It’s been a busy weekend in Fifty Shades news, now that Charlie Hunnam has made probably the best decision of his entire career and decided not to play Christian Grey in the movie. The original line was that Hunnam realised just how much time this tosh would take and was like “No way is this cutting into my hanging-out-with-Ron-Perlman time.” Turned out he was just afraid of being hunted by the kind of feral Twi-hards who used to hang out at premieres baring their bleeding necks to Robert Pattinson. It’s a scary old world, kids.
Anyway, let’s get down to business. (Jane Austen fans might want to skip this one – you might get angry.)
Last time, on the Young and The Pointless, Christian and Ana had a marathon whining session which lasted for two whole chapters, repeatedly reminded everyone of the unsettling domestic violence subtext to these ghastly books and culminated with Shitface moodily playing the piano in his pyjamas. Again.
Then the next morning everything was magically okay again and Shitface decided to gather the whole Twilight gang together and whisk his cardboard consort off for a holiday in Aspen, because apparently neither of them have jobs. Neither do their friends, except José/Jacob Black, but he’s not allowed because he’s still carrying a torch for Ana.
And Christian Grey is a racist. Probably. He’s so horrible in every other way he may as well be a racist.
So, yes. Aspen. Ana thought they were going skiing. In August. Because Ana is ‘bright’ and ‘intelligent’, you understand.
They get off the private plane (Christian Grey’s carbon footprint must be dinosaur sized) and Christian stops to praise the pilot for a good landing. Because he can fly planes. Did he mention that? And did he also mention he had a helicopter?
“It’s all about the density altitude, sir.” Stephan smiles back. “Beighley here is good at math.”
Christian nods at Stephan’s first officer. “You nailed it, Beighley. Smooth landing.”
“Thank you, sir.” She grins smugly.
Because it’s not a Fifty Shades novel without our popped haemorrhoid of a heroine throwing shade at some woman who’s better at things than she is – ie. every other woman on the fucking planet.
There’s a mini-van. Are you excited? I am. Absolutely nothing is going to happen in these next couple of chapters. At one point I was thinking of not recapping them at all and posting pictures of cats instead, but felt that I would not be doing justice to exactly how boring these books are.
Just for a frame of reference, I’ve sat through workplace safety seminars (Do not set fire to your hair/lick the light-switches/stand open mouthed in front of the air-con unit which may well be carrying Legionnaire’s Disease) more interesting than Fifty Shades Freed.
Brace yourself. It’s about to get…dull.
“Want to make out in the back of the van?” Christian murmurs to me, a mischievious gleam in his eyes.
I giggle. Who is this man, and what has he done with Mr. Unbelieveably Angry of the last couple of days.
Likeliest explanation is that, following the previous noche triste, even the author is now bored of crying, psychobabble, repetitive sex and moody 3am piano playing.
And for some unfathomable reason I feel shy with him today. Why? Last night? Being with company? I can’t put my finger on it.
I can. Bored author is bored. Time for some unaccountable mood-swings and a total change of tone!
Ana describes the scenery, remarkably without using the words ‘stunning’, ‘panoramic’ or ‘vista’ and then has another one of her ‘Oh no, I appear to be incredibly rich,’ wobbles. Because she hasn’t had one of those since about chapter four and we don’t want her to look like she’s getting used to it.
And from deep within my psyche, the familiar unease that’s always present when I try to wrap my head around Christian’s wealth looms and taunts me, making me feel guilty. What have I done to deserve this lifestyle? I’ve done nothing, nothing except fall in love.
Actually you didn’t even do that, since you’ve pretty much admitted that you love him in spite of his entire personality and the only time he ever gets you consistently starry-eyed is when you imagine his Tragic Past as a Victorian orphan. But by all means carry on.
“I’m hoping my husband will teach me how to ski.” I glance up at my man.
“Don’t bet on it,” Christian mutters.
“I won’t be that bad!”
“You might break your neck.” His grin gone.
Oh. I don’t want to argue and sour his good mood, so I change the subject.
Yeah, about that good mood. God, these books are depressing.
…Kate is quiet, and I wonder if she’s brooding about Jack Hyde or something else…
…the hot Mexican transvestite she loved and lost when his career as a romance novelist took off…oh no, wait. That’s my version. (FYI, in my head the role of Jesús is played by Diego Luna, who looks a lot like he did in Y Tu Mama Tambien. You’re welcome.)
