Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Grey, Sunday, May 15, 2011, or “The impossible has occurred: Ana is suddenly tolerable”

Aaaand we’re back.

Since the announcement of Grey, I’ve had some Tumblr messages and a few emails asking me if I would ever rewrite the Boss series from Neil’s POV. I can’t see a way that I could do that without being extremely derivative of E.L.’s move, but it would be an interesting project. In the meantime, I do have dual POV novels coming out on August 4th, entitled First Time. You can pre-order them now, if you’re interested.

Other thing: I get messages every now and then from people who are like, “I want to donate to your blog,” or whatever. And I appreciate it, and I always tell people to buy my books if they’re interested in supporting me, but if you’d prefer, I put up a Patreon. The higher level donations are definitely intended to be one time only, so please be sure to cancel your subscription or whatever after you make the one-time donation.

This day in history: Actress Barbara Stuart, of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. fame, died.

For your reference and enjoyment, here’s my chapter three recap of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Now, let’s do this:

Chedward starts his Sunday out with a run to clear his head. He dreamed of Ana the night before, instead of having a nightmare, and it has so disturbed him that he needs to push his body “to its limits” to get her out of his thoughts. Then there’s a section break and it’s two hours later, and he’s still out running. He sees a coffee shop and thinks maybe he should take Ana out for coffee. As always, underlines indicate italics in the text:

Like a date?

Well. No. Not a date. I laugh at the ridiculous thought. Just a chat–an interview of sorts. Then I can find out a little more about this enigmatic woman and if she’s interested, or if I’m on a wild-goose chase.

It would be ridiculous to assume that one would take a woman they’re interested in out on a date. How droll. Instead, we shall interview the aforementioned woman as though she were a candidate for employment. This proves how very businessy and Master of The Universe-ish we are.

Christian goes back to his hotel room, where he stretches, and:

Breakfast has been delivered and I’m famished. It’s not a feeling I tolerate–ever.

If you don’t like feeling hungry, here’s a thought: DON’T GO OUT RUNNING FOR OVER TWO HOURS. Shit like that has a tendency to make you hungry.

I hate the absolutes Christian throws out. “It’s not a feeling I tolerate–ever.” I know that it’s meant to show his very serious and dark and powerful side, but instead he comes off like a total brat who would start kicking and screaming if he got slightly hungry and food wasn’t immediately accessible.

We learn that he plans to eat before he showers, and there’s another section break. Dear fucking lord. I know this book was supposed to give us new insight to this fascinating character, but do we really need to hear about the order in which he’s going to eat and shower when it does nothing to propel the story? Most of this page is just him running, thinking about how he dreamed about Ana, thinking about coffee, then planning to eat breakfast and shower later.

Diagram explaining how to set a solid rivet with a ball-peen hammer.

Only in the third section, the bottom quarter of the page, does anything happen at all. Taylor knocks on the door and tells Christian that they’re ready for him at the photo shoot downstairs.

Room 601 is crowded with people, lights, and camera boxes, but I spot her immediately. She’s standing to the side. Her hair is loose: a lush, glossy mane that falls beneath her breasts.

Man in a creepy horse mask and smoking jacket


If Ana has that much hair growing under her boobs, though, that might actually be a symptom of a serious endocrine disorder. She should get that checked out.

She’s wearing tight jeans and chucks with a short-sleeved navy jacket and a white T-shirt beneath. Are jeans and chucks her signature look? While not very convenient, they do flatter her shapely legs.

Ugh, I hate it when a woman’s clothes don’t allow me immediate access to all the holes I would like to stick things in. But at least they make a part of her body pleasing to my eye, and that’s all that matters.

Chedward greets Ana and considers kissing her hand, but he doesn’t, stopping just shy of becoming a creepy, fedora wearing “m’lady” guy. Katherine is there, and is described by Chedward as standing “too close” to Ana, because he is Master of The Universe and dictates where everyone should stand. All the world is a stage, and Chedward Grullen will give you your blocking.

“Mr. Grey, this is Katherine Kavanagh,” she says. With reluctance I release her and turn to the persistent Miss Kavanagh. She’s tall, striking, and well groomed, like her father, but she has her mother’s eyes, and I have her to thank for my introduction to the delightful Miss Steele. That thought makes me feel a little more benevolent toward her.

Why do you dislike her in the first place? Because she’s well-groomed? Because she has her mother’s eyes? Or is it just that you like people more depending on how much they’ve done for you? I doubt it’s that last one because HA HA HA that would make you a gigantic dick bag.

Chedward calls her “the tenacious Miss Kavanagh.” Two things I’m real tired of this motherfucker doing. One, calling anyone “miss.” “Miss” is a word all men need to strike from their fucking vocabularies, because I have no patience for it (except in the case of when women self-apply it, like my friend’s stage name, Miss Quinn). It’s condescending, and there’s a reason men like Chedward do it. That reason is to be shitty on purpose. You can say “Ms.” and your precious masculinity won’t suffer. Second, he attaches adjectives to women and it drives me up the wall. The “delectable” Miss Steele. The “tenacious” Miss Kavanagh. He sounds like he’s labelling butterflies he’s pinned into a frame. “Here we have the lace-winged honey moth, and here, ah, the gem of my collection, the delectable Miss Steele.”

She has a firm, confident handshake, and I doubt she’s ever faced a day of hardship in her privileged life.

Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

Chedward is a white man who has literally billions of dollars, and he’s looking down on a college student for being too privileged. Yes, he had a difficult four years of his life, and tragedy and abuse, but at the end of the day, he’s a foster kid from Detroit who got adopted by rich people, given every opportunity in the world, and felt comfortable walking away from Harvard because it was beneath him.

Plus, he can tell that she’s never faced hardship because she has a confident handshake? Because women who have faced hardship can’t be confident? Or shouldn’t be?

You know what, fuck it. It’s because he doesn’t like women, and we all already knew that.

I wonder why these women are friends. They have nothing in common.


Ana introduces Christian to José, and of course Chedward is instantly defensive, thinking “Game on, kid,” as they shake hands. One of the things that really rankled in the first series was how dismissive Chedward was of José. He wasn’t just like, “I don’t like this guy, because he likes Ana,” it was always done with words like, “kid” and “boy,” when Christian is really only something like six years older than them. On top of that, a white guy calling a man who is not white “boy” or “kid” is, you know. Racial intimidation.

Christian gets into position for the picture taking:

As the glare recedes I search out the lovely Miss Steele. She’s standing at the back of the room, observing the proceedings. Does she always shy away like this? Maybe that’s why she and Kavanagh are friends; she’s content to be in the background and let Katherine take center stage.

Or–and this will probably sound crazy–it’s Katherine’s piece for the newspaper, so that’s why she’s in charge.

Hmm…a natural submissive.

Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect yelling "Enough! Enough!"

I am sick to shit of this “natural submissive” bullshit! I AM DONE! WE ARE DONE!

Are there people who are naturally submissive, as in, they always stay kind of passive and will go with the flow for the sake of letting the more dominant people get their way? ABSOLUTELY. Could some of these people be sexually submissive as well? ABSOLUTELY. But one is not indicative of the other and I’m so tired of hearing it framed that way. Let’s say it again, for those in the back who maybe didn’t hear it last time: YOU CAN’T TELL IF SOMEONE IS A SEXUAL SUBMISSIVE WITHOUT THEM TELLING YOU OR SHOWING AN INTEREST IN SEXUAL SUBMISSION WITHIN YOUR OWN RELATIONSHIP.

All this kind of malarky does is tell inexperienced kinksters, hey, that creepy guy who just messaged you on FetLife saying you’re definitely a submissive and he can tell? Is a totally safe dude to interact with.

Everything about this book is crap.

Christian locks eyes with Ana:

Back down, Anastasia. I will her to stop staring, and as if she can hear me, she’s the first to look away.

Good girl.

Maybe it wasn’t like, mind control, Cheddie. Maybe it was the fact that you’re creepily staring at her and it’s making her uncomfortable. But whatever, as long as you’re affecting her, right?

After the photo shoot, Christian gets ready to leave, and he shakes hands with José, who is apparently antagonistic, because:

His antagonism makes me smile.

Oh, man…you have no idea.

What kind of prick gloats over trying to steal someone else’s…oh, right. I forgot what book I was reading.

Christian asks Ana if she’ll walk with him.

I mutter some platitude to those still in the room and usher her out the door, wanting to put some distance between her and Rodriguez.

A lion. Does what it says on the tin.

He’s separating her from the herd.

Here’s a really good example of why this book isn’t working for readers:

“I’ll call you, Taylor,” I say, and when he’s almost out of earshot I ask Ana to join me for coffee, my breath held for her response.

The book is about how Christian felt when he met and fell for Ana, right? Yet there are several instances where he’ll say, “I asked her this,” or “I told her that,” instead of the reader seeing the dialogue being spoken and the characters reacting as it’s happening. We’re seeing more interaction with Taylor in this paragraph than with Ana. Since asking the question of Ana makes Christian hold his breath, then that’s the important part of the paragraph, right? It’s backwards; Chedward’s aside to Taylor should have been the bit that was glossed over.

Of course, Ana says she can’t go to coffee, because she has to drive everyone home, and Christian tells Taylor to take Ana’s friends back to campus.

“There. Now can you join me for coffee?”

“Um–Mr. Grey, er–this really…” She stops

Shit. It’s a “no.” I’m going to lose this deal. She looks directly at me, eyes bright. “Look, Taylor doesn’t have to drive them home. I’ll swap vehicles with Kate, if you give me a moment.”

Okay, this is interesting. Besides the part where Christian actually knows that “no” is a negative reply and not an obstacle to overcome, this part of the book reads a lot differently than the first book did. In the first book, Ana is still so, “Golly gee, why would anybody on earth like me, I’m so shy and stumbling and shy and insecure and shy and did I mention shy?” that I almost sprained my head rolling my eyes at her. From Christian’s perspective, it doesn’t read as though Ana is insecure, just that she’s worried about the logistics of getting her friends back to where they need to go without ditching them.

Much like Movie!Ana, I like Chedward’s POV!Ana much better than Ana Classic.

Christian waits for Ana in the hallway while Taylor gets his jacket and Ana goes back in to talk to her friends.

What the hell am I going to say to her?

“How would you like to be my submissive?”

No. Steady, Grey. Let’s take this one stage at a time.

Why? It’s not like you’d be the first romance novel douche Dom to pull that instasub bullshit.

How long is Anastasia going to be? I check my watch. She must be negotiating the car swap with Katherine. Or she’s talking to Rodriguez, explaining that she’s just going for coffee to placate me and keep me sweet for the article. My thoughts darken. Maybe she’s kissing him goodbye.


She emerges a moment later, and I’m pleased. She doesn’t look like she’s just been kissed.

Maybe she forgot to turn the neon “I’ve been kissed” sign on.

Again, this is all supposed to be showing us how insecure Grey really is, as a way of excusing his creepy behavior. Instead, he just seems like an impatient dick, checking his watch while he waits on the woman whose plans have just changed because of him.

Christian asks Ana how long she’s known Kate:

“Since our freshman year. She’s a good friend.” Her voice is full of warmth. Ana is clearly devoted. She came all the way to Seattle to interview me when Katherine was ill, and I find myself hoping that miss Kavanagh treats her with the same loyalty and respect.

“Because I sure won’t,” he does not say, because no one asked me to write this book.

They get into the elevator, where the couple inside have just been making out.

As we travel to the first floor the atmosphere is thick with unfulfilled desire. And I don’t know if it’s emanating from the couple behind us or from me.

Well, you know, elevators smell bad sometimes. It happens.

I’m relieved when the doors open again and I take her hand, which is cool and not clammy as expected. Perhaps I don’t affect her as much as I’d like. The thought is disheartening.

