Welcome back. In chapters one to four, some things happened, but none of them were important or interesting. There was quite a lot of sex, but again, it wasn’t very interesting. And someone set fire to Christian’s office, which was extremely foolish of them – a) because he wasn’t in it at the time and b) because why on earth would you set fire to this man’s office when you could be setting fire to his pubic hair?
Anyway, the fire wasn’t important, even though it’s definitely arson. Nothing is going to cut into Ana and Christian’s honeymoon, especially not the plot.
Chapter Five sees Ana waking up (what’s new?) to freak out because her husband is not in bed beside her, but it’s okay, because he’s ‘watching me from the small, upholstered armchair by the bed’. The creepy fuck.
“Hey, don’t panic. Everything’s fine,” he says, his voice gentle and soothing – like he’s talking to a cornered wild animal. Tenderly, he smooths the hair back from my face and I calm immediately. I see him trying and failing to hide his own concerns.
Wait, what are they fretting about now? Oh, I don’t even remember. Was it the fire that happened on the other side of the world that they blithely ignored in favour of rolling around giggling and taking photographs of each other? Whatever. Twitchy Codependence – it’s the the new True Love.
Ah yes. Here we are. The fire!
…I don’t want him to know how worried I am about the arson incident. The painful recollection of how I felt when Charlie Tango was sabotaged and Christian went missing – the hollow emptiness, the indescribable pain – keeps resurfacing; the memory nagging me and gnawing at my heart.
He was missing for five pages. That was about eight hours in book time. If I don’t hear from someone for eight hours I assume they’re at work. You know, that thing he’s supposed to do all the time because he’s a raging workaholic. Also if you’re going to have a character get into a helicopter which then catches fire, don’t resolve the conflict in five pages. Truly talented authors would know how to spin such a thing into a masterly cliffhanger. (Ahem.)
He leans forward and kisses me between my brows. “When you frown, a little V forms just here. It’s soft to kiss. Don’t worry baby, I’ll look after you.”
Yeah. He’s a creepy, creepy man.
Ana doesn’t want to go home, because she was having such a lovely time being hog-tied, branded, bought expensive jewellery and trying to get the staff fired.
I don’t want to leave. I’ve relished being with him 24/7, and I’m not ready to share him with his company and his family.
Darling, I love you, but could you stop having a life, as it’s getting in the way of my staring at you every hour God sends?
This marriage is so doomed.
Then they go on a Jet Ski again. Because wordcount. I have no idea what I’m going to write in my parody of this book, but I am determined that there must be Jet Skis.
Ana mistakes the throttle for a brake and goes flying.
Screaming, I plunge into the crystal blue sea and swallow a nasty mouthful of the Mediterranean.
I don’t know why I’m surprised that she didn’t know to close her mouth when falling towards water. After all, this is the girl whose response to being alone in London for an afternoon was to sit around the hotel room and shave her fanny.
Having fallen in the water, Ana happily muses that getting wet is ‘the worst that can happen on a Jet Ski!’
Actually it’s not (thank you, local Lifeboat volunteers), but again – twat shaving, doesn’t remember to close her mouth when falling in the sea, thinks people believe she didn’t marry him for his money. Not the sharpest Crayola in the set.
The next paragraph they’re back in London. I hope I’m not going to be treated to any more detailed descriptions of someone scraping the bristles off their landing flaps. Fortunately they’re in the First Class lounge at Heathrow and they don’t let you do that there. At least I don’t think they do. Oh, and they’re talking about the plot. Cor blimey, guvnor – as we never say around these parts.
He sighs, putting his newspaper down. “I want this arsonist caught and out of our lives.”
“Oh.” That seems fair enough, but I’m surprised by his bluntness.
Huh? Sorry? I’m so confused. You’re surprised that he wants to see the person who set fire to his office put away for arson? What were you expecting him to want to do about him? Invite our little firestarter, twisted firestarter around for chenin blanc and canapés?
Also, have you figured out who set fire to the office yet? Because I have. There’s a plot thread hanging out the back of book two like a rogue tampon string, and this time nobody’s about to yank on it.
They arrive home in Seattle and Christian tells his bride that she’s put on some weight. This goes about as well as you’d expect. As usual, fuckface manages to make it all about him and his cardboard Issues.
“You’ve put on some of the weight you lost when you left me,” he says quietly as he summons the elevator. A bleak expression crosses his face.
His sudden, surprising anguish tugs at my heart.
‘Left him’ = a five day snitfit between book one and book two. They even break up more dramatically than you. Peasant. Also ‘bleak’ is shaping up to be the author’s new favourite word, although obviously her old darlings ‘impassive’, ‘murmur’ and ‘crap’ aren’t going anywhere soon.
Ana reflects on the last two books.
So much has happened in the last three weeks – who am I kidding, the last three months – that I feel my feet haven’t touched the ground. And now here I am, Mrs. Christian Grey, married to the most delicious, sexy, philanthropic, absurdly wealthy mogul a woman could meet. How did this all happen so fast?
Easily. The author wouldn’t know pacing if it sat on her face and wiggled. (I also love how much that paragraph makes Ana sound like the money-hungry little wretch she really is.)
I am back to work on Monday…it will be odd not seeing Christian for a whole day after spending almost every minute together for the last three weeks…One would think that spending so much time together would be suffocating, but that’s just not the case. I’ve loved each and every minute, even our fighting.
Congratulations! You are officially codependent!
How sick of each other are these shitheads going to get when the bloom is off the rose? Of course you want to spend every dippy, dotty, true-lovey, snugglebunny, chirpy-chirpy-cheep-cheep rose-strewn moment in one another’s company – you’ve known each other for three and a half months.
I would love a Fifty Shades novel that deals with them three and a half decades later, when she’s a drunk plastic surgery casualty and he’s attempting to divorce her for the fifteenth time, so that he can get new hairplugs and marry his mistress – another gold-digging twenty-something who dots her i’s with little hearts and giggles whenever he says ‘Laters, baby’.
Of course, if E.L. James wrote it then they’d still be capering around like a couple of silly kids in love, because their love is Better Than Yours. Peasant. And Ana’s forehead would still move. (A likely story.)
Anyway, back with the plot…
Every minute…except the news of the fire at Grey House. My blood chills. Who could want to harm Christian?
I hope you meant that as a rhetorical question. Because there’s a list. Actually it’s more of a database at this point.
My mind gnaws at this mystery again. Someone in his business? An ex? A disgruntled employee? I have no idea…
I have. It’s Jack, Ana. Remember Jack? The cartoon villain who tried to rape you in book two? No, of course you don’t, because everyone completely forgot about Jack the second he was no longer germane to the pissweak plot. Except for your father-in-law, who was left loudly coughing out plot points in the wake of the world’s most disappointing helicopter crash.
Think about that for a moment. In book two a helicopter caught fire in mid air and crashed. And it was really, really dull.
So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that Chapter Five contained a car chase.
I’ll skip the blether. What happens next is that on learning that somebody has set fire to his helicopter and his office, Christian Grey goes and has dinner with his family. Then he sits at the piano and sings a song called ‘Wherever You Will Go’ (I thought it was this one. It is this one. There was not a dry seat in the house.) Everyone hushes in awe at the beauty of his voice just like in every Mary Sue fanfiction ever.
Oh, and speaking of Mary Sue, Christian’s mother is moved to tears by Ana.
Grace distracts me, grasping my hands then suddenly folding me in her arms.
“Oh, darling girl! Thank you, thank you,” she whispers, so only I can hear. It brings a lump to my throat.
“Um…” I hug her back, not really sure why I am being thanked. Grace smiles, her eyes shining, and kisses my cheek. What have I done?
What you were born to do, Ana. You have healed your husband of sadistic, controlling, woman-hating impulses, all because you loved him enough. He’s better now. Now he sings like an angel and is gentle as a kitten. (Warning – Do Not Try This At Home. Attempting to love your psychotic boyfriend all better may result in injury, psychological damage and death.)
Feminist, everyone. These books are feminist and empowering. Maybe if we keep saying it then eventually it will become true.
So, back in the wonderful feminist world of Fifty Shades Freed, Christian ‘Lord of Saudi Arabia’ Grey has finally agreed to let Ana drive a car.
Then there is a car chase.
And it is boring.
I briefly check the rearview mirror, but I don’t see anything odd, just a few cars behind us. The SUV is about four cars back and we’re all cruising at an even pace.
“I see,” Christian sighs long and hard and rubs his forehead with his fingers; tension radiates off him. Something’s wrong.
Somehow the Keystone Cops that make up Christian Grey’s security detail have divined that the car is being followed. Nobody knows precisely how this works – goat entrails, mirror gazing, scrying with crystals – but they do. I don’t know how you pick out one particular car that appears to be following you when there are over a dozen cars behind you and you’re all driving quite fast in one direction.
“How do we know we’re being followed?” My voice is a breathy, squeaky whisper.
For once Ana asks a reasonable question.
“The Dodge behind us has false license plates.”
How does he know that?
Two reasonable questions? On the same page? Has she had a head-swap operation? Come on Ana. You can do it. Make it three. Go for the hat-trick.
“We’re right behind the unsub, Mr. Grey.” Sawyer’s voice comes through the hands-free. “He’s trying to catch up with you, sir. We’re going to try and come alongside and put ourselves between your car and the Dodge.”
Unsub? What does that mean?
Oh – you were so close! Trust Ana to ask footling little questions in her head rather than persist out loud with the ones that actually matter – ‘Darling, are you sure we’re being followed and are you up to date on your meds?’ Alternatively – ‘Are you on meth, you paranoid fucking lunatic?’
It’s all amazingly tedious and reads like sat-nav instructions.
“Shit!” he swears softly.
Also the dialogue tags are like a masterclass in how to not to do dialogue tags. Look at that thing – it belongs in a museum.
Glancing anxiously in the mirror once more, I think I spot the Dodge.
“Ten cars or so back?”
“Yeah, I see it,” Christian says, peering through the narrow rear window. “I wonder who the fuck it is?”
How could the dialogue tags be anything but beautiful, when shoring up dialogue this masterful? ‘I wonder’ is one of those sentence openers that works best when your characters are reflective, at rest – perhaps chilling in their favourite Italian restaurant;
‘I wonder why Chianti bottles come in those raffia cover thingies,’ for example. Doesn’t work so well in a car chase. ‘I wonder who the fuck is trying to kill us?’
See? ‘Who the fuck is it?’ would do the job much better. Maybe get a little italic on the ‘is’ if such a thing floats your boat. ‘Who the fuck is it?’ Conveys fear, paranoia, urgency – all good things to put across in an action scene, such as a car chase or a helicopter crash.
Anyway, it’s Jack, in answer to Christian’s question. I know it’s Jack, you know it’s Jack. We’re just standing around waiting for the other shoe to drop. They babble on a bit about how it could be nasty Mrs. Robinson or Crazy Leila, but it’s Jack.
“He’s hit one hundred miles per hour, sir.”
“Stay with him, Luke,” Christian barks at Sawyer.
Use the Force, Luke. Use the Force.
“Stay with him, Luke.”
“That’s his name.”
A quick glance and I can see Christian glaring at me as if I’m crazy. “Eyes on the road!” he snaps.
I ignore his tone. “Luke Sawyer.”
“Yes!” He sounds exasperated.
“Ah.” How did I not know this? The man has been following me to work for the last six weeks, and I didn’t even know his first name.
I love this. It’s like Baby’s First Attempt At Showing Not Telling. She’s trying to show me, through pointless dialogue, that Ana is finding it really difficult to adjust to having staff.
Really, E.L. – I totally appreciate the effort. In fact you get a sticker, because you tried. Just maybe next time leave the anxious ruminations about the intricacies of social stratification for a scene where your characters are not in the middle of a fucking car chase, okay?
So, they drive to Escala. Just in case the lunatic who is following them and probably trying to stalk, murder and set fire to them doesn’t know where they live.
Then they stop driving and Ana starts crying. Again. It’s all about to get crotchtal (again) when Luke cockblocks them over the hands-free.
“The unsub has slowed outside Escala. He’s casing the joint.”
Christian snaps at him then turns back to his lachrymose dingbat of a bride. And is really, really creepy. Again.