…then I remember. Aspen…Christian’s house here was redesigned by Gia Matteo and rebuilt by Elliot. I wonder if that’s what’s preoccupying Kate. I can’t ask her in front of Elliot, given his history with Gia.
When even your internal monologue is failing the Bechdel Test, you know you’ve got problems.
Ana gets a look at Aspen and decides she quite likes it.
“Why did you choose Aspen?” I ask him.
“What?” He regards me quizzically.
“To buy a place.”
Gstaad is so Eurotrash these days, darling. Because he can, you dingbat.
…[he] finally pulls up outside the impressive house. Double fronted with high pitched roofs and built of dark wood and the same mixed stone as the gateway. It’s stunning…
E.L., I’ve a good mind to smack you on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. Sentence fragments and travel brochure copy do not a description make.
“Come. See,” he says, an excited, though anxious, gleam in his eyes as if he’s about to show me his science project or something.
Oh God. There’s a thought I could have gone without. Christian Grey’s science project. What do sociopaths submit to the Science Fair? Hold me. I’m frightened.
There’s a new housekeeper here – Mrs. Bentley. I was hoping for Mrs. Danvers but these books spoil my fun at every turn.
By the way, in case you weren’t clear on who the characters were back when this was a Twilight fanfic, Ethan (Kate’s brother) is Jasper Cullen, the Confederate vampire of Civil War vintage, whose opinions on black people mysteriously never made it into the books. Mia (Christian’s sister) is the loathsomely perky Alice, the plastic fashionista whose answer to everything is ‘Clothes!’, Kate is Rosalie, the blonde vampire who doesn’t like Bella until Bella gets knocked up with a creepy CGI baby and Elliot is Emmett, the big dumb fratboy vampire who is big and dumb.
Obviously, since Stephenie Meyer is a master of characterisation, their personalities should be instantly recognisable.
Mia grabs Ethan’s hand and drags him farther into the house. Christian narrows his eyes at their departing figures, his mouth thinning. He shakes his head, then turns to me.
And Christian Grey is Edward Cullen, the stalky, paternalistic buzzkill vampire, enemy of endangered species, independent choices and first and foremost all possible sources and forms of fun. But you knew that, right?
Then Ana describes the house a bit in terms of ‘all pale marble’ and ‘all black cupboards’ and ‘all zebra-skin with custom silver-plated dildoes bolted to the wall’. Okay, maybe not the last, but I’m already bored here. There’s a huge plasma screen TV, which is kind of weird since Christian Grey (in his Twilight appointed role as Enemy of Fun) thinks all TV is ‘drivel’. I’m guessing he doesn’t have Netflix.
Brain surgeon Ana once again states the obvious.
“You’re very rich.”
“Sometimes, it just takes me by surprise how wealthy you are.”
And would she still be into him if he wasn’t filthy, stinking, dirty rich? This is the question. A far better plotline for these books would be if Christian’s company went tits up (largely because every time he’s needed at the office he fucks off to Aspen) and little Miss Ever-So-’Umble here was forced to face her feelings when life with Christian Grey didn’t come with helicopter rides, private jets or luxury yachts. And all that was left was the whining. The endless, senseless, pointless fucking whining.
Ana talks about Gia and Christian asks why they’re talking about Gia. Ana says it’s because Gia remodelled this place and she once had a fling with Elliot. Because Ana thinks Kate is currently staring into space, thinking about how Gia Matteo picked out that particular bathroom fitting with her whore-eyes and her whore-brain and so that chrome soap dish or whatever has become a kind of whore-conduit leaking Gia’s whoreness into the house, where it will linger and poison Kate’s relationship with Elliot, because that’s what whores do.
That or Ana is a fucking lunatic who went off on an Italian architect who once touched her husband on the arm.
Christian reveals that Elliot has fucked most of Seattle – ‘mainly women’ – , and once again I wish this book was about one of the minor characters.
Christian then goes on to reveal that Elliot has no idea about his own past – the fifteen women he kept as sex slaves before Ana and the glamorous child molester who seduced him when he was fifteen years old. “…he really has no idea about my past. I told you, my family assumed I was gay. Celibate, but gay.”
So Christian Grey doesn’t talk to his family. And in the last book it was established that he has no friends. This is not a man you want to date twice, let alone marry.