I don’t even know anymore with this “affect” thing. He’s not worried about what Ana is thinking or feeling. He’s worried about what she’s thinking and feeling about him, and more importantly, that she have a physical reaction that will gratify him.

At the coffee shop, Christian asks Ana what she wants, and she tells him she wants English Breakfast tea, bag on the side. He asks her if she wants something to eat, and she says no. He goes up to the counter to order for them.

I have to wait in line while the two matronly women behind the counter exchange inane pleasantries with all their customers.

Okay, keep that paragraph in mind as we continue.

“I’ll have a coffee with steamed milk. English Breakfast tea. Teabag on the side. And a blueberry muffin.”

Anastasia might change her mind and eat.

Or she might not, since she said she wasn’t hungry. He’s already trying to control what she eats, this early.

So, Christian is getting the order, and this conversation happens with the woman at the counter:

“You visiting Portland?”


“The weekend?”


“The weather sure has picked up today.”


“I hope you get out to enjoy some sunshine.”

Please stop talking to me and hurry the fuck up.

Yes, please do. Because this whole sequence could have been taken care of with the paragraph above, where he mentions that they’re talking to all of their customers. I understand that this book is supposed to show us the story from Christian’s perspective, I really do. But I, and a lot of readers, were thinking something more along the lines of seeing what he’s thinking when he and Ana are together, and scenes where he’s living his life and how those events shaped his side of the story. I wasn’t dying to read about what it was like when he ordered the coffee that time they went to the coffee shop. Because it’s not important.

Christian notices that Ana is watching him, and he wonders if she’s checking him out. Then he’s finally able to join her at the table.

“This is my favorite tea,” she says, and I revise my mental note that it’s Twinnings English Breakfast tea she likes.

I’m surprised it wasn’t on the background check.

As she tells me she likes her tea weak and black, for a moment I think she’s describing what she likes in a man.

Steve Urkel, the nerd from Family Matters

I don’t know, his arms are still pretty jacked, suspenders or not.

This is an important detail, by the way. Once Christian realizes that Ana is talking about tea, the reader is reassured that Christian is not weak and, most importantly, not black. And you might think that’s a joke, but consider the fact that Chedward is hauling some pretty heavy clues around with him, like the fact that he was from Detroit and his mother was addicted to crack. In basically any other story, that would be code for “this guy is a black guy,” because stereotype dictates that crack is a drug only black people use, and Detroit is a black city. In conceptualizing Grey’s backstory, James has basically used the astoundingly negative stereotypical trappings we culturally associate with blackness, but on a white guy, because we’re supposed to view a white guy living a rough “black” childhood as being the utmost travesty of justice in the universe, thus deepening his tragedy.

I’m not saying this was a choice intentionally made by James. I doubt she got up one morning and went, “Aha! I should work an air of white supremacy into my fanfic,” but, like the abuse, rape, misogyny and homophobia, it somehow got in there.

Christian decides to get right down to business, asking Ana if José is her boyfriend.

She laughs. At me.

At me!

And I don’t know if it’s from relief or if she thinks I’m funny. It’s annoying.

Scene from Goodfellas with Joe Pesci saying, "But I'm funny, how? Funny like a clown? I amuse you?"

Ana tells Christian that José is just a friend, and asks why Christian though he was her boyfriend.

“The way you smiled at him, and he at you.” You have no idea, do you? The boy is smitten.

Oh, there’s that “boy” again. And dig the natural speech from a twenty-seven or twenty-eight or whatever year old American man. “And he at you.” I’m surprised this dick isn’t wearing a cravat.

She eyes the blueberry muffin as I peel back the paper, and for a moment I imagine her on her knees beside me as I feed her, a morsel at a time.

There is literally no food I could imagine that would be less sexy to feed to someone during a scene than a fucking muffin. “Mmm, yeah baby, get it all over. Get those crumbs all over me. You know, the crumbs that are really moist and turn into little rolls like dead skin that leave a sticky sugar feeling when you brush them off? Oh yes, god yes! Oh fuck yeah, there’s a blueberry in my bra!”

I’m going to get a bunch of search engine hits from the terms “explicit muffin sex” or something.

 Why is she so jittery? Maybe because of me?

Maybe you…affect her.

“And the boy I met yesterday, at the store. He’s not your boyfriend?”

“No. Paul’s just a friend. I told you yesterday.” She frowns again as if she’s confused, and crosses her arms in defense. She doesn’t like being asked about these boys. I remember how uncomfortable she seemed when the kid at the store put his arm around her, staking his claim.

Chedward doesn’t consider that maybe she looked uncomfortable because he was making her feel uncomfortable. He was actually delighting in making her feel uncomfortable, if you remember.  She was uncomfortable before Paul even got there.

“Why do you ask?” she adds.

“You seem nervous around men.”

Maybe she just seems nervous around psychopaths.

“I find you intimidating,” she says, and looks down, fidgeting once more with her fingers. On the one hand she’s so submissive, but on the other she’s…challenging.

“You should find me intimidating.”

Yeah. She should. There aren’t many people brave enough to tell me I intimidate them.

So, she’s braver than most people, but she should still find him intimidating? How does any of that follow?

There’s more stuff about how she’s mysterious and he can’t figure her out. She asks him why he hasn’t told her to call him by his first name.

And I remember her leaving my office in the elevator–and how my name sounded coming out of her smart mouth. Has she seen through me? Is she deliberately antagonizing me?

One of my big issues with Christian Grey are the weird standards that he feels everyone should live up to. They’re not things any reasonable person could possibly anticipate. It’s antagonistic to ask to use someone’s first name after they’ve asked you out for coffee and they’re peppering you with personal questions?

I change the subject. I want to know about her.

“Are you an only child?”

Her eyelashes flutter several times before she answers that she is.

animated gif of Lana Del Rey's eyes blinking out of sync, over and over.

“Tell me about your parents.”

She rolls her eyes and I have to fight the compulsion to scold her.

How gallant of you to not police the facial expressions of a stranger.

You know, coming from Christian’s POV, Ana seems less and less interested in him. She rolls her eyes, she evades questions by giving only short answers, she’s basically seems entirely disinterested in being there with him, and her dialogue comes off as less golly-gee-I’m-so-not-interesting and way more assertive. I like her so much more in Grey than in the original series. If only we could have seen this Ana in 50 Shades of Grey.

Ana tells Chedward about her mother and stepfather in Georgia, and Chedward thinks:

Of course I know all this from Welch’s background check, but it’s important to hear it from her.

No it’s not. If it were important to you to get to know her, you wouldn’t have run the background check, and you wouldn’t do what you do next, which is to ask about her father:

“My father died when I was a baby.”

For a moment I’m catapulted into my nightmares, looking at a prostrate body on a grimy floor. “I’m sorry, I mutter.”

Okay, wait. He knows what happened to Ana’s father. Chedward doesn’t have any idea how she feels about any of it, but he’s going to bring it up, even though it could be as traumatic for her as his memory of his mother’s death. But Ana’s feelings have never really been important to the plot of these books. Ana is just a vehicle for the reader to experience Christian Grey.

Just in case the reader doesn’t realize how much better Ana is than all other women, here’s another reminder that Christian wants her, and only her, and all others are trash:

She’s one of the few women I’ve met who can sit in silence. Which is great, but not what I want at the moment.

It’s GREAT that Ana doesn’t talk on and on and on like other, less desirable women. But it’s not great that she’s unwilling to perform on command.

“You’re not giving much away, are you?”

“Neither are you,” she parries.

This is another example of Ana just somehow, when stripped of her self-doubting, self-critical inner narrative, seems much more assertive.

And it’s with great pleasure and a smirk that I remind her that she’s interviewed me already. “I can recollect some quite probing questions.”

Yes. You asked me if I was gay.

Is asking someone about their sexuality in an interview invasive? Yup. Is constantly bringing it up over and over again in your novel as a way to remind the reader that your hero is nothing but the most manly and heterosexual of all creatures that ever walked the earth homophobic as hell? Yup.

Ana tells Chedward about her mother and how she’s on her fourth marriage:

I suppose someone on her fourth marriage is embracing hope over experience. Is she like her mother? I can’t bring myself to ask her. If she says she is–then I have no hope. And I don’t want this interview to end.

Why is that em dash in there? What part of that statement needs an em dash? It’s all one thought. If/then. Not hard. Em dashes can be used in place of commas for readability, but it’s an odd choice here.

Either way, Chedward once again rises above all expectations for asshole behavior when he explicitly states that this person, whom he seems to have a genuine interest in–insomuch as he can have an interest in anything outside of himself–will be completely useless to him if she doesn’t fit his criteria for fuckable women.

Christian tells Ana about his family, briefly, and then Ana says she would like to go Paris someday, but that she really wants to visit England.

“It’s the home of Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy. I’d like to see the places that inspired those people to write such wonderful books.” It’s obvious this is her first love.


She said as much in Clayton’s yesterday. That means I’m competing with Darcy, Rochester, and Angel Clare: impossible romantic heroes.

Fret not, gentle Chedward, you can easily live up to Alec D’Urberville and impress her.

Here’s the proof I needed. She’s an incurable romantic, like her mother–and this isn’t going to work. To add insult to injury, she looks at her watch. She’s done.

It’s insulting to the man who acts like his time is made of twenty-four carat gold shit directly from King Midas’s asshole that someone else would value their own time as well. And her personality injures him.

Ana tells Christian that she has to go home and study. She thanks Christian for the tea:

“You’re welcome, Anastasia. It’s my pleasure.” As I say the words I realize that the last twenty minutes have been…enjoyable.

That must come as quite a shock to you, considering how little you think of women.

Giving her my most dazzling smile, guaranteed to disarm, I offer her my hand. “Come,” I say.

I totally forgot about the “come” and “come on” flip around in the first series. If you haven’t read it, Christian always tells Ana to “come” when he means he wants to go somewhere. Which, you know, is totally natural dialogue for an American guy in his twenties. Then, when they’re having sex and Ana is getting close to orgasm, he says, “come on.” It’s like…that’s so backwards and hilarious, and I can’t believe I forgot it.

Oh, but also:

Edward Cullen, surrounded by little sparkles, with "Do I Dazzle You" in a really obnoxious font.

 “Do you always wear jeans?” I ask.

“Mostly,” she says, and it’s two strikes against her: incurable romantic who only wears jeans…I like my women in skirts. I like them accessible.


Melissa McCarthy, gleefully typing on a laptop, with the words, "Oh boy, I got a lot of anger inside.

Dramatic reenactment of me blogging that passage.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” she asks out of the blue, and it’s the third strike. I’m out of this fledgling deal. She wants romance, and I can’t offer her that.

Okay, but how is it “out of the blue?” You interrogated her about whether or not she had a boyfriend right at the beginning of this whole getting-to-know-you conversation. And you thought she wasn’t interested in you in the first place. She’s given absolutely no indication that she might be into you. For all you know, she’s making small talk.

The whole, “Woe is me, I’m such an insecure billionaire, Miss Steele could never want me” nonsense would be a lot more believable if he didn’t clearly believe every single woman on the planet wanted him.

He tells her he doesn’t do the girlfriend “thing,” and I think it’s safe to assume that by “thing” he doesn’t mean “relationship” but “women are things.” Maybe that’s unfair of me.


Then, the magical Twilight moment occurs:

Stricken with a frown, she turns abruptly and stumbles into the road.

“Shit, Ana!” I shout, tugging her toward me to stop her from falling in the path of an idiot cyclist who’s flying the wrong way up the street. All of a sudden she’s in my arms clutching my biceps, staring up at me. Her eyes are startled, and for the first time I notice a darker ring of blue circling her irises; they’re beautiful, more beautiful this close. Her pupils dilate and I know I could fall into her gaze and never return.

I wish you would. I wish Ana’s bottomless pupils would just swallow him up and we never had to read about his existence from this point on.

A character falling over in Animal Cross: New Leaf

Also, Ana needs to go see Katrina the fortune teller to get rid of this bad luck.

Christian is holding Ana in his arms, not at all like Edward Cullen in the exact same scene in Midnight Sun:

Too frightened to have her this close to me, knowing what I would smell if I allowed myself to inhale. Too aware of the heat of her soft body, pressed against mine–even through the double obstacle of our jackets, I could feel that heat… (Stephenie Meyer, Midnight Sun)

Her body is pressed against mine, and the feel of her breasts and her heat through my shirt is arousing. She has a fresh, wholesome fragrance that reminds me of my grandfather’s apple orchard. Closing my eyes, I inhale, committing her scent to memory. (E.L. James, Grey)

Fun fact: Bella also smelled like plants. According to Edward in Twilight, she smells like freesia or lavender. In Midnight Sun, Emmet has a vivid memory of a woman and the scent of apple trees. And, of course, there’s a friggin’ apple on the cover of Twilight. But E.L. James’s works are not at all, in any way, connected to Twilight ever. How preposterous.

Chedward thinks about how Ana wants to kiss him, and he wants to kiss her, but he can’t because he doesn’t do “hearts and flowers,” a phrase that will be referenced over and over and over and over until you’ll never again see a heart or a flower without thinking of this franchise.

“Anastasia,” I whisper, “You should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you.”

The little v forms between her brows, and I think she’s stopped breathing.

“Breathe, Anastasia, breathe.”

Because women literally die when he turns them down.

“Thank you,” she adds.

“For what?”

“For saving me.”

And I want to tell her that I’m saving her from me…that it’s a noble gesture, but that’s not what she wants to hear.

No, she probably doesn’t want to hear that your assumption that she’s ready to leap into your arms, wet and willing, is noble.

There’s angst because Ana isn’t into him now, after he’s told her not to be into him.

“Anastasia…I…” I can’t think what to say, except that I’m sorry.

“What, Christian,” she snaps.

Whoa. She’s mad at me, pouring all the contempt she can into each syllable of my name.

I think you mean both syllables of your name.

She disappears into the building, leaving in her wake a trace of regret, the memory of her beautiful blue eyes, and the scent of an apple orchard in the fall.

The cover of Twilight, featuring two hands holding an apple.

That’s all for this time. Check back for more blatant rip-offs of Stephenie Meyer’s work!


213 thoughts on “Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Grey, Sunday, May 15, 2011, or “The impossible has occurred: Ana is suddenly tolerable”

  1. “It wasn’t easy for me to be a scared white boy/ In a black neighborhood.”

    Oh, no wait, that’s Art Alexakis . And he grew up in California, not Detroit.

      1. Oh, jeebus, now that I’ve said that, all I can think about is how Christian “affects” Ana all throughout this book, and I imagine Ana thinking, “SOMETHING’S HAPPENING TO MY SPECIAL PURPOSE!!”

        Officially headcanon.

      2. I just mentally replaced Chedward with Navin Johnson and the book got SO much more entertaining! My headcanon now involves him calling Ana “Shithead” instead of “Anastasia,” and he requires her to worship his phone book instead of his penis.

  2. I knew men like Christian. Not billionaires (alas!), but guys who believed that every woman must be attracted to them and they merely had to pick which one they wanted. I very quickly learned how to recognize that type and avoid them, because that level of douchebaggery is not tolerable for more than the red-hot minute it takes to find the exit.

    What really astounds me is that there is nothing TO him. I get absolutely no sense of who he is as a person. He’s an assemblage of facts and very shallow thoughts, mostly about himself and sex. That is not attractive. It also makes me wonder how the hell he conducts any business at all, as he does not seem all that bright. At least when we saw him through Ana’s eyes, there was the possibility that he might actually be as smart and clever as she thought he was (while still undeniably abusive in the extreme), but letting us in Christian’s head has eradicated any vestige of belief that he is a competent adult, much less a savvy businessman.

    1. One of the things that hit me on a reread of the 50 Shades recaps was that there’s no *there* there. Ana and EL alike are empty voids with no reality, and the more we stare into them doing recaps, the more these books DEVOUR OUR SOULS. Or something.

      Seriously, even the title/recurring phrase–”fifty shades (of gray)”–how incredibly noncommittal is that? Gray is one of the least loaded colors to begin with, but even then, you have to have a whole palette of it rather than sticking to one shade, because these books are also a case of the Forer effect (AKA PT Barnum’s “something for everyone”). I think people can read past the abuse without noticing it the same way they disregard the portion of horoscopes that doesn’t apply to them. Vagueness and a scattershot approach win the day, apparently.

      At this point, I can’t even think of James as a real person, evil, stupid, or otherwise. She’s just a snake-eyed gaze floating in a puddle of beige, thinking no thoughts, having no opinions, just endlessly absorbing the worst of our culture and spewing it back. It’s almost somehow zen and cosmic, like black holes and big bangs, only with terrible books instead of universes.

      If there’s any humanity left in the woman, it’s basically unreachable at this point.

      1. Did… did you just compare E.L.James to Cthulhu?
        I’m honestly torn between feeling bad for Cthulhu and my willingness to accept that James is actually a human shaped eldritch horror.

      2. Now you’ve got me imagining James as this real-life avatar something like The Mandarin in Iron Man 3.
        Maybe she was really just an out-of-work wannabe actor, and someone approached her with the role of a lifetime! The mystery person wrote the fanfic Master of the Universe and was approached about publishing it. He/she doesn’t want to be outed as the author because it was actually written as a comment on the abuse depicted in Twilight and an experiment to show how our culture romanticizes abuse. The true author needs an empty-headed narcissist with no morals to play the role of the author of 50 Shades so that the experiment can continue on a huge scale.

        Meanwhile, EL James spouts enraging nonsense about the books not depicting abuse and how suggesting such a thing is an insult to abuse survivors and victims off a script. When she’s not busy reading a script designed to infuriate most women, she gets trashed and sits back in a recliner muttering about her “lovely speedboat.”

        Yup. That must be what’s really going on.

  3. “She said as much in Clayton’s yesterday. That means I’m competing with Darcy, Rochester, and Angel Clare: impossible romantic heroes.”

    I wasn’t aware that Angel Clare was an impossible romantic hero to live up to. I’m pretty sure this cements the fact that EL James thinks that Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a romance and that there was nothing problematic at all with Angel’s character. She’s way fucked up in the head.

    1. No, she’s just grabbing edu-ma-cat-ed-sounding references. Anyone who’s familiar with the other two books (or even their Beeb miniseries) knows that (SPOILERS COMING) Darcy was an elitist who didn’t mind if Elizabeth heard his cruel comment about her supposed wallflower status at the dance (the needless remark might have reduced many girls to tears) and Rochester tries to trick Jane into bigamy. Both need to grow up a LOT before they are worthy of the woman they want–as does Angel.

      1. Rochester even more than Darcy, I’d say. As immature and callous as Darcy could be, at the very least he had a couple of positive relationships with Bingley and his sister, and he was able to change in response to nothing more than criticism of his behavior.

        Rochester seems to struggle mightily to have relationships with anyone who’s not an employee, isn’t a good parent figure to Adele, and manipulates others’ feelings by lying and using jealousy. He improves as well, but that’s really not such a high standard for Chedward to live up to. He can do selfish, dishonest, and callous pretty well already.

        1. Yeah, that’s actually what I find really inspirational/romantic about Darcy– he can and does change when faced with evidence that he’s not the person he wants to be. That’s a quality I want in a partner!

          I think “you can’t change him” is good advice in many cases, but the way I got that advice early in my life was “sorry he’s been ignoring you for a week even though he self-identifies as your boyfriend, but you have to put up with it because ~you can’t change him~.”

          1. Austen was generally pretty good about portraying personal growth, now that I think about it. Elizabeth didn’t really change Darcy. She told him exactly what she found objectionable about him and let him go on his way. He did the changing himself.

        2. Well he does one decent thing in not sending Berta to Insane Asylum. It was 1840′s or something like that and believe me those places were awful. If you watched 1992 Dracula then this is how XIXth century Asylum looked like. My teacher told our class that yes indeed the wards were wearing cages on their heads and it did look that awful. The poor woman would have been send straight to a living hell and probably wouldn’t live for long in there. Rocherster was horrible but he had some good in him to improve. He has this seed, and Christian doesn’t. Plus it is sad when you have book written over hundred years ago that sets better example for women how to deal with men and how to be strong than a book written in modern times when we can have jobs, live alone, go out without chaperons and vote.

          1. But does he keep Berta at home because he cares about her, or because he doesn’t want public knowledge of her “condition” to ruin his reputation? It’s been about 8 years since I’ve read the book, so I forget that bit, but I could swear I remember a section where he discusses being angry at finding out the truth about Berta and is faced with what to do (publicly have her as his wife – insanity and all, commit her to an asylum, etc). He chooses to act as if she is dead (or never existed in the first place?) and keeps her locked up at home out of concern for himself, not for her… the fact that it ends up better for her is just a beneficial side effect that he never really considered or cared about.

            (Full disclosure: I don’t like Rochester. I hate him almost as much as Chedward here. So… I may be misremembering?)

      2. That’s what I love about Jane Eyre so much: the moment she finds out Rochester tried to trick her, she stuck to her guns, picked up her shit, and left, all while Rochester was having a full fucking meltdown about it that would rival any three year old crying over the last piece of candy. What redeems his character is going through metaphorical hell and back and basically being punished by the universe for being such a colossal dick, that and Jane rubs it in his face about how hot her cousin was once she has been established as an independent woman.

        Chedward is Rochester without charm and growth. He remains a whiny crybaby that stamps his feet to get what he wants.

      3. I once made a list of twenty things that are wrong with Edward Rochester, phrasing them as if I was speaking to him directly:

        1) You’re arrogant.
        2) Jane mentions that you are headstrong.
        3) Jane also mentions that you tend to become reckless when you feel despair.
        4) You are frequently rude to people who have less money and less power than you do.
        5) You’ve deliberately and maliciously deceived two women by courting them (Jane Eyre and Blanche Ingram), despite the fact that you don’t especially like Blanche and can’t legally marry either one.
        6) You have also deliberately and maliciously deceived your neighbors about the existence of your wife and your own eligibility.
        7) You express contempt for Celine Varens, the mother of your ward, Adele, because she had multiple lovers. Yet you yourself are courting two women simultaneously. Can you say “double standard”?
        8) Despite the fact that you’ve told Jane that you despise your previous mistresses, you ask Jane the day after you attempted to commit bigamy to become your mistress and to pretend to be your wife. (“Hiring a mistress is the next worse thing to buying a slave: both are often by nature, and always by position, inferior: and to live familiarly with inferiors is degrading. I now hate the recollection of the time I passed with Celine, Giacinta, and Clara.”)
        9) Also? “Slaves are often by nature inferior”? Seriously, Rochester? Did you just attempt to justify slavery?
        10) And this gets even worse, as you later say that Bertha and her mother were both Creoles and were, as the result of this, wild and passionate. As you also attribute your wife’s mental illness to her wild passions and excesses, you’re basically saying that her mental illness has its roots in the fact that she’s not 100% white. I think that racism counts as a huge fault.
        11) You blame your wife Bertha for your marriage. (“I was dazzled, stimulated: my senses were excited; and being ignorant, raw, and inexperienced, I thought I loved her…Her relatives encouraged me; competitors piqued me; she allured me: a marriage was achieved almost before I knew where I was.”)
        12) You also blame her for not being the kind of wife that you wanted her to be, despite the fact that she never concealed that she was not, in your estimation, intelligent, original, refined, or modest. You deluded yourself into thinking that she was someone completely different and then found fault because she wasn’t what you had imagined.
        13) Your attempt to marry Jane constitutes attempted bigamy and attempted fraud.
        14) Your wife Bertha is also violent and has tried to kill you twice. It would be much safer (and possibly much better for her mentally) to house her elsewhere. By not doing so, you are committing reckless endangerment; you are putting yourself, your servants, your neighbors and your beloved Jane in peril.
        15) When Jane refuses to be your mistress, you start kissing her, pausing after each kiss to see if she still refuses. It’s G-rated, but you’re using sex to persuade her to do something that she feels is wrong. Arousal isn’t consent.
        16) When Jane refuses to become your mistress, you react with violent rage. (His fury was wrought to the highest: he must yield to it for a moment, whatever followed; he crossed the floor and seized my arm and grasped my waist.)
        17) You become angry enough to rape and/or kill her. You only refrain from doing so because you wouldn’t get what you want. (“…what good would it do if I bent, if I uptore, if I crushed her?…Whatever I do with its cage, I cannot get at it—the savage, beautiful creature! If I tear, if I rend the slight prison, my outrage will only let the captive loose. Conqueror I might be of the house; but the inmate would escape to heaven before I could call myself possessor of its clay dwelling-place.)
        18) You want Jane to feel sorry for you so that she will feel love for you. And you tell her that. (“Your pity, my darling, is the suffering mother of love: its anguish is the very natal pang of the divine passion. I accept it, Jane; let the daughter have free advent—my arms wait to receive her.”)
        19) You deliberately try to manipulate Jane emotionally. (“You will not come? You will not be my comforter, my rescuer? My deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, are all nothing to you?…you leave me here in anguish. Go up to your own room; think over all I have said, and, Jane, cast a glance on my sufferings—think of me.”)
        20) And finally, as thetorontokid said, you have that mad wife in the attic. I have to wonder…why DOES she want to kill you? Hmmm?

        1. Gehayi: I haven’t read Jane Eyre from beginning to end in quite a while, but you sure picked up on a lot of things that not only escaped me when I first read it at 12 and wondered why Jane made the decision she did, but I didn’t see in retrospect later.
          He really is horrible. In addition to your list, his mistresses were experienced women who presumably had few survival options besides finding a sugar-daddy; he knows damned well Jane is a virgin and, by the standards of that time, he would almost certainly ruin her future. In addition, I almost feel sorry for Blanche Ingram! Yeah, she’s conceited, manipulative, and rude to anyone she considers socially inferior, but she’s also under tremendous family pressure to marry money whether she loves or even likes the guy. While Rochester is wasting her time with pretended interest, she could be meeting other men who understand and accept the bargain she is willing (and was trained) to make. Despite her rank, she is no more free than Celine, Giacinta, and Clara.

        2. I know, right? I always wondered what exactly Jane saw in him. The book is a favorite of mine, and I’ve read it several times since primary school. I can deal with his racism, because most people in his day were like that, as I’m lead to believe. He’s at least not in a position to oppress anyone, if I remember correctly. I can sympathize with him being trapped in a marriage with a woman he doesn’t love, and whose mental state leaves her incapable of fulfilling his emotional needs. I think it’s legitimate to question whether she’s locked in the attic because of her violent tendencies, or whether she has violent tendencies because she’s angry that she’s locked in the attic. A rereading of the book might provide answers. It’s been a couple of years since my last read. My problem is not only the utter disrespect with which he treats his wife, trying to erase her from the world by keeping her locked away, but for Jane, whom he tries to trick into marrying him for selfish reasons. It’s like he can’t trust Jane to make an informed decision, because she might make one that’s for her own benefit instead of his. Hopefully he reevaluated his priorities during the time she was away, because she deserves better.

          1. He must have grown up some, because he tries to stop Bertha from killing herself, instead of saying, “Hey, go ahead, I’ll be a free man!”

        3. Yeah, Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books but you don’t have to look very hard for examples of some serious character flaws. For God’s sake his daughter (oh sorry, his ‘ward’) thanks him for a present and he calls her “a little seductress’ and says that’s exactly how her mother, his mistress, charmed him into paying for it. That is fucked up. Even so, I’m ashamed to admit that it didn’t hit me how very threatening so much of dialogue is until I watched the Michael Fassbender version. Incredible actor, but seemingly incapable of playing men who are not barely repressing the impulse to snap someone’s neck. So it took that kind of presence for me to really hear him saying something like “i could crush you with these two thumbs, but whatever I do to your body won’t change your mind, so why bother” And…wow. It helped that Mia Wasikowska (probably?) was the first Jane I’ve seen who was credible as a vulnerable eighteen year old. But that was the first movie where her leaving Thornfield read less like her heartbroken decision that staying as his mistress would be morally wrong, and more like her fleeing in terror.

      1. It would shock me to learn she’s read anything but her own books and Twilight. She probably read through a 17th century English lit course syllabus and went from there.

        1. Hah, yeah. She seems to think that ‘English major’ = ‘fan of the classic canon’, which I find funny. I’m an English major and my favorite authors are Vonnegut, Danielewski, and Murakami, aka postmodernist weirdoes. A lot of the people I took classes with in college had likewise tastes, though there were quite a few fans of the Romantics in there.

          I’d like to see a book like 50 Shades where the Chedward realizes his competition is Kilgore Trout and Johnny Truant.

          1. A really weird thing about the humanities is how often people treat them as though they were all historical or or even archaeological. Sometimes I get asked who my favourite philosopher is, and get puzzled looks when I talk about people who are currently alive and publishing. A lot of folk seem to have this vague idea that all real philosophy ended with Nietzsche, the existentialists pawed at his corpse for a bit before gasping their last, and now everyone in the field does nothing but delicately memorize Kant.

          2. I’m an English major who is very fond of a lot of the old canon… but the pre-Victorian canon, and never been a big fan of Romantic novelists – just the poets and playwrights. That, and science fiction.

            In my program, everyone had to write a thesis. This was at an all-women’s college, where the stereotype is apparently that we’re all salivating over Austen and the Brontes. In the class I was in, one student chose Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe, another chose Toni Morrison, and I chose Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffery, and Gene Roddenberry. I don’t know where this idea that women Lit majors only read classic Romantic novels came from, but I’ve never seen it actually happen.

        2. Laughing Giraffe- the same thing happens when you’re an artist or art history major. Your favorite artist should be one of the Renaissance masters (basically meaning “pick a Ninja Turtle”) or one of the more famous impressionists (preferably Van Gogh or Monet, but you might get a pass with Cezanne). You might be able to get away with a surrealist.

          Most people seem to think that true art died with Picasso and Dali, or they miiiiight stretch it to Warhol. After that, there is no art and no artists.

          It’s insane.

          1. I was almost an art history major. My two favorites (though I do have to admit I love Renoir) are Jack Vettriano and Edward Hopper.

          2. I have a different favorite every year or so. I’m not familiar with his other work, but the statue in my avatar is one of my few long-term faves. I saw it in DC at the National Gallery and just fell in absolute love. I can’t even describe it. I could have spent all day taking pictures of it.
            It’s The Reading Girl by Pietro Magni.

            In general, though, I can pick a few favorite art movements, but my list of favorite artists would be too long to name.

            This did make me think of that stupid line about “so was it Austen, the Brontes or Hardy that made you fall in love with literature?” If some pretentious ass asked me if it was Michaelangelo, Da Vinci or Van Gogh that made me want to be an artist and/or got me in to art history, first, I’d have thought “you’re a pretentious ass” and second, I’d have laughed and said “neither. It was Don Bluth and Walt Disney.”

    2. This. Ten thousand times this! Has she read Tess? Because, come on, if you think Angel is a romantic hero after reading the novel, maybe you have some problem with text comprehension.

      1. I doubt she even read the summary at the beginning of a Cliff’s Notes booklet when it comes to Tess.
        I can’t wrap my mind around anyone thinking Tess of D’Urbervilles is lovey-dovey romantic if they’ve so much as read the Cliff’s Notes synopsis, let alone the actual book.

        All I can figure is that James thinks that if it was written in the 19th Century, it must be a beautiful romance. No exceptions.

    3. Yes, that’s what I thought. Darcy, ok, especially when he’s Colin Firth, but Angel Clare is a plonker who rejects Tess because she was raped! :p EL James totally got the wrong idea about that book.

    4. There was something problematic with all three characters to my recollection of those stories. Darcy was a pompous ass, Rochester was a deceitful bully and Angel Clare was a judgemental moral hypocrite.

  4. “If Ana has that much hair growing under her boobs, though, that might actually be a symptom of a serious endocrine disorder. She should get that checked out.”


    Also, why is Kate friends with Ana? Does Kate have low self-esteem? I could be Kate’s friend. I would be nice to Kate.

    “I wonder why these women are friends. They have nothing in common.”

    Ha ha. I commented before I read that. I wonder the same, but only because Kate seems like a decent chick and Ana’s a whiny, entitled, insecure, ungrateful, hateful brat.

    “Twinnings English Breakfast …”

    Is that in the book or a typo on your end? It’s Twinings and EL James should know, being that she’s, you know, British … (Also, I love this tea. I drink it almost every morning with honey and heavy cream.)

  5. I am dying at work laughing at your recap. I read little bits to my friend who is reading the book and she laughs, until I tell her those are direct lines from the book. She doesn’t believe me and is now going to look them up on her lunch break. LOL

  6. My fiance and I are currently recording a series of audio recaps (I summarize, he reacts hilariously) of the 50 Shades books. This section was titled “I Smell Sex and Muffins Here.”

  7. ‘As she tells me she likes her tea weak and black, for a moment I think she’s describing what she likes in a man.’

    While I’m not a tea drinker, I know several who are, including my mother and, isn’t the term for tea, without anything in it, clear? Coffee with nothing in it is black. There are black teas yes but, they don’t look black in anyway(in fact it’s actually called red tea in some places which is far more accurate to the colouring) and even without anything added they are still clear. And Twinings English Breakfast would definitely be clear.
    That’s how I’ve always heard it, coffee with nothing else=black; tea with nothing else=clear

        1. Could be a Britishism. I’m a Brit and I talk about taking tea black.

          I’m still totally puzzled about that non sequitur though. Ana is talking about tea. Why the custard-covered fuck would Cheddo leap to thinking about weak, black men?

          1. If there was ever a time when someone used “I like my coffee/tea like I like my man/woman…” in an unironic sense, it was decades before the movie Airplane! mocked it. I’m boggled that James would have a character assume that there actually is a correlation between tea and partner preferences without the rest of the cliche attached. Especially when the non-color adjective is “weak” instead of the usual “hot”.

    1. Red tea is rooibois… I’m not spelling that right. But it’s caffeine free, and different from black tea. I’ve never heard “clear” tea.

      1. Eh… it depends on what you’re talking about and what region’s terms you’re using. In China (and apparently the countries around it, according to Wiki), what we know as black tea is known as red tea because it tends to brew up a reddish colour when properly made, and it keeps in line with the other categories of teas and how they’re processed/made. (Fun fact: oolong’s referred to as a blue-green tea, and there’s also yellow tea, which isn’t normally seen in the US.)

        Rooibos aren’t technically tea, since it’s not from the tea plant, but instead is technically an infusion or a tisane. It’s commonly called red tea in Western countries (or at least the English speaking ones?) because it supposedly tastes like tea. I personally can’t see how it tastes the same, but… eh. Anyway. Technically black tea is red tea, but English speakers will understand otherwise? ~Language~. xD;

    2. It’s because E L James is English, and her grasp of American idiom is piss-poor, to an extent that’s obvious even to me, and I’m English as well. Black tea is what the English call tea without milk. So we can add that to our sorry tally of malapropisms, I’m afraid.

      1. I think you’re right. When Americans talk about black tea, green tea, white tea, they mean different crops and the result of different drying/fermenting processes. They may not know anything about the sources or the processes, but they’ve seen a zillion articles about which is best for high blood pressure, which is best for weight loss, etc. They are even in beauty products here.

        Did anyone on the editorial team do any fact-checking at all on this book? I think Chedward says something to Ana about the gynecologist “getting you sorted.” NEVER heard that this side of the pond!

      2. I’d actually let this one go. I’m an American tea drinker. I’ve never heard anyone call plain tea “clear” or “Red,” but I’ve heard it called “black.” I call it black. And English breakfast tea is black before you put milk in it. There is nothing red or clear about it (I drink it in a white mug most of the time, so the contrast would be obvious).

        1. I’m a North American tea drinker (US-born and raised, living in Canada at the moment), and while “black tea” can definitely mean “the kind of tea that is not ‘green tea’ or ‘white tea’ or an herbal tea/tisane,” if someone tells me they take their tea black, that makes perfect sense to me.

  8. Am I the only one that’s see Ana, as described any Grey, not as an actual human being but as a formless bag of fluttering, sweating (or not), quivering, hairy breasts? This is why, three chapters in, I was reduced to skim reading this load of tripe. Everything irritated me; the casual homophobia (of course I can’t be gay) and racism, the endless torture of the English language (sexual tension emanating? Sounds like a oozing pustule…oh no that’s just Chedward), the constant focus on boring, nonessential details combined with the remorseless misogyny of Christian’s internal voice. I could go on but I won’t. There’s little here that isn’t awful.
    FYI I totally misread “this dick should be wearing a cravat” as “HIS dick should be wearing a cravat” which made me LMAO

  9. “Mmm, yeah baby, get it all over. Get those crumbs all over me. You know, the crumbs that are really moist and turn into little rolls like dead skin that leave a sticky sugar feeling when you brush them off? Oh yes, god yes! Oh fuck yeah, there’s a blueberry in my bra!”

    this is hotter then anything I’ve read in all 4 of these atrocious books. But also .. LOL! thanks for the re-cap and the laugh, awesome as always!!

    1. @Louise C.
      Yes, this section just cracked me up!
      Sadly, even Jenny’s facetious smut is more engaging and hot than James’ actual attempts.

    2. “He said, “You ain’t seen nothing
      ‘Till you’re down on a muffin
      Then you’re sure to be a-changin’ your ways”

      Today’s recap really ROCKS.

  10. That “triumph of hope over experience” comment is TOTALLY RIPPED OFF. Can’t look it up right now, but it was about second marriages, and someone like GB Shaw or Oscar Wilde said it.

    1. Samuel Johnson.

      And, you know, that bit would kind of work for me if it was intentional. A callow, twenty-something billionaire who thinks he’s much smarter than he really probably does substitute quotations he’s read for actual thoughts. I bet he quotes The Art of War in business meetings. But I don’t think that’s what James was intending to portray.

    2. What a ridiculous assumption that he “knows” Ana is a romantic from her mother’s fourth marriage. First, he extrapolate’s a mother’s behavior to her daughter, without taking into account that their personalities and life experiences would be totally different; and second, for assuming it’s romantic to marry four times, not indicative that the marrying spouse is a poor partner.

  11. God I hate that he reduces all this literature to its romantic elements. Why would you assume that she’s a hopeless romantic from that list of authors? ALL of them had important social elements in their work, not to mention they give great insight into cultural history. Why would you assume that she’s not interested in THAT?

    Oh because she’s a silly vapid woman, that’s right.

    1. My parent’s farm has an orchard…and you’re absolutely right. If there is a smell it is always of rotting apples. Otherwise I’m smelling the other smells around, like maneuver from the barn, cut hay from the fields, a passing skunk…
      Apple orchards do not smell of apples. Weirdly, peach orchards do though.

    2. I wondered if James was going for the imagery of the smell of apple blossoms but conflated that with the smell of an apple orchard? An orchard certainly doesn’t smell like blossoms all year ’round.

      Where I live apple trees won’t grow, but we have a few small orchards with citrus trees. The smell of orange blossoms is one of my favorite scents in the world and in spring you can smell them for miles. The blossoms overpower every other scent. But that lasts such a short time and every other week of the year the orchards just smell like the farms/ranches that they’re on.

  12. Why is the photoshoot full of people and boxes when just one person is needed — the photographer — to take a head snap for a student newspaper? Who will have a digital camera, and maybe a laptop to preview the pics, and… if they’re ambitious… a bounce… but certainly wouldn’t come in with tons of boxes. Two briefcases, more like it. I can understand Ana and Kate being there for the purposes of the story, but who are all these other gawkers?

    I am also feeling increasingly creeped out by the way Grey tacks “Miss” on to his victims… it’s a way to make them more helpless and childlike. As for kissing her hand, WTF? How can a young man in 2011 even entertain that idea?

    And, ENOUGH OF THE SMIRK! Every time I read “smirk” I think he’s Daffy Duck.

    1. If I remember the first couple of chapters of the FSOG book, Ana went with Kate (works for the paper or magazine? I don’t know, James kept changing it from scene to scene) Jose (photographer and necessary third of the non-existent love triangle), and his rodent buddy from the Quileute Rez I mean his gofer buddy (who’s name I can’t remember) who was coming along to help him carry his photography equipment.
      I’m not sure why he needed someone to carry all of his equipment since he really should have only needed a couple of cases max, unless Jose regularly hauls around lights and a green screen? Which doesn’t make a darn bit of sense when you realize that he ‘does landscapes, not people.’ (I believe that is the approximate protest he makes to being bullied into the photo shoot.)
      I also don’t know how 4 college kids and a couple of carrying cases could possibly be “crowding” the room.

  13. It pisses me off to no end how Chedward somehow thinks he’s victorious when other people lose games they aren’t aware they are playing…like the “Two strike” thing when Ana is wearing jeans, and how he supposedly gets Jose all riled up with his intimidating older white man routine. WTF is up with calling him “Kid” or “boy”? Isn’t Chedward supposedly 26 or 27, and everyone else is 21-22? He acts like it’s this impossible age gap.

    Also, Chedward is so damn pretentious. Maybe it’s just where I’m from, but it would be extremely weird for someone who is a maximum of 5 years older than me to insist I call them “Mr”, especially in an informal, date-type situation. Like…walk away because I think you’re rude and also insane type weird. Or I might just laugh right in their face for being so obnoxious. Why is ok for him to call her Anastasia, but not for her to call him Christian? Oh, right, because he’s a classist prick with a god complex and a highly exaggerated opinion of his status.

    1. Also, he’s a vampire, so he’s got 100 years on the other characters and grew up when people addressed each other more formally.

      Oh, wait. That got filed off along with the rest of the numbers.

    2. Have you noticed if she isn’t allowed to use his first name she has to call him Mr. and Sir? That probably feeds into his instasub fantasy. It’s just a) a power play and b) wank fodder for him.

    3. “Why is ok for him to call her Anastasia, but not for her to call him Christian? Oh, right, because he’s a classist prick with a god complex and a highly exaggerated opinion of his status.”

      He’s also a sexist pig, who doesn’t think of women as equals.

    4. Right? Chedward is only a few years older. He’s basically that creepy guy who graduated already but keeps hanging around the dorm common room asking if there’s a party later.
      (I knew a guy like that in college, and we laughed at him behind his back. Because we were too immature and creeped out to just tell him his presence was inappropriate.)

      1. Eww we had one of those too. Called all the women ‘little girl’ and all the men ‘boy or son’ It was so pretentious and creepy. We might have put frozen veggies all over his car and saran wrapped it…and then it might have gotten below zero and the whole thing froze. That might have happened.

        We were into our passive aggressive stage of development and conflict resolution.

        1. Hahahahahaha how creative and perfect! I wish we’d thought to do something like that!!

          I overheard our creepy guy talking about me once. He said “She’s got the cutest little boyfriend.” Said boyfriend was my same age.

  14. Reasons why EL James made one semi–intelligent move: she didn’t publish this first. can you imagine? Then 50 Shades would have been the “clean up” to make him seem less like a creep and more like the romance hero all the fans think he is. “No no seriously I know that it sounds like he’s stalking an uninterested woman, but look she was interested the whole time!! Really she was!”

    Out of curiousity have you seen the book recent book from Moira J Moore <a href="; THE CEO CAN DROP DEAD: A That's not Romance Book"?

    1. I sincerely wish I had money right this second because I would totally buy this book. Man, I know where any spare cash I may have left over is going after my bills get paid.

  15. I never thought much of Stephanie Meyer als a writer, but the contrast between her prose and E.L. James’ prose up there is very, very, very painful. Like, I was recoiling when I got to the second quote…

  16. In conceptualizing Grey’s backstory, James has basically used the astoundingly negative stereotypical trappings we culturally associate with blackness, but on a white guy, because we’re supposed to view a white guy living a rough “black” childhood as being the utmost travesty of justice in the universe, thus deepening his tragedy.

    OMG, Jen, this is a brilliant insight.

    1. That is brilliant! I hadn’t noticed it before! The only question is, did EL do it on purpose, or just sort of fall ass-backwards into it?

      To me, Detroit is “Robocop” and crack is “Rob Ford”. I could see accidentally using these elements, not meaning to be racist at all.

        1. Well, lots of people do, unfortunately. There are white supremacist organisations all over the Western world who are racist and proud of it. I’d guess they mean to be, don’t they?

    2. I agree, this was a very interesting observation. The comment he made about black and weak seemed very odd and out of place when I read the chapter and now I know why.

      That’s just wrong.

    1. Only Ana Steele would choose another guy over Henry Cavill. Jack was a schmuck, but so’s Christian and Henry is hella better looking them Jamie…

      1. I would choose another guy over Henry Cavill too… I just plain don’t like his looks. So I’m in Camp Ana, I guess?

    2. I thought Hyde was supposed to be this short, round, balding creep? Henry certainly doesn’t fit that description!

      Also, how is it that people are still willing to be in these movies??

      1. Wasn’t Hyde a redhead with a ponytail? I can’t help but picture Axl Rose when I think of Jack. Axl Rose today. Not the slim rocker of yesteryear.

    3. Sooooooooo, to have this super creepy rapist guy, who is described as being older and ugly and unpleasant, they cast… Superman. K.

      WAIT WAIT HOLD ON. I just thought of the best thing ever. Henry Cavill could basically play Christian Grey, yeah? He’s generically handsome enough and is the approximate correct age. So, is the movie actually going to become self-aware and point out the inherent hypocrisy in Hyde being “creepy” but Grey being “romantic”? Because if they do then I will throw all of my money at this new movie.

  17. Yay, recaps! Took me a moment (and a hover-over to see the name of the jpeg) to get “riveting,” but when I did, I lol’ed. And “sometimes elevators just smell bad” cracked me up. On point as always, keep it up, hopefully more frequently or on some kind of predictable schedule? (If there is a schedule, I’m unaware of it.)

      1. I love her. “Fifty Shades of Neigh” is hilarious; I keep coming back to it several times a year for laughs. Her other work is pretty good too, and may be of interest to historical readers here. When she portrays the dynamics of abusive relationships, it *isn’t* romantic.

        Plus she (or, I guess her pseudonymical alter ego “Jessica Pine”) has lighter work that is great for summer beach reading, so it’s not as though her whole body of work is riffs on the pain of Stockholm Syndrome and the wtfuckery of Conan Doylist Spiritualism.

        (Note: I was not paid for this endorsement, nor am I the author or her alter ego. I’m just a reader who’s been in a really frustrated rut with fiction for about five years and who likes to spread the word on what she *does* like!)

  18. While I appreciate the snark-filled analysis, and indeed, it’s balm on my aggravated soul, it’s the writing tips with concrete examples from James’ work that I really like…

    1. I agree. It’s one thing to realize this is really, really bad writing, and another thing to actually read a breakdown of why this is bad writing. I am definitely taking notes on what not to do in my own stories.

  19. I hate, HATE defending a bitch like James but … Her English was showing with the syllables in Christian thing. Over here, we’d say Chris-tee-an, giving it three syllables, not two. So I give her being able to say ‘each syllable’, but only because she is British. You can add that one to your count though ;)

    I kind of loathe this book through your recaps already, in the same way I loathed book three of the “original” series. Ana comes across as a sympathetic character, and Christian a total dick. No wonder so many fans of the series are turning away from this one! Incidentally, I had the same reaction to Midnight Sun as you’re having to this. I used to think there was nothing to Bella, and then I read Midnight Sun and she became likeable.

    1. She also has characters referring to people “getting you sorted” which is totally Brit. Don’t know why she keeps running the apple theme, because she has another passage where he compares Anna to spring. Pardon me if I’ve made this comment before, but perhaps he should get one of those 80s-style Color -Me-Beautiful people to figure out what “Season” Ana is.
      I have to give the book back to the library today and I haven’t finished it and probably never will. It’s so irritating that after 2 or 3 pages, I’m forced to turn for relief to Mrs. Chapone’s 1773 bestseller, “Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, Addressed to a Lady.”

    2. But that isn’t a defense because she’s writing about American characters with American accents and American pronunciations.

      I may not know how every single word sounds different from a Brit POV, but if I were writing a British character, I would at least make sure I found out — especially how that character pronounced another main character’s (or his own) name!

      1. This is why most books have fact-checkers and proofreaders as well as editors.

        It’s clear to me that this “phenomenon” made its way to print without going through the usual process. Perhaps the staff got so tired of arguing with James on the first trilogy, or of being told by the editor not to hurt her Widdle Feewings, that they just initialed the ms. and passed it to the next sucker. No sense poring over something when you’re not allowed to fix it or even put a query on it.
        I couldn’t even finish it. I’ve seen assembly instructions translated from Chinese that didn’t give me such a headache.

      2. True, but my point was that in James’ mind, there is three syllables in Christian. Her fail is that obviously there’s a difference in pronountiation between British English and American English, which is just another lot to add to her failing to realise that there’s a difference between our languages.

        What is so weird for me is that when I’ve come to America before I always get freaked out that no one will understand me because of the minute differences. The same way I’m always suspicious in France that they just made up the language to confuse foreigners like me but in actuality speak perfect English constantly behind closed doors. But yeah, I come to Florida or whatever with my family and it takes me a day or so to settle in to the little differences. I can’t believe James visits as much as she does as never goes “hmmm, they all say Christ-yuhn, must remember that for my ripped off stories.”

        1. I promise we understand you. lol

          I watch a ton of British TV and have had a few British ex-pat friends, so I may be especially adept at British English. But it’s close enough that for the most part, Americans can at least tell from context what people are talking about (and vice versa, I imagine).

          The only words that I feel the need to explain to anyone I know traveling over there or about to embark on watching British television for the first time are “pants,” “fag” and “fanny.” Those three words have vastly different meanings in the US than they do in the UK.

          1. Depends on the region/neighborhood. I did OK in North Country, Canterbury, Oxford, and most of the shopping/sightseeing areas in London, but around my B&B in St. Pancras, I couldn’t understand 2/3 words.

          2. Fag and fanny are two of the funniest differences, but I think my favourite is the different meaning for pavement. We mean sidewalk, you mean road, but not knowing that can paint two different mental pictures when you read the description.

          3. I’ll agree that it depends on where the accent is from. It amazes me how vastly different the accent can be over such a tiny land area.

            I’ve never been to the UK (always wanted to go, though) but I worked at Disney World in a part of Epcot where I was one of a small handful of Americans working in Canada and the UK so the majority of my co-workers were from one country or the other.
            In the beginning there were some co-workers from England that I totally forgot they had an accent until they used a word I was unfamiliar with or laughed their asses off because I said “y’all.” But there were also some folks that I had to talk to them for several minutes before I could understand them. And I’m one of those people that has an ear for accents and understands people when most others don’t. Then there was everything in between.

            Generally speaking, though, I think the Brits had a harder time understanding me than me them. I have what I’d call a moderate Southern-US accent (it does get much stronger if I’m drunk or sleepy) and with some folks I’d get stopped every few words with them saying “I’m sorry, but what?!”

      1. So do I! Maybe again it’s a very specific regional English thing, I dunno, but I’ve never heard Christian pronounced with three syllables.

        1. You know, for some reason I thought her personal experience with America was based in the south east, like Georgia? I wonder if the heavy drawl in deep south can make it sound like they’re elongating the name Christian into “Chris-tee-ahn” to a British speaker? I’m still not giving her a pass on the name, but I wonder how much of her misconceptions about America as a whole are due to regional differences. Aside from mimicking the Twilight, I’m still baffled as to why her story even had to be set in America.

          1. I’m from Georgia, and have a thick accent unless I’m working at not having one, and “Christian” is not a word where the vowel sounds get drawn out at all. It’s a two-syllable word.

  20. I just feel the need to say that I love you, Jenny, and I love all the commenters for the great insight. I’ve mentioned your recaps to my students to explain why I despise these books so much. Thank you!

  21. What if I want you to send me a Troutstanding! sticker, pen, rubber bracelet, bumper sticker and t-shirt every month for the rest of my natural life?

  22. The part about his rough, stereotypically black Detroit childhood being grafted onto a white kid, fast forwarded so he only has 4 crappy years, then makes it mega successful in every facet of life except love (until Anabella comes along, at least) makes me wonder if ELJ has a fixation on Eminem.

    Considering she renamed Edward with SMeyer’s husband’s name, I’m already convinced she wants to wear Stefanie Meyer as a skin suit.

  23. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    I cannot with this book. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I really, really, fucking hate him. He is dick du jour. WE GET IT YOU LIKE ANABELLA AND EVERYONE ELSE IS INFERIOR YOU CONTROLLING NARCISSIST.

    Also what is the damn point of having a book from someone else’s POV and then we learn utterly nothing different about the character? I mean it was already like a cheap sales tactic in the first place though at least Midnight Sun had the potential to give us more info about Edward’s much longer lifespan (she never actually finished it right? Maybe that’s why E.L. is struggling so much because she’s working off an incomplete template, sorry not sorry on that insult), but so far this has been the most utterly pointless dreck. We have learned zero new things about Christian except that he is double extra asshole all the way and since we are spared Ana’s inner wafflings she is actually coming across as a way more realistic character, but we haven’t learned anything about his bio mom that we didn’t know. He hasn’t talked about his family or his upbringing, there is no mention of his other subs. Like anything that could possibly be interesting or informative has yet to appear, and I am beginning to doubt it is going to. The character is too busy having mental pissing matches with people that wouldn’t give a fuck that we can’t learn anything about the character. I’m not saying I want an info-dump, but for the love of waffles something… anything… something new please.

  24. OH MY GOD oh my god oh my god…when I got to the line pointing out Christian’s weirdly old-fashioned and pretentious speech patterns, where you said “I’m surprised this dick isn’t wearing a cravat” I completely misread it as “I’m surprised HIS dick isn’t wearing a cravat.”

    I am now picturing a penis wearing a tiny penis cravat.

    And I will continue to do so for the rest of these recaps. I think I need to draw this…

      1. You’re right. I don’t see it as Chedward’s penis either. It seems like such a polite little fellow, there’s no way it could be attached to a larger, psychopathic dick.
        Good drawing though.

      2. He seems like a rather likable fellow. I wouldn’t mind getting to know him if it hadn’t been for the, “M’Lady.”

  25. Ugh, when Chedward has the conversation with the person working in the cafe all I could think of was the scene in “The Room” where three people place their orders for no reason at all before the main character orders his food: aka two completely pointless scenes. I don’t doubt there will be plenty more of them to come.

  26. Not to defend this atrocious book, but as far as the Detroit/black people smoke crack thing, the chances that she has absolutely zero idea of that being a stereotype is really, really high. I am Canadian, and closer to you guys, and when I think of Detroit, I think, “Is that in Michigan?” I don’t even know if it is Michigan. Is it in Michigan?

    Anyways, my point is that while the issue of him calling the Hispanic character “boy” is 100% her fault, because there is racism in England too, any association between black people and crack and black people being in Detroit is probably coincidence.

    But I mean, TIL that “crack is for black people” is a stereotype.

      1. Maybe she did, but I don’t think a few instances of watching American media is going to make her aware of the depth of the stereotypes in a different country.

        Like, I have watched a bunch of movies set in college, and I had no idea that dorms were basically required for students, I just thought dorms were a convenient place to set a movie about young adults.

        She gets a fail on, well, almost everything else in her books, but I don’t think implicit racism due to American culture’s stereotypes is her fault. Well, maybe the lack of research, but I am not sure where you look for racist stereotypes. Does the KKK have a website?

        1. I was thinking that too, about her not knowing that stereotype because she’s from a different country.
          Because I’m from the Netherlands, and we definitely have racism here, but the black people like watermelon-stereotype is something I only learned about last year. It’s not a thing here.

          1. I’m from the same country, and I’m completely ignorant to a lot of stereotypes. My first retail job, near the beginning, I tried to straighten up purses near a customer so I’d be nearby if she needed help. She noticed I was lingering and told me, “It’s alright. I won’t steal anything.” I was shocked that what I was doing could be interpreted that way, and later found out that apparently shopkeepers DO tend to hover around black customers to keep an eye on them. As mortified as I was for making her feel uncomfortable, she must have felt a thousand times worse. “Another ignorant person stereotyping me because of my skin color,” is probably what ran through her head. I still find out about stereotypes, and many of them still shock me because they make no sense from my personal experience. They were talking about one at work the other day, and I can’t even remember what it was because it was so ludicrous. Things like black people eating fried chicken… I live in the south. EVERYONE eats fried chicken. If they don’t, they’re weird. I can’t even wrap my head around this stuff.

            Oh, yeah, my point. Sometimes people do things that can be interpreted as racist out of ignorance. I’ve read comments on sites where people have complained about disabled white people asking them to help with something at the grocery store. I see where the implications of racism could lie, but it could just be someone treating the commenter the same way they’d treat anyone else because they don’t see the undertones. Is it still racism then? When it’s not an overall pattern of behavior or racially motivated, even on a subconscious level? We can’t see inside anyone’s head, much less their subconscious, and I completely understand why some black people are quick to see racism, because their race DOES impact every facet of their lives. They don’t know the well-meaning old lady from the entitled one that still sees an entire race as “the help”.

            Ah, I got off track again. I just don’t know if it’s right and fair to jump to the conclusion of racism in that instance without more evidence that she’s aware of that stereotype on some level. How do you avoid being insensitive about a subject you don’t even know is a thing?

        2. The KKK probably does. The Aryan Nation does. I don’t recommend looking at it unless you want your head to explode, though.

          Deidre — That watermelon thing never made any sense to me. I think it has something to do with the days of slavery and some idea of slaves sitting out on their front “porches” eating watermelon. But I think I’m the only person in the entire world who DOESN’T like watermelon, so I just never got why it was a “black” thing. All the white people I know love it.

          1. It’s actually a sensible custom for anyone who lives in a hot climate to eat hydrating foods like melons, cucumbers, etc. I’ve noticed I crave them more in hot weather.

          2. Actually I researched this recently and it stems from a historical post-Civil War association of watermelon and free blacks. Free black entrepreneurs would sell watermelon as a cash crop. It symbolized self-sufficiency for slaves and former slaves, and because this was threatening, the symbol was used as a weapon of satire by whites.

            Lots more interesting info here:

          3. That makes sense, Jane. Thanks. :-)

            I just don’t get how it still persists. I mean, almost everyone loves watermelon, FPS. I can’t stand it, but I’m weird.

    1. Fellow Canadian. Used to live 10 minutes away from Michigan. Am aware of Detroit stereotypes because I’m aware of the world around me. Also would not WRITE about Detroit without being aware of them.

    2. Yeah I dunno, I just did a completely random survey of all my fellow Aussie workmates and they all knew about Detroit. Most said: car industry/collapse, black people, poverty and eminem.

  27. A huge problem is that it’s obvious that the EeL isn’t bright enough to write from the POV of a highly intelligent billionaire. This game-playing clown’s IQ tops out at about 95. No way he’s a “Master of the Universe” brilliant CEO of anything. At most he’s the shift manager at Wendy’s.

    1. “I roll my eyes as I walk toward the front door. Wendy is smiling at me again from her perch by the sign. She’s all freckles, red hair, and pigtails as the sun comes up over the horizon, practically creaming herself when she sees me. She might just be a bit of plastic and paint, but not even a mascot can resist my handsome face. It’s why I had to leave Burger King.”

      1. Agggghhhhhh!!!
        Remember those creepy “Wake up with the King” commercials?
        Now what about the Arby’s Oven Mitt?

        1. I feel like I won’t be able to disassociate ‘Wake up with the King’ and that scene from 50 Shades where Ana wakes up in Chedward’s hotel room.

          (Also, Arby’s Oven Mitt/Christian’s Shrewd Gazed Tie, OTP.)

          1. I ignore that red-headed tramp and stride manfully towards the table, my grey flannel trousers hanging off my hips in THAT way. Ros is waiting with the list I asked, no TOLD her to get of companies for me to take over, so I can fire all the weak and spineless employees who are unworthy of me.
            “Waddya got?!” She opens her portfolio and shows me the list.
            “Not bad,” I say, almost to myself. “General Motors, Advertising Age, Little Caesars, K-Mart, and Quicken Loans….” She looks awkward.
            “There’s only one problem Mr. Grey…” I glare at her.
            “Well, shit or bust time; what’s the problem?” She fidgets.
            “It’s just that…you’ll have to meet with the shareholders of every company to make this takeover…erm ‘merger’ go through.” I glare again; this takes time away from teaching Miss Steele how to be my insta-sub.
            “Well, if that’s what it takes. I can use the profits to feed Darfur. ALL of Darfur, the whole damn country.” She looks uncomfortable again. “Dammit, Ros, do you have to answer the call of nature?”
            “Well, you’ll have to travel to meet THEM in the central location…” Again I glare.
            “Well, that shouldn’t be a problem.” Why else do I have a helicopter? I wonder if Miss Steele would enjoy flying to this meeting, so I can impress her with what a sophisticated man-of-mystery I am. Yes, I think we’ll take little trip to…
            “Now where did you say this meeting was?” Dammit,m Ros is looking uncomfortable again–and she’s doing it on MY dialogue, the floozy.

          2. I hope this stupid book clears up the pants “hanging on his hips THAT WAY” thing. I still can’t figure that one out. Maybe Chedward will tell us how he does it….

          3. I think we’re meant to imagine them held up by a near-permanent boner. Either that, or his hips and but aren’t so manly after all.
            Problem is, I keep picturing one of those hip-hop-wanna-be styles with his undies sticking out at the top, like an overgrown toddler.

  28. ALSO YOU MAKE BLACK TEA WITH BOILING WATER OR YOU GET WEAK ASS DONKEY PISS. “Bag on the side” is a fucking disgrace and the fact that a British woman made someone take her tea like that is the final nail in the coffin. EL James knows FUCK ALL about ANYTHING.

    Sorry. But dear lord, tea-related incompetence really annoys me.

    1. She knows, she’s just being insulting. One branch of my family comes from North Country, and taking weak tea or putting lemon in it would get you the kind of looks Dustin Hoffman got when he ordered his Scotch on the rocks in that movie.

        1. “Milk in first” is a working class thing, so my North Country ‘cestors wouldn’t have a problem with it, although the toffee-noses in “Gosford Park” are appalled by it.

        1. I meant Yorkshire, but it can also refer to Lancashire, Northumberland, etc. Londoners traditionally look down on Northerners as a bunch of yobs, and Northerners look down on Londoners as a bunch of snobs.

          1. I’m British and I’ve never referred to the North of England as ‘North Country’, nor have I ever heard it described as such but thanks for the clarification.

            I suppose because I’m from Northern England I was a bit surprised to read someone lump a lot of areas together as ‘North Country’ whilst naming other places like London, Canterbury, Oxford etc.

          2. My family left England sometime between the end of the Great War and the early ’20s, so my usages are horribly out of date.

          3. A North Country maid up to London had strayed
            Although with her nature it did not agree
            She wept and she signed
            And bitterly she cried
            Oh, I wish once again in the North I could be
            Oh, the oak and the ash
            And the bonny ivy tree
            They flourish at home in mine own country.

            No doubt, did I please, I could marry with ease -
            Where maidens are fair, many lovers will come
            But he whom I wed must be North Country bred
            And carry me back to my North Country home
            On, the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree
            They flourish at home in mine own country.

            This is a traditional English song, so it seems that it was a more common usage in the past. I’d also guess, that from the context of the song, it was a way of referring to what in modern English we’d call “the North of England” or just “the North” if we weren’t actually there at the time.

          4. Ghislaine: Awesome! I have seen fragments of just the refrain in a Scottish dialect, but I didn’t know there were so many verses. I wonder who had it first, England or Scotland? Maybe it’s a Border Ballad.
            I can sympathize with the North Country Lass, and not because of the foliage. It’s the accent. My first night in St. Pnacras, I went back to my B&B and CRIED, because I was in a foreign country and didn’t speak the language. I tried watching the news, and a sportscaster had such a thick accent, between that and the unfamiliar slang, I didn’t know if he was talking about cricket or dwarf-tossing. Then they had a story about a railway strike in Leeds, interviewed some locals about it, and God bless them, I understood every word! No wonder she wanted to go home.

          5. London is nothing like the rest of England, really, never mind the North. No wonder you’d want to be carried back to your North Country home. If I were in St Pancras, I’d probably be crying too. As for the song, there are a lot of variants (well, any traditional British song has, dozens in some cases) but this version has a middle verse, that I missed out, that refers specifically to Westmorland:

            So oft have I been on the Westmorland green
            Where lads and young lasses are making the hay
            The merry bells ring and the birds so sweetly sing
            And maidens and meadows are pleasant and gay
            Oh the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree
            They flourish at home in mine own country.

            Westmorland is part of what’s now Cumbria. I hope that’s something of interest!

          6. Ghislaine: Looks like it’s near the Lake District (made famous by Wordsworth, etc.). Is it? I’m horrible at reading maps.

          7. It is, Violetta. Cumbria is an administrative county in the North West of England, made up in 1974 from what was Cumberland, Westmorland and a bit of North Lancashire. It is indeed where the Lake District is. So we have it to thank for much of the poetry of Coleridge, and of Wordsworth, though on the whole we are all less pleased about that. Also Beatrix Potter, don’t forget! And John Ruskin, of course, just to bring it neatly back to our overarching theme of sexual deviance.

          8. Less pleased why? Wordsworth particularly, or all Romantic poets? If you’ve seen “Pandemonium,” they mixed Wordsworth up with someone of the same name. He may have been a pompous ass but he was not an informer like the other Wm. Wordsworth, his decision to exclude Coleridge from one publication may actually have been thematic, not rivalry, and and his sister went bonkers after the events it depicts–probably early-onset Alzheimer’s. Also, there’s no evidence his wife alienated his affection from his sister–having extended family who were unmarried, elderly, or sickly live with a couple was general practice then; few people had “nuclear” families.
            On the other hand, Wordsworth’s later work really is a crashing bore.
            The movie is still worth seeing for brilliantly hallucinatory images of Coleridge’s inspiration: the tree he is climbing turns into a ship’s mast for “Ancient Mariner,” for example.
            Potter: Awesome.
            Ruskin: yuk. And completely delusional about the Middle Ages.

  29. Chedward dislikes Kate because 1) she is a woman, yet she has managed not to fall for his non-existent charms and 2) he thinks that she is privileged, which neither E.L. James nor Chedward seem to realise is incredibly ironic.

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that Chedward just suddenly takes Ana’s hand when they get out of the elevator? I know that this is probably a remnant from Twilight where Bella always had to be led everywhere for fear she’d fall over and die, but this is their first ‘date’ and Chedward just takes her hand. I would not be okay with that. I’ve got nothing against handholding, but it is a thing you work towards. In a way, it’s even more intimate than kissing and sex. Handholding is a relationship thing. You hold hands with your boyfriend; not with your casual stalker.

    Or maybe this is merely another sign of their disturbing father/daughter relationship and he’s only taking her hand because he’s afraid that she might run across the road without looking otherwise? Anyway, I think it’s presumptuous.

  30. Maybe it’s because I’m an Aspie, but I just can’t see why she wrote this book as anything other than a blatant money grab. Why would anyone want to read the EXACT SAME SCENES but from a different POV? I can see an author wanting to write such a thing as a creative exercise, but I would never want to read it.

    1. Aspie comrade!

      I’ve also heard tell that she wrote it to basically tell the ~haters~ how wrong they are about her ideal man. A rebuttal, basically. That and cash are valid motives considering she has no creative muse to speak of. If it’s the rebuttal motive, though, she failed something fierce.

      (Also, hi! Short-time lurker here. Loving all these sporks. Never giving a dime to ELJ.)

    2. Generally, the idea is to reveal MORE about the characters that one limited POV can’t – check out Flipped or Jenny’s book – but she’s just bad at it.

  31. “…but instead he comes off like a total brat who would start kicking and screaming if he got slightly hungry and food wasn’t immediately accessible.”

    This basically sums me up in a nutshell. I don’t know if I medically qualify as hypoglycemic, but I will take off the head of anyone who tries to get in the way of me and food when my blood sugar starts to dip. I am actually intolerable in this state. I have informed my husband repeatedly, if he wants to avoid fights with me, he needs to ensure I’m well fed at all times.

    1. I’m the same way. I can hold my manners together for people (at restaurants, work, etc.), but inside I’m a rage of hunger once my blood sugar plunges. And I’ll make no secret of it that I’m hungry and everything else will have to go on hold until I address it!

    2. I am hypoglycemic (ironically, my husband is diabetic and nearly always skews hyperglycemic. Maybe between the two of us our son will always have normal blood sugar levels. ;) ) and usually it hits me in phases.
      First I’m just hungry. Wait much longer and I’m hungry but also queasy, then it develops in to full-blown nausea that makes it almost physically impossible to swallow anything and comes with a raging headache. If I don’t get anything in to my system soon after that I go in to “meltdown.”
      Meltdowns suuuuuuuck. I’m nauseated, have a killer headache, find it difficult to string together coherent thoughts and I RAGE.
      The first time my now-husband and I went on vacation together we didn’t realize that the part of DC we were staying in basically shuts down at 9pm. NOTHING was open. We couldn’t even find a corner store/gas station open. I happened to crash quickly that night. I was screaming obscenities at my husband, at myself. I broke my glasses by flinging them across the room because I couldn’t bear the sensation of them. My husband had to literally pin me down and cram a SweetTart in my mouth (yay for vending machines). I kept spitting it back at him and I punched him a few times when I got an arm free. He very nearly called 911.

      It’s actually unusual for me to get that bad without fainting. I usually sit and cry and shout at anyone that dares try to help me for a couple minutes, then black out.

      Occasionally, though, I skip past normal hunger and the little-bit-hungry-little-bit-nauseated stage and go right to I-hate-everything-and-everyone crying and yelling. And a few times I’ve gone from little-bit-hungry to blacked out on the floor in just a few minutes skipping all the phases in between.
      It took me many years to start being able to catch one of those rapid blood sugar dives before it got that bad.

      It sucks, though, that to avoid a hypoglycemic episode, if my tummy rumbles I need to get at least a small snack. It embarrasses me and it makes me worry that people think I’m overly dramatic or impatient and child-like. Even worse I worry about the comments along the lines that I’m fat enough that I should avoid snacking. But I’d rather be fat than feel irrationally angry and faint all the time.

  32. I just google image searched “Erotic Muffin” and was wholly underwhelmed by the results. I thought you’d all like to know.

  33. “Mmm, yeah baby, get it all over. Get those crumbs all over me. You know, the crumbs that are really moist and turn into little rolls like dead skin that leave a sticky sugar feeling when you brush them off? Oh yes, god yes! Oh fuck yeah, there’s a blueberry in my bra!”

    I may never eat another muffin without giggling a little. Especially if a blueberry goes rogue, as they have been known to do. Bras are like bibs for grown-ups (or maybe that’s just me).

    This is the highlight of this chapter for me, although picturing Ana with hair hanging from her bra band like creepy-person fringe was close.

  34. “One, calling anyone “miss.” “Miss” is a word all men need to strike from their fucking vocabularies, because I have no patience for it (except in the case of when women self-apply it, like my friend’s stage name, Miss Quinn). It’s condescending, and there’s a reason men like Chedward do it. That reason is to be shitty on purpose. ”

    So, I’m genuinely curious: is this a regional thing or am I being unintentionally rude and teaching my son to be too?
    When it comes to adults that my son encounters frequently, but that aren’t family or close enough to be like family, he’s to call them Miss or Mr Name. Sometimes it’s Miss or Mr Last Name, but more often than not it’s Miss or Mr First Name. For example, to him our next door neighbors are Miss Mary and Miss Linda. If the person tells him he can call them just by their first name, then it allow it, but generally I insist he use a title. I grew up doing the same thing. It’s just a way to show respect from a child to an adult.

    I also occasionally call women “miss.” But it’s usually when I need to get someone’s attention and don’t know their name. For example, if I’m trying to get the waitress’ attention at a restaurant I might say “Miss? Could I get another coke?” (or whatever).
    I actually grew up with my dad calling women “hon” or “sweetheart” when he didn’t know their name. It took a lot of work for me to stop calling other adults “hon” or “sweetie” when I moved to a place where that was seen as being very rude and condescending. I don’t do it at all now. Well, except for children. I still call kids “sweetie,” “sweetheart,” “darlin’ ” etc.

    So, by using “miss” to get someone’s attention or by having my son call adult women Miss Name, am I being just as inadvertently condescending and rude as when I used to say “hon” or “sweetie”?

    (For what it’s worth, I don’t have my son differentiate between Miss and Mrs. The 20-something college kids a few houses down are Miss Kelsey, Miss Alex, and Miss Daphne just the same as the octogenarian couple next door are Mr Alexander and Miss Mary.)

    1. “Miss/Mr. First Name” is a southern thing.

      I live in the Southeast but I’m from New York. I grew up calling adults either by their first name or Title Last Name.

      I HATE BEING CALLED Miss Renee. HATE IT. My fiance used to make his daughter call me that and would NOT respect me when I asked him not to, to just have her call me by my first name.

      In the Southeast, it’s a term of respect. Everywhere else, it’s just weird.

      1. A lot of daycare/kindergarten teachers/childrens’ librarians/day care providers do this kind of thing, too. I think it’s hilarious to have the kids at the library figure out what to call me (and I always introduce myself, too, but small memories).

        “Library girl” (I’M A SUPERHERO) or once “That girl” was really cute (as in, “That girl said she liked my picture!!”)

    2. I’m not American so maybe I shouldn’t comment, but to me it seems like more of an intention thing. You and your son intend to be polite by calling people Miss and Mr, but Chedward seems to be using it to stake his claim and assert dominance. Unfortunately, a lot of men that use Miss in that same slimy, authorititive way come across as very uncomfortable to women. I’m sure your son, who has been raised to use it respectfully and politely, wouldn’t come across like that, so personally I think what you’re doing is fine!

      1. I think it’s also weird because of the small age difference (21 to 27). I’d assume it’s more normalized to call an adult that when you’re a kid, than a fellow adult person who’s a little younger than you.

    3. I think in that case is not bad because your son is younger than the people he’s referring to as “miss”, so it’s sign of respect. Same with the waitress and the girl at the grocery store.

      I think what Jenny is trying to say here is that Chedward and the likes of him sound like condescending assholes when they refer to women who are their equal in age as “miss” while in an informal situation. They do it to put themselves in a distant position of “look how superior and educated I am, you could never aspire to be like me, just to lust hopelessly after my gentleman-y ways” instead of showing the appropriate respect for the situation and the person that you’re trying to teach your son to show. It’s like, calm the fuck down, you’re only five years her senior and this is not a formal nineteenth century ball. You can just call her Ana. That’s her name.

      It’s the same with him mentally calling her “baby” two hot seconds after meeting her. It reduces Ana to the inferior position of a sex object only there to entice Chedward’s loins instead of an actual human being worthy of respect.

  35. Wow, two people sitting at a cafe and revealing nothing about themselves to each other, with not even the saving grace of witty banter. The sexual tension fairly LEAPS off the page!

    I can’t anymore with his condescending “Oh, she’s a woman, she likes ROMANCES and FLOWERS and probably CHOCOLATE OR SOMETHING, UGH.” This works even worse as a “dual POV” thing because we know that Ana is already painting the white picket fence and naming their third kid in her own internal monologue while he seriously seems to have nothing but contempt for her, tempered only in the slightest way by the possibility of getting to stick his dick into her. It really does swing me around to feeling sorry for her.

    I haven’t looked at the first book in this series in a long-ass time, but revisiting it now, I’m pretty floored by how much of a personality Ana seems to have. I thought she was boring and cardboard the first time I read it, but now, looking back from the complete non-entity she became by the third book, she’s fairly brimming with life and vivacity. It can’t be said enough: EL James really, really blows at this whole writing thing.

    1. That contempt for Ana is part of why James is losing her audience. When Lovelace pursues Clarissa or Valmont, Mme. Tourvel, it’s because they acknowledge these ladies to be paragons of virtue and feel they’d have to be Da Man to conquer such moral miracles. Valmont is even insulted when Mme. de Merteuil wants him to seduce a schoolgirl straight out of the convent: too damned easy, since she knows nothing and has no idea how to defend herself. Of Mme. de Tourvel, however, he says, “There is an enemy worthy of me.”
      Chedward isn’t pitting his wits against a principled woman whom he hopes to outmaneuvre. He’s up against a virgin whom he actively discourages from getting advice from more experienced friends. Ana may be legal, but his M.O. is very close to that of a child molester grooming a prospect.

      1. I took him as a psychopath grooming his victim for a pathological relationship.Of course, I thought that Ana scanned as someone with a sort of high functioning Aspergers, or perhaps some other cognitive development disorder. Ana’s reactions are so off from what little I read of the books that I was honestly uneasy with the thought of her being in a relationship at all, never mind in one with him.

        If you read a few entries of this blog, you’ll see how he really does scan like a psychopath, especially from the originals. This book just reinforces that image.

  36. In all fairness, let’s note that he calls Ana’s co-worker “boy” –not just Jose– so I can’t get behind that as being evidence of Chedward’s racism. Though it *is* further proof that he is a twat with a superiority complex.

  37. Re: the number of syllables in Christian’s name: In my English accent, “Christian” has three syllables.

    Ana Steele: more British than tea with the Queen.

    1. In the U.S., it would be Krist-SHUN, rhyming with “wrist bun.” How do you say it? Kriss-tee-ann? Kriss-tee-un

  38. I would rather have more new story than the same story from a different pov. Also I’m always up for more Neil and Sophie

  39. oh god Christian Grey is even more punchable than he was in the original series. i wouldn’t have dreamed that was even possible, and yet here we are.

  40. Ugh. I just realized this inconsistent woman went through the trouble of writing the orthographic accent for José, but not Rodríguez (one of the most common Hispanic last names). It’s small, and grammar Nazi-ish of me, but if you’re going to gratuitously add a POC to substitute another POC from the source work, do it right.

  41. Anyone listen to the Grey audiobook at all? Lemme tell you. The narrator has serial killer creepiness down pat. Listening to the audiobook REALLY makes you feel as if you’re listening to a thriller.

  42. ‘There is literally no food I could imagine that would be less sexy to feed to someone during a scene than a fucking muffin. “Mmm, yeah baby, get it all over. Get those crumbs all over me. You know, the crumbs that are really moist and turn into little rolls like dead skin that leave a sticky sugar feeling when you brush them off? Oh yes, god yes! Oh fuck yeah, there’s a blueberry in my bra!”’

    I cackled like a coven of witches at this passage. And when I tried to read it out loud to my flatmate I had to stop several times because I couldn’t breathe for laughing.

    I have to say, though – if your female partner still has her bra on by the time you’re sensually feeding her the muffin, you’re doing it wrong.

  43. I misread the line “I’m surprised this dick isn’t wearing a cravat” as “I’m surprised his dick isn’t wearing a cravat” and I can’t get over the hilarity of that mental image

  44. You know, if you didn’t want this to come across as a date, maybe you shouldn’t, you know, HOLD HANDS WITH HER! That could possibly be a mixed signal! Do you usually hold hands during a business deal? “I don’t do hearts and flowers, but let’s carve our names into this tree and walk along the beach.”
    So he didn’t like Paul because he had a limp handshake, and now he doesn’t like Kate because she has a firm handshake. Huh, it’s almost like this guy is a complete asshole who makes up outlandish reasons to dislike people who don’t instantly fall to the ground in worship at his feet.
    I once read a book where, when the heroine and her love interest finally get together, she says something along the line of “I made it so obvious that I liked you, and he was all, “What are you talking about? You rarely spoke to me, avoided eye contact, and visibly shrunk whenever I came near you.” I’m getting the same vibe from this. If I didn’t know that Ana was blushing/flushing and internally bemoaning that he’s so darn spiffy, I would think she was annoyed and didn’t like him. She certainly does’t act like she wants to be there, and rightfully so. If some creep who I’d met twice asked me about the clothes I wore, I would mace him and run. Think about it: if he wasn’t a handsome billionaire and he asked you “Do you usually wear jeans?”, and sane person would be freaked out, right?
    “I wonder why these women are friends. They have nothing in common.”
    You know who else has nothing in common Chedward? You and Ana! You two have absolutely nothing in common save for the fact that you are both selfish, inconsiderate, and completely terrible! And we can’t really tell that without her vapid inner monologue, but it definitely comes across with you.
    And I call bullshit on her SAT score, seeing as this was the woman who thought they could go skiing in August

    1. Ah, but see, Paul should have a strong handshake, because he is a man and men are supposed to be strong. And Kate is a woman and women are supposed to be weak. See? Paul and Kate are doing handshakes wrong and are, therefore, traitors to their gender. No wonder Christian dislikes them. It makes perfect sense! (If you’re an asshole)

  45. Not to give Stephanie Meyer too much credit, but in those comparison passages she’s at least telling us more about who Edward is than EL manages to reveal about Christian. Edward is scared to let himself want something that is bad for him; Christian’s just like ‘she smells good, I’m so turned on right now’

  46. I’m kind of afraid to read the next part. Where he tracks her down, kidnaps her, undresses her and probably watches her sleep.

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