problem?”

    “How many men have touched you?” My face scrunches up and I almost trip over my pants hanging off my hips in that way, as I approuch her threateningly.

    “Well, there’s David, who used to come every Tuesday. He’s a real fan of rope and paddles. Terrible at tying knots though. After a few months we started this game where if I could undo the knots, I’d get to capture him and we’d reverse roles. The ropes kept getting tied looser and looser after that. On Thursdays I met with Harry. He liked to put a collar on me and play with wax. He’s also got mad skills with the banjo. Then after highschool…”

    1. Haha – brilliant! That helped the rage from trying to fathom this utter drivel subside. Thank you.

      Your last line reminded me of Marla in Fight Club.

    2. You made Ana more likeable, witty and interesting in a comments post then her actual writer did in THREE BOOKS!

      I wish I could give you over 90 million dollars…

  14. I think I blacked out once or twice from hitting my head on my desk from Chedward’s thoughts here. Oh. My. God.

    Also, by his logic, since I find Tommy Zbikowski hella gorgeous, that means he’s also attracted to me, even though he has never met me, correct? That’s Chedward Logic? That is some twisted logic.

    1. You need to do what I do and keep 911 on speed dial right by you. Still, you gotta admit, Chedward Logic is sort of addicting. Pedro Pascal could notice me @_@

    2. Well, shit–by Chedward logic, my fave K-Pop star must be digging me despite being on separate continents and not even speaking the same language. I’m kinda liking Chedward logic rn

  15. So, people who’ve read this book–spill the beans. Does THIS book contain any part where Christian actually does some clever and business-related thing?

  16. About the price, I bet EL was thinking in pounds and just wrote “dollars” without considering that pounds are roughly twice as valuable as dollars (so you get twice as big a number in dollars).

    1. Closer to one and a half, but that makes a lot of sense. I thought it was stranger that the total was $43 even, although if I remember correctly the UK tends to include tax in the price and leaves it at a round number. Thanks for clearing that up.

      1. Nope, you rarely get a round number in the UK. Yes, tax is included in the stated price (which is great as you know exactly what you’re spending without doing the maths) but it’s calculated so the total with tax is usually something-99 or -49 or something else ending in 9. Because, you know, consumers are so stupid that we still think 9.99 is so much less than £10 ;-)

        1. I don’t know, I work for a shoe retailer and all our prices are to the nearest pound. I know it’s not the norm, but there are stores that will do it for an easier time.

      2. She lives in Oregon, right? (I’ve apparently blocked out most of my knowledge of the original trilogy, thank god.) There’s no sales tax in Oregon, although you still rarely get a round number as a total here, because as the commenter below said about UK prices, things aren’t priced at whole dollar amounts, they’re 9.95 or 13.87 or whatever.

  17. What you’re saying about how it’s never Chedward’s fault vividly reminded me of one moment from “Tess of d’Urbervilles”:
    [Tess] “Sure, I don’t trouble you anywhen!”
    [Alec] “You say you don’t? But you do! You haunt me. Those very eyes that you
    turned upon me with such a bitter flash a moment ago, they come to me just as
    you showed them then, in the night and in the day!”

    Here again (and in the book as a whole) it’s the woman’s fault for everything.
    Now, it’s a shame to compare this classic with anything related with 50SOG, but I just can’t resist. And let’s not forget that James has most probably read the book or at least the cliffs notes of it – she uses “Tess…”in 50SOG as an example of a “romantic story”.

    1. Come to think of it, Alec and Christian have a lot in common. Maybe someone will write an unauthorized sequel in which Mrs. Jones realizes what that red spot spreading on the ceiling must be.

  18. the way chedward makes assumptions about ana’s feelings/desires based on her blushing/paling/etc reminds me of when, in MIDDLE SCHOOL, many of the boys were convinced that erect nipple = horny girl. sure that’s possible, but given the setting and the company it’s far more likely that she’s just cold.

    1. LOL, that’s actually a perfect comparison. It could be -20 outside with Ana standing there in nothing but her underwear, and he’d be convinced that she’s shaking because of how glorious he is.

  19. Yes the book is this bad all the way through. No Christian doesn’t get any better. Yes it is a long and painful ride. That is all. (Except p.s. I bloody loved the scoot gif. Laughed like a drain. Had this tripe come with amusing pictures it might have been bearable…then again NO)

  20. 1) I’m too exhausted by this awful writing to rage about how Ana and Christian have the exact same voice, but the quote about her being “all long legs, perfect whatever, stunning blah” is precisely the same way Ana sounds when she’s describing women, as well, so I think there’s even more canonical evidence for her sexual attraction to the same gender, which swings me back around to laughing again.

    2) I will, however, rage about people who assume that retail workers are standing there solely for their own pleasure because I have experienced that many, many times. Creepsters know darn well that you can’t react negatively toward them or you’ll risk losing your job – and they love to exploit it. Slightly less sinister creepsters don’t realize this, but honestly imagine that you’re telling them to have a nice day because you want to jump them. Reading this entry, where he’s actually reveling in making her uncomfortable and having her as a captive audience, makes my skin crawl. Bleeeurgh. He just continues to gleefully trample over social boundaries, and the reader is supposed to find this…endearing? I don’t even know, but it’s a big fat deal-breaker for me.

    1. It really is frustrating, and honestly a little depressing. But what really kills me is that we aren’t seeing a creeper standing around perfectly normal people with perfectly normal reactions. We know that Ana isn’t flushing for any other reason than that she does – just like he predicts – find him more stunning than God. And that’s what always really sets me off about these books. When I’m reading a scene where one character is acting horribly, I just take so much pleasure in knowing that they’ll get called out on it somehow. It doesn’t happen like that in this book, because in this book, Christian actually isn’t being creepy and nobody thinks otherwise.

      So then what confuses me is when readers place themselves in Ana’s shoes. Okay, maybe everyone in the fucking book is oblivious, but we certainly don’t need to be. So yeah, like, why is this supposed to be endearing? It’s as difficult to understand the writing as it is the people who adore it so much.

      1. At least in the movie Ana was acting like Christian was the weirdo in the situation. That is my one little piece of sunshine out of this whole mess just movie Ana.

        1. Honestly, I really loved Movie!Ana. Being removed from her internal monologue and seeing her react (fairly) realistically in these situations* was a godsend.

          *and seriously, how hard did the director have to fight to make Ana an actual character with actual reactions to things.

    2. He constantly admits that he likes making her uncomfortable. I don’t get how that’s supposed to be romantic either. He’s not teasing her or anything. He’s deliberately making her feel dumb and insecure etc. because it amuses him.

      Dream guy, I guess?

  21. I enjoy how Christian always talks to himself, condescendingly calling himself “Grey”. Between the two of them, there are at least five different personalities.

    1. I like to imagine that that is his cock speaking to him.

      “Yes, Grey. I would like that you get us some of that.”

          1. Too sympathetic. As is Chuckie Cheese.
            Annoying doesn’t cut it. This requires psychotic AND repellent.

  22. My God, what a train wreck. James really isn’t doing anything to redeem this asshole, or at least make him look a little bit less like an asshole. She’s so doing the opposite of that I’m starting to wondering if it’s all a big social experiment, like another commenter said, or if she really is that tone deaf. That “oh, she probably only reads romantic literature” is truly an insult to all the people who claim to have started reading because of her.

  23. This is even creepier than FSOG because my GOD is he just an abusive asshole. And, I’m sorry, we’re supposed to believe Mr. I-dropped-everything-to-go-to-Portland-and-stalk-this-chick is the successful, 27-year-old billionaire with his own company? All this guy does is think abusive things and carry out abusive acts against this girl. He appears to do no work whatsoever. No way in hell this moron who literally thinks with his dick half the time built any sort of successful business. I wouldn’t buy cable ties from this asshole, much less trust him to send vague “food ships” to Darfur or whatever the fuck.

    Grrrrrrrrrr hate hate hate him I hope he manifests in real life so I can kill him in the faaaaaace.

  24. 1. Just when I thought Chedward couldn’t remind me any more of my abusive ex-boyfriend, this book was released!

    2. I’ve always semi-jokingly wondered why Chedward and Anabella don’t ever shop at Babeland. It is, from my understanding, the main classy sex shop in Seattle. And while they’re definitely not a BDSM store, they have basic stuff like actual conditioned hemp rope (I’m guessing that whatever he bought at the hardware store would’ve been unconditioned…have fun with that) and leather cuffs and those damn silk LELO blindfolds that he apparently has in every color in the movie.

    But if this is how he acts in the hardware store, I think I have my answer. He probably went to Babeland once and was politely asked to leave and not return. Because massive creepy serial killer vibes.

  25. Haha, I love how the only thing “out of the ordinary” revealed by her background check was that she doesn’t have a boyfriend. So that whole 2150 SAT score is less unusual than her not having a boyfriend . . . . what??

      1. That’s what I thought too! It makes me doubt that this background check was merely a superficial gathering of bank details and not an actual full-on stalk complete with mysterious man in a trenchcoat, sunglasses and fedora following Ana’s every move through the holes he had previously cut out of his newspaper. I would have said data mining but Ana doesn’t have a computer or an email address soooo… Did he hack into Kate’s laptop!?

    1. Agreeing with Chedward makes me uncomfortable, but 2150 isn’t that great; I’d think it weirder that someone gorgeous was single than that they had a meh-to-decent SAT score.

      Then again, Ana’s pretty stupid…

  26. You hit one of my pet peeves with those books right on the head: Dr Flint.

    Personally, the only theory I’ve come up with that fits their “doctor-patient-relationship” is about the following… Christian doesn’t want real therapy, but he also wants to make his mother happy, so he pays Dr Flint an inordinate amount of money so Christian can color his color by the number set with crayons in fifty shades of grey during therapy sessions while Dr Flint hides Harry Potter x Draco Malfoy slash fanfiction in his clipboard and occasionally makes smart sounds. And at family parties, Dr Flint poses as his therapist.

    1. Oh god, the actual therapy in the books made me sob out loud. Seriously, everyone in this book is actually in middle school. It’ll all end like the end of a play with parents hesitantly clapping.

  27. Is it just me or does James use the formula “all x and y and z” to describe EVERYTHING? Like Chedward’s apartment/office/parents’ house is “all white and stainless steel and marble” or Ana is “all long legs and narrow waist and nice ass”. The word “all” is starting to become meaningless to me now.

    But otherwise, yay for re-cap! I love these re-caps!

    1. It’s the date for all the nonsense in the book and (if I recall correctly) this time around E.L. James has decided to just use dates as chapter titles, so it’s also the title of the chapter.

  28. Ugh.

    Part of the difficulty in going over material that has already been done is knowing what you know, but keeping that from leaking into the character and ELJ fails miserably. It’s utterly lazy because she’s relying on us to know what Anna is thinking so therefore Christian isn’t a creepy stalker because they have mutual feelings; however, by forcing us to do all of the work it is a) completely unsatisfying {as if it weren’t already} and b) Christian definitely comes off as the ‘Seattle Strangler’ as ‘’ put it. I can understand why current fans are upset because they definitely got swindled as this isn’t anything we didn’t know already. Like as terrible as that opening prologue bit was we should be learning about his past and his other subs not just a litany of how hot Ana is and his obsession with her.