She says she doesn’t understand why he has this house and he says it’s probably because he was subconsciously waiting for her to come along so that he’d have someone to share it with. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. Luckily for him this is Ana we’re talking about.
“Christian, you are the state lottery, the cure for cancer, and the three wishes from Aladdin’s lamp all rolled into one.”
To quote the great Mancunian swear-poet John Cooper Clarke – ‘you make life a fairytale – Grim’. (Link NSFW but oh so satisfying.)
“You were a very eligible bachelor. And I don’t mean all this.” I wave a hand dismissively at our plush surroundings.
That’s a nice thing to be able to dismiss, isn’t it?
“I mean in here.” I place my hand over his heart, and his eyes widen. My confident, sexy husband has gone, and I’m facing my lost boy.
Ana, you are so, so creepy.
Anyway, absolutely nothing has happened in this chapter and so it’s time to go shopping.
“Let’s split up.” Mia claps her hands. “Girls, shopping – boys, outdoor boring stuff.”
My note on this reads ‘Fuck off Alice.’ I have nothing to add.
I smile wryly at Kate and Mia. Christian smirks. He knows I hate shopping.
Yes, because you’re not like all those other girls who are shallow and who like clothes and shoes and handbags, are you Ana? Are any boys watching? Do they look impressed?
She decides that Christian needs ‘boy time’, whatever that is. Perhaps spending time in the company of other males who are not on his payroll, since as I will never get sick of reminding people – he has no friends.
…Mia hauls me into a designer boutique that’s all pink silk and faux-French distressed furniture.
‘All something something and something’ is rapidly rising up there with ‘stunning’, and ‘breathtaking’ as descriptions that make me want to threaten you with the ironing spray. You can hiss at me all you want, but the water will keep coming until you learn.
They buy clothes. At this point the author is so mind-numbingly bored that she’s listing the tracks on the Motown compliation she’s listening to. Apparently they’re going clubbing tonight. Good thing they’re not in Alaska because with people this horrible my immediate assumption would be that baby seals are involved.
Rolling my eyes, I reflect once more on how lucky I am to have Caroline Acton, my own personal shopper.
Caroline Acton. Remember Caroline Acton? You know Caroline. She appears in book…er…wait a second. Oh wait. She doesn’t actually appear in any of the books at all. So why does she need a name? It’s like Noah Logan – he appeared in the elevator and was given a full name in order for the moronic main characters to promptly forget it.
Ana spots Gia in the street, a sighting that ramps her already demented anxiety up to full on tin-foil hat levels. Perhaps its significant that she then drops eight hundred and fifty dollars on a silver dress that sounds like it looks like it was made from Bacofoil. Yes, that’s right, Ana – it will keep out the harmful Whore-Rays. Better if you wear it on your head though. Be sure to wear it on your head.
Then she buys a pair of thousand dollar shoes and mimps a bit about not being used to having money. Knock it on the fucking head, Ana – nobody’s buying this any more.
There’s a hint that Kate and Elliot may have been having problems due to not only the Whore-miasma building up in the house from the bathroom fittings but the actual hellish whore presence of Gia ‘Whore Queen of Whorelandia’ Matteo in Aspen. But then they go back to the house and have daiquiris, because nobody in these books has ever had a problem that drinking can’t solve.
Kate has fallen in love with Elliot, but you knew that was likely, right?
Ana goes to look for firewood and finds Elliot in the garage. She eyes up a motorcycle because she used to be Bella from Twilight. Then Christian comes back from fishing, wearing the serial killer coveralls she sold him when she worked at Claytons, back in those romantic days when they were strangers to one another and mere stalker and prey. Also he was fishing. Totally fishing. Not killing people up in the woods or anything.
Then they go and have a bath together because we are playing dolls now. Then Ana goes and gets dressed in her new dress that she bought and the author all but admits it
– Kate has gone all out and played Barbie with me this evening…
Then she e-mails Christian from like two rooms away, because this chapter needs even more mindless filler.
He approves of her dress and sticks his fingers up her sniz, as usual.
“This is mine,” he murmurs in my ear. Closing his eyes, he moves his finger slowly in and out of me. “I don’t want anyone else to see this.”
Dude, it’s not your vagina. I don’t care what you think your wedding vows mean. It’s not your vagina. It’s her vagina.
They go out to eat. It is boring.
Christian seems at ease. He’s been talking animatedly with Ethan…They’re talking about psychology, mainly. Ironically, