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Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister chapter ten or, “E.L. James one-stars Albania”

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IDK about the veracity of a tabloid, but apparently, E.L. James is pretending she’s just like everyone else and has cause to fear that her next book won’t be published. Yes. I’m sure that after writing the fastest-selling book in the U.K. and producing a movie franchise that grossed over a billion dollars, a publisher is going to turn down your manuscript.

In the meantime, The Mister debuts on the New York Times bestseller list…at #2. Great for most authors. Not for one whose previous books all debuted right on top. And as of writing this, James is ranked #79 among authors on Amazon, and The Mister is falling fast in the Kindle store, currently at #46. Again, astounding success for most authors. But one sitting on one of the biggest franchises of all time? Definitely not what most people expected, even with lowered expectations.

Now, as we get further into the story, there is a lot more about sex trafficking and exploitation and stuff, so just keep that in mind if you want a content warning. This is like, a blanket content warning here.

Jealous Hater Book Club: The Mister chapter nine or, “At least we learned the coffee thing.”

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Aaaand we’re back! E.L. James is coyly hinting to the press that Hollywood is beating down her door to snap up The Mister. Which, you know. Makes a shit ton of sense. The Fifty Shades of Grey books grossed over a billion dollars. It would be madness for anyone to not buy them. Whether it would be worth it to make the film is a different story. While James obviously has a buttload of fans, many of them have been disappointed that the book isn’t like Fifty Shades of Grey, judging from online reviews. But there’s another interesting thing mentioned in this Metro article: James feels there’s a market for tie-in sex toys this time around, too.

This one doesn’t make as much sense to me. In Fifty Shades of Grey, sex toys featured prominently. Readers bought the toys because they were buying the fantasy of building their own Red Room in their bedside table drawer. The conflict of The Mister isn’t centered around what Maxim wants to put where in Alessia’s body. The plot is about sex trafficking. Will a line of sex toys branded around a book about human trafficking really…well. Of course, they’ll sell. People bought a line of sex toys inspired by an abusive relationship. But why would a company want to link their name to…you know what? Nevermind. Please enjoy this cheap plastic vibrator at a hundred dollar markup because it’s named Maxim. Try not to think about human trafficking while you’re getting off.

Jealous Hater Book Club: The Mister chapter eight or, “We have decided to stan Albania. We’ll never be sick of its hoe ass.”

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You ever wake up and find out that one of the strangers in your top ten strangers who annoy the ever-loving shit out of you is having the kind of day where an ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY IS MAD AT THEM?

You would think this would make me happy.

But it is so infuriating. There are a few things that I haven’t mentioned yet because we haven’t gotten to them, and they’re mentioned in the article (you have to register to read it), so I’ll just touch on two of them: remember the seatbelts? Well, she doesn’t know what a smartphone is, either. Or a credit card.

No shit, she thinks his credit card is magical.

But it’s okay. E.L. James knows what she’s talking about:

In an interview with the New York Times to mark the book’s publication, James said she did extensive research on the former Communist country, visiting twice and buying an Albanian dictionary and a book about organized crime. She added that her husband had learned to make Albanian stews.

Reader, I tried to rip my smartphone, whoops, I mean, “clever phone” in half. Imagine if someone decided to write a book set in the UK and the only research material they bought was about bad dental hygiene. I’m not so sure Erika and her mindless cult of sycophants would be pleased about that.

Watching Taken and learning how to make soup doesn’t make you qualified to write about a country. Read on for details.

Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister chapter seven or, “You can hear the theme music from here.”

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We have officially reached the part of recapping where I’m slightly behind. I’m trying to do a post a day so these get finished before I go into my annual week of seclusion on the Keweenaw Peninsula to write Neil and Sophie and El-Mudad’s next book. But I’m also in the middle of intense rehearsals for War Paint at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater (if anyone is going to use that info to find me and murder me, please do so after the final performance, but before strike) and a pretty intense running program to get in shape for the Mackinac 8 Mile.

Why yes, I am in full, 100% denial of time and my physical disabilities.

Anyway, if I miss a day or two in the next two weeks, fear not! I haven’t given up. I might just be in a coma.

Quick note: I’ve made hybrids of the characters’ names with the names of characters from Poldark in many cases. It never occurred to me that someone might read these out of order, but I’ve actually had a few people mention the names this week and I wanted to clear that up.

Also, CW: we’re gonna talk about rape and rape trauma response.

Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister chapter six or, “I am clearly stuck in a Groundhog Day-style time loop please send help.”

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Sorry for the lateness of today’s recap. I chose self-care over work and took a nap and ate macaroni and cheese instead. Also, I started reading some Poldark recaps while researching a plot detail for this recap. They’re by Meghan O’Keefe and holy shit I’ve been laughing myself sick over the first two.

Oh, and shout out to all the Polish people in my comments. There are a lot of you!

Jealous Haters Book Club: The Mister, chapter five or, “The Song Remains The Same”

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This was a longer chapter, so this is also a longer recap. I’m glad to see the grand tradition of wildly varying chapter lengths lives on.

P.S. Did you know that I’m actually tagging these entries like a good person? POSITIVELY REINFORCE ME WITH YOUR PRAISE FOR A THING I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING THE WHOLE TIME I’VE HAD A BLOG.

JEALOUS HATERS Book Club: The Mister, Chapter Four or “Demelssia Vision”

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Entertainment Weekly interviewed E.L. James about The Mister. And boy o’howdy, it’s really something else.

Entertainment Weekly: 50 Shades rather famously began as fan-fiction. Was there a particular work of pop culture or literature that inspired The Mister?

No, not really. The only inspiration I can say about this work is the hundreds of historical romances that I read over the years. […] There’s no direct inspiration. It’s a story that’s been hanging around in my head for a wee while. […]

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, pointing furiously and shouting, "You lie!"

There are a lot of gems in this interview, including James saying that she categorizes The Mister as an erotic romance because the sex scenes are descriptive and the “darkness” doesn’t come from within the characters (it’s not an erotic romance and that’s not what the definition of erotic romance is in the first place), and how she doesn’t want to be a part of conversations about on-page consent or our cultural treatment of women’s entertainment, but this was my favorite part:

Why do you think people love to hate on your work? Is there an element of they just can’t stand seeing a woman be so successful?

I think there’s an element of that yeah. I did it in my spare time, having fun, writing for myself. And I think that really pisses people off sometimes.

So, there you have it. Jealous Haters. I hereby remove The Mister from the Second Chance Book Club and rename it an emergency selection of the Jealous Haters Book Club.

Gavel noise.

Second Chance Book Club: The Mister, Chapter Three or “Deja View”

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In the grand tradition of renaming characters to reflect where E.L. James nabbed them from, Maxim Trevelyan is now Moss Troldark. Alessia is now Demelssia Carmachi.

And the author is still a real piece of work.

Honestly, as a reader, I feel cheated. I went into this with every intention of being open-minded. And I sat here like, wow, I’m really enjoying this! Sure, the writing isn’t great, but I can ignore terrible writing for a story this gripping!

I should have known the story wasn’t hers.

And what really gets me, deep, deep down, is that she clearly did so much differently from Fifty Shades of Grey based on what critical reviews dinged her for. There’s emphasis on consent, the hero isn’t an abusive and irredeemable douchebag, it just was reading like she understood the reasons people hated her first series and tried to make this some kind of example that yes, she can really write, yes, she can really learn.

The only lesson she didn’t take away from the experience was the part where people were like, “Hey, maybe don’t steal people’s shit.”

Second Chance Book Club: The Mister, Chapter Two or, “Oh, now I know why I was enjoying this so much.”

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I was devouring this book. Devouring it. I was astonished at how much better the plot of this book was, how much she’d grown as a writer.

And then commenter Sushi pointed out that it’s Poldark.

No. Really.

E.L. James just rewrote Poldark.

  • Maxim is the only male relative of the Earl of Trevethick. Ross is the only male relative of the Master of Trenwith.
  • The Earldom includes an estate in Cornwall. Trenwith includes ownership of an estate in Cornwall.
  • Maxim is captivated by his young housekeeper who has escaped an abusive past. Ross is captivated by his young housekeeper who has escaped an abusive past.
  • Maxim’s captivating young housekeeper has an uncanny talent at the piano. Ross’s captivating young housekeeper has an uncanny talent for singing.
  • Maxim’s brother and closest male relative married Maxim’s first love and childhood best friend. Ross’s cousin and closest male relative married Ross’s first love and childhood best friend.
  • Maxim stands to inherit the Earldom until Caroline reveals she’s pregnant with her late husband’s heir (spoiler alert). Ross stands to inherit Trenwith until Elizabeth produces an heir before her husband dies.

And for extra fuckery? Ross Poldark owns mines in Cornwall. Trevethick is the real-life name of a famous Cornish mining engineer.

I shit you not. She did it again. She took someone else’s work and she did it again.

Now, lest you go, “Oh, well, it’s like when people remake Jane Austen novels,” Winston Graham’s final Poldark novel came out in 2002. We’re not talking, oh, this is so old and out of copyright and nobody alive even owns it anymore. This is quite literally Fifty Shades of Twilight all over again. And the poor dude can’t fight her because he’s dead.