“Your lips are so soft when you cry, my beautiful, brave girl,” he whispers.
And then they have sex. In a parking lot. Where someone is still trying to kill them.
“Fuck me then.” I kiss the corner of his mouth. I want him. Now. That car chase was exciting. Too exciting. Terrifying…and the fear has jump-started my libido.
Evidently it would take more than the fear of being raped, murdered and set on fire to jump start your fucking brain.
Just like book two, I’m already rooting for the antagonists; people this stupid deserve everything they get.
I quickly scan the area in front of us and see no one, but I feel a thrill coursing through me. I’m in a public lot! This is so hot!
Seriously. The plot just literally chased them through half a chapter and they want absolutely nothing to do with it. They’re going to keep ignoring it as long as the blood keeps coursing to their genitals.
“No one’s watching, are they?” I glance anxiously around the car lot.
No. Nobody’s watching. Except for the security cameras. And the security guard. And YouTube. Probably. Once the guard is done uploading the footage.
I turn to gaze at him and grin impishly. “Car sex!” I exclaim.
He grins back and tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “Let’s head back. I’ll drive.”
SOMEONE WAS JUST TRYING TO KILL YOU, YOU HORNY IMBECILES.
The security detail’s conclusion is that the person driving the Dodge was a woman, because they caught a glimpse of long hair. Of course, back when this was a Twilight fanfic ‘Jack’ used to be James the evil vampire from Twilight. Who has a ponytail. Also apparently Ryan, one of the security team, is ex-FBI. I don’t know if this is important, but it’s mentioned.
Then Ana tries to give Christian a handjob on the way home. Because they didn’t just have sex or anything.
Then they get home, get in the elevator and get all pissy when a new tenant named Noah Logan intrudes on their personal space. They probably wanted to get all Aerosmith in the elevator; they usually do.
“Great to meet you both,” he says, sounding relieved, and steps out. The doors close silently behind him…
“He seemed nice,” I murmur. “I’ve never met any of the neighbours before.”
Christian scowls. “I prefer it that way.”
Oh cheer up, fuckface. You could do with some friends. Just think; you could invite them round to listen to your Huey Lewis and the News albums – you dead-eyed, yuppie streak of piss.
Holy shit – and they’re fucking hot to trot again. I’m not even kidding. Poor old Sawyer is standing there in the hallway and Christian is like ‘I’d like to be debriefed in a hour’, and then fucks off to the Red Room of Pain to debrief the missus.
SOMEONE IS TRYING TO KI…oh, fuck it. I can’t take much more of this. I feel like my brain is leaking out my earholes.
So. Yeah. Chapter Six opens with some more sex. This time it’s one of their long, boring crap bondage scenes and it’s distinguished by him sticking a butt plug up her catflap. Yes folks – three books into the bestselling ‘erotic’ trilogy and we’re finally getting into some tentative backdoor action.
They’ve had sex in public and now he’s put a thingy up her bum! It’s so daring!
Seriously – how fucking dull do you have to be to find these books filthy? The most shameful thing is that the author is British. Once we gave the world Fanny Hill, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Moll Flanders, the mucky bits of Tom Jones. We practically fucking invented the dirty novel, way back in the early 18th century. And then along comes E.L. James and suddenly we’re all supposed to be morally outraged by a collection of tired sex acts that wouldn’t look out of place round the back of an Asda carpark.
Fuck you, James. You scrub. You soggy little amateur.
Of course, the buttplug scene – while as limp as any of the other fucky bits in this book – does come with a shocking sequel. It turns out that Mrs. Jones cleans the sex toys.
Remember Mrs. Jones? The housekeeper? Yeah. She cleans the buttplugs.
I have no idea why anyone would want to work for this man. Ever.
We’ll skip the sex scene, which goes on for about sixty years. Then they have a bath together, because they don’t have anything pressing to do, like talking to the security guys about the person who was following them in the car chase that took up most of Chapter Five.
Ana bellyaches about meeting an architect, who she considers a threat to her marriage. Mostly because everyone is a threat to Ana’s marriage, because Ana is an insecure little girl.
That woman is coming back again. My subconscious gazes up from volume three of The Complete Works of Charles Dickens and glowers. I’m with my subconscious. I sigh. Unfortunately, Gia Matteo’s designs are breathtaking.
Ana, if you use the words ‘breathtaking’ or ‘stunning’ as adjectives one more time I’m going to gently garotte you and then bop you over the head with a heavy object. Why? Because I like to show, not tell.
Really. I’m getting a little bit tired of E.L. James and her Daily Mail vocabulary.
I hear Christian’s raised voice from his study. I freeze.
“Where the fuck were you?”
Oh shit. He’s shouting at Sawyer. Cringing, I dash upstairs to the playroom. I really don’t want to hear what he has to say to him – I still find shouty Christian intimidating. Poor Sawyer. At least I get to shout back.
E.L’s on a roll with the show not tell thing lately. Instead of telling me that so and so is brave or sexy or clever, she’s showing me that her heroine is a spineless, cowardly parasite who is sexually attracted to a noisy, irresponsible bully.
Ana bumps into the housekeeper. You know. The lady who cleans the buttplug.
It’s a wonder I can look Mrs. Jones in the eye.
It’s a wonder you can presume to share the same oxygen.
Ana cleans her own buttplug, which is to say that she is humble and will never forget where she came from. (Spoiler – she fucking will)
I’ll have to ask Mr. Sexpert if it should be sterilized or something. I shudder at the thought.
Or just Google ‘care of sex toys’. Apparently you can do that, I hear.
Christian has turned the library over to me. It now houses an attractive white wooden desk that I can work at. I take out my laptop and check my notes on the five manuscripts I read on our honeymoon.
The sound you are now hearing is the sound of every fiction editor in the world breaking into loud, derisory laughter all at once. Five manuscripts in three weeks! You’d better slow down, Ana. Don’t want to break the sound barrier or anything.
I remember Roach’s apoplectic reaction when I told him I was getting married and to whom, and how, shortly afterward, my position was confirmed. I realize now it was because I was marrying the boss. The thought is unwelcome. I am no longer acting editor – I am Anastasia Steele, editor.
I don’t know who Roach is, but you can see his point. It’s things like this that make me wish this book was set in reality, so we could watch the company’s share price fall through the floor when everyone finds out that horny nitwit Christian Grey not only bought the company but put his wet-behind-the-ears wifelet in charge.
I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to change my name at work. I think my reasons are solid. I need some distance from him, but I know there will be a fight when he finally realises that.
Oh honey – you can change your name to Reginald Dwight and everyone will still know you got the job because you married the boss. You’re twenty-one, practically illiterate and you never do any fucking work. Please don’t tell me you seriously think you’re there on merit; nobody can be this stupid and maintain any kind of higher brain function.
And there will be a fight. Obviously. Because that’s how it goes in these books.
Then she does some work for all of about five minutes before getting distracted by her honeymoon snaps. Apparently Christian picked up the camera and started taking photos of her while she was asleep and sucking her thumb. Naturally she sleeps pretty and he doesn’t get any snaps of her with her head thrown back and her nostrils flared so that everyone can see her sleep bogeys. And there are no pictures of her with that intense expression of concentration that people get when they’re straining out a fart in their sleep.
Also it’s not creepy when he takes pictures of her when she’s not looking. It was creepy when Jose did it, obviously, but he’s not rich.
She stares at a picture of Christian for a moment and works herself into another tizzy.
Someone out there wants to harm him – first Charlie Tango, then the fire at GEH, and that damned car chase. I gasp, putting my hand to my mouth as an involuntary sob escapes. Abandoning my computer, I leap up to find him…
So long, work. So long, job that I want to keep because I want my career to reflect my own merits. Hello again to you perfectly believable rumours of nepotism.
Christian is in his office farting around with a new character named Barney. He will now be played by a large purple dinosaur because I have to make my own entertainment while reading this book. They’re going through security footage of the server room at GEH (That’s an unfortunate acronym when you sound it out. Something you want to talk about, Christian?) and enhancing it 100000000x with magic computers, just like the author saw them do on CSI.
And obviously they find out that it’s Jack.
But you knew that, right?