    It’s just an insult to readers in general. Not to mention revolting how much those stalker/abuser signs come through even more hardcore. I’m just going to be sad over here right now for this atrocity.

  29. I’ve flown from Seattle just to see you, and the way you look right now, it was really worth the journey.

    Okay, but…he was in a car a minute ago.

    ~ Yes, but it would be impossibly to fly straight to the hardware store, so I think it’s safe to assume he rented a car at the airport. Or was there an earlier implication that he really did drive from Seattle?

    1. I’m honestly just picturing him landing his plane in the store and destroying the building just to impress Ana. “I know you’re dying and everything, babe, but I can totes fly.”

  30. Praise Cthulhu, Jenny’s back! I was starting to waver, in the face of a “hero” who makes Frederick Clegg in _The Collector_ look sympathetic.
    One query or theory, and I’d like to hear some opinions on it: On Friday, May 20, 2011, Chedward will be driving his groggy brother Elliot to Portland. Chedward cranks up the music, thinking, “Let’s see if Elliott can sleep through The Verve.”
    The Verve had exactly ONE SONG that charted in the US: “Bittersweet Symphony,” and the real challenge is staying awake when it’s played, regardless of volume. It was released in 1997, and never made it higher than 12 on the charts. The group broke up in ’98 and got back together in ’07.
    Alright, Chedward is an International Man of Misogyny, so maybe he isn’t blasting a 13-year-old soporific song. He could be playing the thematically suitable “Love is Noise,” which went to 4 in the UK and double digits in some other countries where he might have traveled.
    But here’s the trick question: the Rolling Stones successfully sued The Verve for borrowing not only the riff to “Last Time,” for which they got permission, but the vocal line, for which they had not.
    Is James going meta-referential on her own plagiarism?
    Or did she just grab a band name out of the air?

    1. Okay I think Christian is playing “Bittersweet Symphony”. In my opinion the song is only famous because ist was used in “Cruel Intentions” and Christian sees probably some connections between himself and Sebastian in the film. (If Christian would watch such movie. But I’m sure E.L. James sees some connections between Sebastian and Christian…)

      1. Except “Cruel Intentions” was a modern riff on “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”
        Chalk another one up for EL never-saw-an-idea-I-didn’t-steal James.
        BTW, I saw Alan Rickman play the Vicomte de Valmont in “Liaisons” on B’way years ago. If you’re going to be corrupted, THAT’S the way to have it done…not Cheddy and his talking tallywhacker.

        1. I love Bittersweet Symphony! Brilliant tune. Also love The Drugs Don’t Work :D. I couldn’t possibly sleep through Bittersweet Symphony, so many feels.

  31. For some reason when I read this, all of the Chedward quotes were in the voice of Mark Corrigan from Peep Show and that made it even more entertaining. Now I hope when they remake the movies from Christian’s POV that they do it Peep Show style.

  32. Thanks to your delightful tangent about semicolons, I had a bit of a misread.

    I read this quote: “Oh, this is going to be fun. You’d be amazed what I can do with a few cable ties, baby.”

    As this: “Oh, this is going to be fun. You’d be amazed what I can do with a few semicolons, baby.”

    And as stupid as it is, I can’t stop laughing because I can hear the person in question reading that line in a near-dead monotone. So, thanks for the giggle. And you’re right, you *do* deserve something good.

  33. “My eyes flick to the rearview mirror, where I can see the shop door, but all I see is the quaint storefront. She’s not in the window, staring out at me.

    It’s disappointing.”

    *flatly* Oh, how horrible. Why can’t Ana be devoted to Grey? It’s not like she has work or a life or anything.

    Also, I laughed at the Planet of the Apes picture. That’s exactly what I thought of when I read that line!

    Urgh, why do heroes and heroines in bad literature have to put down everyone who isn’t them? First Ana being bitchy towards almost all women, now Grey being a dick to all men.

    And way to perpetuate sexist stereotypes, ELJ. Here’s a tip; not all men get sexually turned on by the smallest things. If someone’s like that, they might need to see a doctor.

  34. I’ve probably said this before on a comment thread but if you’ve seen The Fall (series, not the movie), you’ve basically seen the natural progression of this relationship. This behavior would just escalate into full blown serial killer, and this book cemented that theory for me.

    I would, however, 10000% watch Stella Gibson putting Christian Grey into custody and telling him what a piece of garbage he is.

    1. I honestly think Jamie Dornan should have just played his character from The Fall. Bc his acting there, from the couple episodes I watched, was really very good, and also that’s basically Christian Grey already.

        1. I was really disappointed actually. Spector would make a great Christian Grey. If Dornan had brought even an iota of the intensity he had as Spector to his role as Christian, he’d have been weirdly compelling and creepy and dominant (if in a scary way — which is still kind of right for the tone of the books, it seems). Instead he was just flat. Grey, yes, but only in the sense of “really dull”.

          1. Or a younger Hugh Grant, because I just realized that Cheddy and Anal’s surprisingly clever emails are clever only because the Eel got the idea from “Bridget Jones.”

          2. I got the impression that no one really wanted to be there. Though after hearing about ELJ’s antics on set (and just the source material itself), I can imagine why.

          3. I had thought Jamie Dornan was an inspired choice. If he could make me feel the slightest bit sympathetic for Paul Spector, a character I despise , SURELY he could probably make me fall in love with Christian Grey, who’s at least not a murderer. Instead, Dornan sucked big hairy donkey balls in the movie. It was painful to watch him.

          4. Reply to Belle de Jour:

            Dornan would probably have done way better if the very notion of BDSM hadn’t appeared to make him incredibly uncomfortable. I watched him on the Graham Norton Show a couple of times and, whenever he discusses Christian Grey or Fifty Shades of Grey, Dornan seems seriously ashamed and disgusted. Which is weird because 1) there’s barely any BDSM in FSoG (and the BDSM that is featured is either super tame or not BDSM at all) and 2) clearly the faux BDSM in FSoG is about the least disturbing thing in those fucking books.

          5. Or maybe he just had a better script for Paul Spector. His embarrassment in interviews about 50 Shades may have NOTHING to do with BDSM….

          6. Reply to ViolettaD:

            Oh, no. It is fairly obvious that a large part of why he is ashamed of starring in FSoG is the BDSM. Dornan talked about the ‘kink advisor’ they had during filming and how (paraphrasing because I don’t recall exactly) the advisor was ‘not someone he wanted to hang out with.’ And it was clear that Dornan only felt uncomfortable around the advisor BECAUSE the advisor was into BDSM. That is one of the many remarks he made where he appeared to be grossed out by BDSM and the people who practise it.

          7. Not that I don’t doubt that the shitty source material and the drama on set haven’t also influenced Dornan’s opinion of the movie and his role in it. But, yeah, he seems to be very uncomfortable about sex that isn’t strictly vanilla.

  35. I like you Jenny Trout, I do, but I couldn’t actually read this recap. Just from the snippets, it was so badly written, it was SO BORING, so predictable, so annoying to be inside his head that not even you could make it funny or interesting.

    Just a snoozefest. And a very creepy one at that.

    I will accept, instead of these recaps, an excerpt of Sophie and Neil or Penny and Ian or heck, just the whole book. But Grey is too boring even for snark.

  36. ANNNNDDD Now I’ve bought the entire Fit trilogy that I’ve been debating on buying for the past few months. Thanks.

    I want to call you a jerk for that but it’d be untrue as you’re not responsible for my book addiction. And I give you props. I still can’t finish the first chapter of this. I’m stuck at the end of the second page. Then again I’m also distracted by library books I have out that have deadlines to be read so that might be an influence on that. And the books I have out are a hell of a lot more interesting than this pile of garbage.

    I only like semi colons when I’m listing off a bunch of cities (or other things that have commas in them and don’t want to overload the commas and want it to make some semblance of sense. And because that’s how I was taught to use them. Sparingly)

  37. After looking around at some reviews for Grey, I found a really hilarious comment about how “Bruce Wayne is a carbon copy of Christian Grey,” and how Bruce Wayne is a worse person than Grey is.

    Is it wrong to look at hardcore FSOG fans like they’re actually insane?

    1. Wow…considering Bruce has been around since 1939, was never molested, and has generally stayed away from women except socially, I can totally see where they’re coming from there. /sarcasm

      I mean, don’t get me wrong, Bruce is not a great role model in the child endangerment area and we could use some more textual examples of his actually running his company, but he at least hires people to do those things and trusts them to care of it when he can’t.

    2. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say these people don’t know the main difference between Bruce Wayne and Christian Grey.

  38. “A “shit-eating grin” is something someone has when they know they’re being purposely antagonistic, or they think they’re getting away with something.”

    Ahhh, I never knew that! I’d heard the phrase, but didn’t know how to use it, possibly because I’m British, and “shit-eating grin” is something Americans say. As a bit of a language nerd, I absolutely loved reading Jenny’s nit-picking of the Britishisms in FSoG. Like, “Americans would always say ‘to the hospital;’ to drop the definite article from that phrase marks you out as British.” I NEVER WOULD HAVE KNOWN.

    Now I’m worried that the above sounds sarcastic. I’m not being sarcastic, I promise. I’m just that nerdy.

    “Mr. Too-Smart-For-Harvard has distilled the whole of British literature down to three authors.” Er, there were three Brontë sisters. Plus Austen makes four authors. Who nit-picks the nit-picker? Me, I do! :D

    1. I’m nerdy in the same way, but in reverse as I’m American. Learning things like that this letter: Z is called ‘zed’ not ‘zee’, or that a zebra is a zeb-ruh not a zee-bruh, or phrases or idioms that we simply don’t say here, makes me so giddy and excited to learn about.

      But yes, saying you are “in hospital” rather than “in the hospital” is very, very British to me. Depending on the accent it could just be generically European or maybe even Aussie, but generally it’s going to come across as either British or American-that-is-an-Anglophile-to-the-point-of-weirdness.

      1. @annie

        one interesting thing to always remember is that we’re brought up on American telly, so while i say ZEBra, when i sing my alphabet or say the letter i 80% of the time pronounce it ZEE because i learnt the alphabet song of Seaseme Street XD

        Also, having watched American action movies througout my childhood, i was genuinely surprised to find out that i’m supposed to pronounce LIEUtenant as LEFTENant. Legitimately confused me as i thought they were two different ranks.

        Also ‘in hospital’ can even go the glottal stop royte and turn into “in’-t-hospital” and boom! Yorkshire

        From the other side of the pond I love learning Americanisms i
        Ve never heard before. And also playing the game of guess the vegetable.
        Zucchinis, eggplants, why you so confusing?

        1. I am jealous of the word “aubergine”. Purple is my favorite color, to the point that it’s basically part of my personality. It’s weird saying I want bedding or something in “eggplant.” It just sounds odd. Aubergine actually sounds like a color. But if I say it here, hardly anyone would know what I’m talking about and I would sound like a pretentious ass. ;)

  39. 1 million copies in 4 days? I just had the mental image of blowing my brains out at my desk. Why the f*** do I bother trying to improve as a writer if this sh** is what sells? Why am I f***ing struggling through my medical conditions, trying to get by while waiting 3+ years for disability and getting rejected again recently, when E.L. James is making even more money than she already has by rehashing the same plagiarized plot over again?

    Dammit, I wanted these recaps to be funny. I really did. (As someone once said.)

    1. I feel you. I really try to make myself feel better by reminding myself that it’s the joy of writing that matters, but I do want to get somewhere with it, too. I want the things I write to be popular, and yes, I want to make money. What’s especially disheartening is that I really love writing romance, and somehow anything I write will automatically be below something that actually has lines like, “Her sharp intake of breath is music to my dick.”

      Very depressing. She didn’t even try this time around, and the worst part is that she knows damn well she didn’t need to.

    2. “Why the f*** do I bother trying to improve as a writer if this sh** is what sells?”

      Because many of us know the difference? Plus, how many of those copies were bought for reasons similar to Jenny’s for buying it?

      As a bit of an aside, I feel you on the medical issues and disability bullshit. It really sucks. :( Honestly, I’d rather like to read a book by someone that knows what a bitch it is to deal with chronic illness and/or mental illness and not try to paint it as something romantic or heroic or as yet more inspiration porn.

    3. If it’s of any consolation, this books looks set to get the highest ratio of returned copies/copies sold in the last DECADE.
      I’m serious. A lot of fans flat-out REFUSE to consider this book canon.

  40. E.L. James really reminds me of Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen’s character in Singin’ In The Rain). Riding on a much more talented person’s coattails, stealing from them, annoying, butchering the English language, condescending, over-inflated opinion of herself…the list really goes on. Like no matter how the hard the diction coach tries Lina still has an annoying screechy voice and no matter how hard the editors tried they couldn’t make E.L. into a decent writer…

    And I like to imagine when E.L. brought Grey to her publisher it was like the end of Singin’ In The Rain when Lina demands that they keep up the charade and Don, Cosmo and the studio exec all agree and coerce Kathy into doing it. Then with the biggest fucking grins on the planet they pull the curtain up and reveal Lina to be a total fraud and all around horrible person. Like maybe the publishers were like “we know this is going to be a total shitshow but fuck it, we’ll make some money and clink our champagne glasses while we watch your ship burn”. I can dream can’t I?

    Re: Chedward, in the words of Lina Lamont: and I caaaann’t stand ‘im

    Also did it really say “beat red” in the book instead of “beet red” or was that a hilorifying typo?

    1. “Also did it really say “beat red” in the book instead of “beet red” or was that a hilorifying typo?”

      Maybe it’s some kind of shitty pun.

  41. Pretty certain the Eel wants to be the sadist/Chedward. Shudder. What a soup of horror.

  42. Maybe someone mentioned this (I haven’t made it through ALL of the comments), but I’m surprised you didn’t call James on this part:
    “I haven’t mentioned her to Flynn, and I’m glad because I’m now behaving like a stalker.”
    This seems to be James’ attempt to defuse the “Christian is a psychopath stalker” argument that has been hurled at her for so long. If she makes Christian aware that he is coming off stalker-ish and then explains WHY he seems a “little” stalker-ish, then he can’t be a stalker! Kind of a “if you question your sanity, then you must be sane” way of thinking, only it doesn’t work with stalking…he just seems MORE (is it even possible) creepy!

    1. That part also made him seem more like a Narcissist to me. Maybe because the person in my life that has Narcissistic Personality Disorder frequently tries to diffuse the creepy, manipulative things she does by calling attention to it.

  43. Bless you Jenny for reading this fucking mess for those of us who can’t do it. I literally can’t, I am pretty sure if I had to read another one of these E.L. James literary turds I’d end up in the hospital. So glad I can have a laugh over them anyways via your recaps, thank you!

  44. Reading one of those links … Bullshit. If the first print run was 1.25m and 1.1 copies sold over the weekend, why are all my local bookstores still stuffed with copies? Am I in a rabbit hole where no one buys these books, or are they trying to rig numbers?

    Also, pretty presumptuous of them to have such a large second print run when so many fans are disgruntled and looking to return.

    I did a POV swap story recently in my fanfiction, at the request of a friend. It was one of the most challenging projects I’ve done, but I found it important for my own sanity to write scenes where the two main characters were apart. It’s draining to have the same scene to write, up changing the dialogue, rephrasing the way they position themselves, and then naturally inserting new thought processes. No wonder James just copy-and-pasted, changed he/she around, renamed the Inner Goddess “my cock” and threw in a few random italics here and there, she obviously doesn’t get paid enough to come up with something actually creative.

    1. To all frustrated authors (and frustrated readers too), here’s what’s going on here (my perspective, since I’ve freelanced for everything from Random House to hardcore porn publisher Masquerade): the editors know it’s crap. They usually do. Still remember when various Random House imprints had to:

      a) edit and market Roxanne Pulitzer’s glitz novel _Twins_. The “author” was known primarily for a sex scandal involving a trumpet (probably her ex-husband’s invention during a contentious divorce), but not being completely delusional, she allowed the ghost writer to do what she had to do;

      b) promote Donald Trump’s _Surviving at the Top_ when his affair with “Georgia Peach” Marla Maples had surfaced, his marriage to Ivana was crumbling and it looked like his empire might do the same. Editors were cracking jokes about placement of booths at ABA: should we put The Donald in between that self-help book and Norman Mailer’s latest, or should we wait a little longer before our jobs go down in flames? (The self-help book was _Ex-Wife Syndrome_ and Mailer’s book was _Harlot’s Ghost_.)

      They did what they could to lick (whoops!) EL’s first trilogy into shape, but now that EL thinks she is An Awthuh, she is refusing advice from anyone who knows better (witness Sam Taylor-Johnson not directing the rest of the movies, when most people agree that the first movie didn’t suck—whoops again—nearly as bad as the books). Trump went on to publish other books, bought back many of them NOT to save face, but because after sales hit a particular mark, he got a higher royalty, so eventually he made his investment back plus a profit. Roxanne Pulitzer gained whatever she gained, but didn’t particularly care, since this was just a side-venture. When (not if) the fad for EL fades, no publisher will want to invest in her latest rehash. She can self-publish, but it won’t get picked up without the blogosphere backing it—and she insulted too many of them on her way up.
      I suspect that EL is going to fall, and fall hard. She may not care, given her profits, but I think she has more ego than to be satisfied with never writing another thing and living off the pile.
      For contrast, look at Lauren Weissman: _The Devil Wears Prada_ was snapped up for a movie starring Meryl Streep (Oscar-nominated) and Anna Hathaway. The movie was better than the book, and Weissman wisely shut up and took her paycheck. She has written other books, which haven’t approached the success of her first (not surprising, since except for one sequel, they don’t feature a thinly-disguised Anna “Nuclear” Wintour). Weissman may not be the next Honore de Balzac, but since she isn’t a talentless plagiarist, she continues to do what she wants to do: write.
      Many writers, from authors of bodice-rippers to those of murder-mysteries, use the same formula over and over, but EL has only one STORY to tell, and it wasn’t hers in the first place. When she finds she can no longer sell it, she will be outraged. I suspect we’re dealing with a true malignant narcissist.

      1. As far as predicting he fall, I say from your fingers to god’s ears. I would say “God’s,” but I will take any god that is paying attention. If freaking Loki wants to stir the hornets’ nest and mess with James he will have my undying love. And I’m not even picky as to whether it’s actual-Norse-mythology Loki, comic book Loki, or opened-an-alien-wormhole-over-NYC-and-tried-to-destroy-the-world Loki.

        Regarding the last sentence: I cannot agree more. Truly. I spent the vast majority of my childhood being raised by a narcissist and I’ve spent pretty much all of my adult life to this point (I’m 32) coping with the fallout of that childhood and dealing with this narcissist parent without destroying my relationships with the rest of my family.
        EL James has come across as a narcissist to me for a long time. I really don’t see how she could be anything other than a narcissist. And the only thing worse than dealing with a narcissist is dealing with one who has had even a piece of her delusions of grandeur come to fruition. Sam Taylor-Johnson has my unending sympathy.

        1. Speaking of religion, just what is Chedward’s adoptive family supposed to be? His mother asks him to coming to “Evening Mass,” a term used in the U.S . almost exclusively by Catholics (even high-church Episcopalians, our closest thing to C of E, say “Holy Communion”). Later, he says he went to “Sunday School”–a term used in the U.S . almost exclusively by Protestants (Catholics refer to kids’ programs, even those held on Sundays, as Catechism, CCD, Preparation for First Communion, Children’s Mass, etc.). Has the Eel been casually conflating more Brit customs (in this case, C of E) with American ones? I can tell you one thing: Chedward doesn’t think like any Catholic, even the lapsed, kill-the-Pope kind, I ever heard of. For that, look to Voltaire, or, more recently, Sinead O’Connor.

          1. Yeah, I vaguely remember the “mass” thing tripping me up too because his family just didn’t read as Catholic to me.

            Typically if you’re Protestant you’d simply say “going to Church.” In fact, I live in an area where roughly 60% of the population is Catholic and almost 40% is Baptist (super fun and awkward when new neighbors ask us what church we go to. When we say we’re atheist or not religious they either awkwardly say “oh…okaaayy” and meander away or they look at us like we’re some kind of demon spawn and like they’d very much like to run as fast and as far from us as possible. Ah, life in the south.) and a fair number of the Catholics will simply say they’re going to church. Many only say they’re going to Mass if they want to specify what they’re going to the church/cathedral for.

            Do Anglicans say they’re going to Mass? I always file away terminology for Church of England as being generally the same as general Protestant since I definitely consider Episcopalian to be Protestant. I remember from going to an Episcopalian church with my friend a lot as a teen that some of the terminology was a little different than in the other churches I was used to (mostly Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist, but some off-the-wall ones too), but not a whole lot.

            The more I read books or watch shows set in the UK, though, the more I’m finding that maybe the Anglican Church is a bit closer to Catholicism than Episcopalian?
            On the one hand, I’m not sure how since we always joked that Episcopal and Lutheran were just Catholicism without the mandatory confession, but on the other it does seem like the Church of England doesn’t quite fall in line with my experience with most Protestant denominations.

          2. I grew up Catholic; it may have just been my region/family (NE US, with a high concentration of family from the NYC area), but CCD was interchangeably called Sunday School and CCD for the elementary school kids when I was growing up. “Sunday School,” I think, was meant to distinguish us from those who attended Catholic school there during the week (y’know, the devout Catholic kids /sarcasm), while the program itself was officially called CCD. It was called just CCD in seventh and eighth grades, since our classes were held on weeknights due to a lack of teachers and the fact that we were supposed to be super focused on our catechism learnings in order to prepare for Confirmation and becoming adults in the Church (which meant attending classes and Mass on Sundays, not just attending Sunday School during Mass). I can see it being called Catechism in some places, but that was more what we went to Sunday School/CCD to learn and not what the actual program/classes were called. The same goes for “preparation for First Communion” – that, along with preparation for First Penance/Confession, was the focus of second grade’s CCD teachings, and possibly first grade’s as well, and not what the classes themselves were called.

            I’ve also never heard it called Children’s Mass; depending on the parish we were going to at the time, that was either a separate thing the Church itself held on occasion for Sunday Schoolers, where we would go in and hear a special sermon instead of sitting in the classroom, or it was a special child-centered mass where all children (Sunday Schoolers or not) and their families were welcomed to attend, with child-friendly sermons and readings, special blessings for children, etc.

            I honestly can’t speak for the terminology other branches of Christianity use for different things (though I know some terms are very much Catholic-only, like CCD and Mass in reference to the weekly service) – I used to know a lot more because I do find all of that (differing customs and beliefs, etc) really interesting, but years of focusing more on history have wiped a large portion of that out, heh. I also don’t know what other terms that woman used when “writing” her book in reference to this, but the examples you mention don’t exactly point away from Catholicism? But at the same time, they don’t specifically point at Catholicism, either… which just means she didn’t bother to make her mind up in either direction (again) and/or wanted to make the characters sound so totally American and not British in any way but didn’t want to do any research and/or couldn’t be bothered giving them non-Twilight characteristics of their own. Fun.

            Also, if we’re siccing gods (fictional or not) on this woman, can we call on the Oh God of Hangovers to pay her a few visits? Please?

          3. Aletheia: It appears, as you said, the terminology varies. Ironic, because I grew up mostly in Philly, not that far from where you did, and nothing in a Catholic Church was ever referred to as “Sunday School.” Have lived in the Midwest since: they do refer to “Children’s Mass” there, and it’s often held in another part of the building, unless it’s something special like First Communion or a May Crowning, etc.

            I’m betting you’re right that she just randomly picked something that sounded vaguely not English without researching it. Your one sentence, ‘“Sunday School,” I think, was meant to distinguish us from those who attended Catholic school there during the week (y’know, the devout Catholic kids /sarcasm),’ is the sort of thing the Eel wouldn’t recognize: Catholics, lapsed or otherwise, may love the Church, hate it, or both simultaneously, but I never met a neutral one. Chedward’s vague skepticism just doesn’t ring true if they’re supposed to be Catholics.

            As for hangovers, I kinda like the Offspring’s version–but without the slightly optimistic ending:
            “Worst Hangover Ever”

            Ballroom scene, but the fire underneath.
            Gonna eat you alive,
            Gonna bring you to your knees.

            Went out drinking late last night,
            I had a blast.
            But now the morning light has come
            and kicked my ass.

            I’ve got the worst hangover ever
            I’m crawling to the bathroom again
            It hurts so bad that I’m never gonna drink again

            And by my seventh shot I was invincible
            I would have never thought I’d be this miserable

            I’ve got the worst hangover ever
            I’m rolling back and forth on the bed
            I’m worked so bad that I’m never gonna drink again

            Won’t someone just kill me?
            Put me out of my misery
            I’m making deals with god
            I’ll do anything

            Make it stop please!
            Make it stop please!

            Make it stop please!
            Make it stop please!

            I’ve got the worst hangover ever
            I’m crawling to the bathroom again
            It hurts so bad that I’m never gonna drink again

            I’ll probably never drink again
            I may not ever drink again
            At least not til next weekend

            I’m never gonna drink again

          4. “Catholics, lapsed or otherwise, may love the Church, hate it, or both simultaneously, but I never met a neutral one. Chedward’s vague skepticism just doesn’t ring true if they’re supposed to be Catholics.”

            My mother-in-law is a bit neutral on the Church. If you ask her outright what religion she is she will say “catholic”, and she’ll probably say it with a tone that implies that she’s insulted that you had to ask. She was even sorely disappointed and upset when she first met me because I wasn’t Catholic (though, she’d have been disappointed and upset with me even if I had been). But while all that is true, she hasn’t been to Mass in probably more than a decade. Maybe closer to two. (Well, I take that back, she went this year on Easter at her stepdaughter’s urging. But that was the first time in eons.) She has no religious decorations or items in her home aside from a couple of rosaries, and she keeps those in her bedroom where the vast, vast majority of people won’t see it.
            She really has no opinion on this pope or the last one, though she does regard John Paul II as almost a saint.
            She really does seem fairly neutral on the Church. Only her reply if you ask about her religion indicates any real feeling she has towards it.

            But I will agree that she is almost an anomaly based on all the very many active, lapsed, and former Catholics I’ve known. James really should not have mentioned religion at all, or had Christian mention something about only going to Mass (or “church” or “service” if she was intending them to be Protestant) to make his mother happy. She wouldn’t have had to make him firmly Catholic (or Protestant) or firmly some other religion or firmly atheist. It’s easy enough to have him comment that church just isn’t his thing, but he will endure it is important to his mother.
            There are so many people of all degrees of devoutness that just don’t consider themselves a “church person.” This is especially true among young adults in college or with busy, fast-paced careers.

            But, of course, saying something like that would give Christian a small amount of depth and we all know that EL James simply won’t stand for disgusting, insulting things like her characters having any kind of depth to their character.

          5. Annie: Hasn’t been to Mass in over a decade, but assumes everybody ought to be Catholic (including you) and thinks JP2 is a saint? Try to imagine an Evangelical who hadn’t been to church in over a decade but assumed you ought to be an Evangelical and thought Jerry Falwell was a saint. Or an Episcopalian. The Evangelical would either go to church regularly or have given it up completely; the Episcopalian would on Christmas, Easter, and family functions such as Weddings and Baptisms, but would think “veneration of saints” in questionable taste.
            Maybe I was wrong, and it’s not a question of love or hate, but of it being in your blood and your bones no matter how you feel about it. I don’t get that from Chedward or his family.

    2. I work at a Target. When this came outside, we put all of the copies in a shopping cart for easy re-stocking ( we do this at our store for all “highly anticipated” releases…just to make our lives simpler). That shopping cart stayed full for a week until we back stocked them. I don’t think we’ve pulled a single copy from the stock room since. Maybe people are buying it via digital, because they are embarrassed about liking this mess.

  45. My cousin’s wife was reading these book recently. I asked her what she thought of them but she refused to even talk to me unless I’d read them. I told her I’d read excerpts as well as detailed recaps but she seemed to think that I just wouldn’t “get it” unless I actually read every word.

  46. The woman in the negative review made a very good point: James can’t write about the underlying motivations because she doesn’t actually know them. Writing about the long-term effects of an abusive childhood, even a laughably one-dimensional one, would require some grasp of psychology. Somehow, Christian, who I visualise as a spotty, overweight telesales middle-manager who sweats a lot, has been written as even more stupid than Ana. It was fairly ridiculous believing Ana, an expert on books James clearly hadn’t read, was a talented student, but a Harvard educated billionaire acting like this?

    E.L James, you’re a terrible writer and a complete embarrassment to England :-(

    1. I think it’s even more basic than that. Right now, I’m going through the first chapters of 50 Shades of Grey again for my fanfiction project, and it’s glaringly obvious that she wrote Christian in a way that’s supposed to maximise his effect on Ana. The author makes him do things solely to affect her, and she didn’t think about his possible reasons and motivations for doing them until she wrote Grey.

      1. For an example of well-depicted ambivalence, here’s a section from de Sade on a libertine struggling NOT to fall in love with the girl intends to rape or seduce He’s not particular):
        * * * *
        ‘I worship her!’ exclaimed Granwel, seeing his cup of joy overflow.
        ‘And this time she shall not escape me! However violent the methods
        I have adopted to possess her may be, they do not fill me with
        remorse, since I am consoled by the pleasure she shall give me…
        Remorse! Can a heart like mine ever know the meaning of such a
        feeling? The habit of evildoing expunged it long ago from my cal-
        loused soul. A host of beautiful women, all seduced like Henrietta,
        deceived like her, abandoned like her, could tell her if I was ever
        moved by their tears, alarmed by their struggles, moved by their

        Miss Henrietta Stra/son


        shame, restrained by their charms… Well, here is one more name
        to add to the list of the illustrious victims of my debauchery. And
        what use would women be if they were not good for that?… I defy
        anyone to prove to me that nature created them for any other reason.
        Let us leave the absurd mania for setting them on pedestals to the
        morons. By spouting such lily-livered nonsense, we have encouraged
        women to get above themselves. They observe that we set great store
        by the petty matter of herein” ihcm, and accordingly think that they
        too are entitled to attach a great price to the same business and oblige
        us to waste on romantic elucubrations precious time which was
        meant only for pleasure… But what am I saying? Henrietta! Just
        one glance from your blazing eyes would rout all my philosophy and
        force me to bend my knee to you even as I swear to do you wrong!…
        What! Can it be that I am in love?… Begone!… Away, vulgar
        sentiment!… If there were a woman alive capable of making me feel
        it, I think I would rather blow her brains out than submit to her
        infernal arts!… No, no, weak, deceitful sex, you can never hope to
        fetter me! I have too often tasted of the pleasures you offer to be
        overawed by them. It is only by provoking the god of love that a man
        learns to desecrate his temple, and if he really wishes to destroy the
        creed of love, he cannot commit too many outrages against it…’
        * * * *
        You’ll notice that de Sade, despite his own raging nuttery and the excessively ornate language of the time, actually depicts a character with understandable, if mutually exclusive, motives.

    2. Since the book was originally a fanfic written on the fly and in response to its readers, I’m guessing she just made it up as she went along with no research or forethought. (This isn’t a slur to fanfic writers BTW, many of whom do their research and take time and care with their creations.)

  47. God, he’s so sleazy and disgusting. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with thinking, “Wow, this person looks hot!” but it’s the combination of objectification, violent thoughts, and plan/ability to act on them that is just awful.

    Honestly, I have no idea who this book was written for. It’s just so incredibly male-gazey that I couldn’t get into it even if I wanted. It’s one thing to read a book from a woman’s POV in which the love interest tells her she’s got, it’s another thing to read this constant commentary on how super hot Ana is.

    1. It’s sad and scary when the inner monologue of the main character of a best selling book only reminds you of an extremely abusive relationship you’ve had. In the original book, I had to skip parts and even skim over a couple parts of the recaps because Ana’s inner monologue with regard to Christian was so similar to the way I had justified that abusive relationship I was in to myself and to friends. Once, Ana’s thoughts were so close to my own that I had a panic attack reading it, even though I’d been out of that relationship for about a decade.

      I guess it only stands to reason that the exact same story told from Christian’s point-of-view would make me feel like it must be spot on for what my abusive ex had been thinking, but I’m still mystified by it. If we are to believe James (and oddly enough, I do. I think she’s too narcissistic to intentionally make her self-insert main character an abuse victim) she’s done this entirely by accident. And not just with Ana having the mentality and reactions of an abuse victim, but now with Christian having the thoughts, motivations and (of course) actions of an abuser!
      How in the HELL does one do that unintentionally?!?!?!

  48. “This book makes the mistake of assuming that readers will have read Fifty Shades of Grey. A POV-swap retelling has to stand alone. A reader should be able to pick up either Grey or Fifty Shades of Grey and go, “Oh, I understand the whole story now,” (yes, even though it’s a cultural phenomenon), but instead this reads like a fanfic in a particularly ardent fandom that doesn’t need it pointed out to them that Harry Potter is a wizard.”

    Could not agree more with this. The book is totally nonsensical (or should I say even more so) if you haven’t read the original. And your example is a good one, because when my best friend said to me 15 years ago “hey, you totally need to read these Harry Potter books” but didn’t have the first one, I started on book 4 and it all made perfect sense because everything was subtly explained without (as I later discovered) repetition from previous books.

    1. How funny! I started with Book 4 also. And you’re right, it totally stood alone; if anything, it made me want to read the first three even more, because it was completely engaging.

      I think it’s funny that E.L. James is now producing bad plagiarism of herself. Like, it’s not even well-done as a ripoff. If she’d chosen to write in third person, starting when Cheddie was a toddler, it could have been a fascinating book that I might have actually wanted to read. You know, a purposeful look at the psychological forces that shaped Ched and made him the flawed hero whatever he is today. But no, it’s just drivel. AGAIN.

      1. But that would have required research, and study, and asking questions, and, you know, actual thought.
        We all know that EL James knows EVERYTHING there is to know about writing and about publishing and about making movies. She also knows everything about the things she writes about, so for example, it’s not that she’s (through Ana) wrong about the meaning of Tess of D’Urbervilles, it’s that everyone else is wrong. Pretty much every literary critic, literature professor, lit student since it was published is dead wrong. Thomas Hardy himself is wrong. EL James is always right.

        That’s the thing with a narcissist. James probably realizes, on some level, that she doesn’t know enough about psychology, child abuse and neglect, living with a drug addict, etc to be able to fill in the gaps in Christian’s childhood and even to give him authentic motivation and reactions as an adult. Some part of her knows this. But because she’s (likely) a narcissist, she cannot face that she doesn’t know this.
        Doing research, asking questions, seeking out correct information, these are all actions that would reinforce to her that she doesn’t know it all. She can’t handle not knowing certain things (and I suspect that not knowing anything at all about her “own” characters is one of those things that she can’t handle) so she tries to work around it. She tries to write around it using what little she DOES know. But she’s a shitty writer and knows far too little, so it all just turns to crap.

  49. Can we all agree that E. L. James comes off as a person who tries to write a literature-lover without having the knowledge to pull it off? (Honestly, it’s like reading Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” and seeing her try to pretend she knows anything about quantum physics…)

    “Ana only reads REALLY OLD books, because smart people only like books that are REALLY OLD. And she loves all the famous British writers, like Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens, and the two Brontë sisters, and Jane Austen, and those are all the famous British writers there are. And you can tell she’s, like, totes SUPER SMART becuase those books are so SUPER DEEP! LIke, I think that when Dickens was alive only SUPER SMART people read his books! Also she never reads new books because nobody writes smart things anymore! Only old people form old times wrote smart things!”

    Meanwhile, here in the real world, Sartre preferred reading mystery novels to high-brow stuff and Nobel Literature Prize-winner Mario Vargas Llosa loves the Millennium trilogy. And me, I love both Dickens and Rowling. I enjoy Polish post-modernist literature as well as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I read both Don QUixote AND Dork Diaries.

    1. Additionally, making a character appear smart by claiming that she’s a voracious reader backfires when a character clearly misunderstands everything she reads.

      Icarus? Literally about flying close to the sun, according to Ana. And, for maximum stupidity, figuratively about being close to something hot or beautiful (like Christian, you know).
      Tess? About a bad boy and a good guy both being in love with an innocent girl.
      Wuthering Heights? Romance for the ages.

      Ana may (supposedly) read a lot, but she doesn’t get *anything.*

      (Also, stuff that some people consider high brow is really not that high brow at all. Dickens and Shakespeare are pretty cool, but they wrote to pay their bills and the best way to do that was to write entertainment (for the masses).

      1. Exactly, Lieke! Whenever I’m reading Dickens, I joke to people that “The great thing about reading Dickens is how, even though his books were The Latest Best-Seller that all the common people read, I still get intellectual-points for reading him, just because he lived a long time ago.”

      2. Tell me about it; I still want to beat Ana with my complete works of Shakespeare until her head`s nothing but a bloody pulp for not only misusing the King Lear quote, but completely forgetting the plot of the play (mainly because it`s my favorite Shakespearean tragedy).

          1. Ana basically quotes Goneril, Lear`s eldest daughter, and says that she loves Grey “more than life and liberty.” Thing is, anyone who`s familiar with the play would know that the part where she says that line is when Lear demands that his three daughters tell him how much they love him and rewards them accordingly with land. So the elder daughters flatter and butter him up to get more land while the youngest, Cordelia, refuses to take part because she feels it`s wrong (and gets punished by Lear disowning her). Naturally, when Lear is at his worst and needs help, it`s Cordelia who searches the country for him while her sisters could care less.

            And ELJ clearly knows where it`s from, because Ana and Grey mention the source in the book and Ana lovingly calls Grey “dear, mad Lear” or something like that. So not only do we get more squicky father-daughter stuff, but also Ana, the supposed Brit lit major with a 4.0 GPA, completely missing the plot of King Lear. “Epic fail” has never been more appropriate.

            (As for a better Shakespearean quote, I would`ve gone with Rosalind from “As You Like It” telling Orlando “I’ll have no husband if he not be you.” It fits better, as the two are supposed to be an example of genuine love.”)

          2. Oh dear GAWD. I remember the scene well–Cordelia says, “I love you according to my bond…no more and no less,” which, if Lear had the sense God gave a kumquat, would mean a lot more than all her sisters’ empty flattery, since her bond is to honor her father, and despise him not in his old age, neither of which rules her sisters observe.

            Actually, Eel would probably misread R&J too. If you look at Juliet’s “Gallop apace, ye fiery-footed steeds” speech, she uses the word “come” an awful lot–and yes, it meant just what it does now. So here’s a technical virgin, but there’s a difference between inexperience and the kind of “innocence” the Eel depicts (Juliet, innocent?–not with THAT nurse)–she knows exactly what it is married people do, and has even worried, during the balcony scene, that Romeo was just trying to use her without marriage.

            Ana may well have lived in the dorm before she and Kate found that apt.–first-years often don’t rent, partly because some schools require dorm living if they’re not close enough to be with family, and partly because their parents often suppose they’ll have more supervision than in a apt.–doesn’t always work that way, of course. So how is it that a 13-year-old girl knows more about sex than a college graduate, who may have been in a dorm or simply had a roommate who clearly HAS been sexually active? She never even flipped through somebody else’s copy of COSMO?

            Oh, yeah, Shakespearean Hearts and Flowers. Maybe Ana should watch Olivier’s version of Richard III, especially the scenes with Lady Anne, because that’s what REALLY happens when you marry a charming psychopath, who did it all because he LOVES you.

          3. Yeah, I think that`s how you tell a real English major from someone pretending to be one; a good amount of the stuff studied is actually pretty bawdy. The Miller`s Tale from the Canterbury Tales is one fart joke after another, Hamlet propositions Ophelia after telling her to go to a whorehouse, the night porter from Macbeth only comes on stage to complain about how hungover he is and to contemplate the effects of alcohol, Helena begs for Demetrius to ravish her, one of Shakespeare`s sonnets repeats the euphamism for penis over and over, and Gulliver puts out a fire by peeing on it. Honestly, for all people think of Brit Lit being hoity-toity and high-brow, it`s actually pretty crass. Hell, one only needs to remember that in Shakespeare`s day plays were on the same level of entertainment as bear-baiting.

            Which gives another reason to call “bullshit” on Ana being an English major; that crassness is an integral part of the works. No one studies English literature for four years without coming across at least four or five dirty jokes.

    2. It’s the book/literary equivalent of a character in a movie being portrayed as a really deep and incredibly skilled artist simply because she has a few dots of paint on her jeans and a print of the Starry Night in her dorm room.

      It’s like there’s a (very short) Hollywood checklist out there for portraying an artist.

      Checklist for female artist:
      • Small amount of paint on jeans and/or shoes. Don’t bother making the splattered paint match any of the colors in the painting she’s currently working on.
      • hair in a ponytail
      • Starry Night prominently displayed in her bed/dorm room. (Bonus points if the painting and/or Van Gogh are mentioned)

      Checklist for male artist:
      • “workman’s hands.” Calloused, short nails, maybe dirty (because boys don’t paint. They do things like making sculptures out of junked out cars. They may be allowed to paint the sculpture. Once.)
      • Nicely coifed short-ish hair (don’t want him coming off as too “hippie”). Maybe bleached or dyed an unusual color, but only if he’s not the main love interest.
      • An MC Escher print prominently displayed in his bed/dorm room. Preferably one with stairs.

      Now that’s got me thinking, if there were a book rife with stereotypes and snap judgements about college kids based on their majors, what authors would a male English/Lit major be in to? If every female Lit major is in it only for Austen and the Brontes (good GAWD, that would be a boring 4 years), what would a male Lit major be in it for?
      Well, besides being in it because he thinks that where all the chicks will be. Like a seventh grade boy taking Home Ec.

      1. But, gosh, everyone knows only girls take English/Lit as a major! It’s, like, such a feminine thing to do, read and… read. Definitely not think or argue or learn any valuable skills. Guys do manly, thinking things for their majors, like science (just science, nothing specific because that’s too many details) or business, or maybe law! They wouldn’t ever be caught dead taking non-required lit courses! (Unless the plot requires it, and then said courses will be used to to show how ~deep~ and ~intellectual~ they are in addition to moving the plot along.)

        /sarcasm… so much sarcasm, and not meant towards you at all, Annie, I swear!

      2. Boys are sensitive souls who are literally only in it for the Shakespeare.

        Still a less boring 4 years, though.

  50. Oh sweetie, if you’re already reacting this bad at chapter 2, it would probably be best to stop reading now, because E.L. James is only just getting started! This book is nothing but a succession of what-the-fuck lines and that-dude-creeps-me-out moments. I thought no book character could be quite as annoying as Ana Steele and her inner-goddess, but it turns out she has nothing on Christian Grey. I felt like I was reading a poorly written crime novel told from the eyes of the serial rapist/murderer.

  51. “Cheward believes he’s entitled to every woman he’s attracted to, and disgusted by the ones he isn’t.” YES! This exactly! Your recaps are spot on and everything you write is what I think while reading.

  52. RE: executive summary

    An executive summary is just a non-technical summary at the start of a report so that people (usually a higher up) who wouldn’t understand your actual work can have an idea of what you found. I’m a statistician, I write these a lot.

    So an executive summary without a full report is a waste of time in this case where he’s “poring” over it. Seriously just read the full report moron! I assume there isn’t one because, as you say, James doesn’t know what an executive summary is.

    Re: Shit-eating grin

    I always thought this was just something you said about someone else in a sort of “omg they are so smug” kind of way. But I am British and so I have no idea.

    1. You usually don’t refer to yourself as doing a shit-eating grin, though; that’s usually used to describe really cocky pricks – people who are like “Prrrrroblem?” in a really smug way. Not just being self-satisfied.

  53. “British literature? The Brontës and Austen, I bet. All those romantic hearts-and-flowers types.”

    How do you know it isn’t Barker and Herbert? Of course, WE know Ana isn’t anywhere near that interesting, but you don’t.

    ….And now I just want Christian to spend some quality time with the Cenobites.

    1. Maybe it’s Dystopians Huxley and Orwell, and she will start critiquing Chedward’s brainwashing techniques, obsession with material distractions, and abuse of proles right in the middle of oral–
      By the way, here’s Charlotte Bronte being Hearts and Flowers:
      “Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! …. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!”
      ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

      1. In the 50verse, Christian is probably way more rich and grander than Ford and you can bet your ass he’ll have first stock in the mind control drug industry…oh, God, people of the 50verse find a way into space NOW. FLEE!

      2. No, we all know that literally all of British literature is hearts and flowers. Troilus and Cressida? Never heard of ‘em.

        Unfortunately I can’t think of any really edgy Britlit fellas, but your examples are fantastic. I nearly choked.

  54. Of course he dislikes Paul, because he can read Paul’s mind and knows he totally wants to pork Ana. Oh, wait, I forgot this is supposed NOT to be Twilight.

  55. I like to think the Brontes, if confronted by the Eel, would have regarded her with contempt, turned on their heels, and stalked away. Rochester would have laughed in her face and stomped off scornfully. Heathcliff and Jr. would have strangled her dogs.

    1. Jane Eyre and Cathy 2 would have avoided her as semi-educated and vulgar. Cathy 1 would have smacked her.

      1. But I’m sure Lydia, Kitty and Mrs Bennet would’ve just LOVED to read 50 Shades of Grey. That has to count for something!

  56. I love your recaps so thanks for taking onto his pain for our gain. Reading your snark on the bus into work always cheers me up in the morning :D

    Also now you lovely gits have got me reading flipping 50 shades of grey fanfiction (Couple Shades of Taylor). Jesus. It’s a good fic but it does my ‘street cred’ no good.

  57. Based not on the book, but only on articles I have read about the book, I predict that Chedward’s groin/cock are his inner goddess. I’m not sure he has a subconscious, otherwise it would be telling him he’s an ass (since a subconscious, apparently by it’s very definition in whatever ridiculous dictionary James uses, overtly tells you things).

  58. I feel like I’ve missed something in this whole EL James mess, because I had a massive, “DUH” moment the other day: Chedward isn’t a Dom, he’s a fucking sadist. Correct me if I’m wrong, but seriously, I thought Doms actually function to serve the needs of the sub by taking away their control (in whatever form, and not necessarily painful or even sexual), at least in romanceroticlandia where they’re psychic and know everything that makes their sub hot even before their sub knows it.

    Chedward is all about Chedward’s needs and only Chedward’s needs, and those needs are apparently mostly centered around inflicting pain.

    Ohhhhhhh, wait – but then it wouldn’t be NEARLY as romantic and successful if he was actually depicted as a sadist when Bellastasia isn’t really a masochist, huh.

    Sorry you’re putting yourself through this again, but you’re doing good work – these reviews and pick-aparts are a great resource for explaining just what the fuck is wrong and why.

    1. A good, responsible dom has had a full conversation with their sub and has made sure to know the needs and wants of their partner, and over time gets a very good sense of what the sub needs and when, and as such can anticipate their needs, pushing them where they need to go but not further. There is a lot that goes into it including proper after care and a whole lot of respect.

      You are correct, Christian Grey is a sadist of the worst kind, actually I believe he falls squarely in the sociopath category, and that Ana is in for a long, miserable marriage of mental, physical, and sexual abuse.

      1. Totally agree.

        I think there’s an allowable area of fantasy where a character just knows what you want (and is totally correct about it) which is very sexy (though obviously impossible irl). Where it gets squicky is when the protagonist says “no thanks” and they do it anyway and the protagonist loves it… no! just take the no and move on! Or have the protagonist say “ok I’ll try it” at another time of their own volition. Even worse is this case where Edward clearly doesn’t give a crap about anything but himself.

      2. Yeah, the core of a BDSM relationship is trust, not sadism — in the real world, that is. If Grey was meant to be a porn novel, he’d belong there.

  59. Ugh. I had this…creature…announce to me (after my husband died, and I was grieving) that he’d “help” me feel like a woman again: “You will do what I tell you, which will be submission and humiliation. You need it.”

    No, we weren’t involved. Weren’t even good friends. BUT he saw that I was vulnerable, and he wanted sex, and thought the crying lady was so weak and lonely that he’d get it.

    NOPE. And that guy–if he’d been English, I’d’a thought the Eel and he were best buds…same dumbass, exploitative, sadistic predatory assholes.

      1. Hey, it wasn’t until I started reading Jenny’s stuff that I realized actual Doms don’t DO that! (And thank you!)

        1. Alias: Please tell me he wasn’t a historical reenactor calling himself Lord Richard followed by a high-falutin’ string of titles Captain this, Champion of that (for medieval–he had some other high-falutin’ string of titles when he did late Roman). This creep had a habit of inviting himself via IM, which I hadn’t learned to block yet, for pizza and videos, when I had never been on an actual date or even to coffee with him, only to a few events with other carpoolers. I refused him, but he continued to shoot down every reason I gave.
          I wasn’t playing much because I was depressed about my mum’s death (which I didn’t tell him about, but I think he sensed vulnerability), and I didn’t know that he was pulling this on almost every female in the group, even ones who were clearly already in a relationship. He’d forgotten my address, so he didn’t show up physically as he did with some of the others, thank Christ and all his saints, but it wasn’t until he left the local reenactment group under a cloud (we’re talking cumulo-nimbus, because it involved a burglary that may have been an inside job, a defaulted storage locker, and expensive garb and fight gear showing up on e-bay) that we found out there was a pattern: grandiose titles in the Roman group, an actual trial in his last medieval group, people who paid for WWII miniatures and never got them….
          I took to referring to him as Captain Creep. He has his own cereal, and it stays Creepy even in milk.

        2. And that’s one of my biggest issues with the whole 50 Shades series – it just plays on the stereotypical image of BDSM. The people who engage in it are just sadists who have no regard for each other, especially people in the Dom(me) role. Also that they’re scary, dangerous people – which ELJ has really drove home with this one.

          It has, at least, brought more people out into the open to refute this idea or, like Jenny, create a more accurate representation of the community. Some sex shops even have used its popularity as a way to sell intro BDSM workshops (but not everyone has sex-positive shops in their area). Those are the positive things that have come out as a result of it.

          1. My reply went on the end instead of under?!? This technical stuff is too technical for me.

          2. I do wish there was a shop like that in my area. I have been interested in the Dom/sub thing for a long time, but kept it to myself. I actually told myself it was just an unhealthy way to cope with an abusive relationship I’d had.
            Then 50 Shades came on the scene, then a friend sent me a link to Jenny’s recaps and I realized, “hey, any aspect of this BDSM stuff isn’t just for freaks or for people that can’t deal with the abuse they’ve suffered, and there’s healthy, fun ways to engage in it.” (which is definitely not the way it’s depicted in the 50Shades books. Zip ties?! Really?!)
            So, my husband and I have done some things, and we’d like to do more, but knowing how to do it safely isn’t exactly common knowledge and I already have chronic pain and joint disorders, so I really rather not add to them by doing something stupid. But I also have no clue where to turn for accurate information.

  60. “…this is a guy who’s like, ‘I don’t do romance,’ and who doesn’t want any romantic entanglements with any of his sex partners, but he wants them to look after him with big, longing puppy eyes?”

    Of course! That way, he can torture them all the more by denying them any romance or affection.

  61. ::Warning Wall of Text, sorry I got carried away with the thought::

    ” ‘Will she even make a good submissive?’

    This is one of the main problems I have with these books, and with a lot of other BDSM romances. The assumption is that since the hero enjoys BDSM, every woman he sees is a potential sub. It’s not, ‘This woman seems interesting and I would like to get to know her.’ It’s not even, ‘This woman is sexually attractive and I would like to have sex with her.’ Just, ‘This woman will make a good sub. I can tell without speaking to her,” or “Will this woman make a good sub?’ ”

    I think in ELJ’s case, this may be due to a peculiar notion she seems to have about BDSMers vs. non-BDSMers. In the comment section of Cliff Pervocracy’s sporking of 50SoG, some commenters brought up the way ELJ framed her concept for 50SoG as either “what would happen if a person into BDSM was dating someone who had never tried BDSM before?” (fine, if nowhere near as novel as she seems to think) or “what would happen if a person into BDSM was dating someone who wasn’t into BDSM?” (not fine at all, at least not if it involves making the latter person engage in BDSM anyway), and how she didn’t seem to realize that there was any difference between these two concepts. Now, how could you possibly conflate the two?

    And the conclusion commenters reached was that ELJ thinks of people as falling into two completely separate categories, “BDSM people” and “non-BDSM-people,” as different as, say, humans and martians. (To quote Cliff’s brilliant paraphrase of ELJ’s thought process: “”I’ve read stories about dominants and submissives doing BDSM, but imagine if it was a dominant and a human.”) People never just discover later in life that they actually enjoy BDSM – they are either already “BDSM people,” who likely know from early on that they are “different,” or they are “non-BDSM-people.”

    Which would explain why Chedward doesn’t think “This woman seems interesting and I would like to get to know her” or “This woman is sexually attractive and I would like to have sex with her.” That’s what a normal person would think. Chedward is a BDSM-person, specifically a Dom, so the only way he thinks about women is “Will she make a good submissive?” (Conversely, the only thing a sub would ever ask themselves about a person they’re interested in is “Would they make a good Dom?”) Getting to know people, dating, run-of-the-mill sexual attraction, suchlike things are for non-BDSMers.

    That would also explain why Chedward states that he “doesn’t do” romance, he only ever has BDSM relationships with his subs – like those things are somehow mutually exclusive?

  62. That’s a very interesting theory, Neurite, and probably pretty accurate. But I think also the Eel’s lack of writing talent points to a genuine inability to think except in the most shallow fashion about concepts/ideas/anything outside of her own limited experience. So anyone who does not act and think as she does IS an alien.

  63. you are truly a hero for doing these re-caps! Chedward has never seemed more creepy and murderous then he has in these first two chapters…it almost (ALMOST) makes you feel bad for Ana. BTW I just about died at your ‘scoot’ picture!

  64. And I didn’t think it possible to hate him more.

    Also I want to ship Graylor but I like Taylor too much. But I kind of like the idea of a crackfic where Taylor’s a dom and turns Grey into a sub.

  65. Violetta, this was in 1999, but that creep sounds like the creep I knew. Khan, “my” (ugh!) creep pretended to be stunned, stunned I tells ya, that I didn’t fall down on my knees in worshipfulness. “Wha–wha–can I at least get a hug?” “NO.” (Door slam.)

  66. You guys, this has just been a great discussion to ready. You’ve all really cleansed my palate of this godawful book and have my gratitude. Seriously, this fucking book.

      1. I’ve been plowing through it so I can appreciate the recaps, but I’m getting pretty discouraged. At the risk of being elitist, I think it’s because Chedward is so god-awful STUPID: crass and semi-educated. Lovelace, Valmont, Humbert, Heyer’s libertine villains, even de Sade himself were *elegant* monsters. You marveled to see such intelligence wasted on such brutality. And you had to sympathize with their victims, because you could see how adept they were at charming the reader. I’ve already posted about Alan Rickman’s performance as Valmont: I not only doubt my ability to resist, but I doubt I would TRY very much.
        If Chedward is just a coarse asshole, then why should we sympathize with Ana for being stupid enough to buy into it? No wonder 50 fans are appalled. He has vanilla sex with her only so he can lure her into S&M. He doesn’t want her asking her roommate about basic mechanics–she’s supposed to ask HIM–but he allows her to give a first-time BJ involving Deep Throating without informing her that it can cause injuries or that the woman who “starred” in the movie “Deep Throat” was being exploited by her husband, and had to be hypnotized to suppress the gag reflex. His fixation on Ana involves none of the twisted poetry that makes Humbert such an ambiguous character: an old-school construction worker would shake his head at Chedward and wonder if this crude loser has EVER scored with ANYONE using that offensive approach.
        As for all the lovesick secretaries, waitresses, and hotel maids Chedward supposedly has to fend off, that makes him LESS sympathetic, not more. If Chedward were insecure that women just wanted him for his money and power, that no one could love him for himself, he might be tolerable, and we could see how Ana might win him over, but nope: he’s Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast,” and who can resist a guy like him?
        I’ll bet any money Captain Creep thought the same thing.

  67. DAMNIT JENNY! You had to link to the Chapter 2 50SoG recap, didn’t you? Didn’t you?! I read that while at my in-law’s just to “refresh my memory.” Now we’re home, the kid is in bed and I’m on the chapter 7 recap without ever really realizing I went beyond chapter 3. My night is officially shot. So much for finishing the Philippa Gregory novel I’ve been reading, I’m going to be reading ALL the 50 Shades recaps because this shit is way too funny for me to stop now.

  68. @Annie, re: this comment (for some reason I can’t get the reply feature to show up below your comment)

    I’m in Ohio and most of our sex shops are largely those shady, off the highway ones. We have a sprinkling of somewhat female/couples-friendly shops (and almost none that I know advertise as feminist/queer/etc-friendly… because Ohio). Whenever I visit friends on the west coast and stop at places like The Pleasure Chest or She Bop, I get very starry eyed at all the cool stuff they have to offer in the way of workshops.

    There are some kinky bloggers who have talked about their experiences with chronic pain and BDSM. I feel like there might also be some good resources through Erika Moen’s Oh Joy Sex Toy web comic and Sex Nerd Sandra’s podcast. They’re both pretty good at being inclusive with their information and advice.

    1. WEnt to grad school in Columbus, OH. There’s an area called the Short North, High St. below 5th approximately, that’s a lot like NY’s East Village used to be: a mix of punk/gay/theatre/musician/starving artist and of course some local winos and meth-heads (and place for them to sell plasma to pay for their habits). There are (or were) TWO sex shops: The Garden for mainstream and the Dungeon for kink. I was looking for a corset for reenactments, and unfortunately most of their stock was too stretchy to give me the silhouette I needed for the era, but they were incredibly sweet and helpful, even recommending places to find other items I was looking for.

      1. Oh yeah, that’s one of the few I’ve been to in this state that are cool. Still there, along with the head shop The Joint, heh.

        Where I live now, the nearest thing is a big Hustler store. Employees there are usually pretty nice and helpful, but it doesn’t have the vibe I’d like in a sex shop.

        1. Fellow Cbus dweller here! I am a big fan of the Garden (and the customer service there is really, really awesome).
          Also that Bernadette Peters gif is everything I ever needed in my life.

  69. I’d forgotten just how good you are at this Jenny, but I was LOL within the first paragraph. Bravo!

    EL James needs to spend some of that ridiculous pile of money she has now on taking a few writing, English and geography courses. And if she doesn’t want to do the research for her books, at least pay one. She still comes off as a complete moron. Actually, this book makes her look worse.

    1. Random House has Research Assistants, some full-time, some temp or freelance. I know, I’ve been one. The Eel doesn’t want to listen, because as others have pointed out, true narcissists can’t admit they aren’t omniscient.

      For perspective, I had a job with a fabric editor at a now-defunct Conde Nast magazine. This woman had trained under Diana freakin’ Vreeland, goddess of Vogue before anyone had ever heard of Nuclear Wintour–and the editor, almost before I was through the door, asked me if I would mind correcting her grammar and spelling when necessary. She knew everything about fabric there was to know, but she wasn’t ashamed to admit that she needed proofreading. But perhaps that’s because she knew everything about fabric there was to know, and didn’t need to pretend knowledge somewhere else.

  70. I haven’t commented on here earlier because I have been trying to think how best to write this. I haven’t read the actual FSoG books, Jenny’s recaps are way more interesting than that drivel. I absolutely can’t stand Christian Grey or EL James and have no desire to defend either of their behaviour. But some sort of lightbulb went off in my head after reading this recap. I have Asperger’s syndrome, which for those who don’t know, is a type of autism characterised by lack of social understanding (how to make small talk, how to read body language, etc) and lack of empathy, among other things. Actually, lack of empathy is tied to the social aspect – it’s more that you just don’t notice that others are hurt or offended, although for myself, if it’s pointed out, then I care deeply. So how does this have anything to do with Christian? Just this – I went through my teenage years (before I was diagnosed), thinking about my crushes in pretty much the same way that Christian regards Ana. ‘Oh, he looked at me. He must like me.’ Even if it was just a casual glance and a ‘Hi’ in the hallway, I KNEW that meant that they must be dying of desire for me. It was only after many painful experiences and rejections (obviously I am nowhere near as goodlooking as Christian apparently is…), did I slowly start to realise that it doesn’t work like that. So now what I wonder is this: If this is how EL James thinks a normal relationship happens, maybe she also has some form of autism? I can’t be bothered googling it to see if anyone else has ever suggested this before, because I can’t be bothered getting caught up in all the other rubbish written about her and FSoG. But I would be interested to know if anyone else also thinks that this might be the case.

    1. Funny you should mention that. I just read the graduation ceremony passage in Grey, and Chedward’s behavior and mindset seemed to me less like those of a sophisticated businessmen with a secret affinity for kink than those of an Aspie. I don’t know if James herself is on the spectrum somewhere, but she clearly doesn’t know the difference between a traumatized abuse survivor who has a keenly developed ability to manipulate others and a man who seems awkward in interactions with anybody. There’s a scene in the apt Ana shares with Kate where Chedward demands some ice from Kate (Ana is, literally, tied up) in a way that seems rather high-handed, since it’s not his place and she’s one of his hostesses. Neither a Harvard-educated businessman from a posh adoptive family who’s used to international negotiations nor a street-savvy slumkid who’s used to getting around should be that clunky.

  71. Exactly – obviously Christian is not a real person (for which women around the globe should be thankful for), but how he is written very much reflects how the author sees the world. It suggests that she sees stalking, manipulation and arrogance as ‘romantic’, where no one else ‘normal’ does. Unfortunately she has taken what seems to be half the female reading population along with her, and now they think this is romantic as well. Another thing that jumped out at me when I thought back on it, is how she seems to be copying EVERY aspect of the Twilight series, from the characters and plot, right down to the cover of Grey, as Jenny points out. And also the way she demands control of the movie. This seems to me more the obsessive actions of someone with Asperger’s than someone ‘normal’. Or maybe she really is just a control freak!

    1. Aspies can learn MANNERS, even if they have trouble with “Social Skills.” I know a high-functioning Aspie who is a true Southern Gentleman, and he said he loves having those rules because they tell him what to do in a situation, even if he has trouble reading people.
      What I don’t get is why Chedward, with that preppy upbringing, hasn’t also learned to follow the external rules, even if he has trouble reading people? I think you really nailed something about him. Compared to the polished seducers in Richardson, Laclos, de Sade, Heyer, or Nabokov, he actually seems remarkably AWKWARD. I know we’re supposed to feel sorry for him for his deprived early years, but are we supposed to pity him because he’s such a dork?

      1. Maybe if you are as goodlooking as Christian is supposed to be, you don’t have to bother about learning manners or reading people like the rest of us Aspies have to? If his internal dialogue is to be believed, it seems like he just has women throwing themselves at him and he can pick which ones he wants, so he has never had to learn how you go about developing a relationship. Unfortunately I know a few people like this in real life, not necessarily Aspies all of them, but who are still happy to use the power that being goodlooking has. If he were ugly, Christian would never have got away with half his behaviour, and would have had to learn to fit in like the rest of us.

        1. Looks don’t cover everything. One of the things the California Virgin Killer bitched about was that guys who were way worse-looking than he was could pick up girls, but he couldn’t. Now, he may have exaggerated their supposed ugliness, but I’m inclined to believe him. An average-looking guy who can talk to women and has charm will be able to form relationships; a guy who can’t talk will, at best, have hook-ups, and that mostly if he’s in certain industries (performing arts, tennis pros) where the women will make the first move.
          In addition, many Aspies are painfully aware that they are different in some way, even if they don’t know what, and are terribly frustrated by their inability to read the social cues that seem so easy for others. You may have mistaken a casual look from a guy for interest (trust me, I made the mistake the other way, and wondered why guys who had teased me to death since 2nd grade were suddenly so friendly), but it probably wasn’t the first time you had trouble reading a situation, even if you didn’t understand why this kept happening. I’m not getting this from Chedward, and I’m certainly not getting it from the Eel. The arrogance of both of them screams Malignant Narcissism, not someone on the spectrum, possibly undiagnosed, who desperately wants to connect but doesn’t know how.

          1. I was more actually thinking of EL James herself, if she thinks this is what constitutes a ‘normal romantic’ relationship. It’s interesting to get others’ viewpoints! As an Aspie myself, it was just something I noticed in this recap of Jenny’s. Maybe if I read the books I might not get the vibe the same!

          2. The first trilogy are mostly silly, but this new Chedward POV book read straight out of a Pick-Up Artist site. The casual hostility towards women is unbelievable. The beautiful ones owe you sex or at least admiration; the not-so-beautiful have no right to be alive. If you have a strong stomach, look at Roosh V’s website: in addition to telling guys how to pick up girls (supposedly), it has posts telling how to fat-shame women who have to gall not to look suitably fuckable by PUA standards, how to praise each other’s pick-up achievements in such a way as to introduce your own and perpetuate this mutual Envy society, how to weed out (bad puns coming) women who have sloppy shaving jobs or just don’t smell daisy-fresh, and how to tell off a woman who wants you to stop PIV sex because you’re hurting her physically, even if you’re not finished yet (alternate ways of achieving satisfaction so everyone goes away happy are never considered, and of course, one must never date her again, even for the purpose of learning how to time foreplay so as to synchronize, more or less, everyone’s satisfaction).

            Why these guys bother fucking women when they obviously detest them and only do it (or pretend to have done it) so they can impress and one-up each other is a mystery–I guess maybe being gay or A- would require actual COURAGE, as opposed to bravado.

            As repellent as these sites are, women would do well to have a look at them at least once, so they know what is out there, and can defend themselves. These are not just slut-puppies looking for a no-strings physical relationship; that would be comparatively harmless. The PUAs have a vendetta. And Chedward sounds eerily like them. For some reason, I’m less shocked by anything kinky he wants to do than by his telling her he got the Hardy set “just for her,” when actually just happened to have it on hand and promptly got another after sending her the first. I’d seriously have more respect for him had he picked Hardy out of a warped identification with Alec rather than just randomly sending the nearest “English major” gift. It shows he isn’t even remotely interested in what interests HER, not even for the purpose of seducing her.

  72. Someone way up there (sorry, lost it in all the other interesting comments!) brought up Christian being concerned about whether or not he should take on an untrained sub because she would take so much training.

    You know- if you take it totally out of context and put it in the mouth of a responsible Dom? It’s a very legit question. Someone who is brand new to the lifestyle would take more care and more attention than someone who has some idea of what to expect. The Dom would have to explain things like sub-drop and limits and expect them to be more fluid than not until the sub knows what they do and don’t like/enjoy/tolerate for a good reason.

    Sadly, in context it just reinforces who Chedward really is. “What do you mean I have to take care of my toys?!”

    1. I’m not sure if you meant my comment or not, but it might be relevant anyway. I think that experience most certainly comes into play in this sort of relationship, but what’s disturbing (in my opinion) is that he appraises her like a piece of meat rather than a human being. To me, the concern that she might not be prepared is sort of irrelevant at this point. He doesn’t know who she is or what she wants, you know?

      I definitely agree with you, though. Still, I can’t help but find the most irritating part of all of this to be him saying that she needs ‘training’. Beside all his thinking of her as a slightly more exceptional version of a mildly entertaining toy, it makes me want to punch a puppy when he starts acting like she’s a dog and can’t be owned unless she’s had proper discipline.

      But yeah, seriously! He doesn’t really seem at all concerned about what she wants. The only relevance her experience has to him is based around what he wants, what -he- finds convenient.


  73. Just wanted to say that I picked up Fit after your recommendation up there, and it was fantastic! I devoured it and will probably finish the whole trilogy in the next couple of days. I mean, they’re pretty short, so. I love how healthy the relationship was in the book though, especially compared to FSoG. Even if they made mistakes, they owned up to them and talked things out. Easing into D/s stuff (after that first “instasub” incident you mentioned) in a more responsible way…it was great!

  74. The comment about taking his pants off?

    So CREEPY, gross and inappropriate. I’ve had costumers make inappropriate comments and I guess most women who have a job where they even have the smallest bit of contact with other people have experienced it.
    It’s not sexy. Never.

    1. Yeah I had a guy say something like that to me once. He visited me at work and we were chatting when he said something had happened at work to bother him. I must have said something jokingly like ‘oh no, how will you get over it?’ and he said ‘I dunno, sex?’ with a pointed look at me. It was gross.

      Funny thing is he was drop dead gorgeous, a really hot guy but way too intense. His even hotter brother who was super nice and who I really wish I’d somehow made out with even warned me off him. That combined with the unsolicited work visiting seems very Chedwardy in retrospect.

  75. Jenny, where are you? I know you have MUCH better things to do, but I have to give this piece of shite back to the library soon, and I can’t face the rest of it without you.

  76. “She really is the whole package: sweet, polite, and beautiful” UGHHH! He should have just said she’s sugar and spice and everything nice (insert sarcastic eye roll here)

    Also, women don’t make him laugh because they’re not qualified and they shouldn’t be talking.

    Lastly, maybe Ana have him her employee discount and that’s why the total was lowerthan expected.

  77. “This is interesting. In the original series, Christian goes on and on about how Ana is too thin, she needs to eat more, she needs to go to the gym (as outlined in the contract), etc. He makes these comments about her body again and again, despite her constant state of obvious insecurity. But inwardly he’s thinking that her body is perfect. So let’s whip out our handy chart of signs of abuse, shall we?

    ‘Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you.’

    Christian makes negative comments about Ana’s body in the original trilogy, and we see here that he actually thinks her body is fine. So the entire point of his “you need to eat/you’re too thin” thing isn’t because he didn’t get fed enough as a child. It’s because he’s an abusive psychopath.”

    Your recaps have been an excellent resource for me to consider the perspectives of folks who consider what happens in the book abuse. I think it’s important to point them out, but I do feel that this one I’ve quoted is not the right example. Admittedly, I’ve read only 1 1/2 of the books, but from what I’ve seen so far, especially in Fifty Shades Christian is _frequently_ telling Ana how beautiful she is, and what a great body she has, how he wants her to be totally comfortable naked, she has great legs, etc. He does constantly harp on her to eat, but more in the way you mention, because he says he has a complex about her being hungry.

    In the second book, he definitely talks about her being thin at the beginning, but that’s in the context of a period where we’re told [does anyone care about spoilers?] that Ana has been eating essentially one tub of yogurt a day for about a week.

    I dunno, maybe this is what happens in the rest of Darker, and in Freed, but I don’t think your point is accurate for Fifty Shades/Grey.

  78. This chapter didn’t answer something I wanted to know from Fifty Shades – why did Chedward go to Vancouver to see Ana in the store? What was he planning to DO? This book doesn’t eliminate it any further. If she hadn’t brought up the idea of the photograph, would he have just left the store? Would he have asked for her number? Asked her out? He didn’t have a game plan, and I don’t know how he thought he was going to even get close to asking her to sub for him.

  79. I wonder what that says about the stigmatization if sex, that he’s more comfortable playing a serial killer than someone with a (pretty common) kink.

    1. Dornan apparently feels like he has to distance himself from the BDSM but not from the killing people. On the one hand, this makes sense. If you play a serial killer then nobody is going to think that you might be a serial killer in real life. If you play someone into BDSM (or someone gay etc.) then there are always idiots who suddenly don’t understand the concept of acting anymore.

      On the other hand, if you want to be ashamed and disgusted by portraying something as an actor, it seems a tad strange that you’d choose BDSM over killing people.

      1. Reply to Lieke:

        Well, I think serial killers have more “cache” in movies than kinksters (and there are just more movies about them). And I totally agree with what you mentioned earlier about his appearance on the Graham Norton Show. I thought it was incredibly jerky what he said about the kink advisor.

        I get that Christian Grey was a role that tons of young actors were clamoring for, and Jamie Dornan got it. It will give him a huge payday, and open up lots of other roles in the states, which seems to be his goal. But he didn’t seem to realize that a role like this requires you to play the game, a la Rob Pattinson. You have to suffer through all the screaming fans, and do all the interviews, and put on your bravest face when you talk about this thing you performed in based on a book that you would _never_ have read on your own (both Dornan and Pattinson are avid readers of literary fiction). His contempt was evident in the movie and pretty much every appearance he made.

        I read in an article that Dornan read his bad reviews, and he _definitely_ heard an earful about his lack of chemistry with Dakota Johnson, so maybe he’ll step it up in the rest of the series.

  80. You know, it’s not uncommon for the hero of a romance novel to fantasize about having sex with a heroine even though he thinks he can’t have her, but that’s usually to show that she’s just so darn attractive to him. Yes, creep face does think Ana’s sexy but he also wants to beat her because she MIGHT be laughing at him. That’s not romantic.

    I really want someone to write a spitefic where he shows up to the photoshoot and Kate like, “Of course Ana’s not here. Why would she be?” and the series ends there. or better yet, it’s all a front for a police sting where Chedward get’s arrest for stalking and probably murder.
    It’s a very good thing Ana didn’t have a significant other before the book, or Christian would probably have them murdered. Paul dodged a bullet there.
    “…then stands with his arm resting on her shoulder. It seems like a casual gesture, but I know he’s staking a claim and telling me to back off.”
    Doesn’t he do this EXACT same thing to Ethan at Ana’s graduation? Pot meet kettle.

    “My eyes flick to the rearview mirror, where I can see the shop door, but all I see is the quaint storefront. She’s not in the window, staring out at me.
    It’s disappointing.”
    He already expects her to be pining after him. I don’t think Chedward wants a sub or a girlfriend: he wants a dog that will sit at home all day, waiting for him to give it one modicum of affection and instantly forgive him if he hits it. He wants unconditional love, respect, and affection without doing anything to deserve it (Although unlike Ana, a dog might actually bite him). I wouldn’t let him have a dog though, because I have no doubt he would abuse it and face no consequences

  81. “Maybe this guy is her boyfriend. He looks the right age, and he can’t take his greedy little eyes off her.”

    ~ Um, excuse me? If he is her boyfriend like you’re speculating, then he has every right to look at her that way. You, on the other hand, have been eye-humping her from the moment she first crossed your field of vision. You are the one who is sizing her up like a prize cut of meat while Paul actually appears to care about her like the goddamn human being that she is.

    “Mr. Grey.” His handshake is limp, like his hair. Asshole. “Wait up–not the Christian Grey? Of Grey Enterprises holdings?”
    Yeah, that’s me, you prick.”

    ~ Wow. Wow. You are positively un-fucking-believable. Contrary to popular belief, a person’s handshake says NOTHING about them, other than a deliberately firm handshake being a sign that the other person is trying to impress or intimidate you, but again, it still says nothing. There could very well be NO reason whatsoever to be impressed OR intimidated.

    So, care to explain how a LIMP handshake makes a man an asshole? Do you even know what an asshole is? It’s what you are, Christian. A self-entitled douchebag who sees everyone else as beneath him and derives pleasure from treating such people like shit. Failing to impress you with a firm handshake is practically the polar opposite of being an asshole. Hell, even if Paul’s handshake WAS firm, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you would have taken it as a threat and STILL called him an asshole.

    And finally, what makes YOU the biggest asshole of all is the fact that Paul was genuinely in awe of you, and even THAT wasn’t enough to earn him even a modicum of respect. Just the opposite, in fact. You had the gall to call him a prick while he is practically worshiping you!


  82. Loving your reactions to Ed…I mean Grey. Well, after I got over my “This was a thing? Someone actually let this happen?” reaction to republishing the same friggin book with flipped narrative. If you can call this narrative.

    Yeah, I’m still having trouble with the fact that Pride Prejudice and Zombies is a thing too.

    So, have you ever seen La Boheme? Because it’s a tremendously popular opera, and most people seem to find it reaaaaally romantic, and every time it comes up I have the same reaction as you have to Chapter 2. I’d love to see you do this recap with Boheme, Romeo and Juliet, a few of the other “classics” that set the stage scholastically for the indoctrination of abusive users as romantic heroes. Just so I can chortle self-sastisfiedly to myself. Perhaps with a smug grin.

    1. I’d like to know why you consider Boheme and R&J abusive. Traviata, definitely, most of the Bronte canon, yes, but why those two?

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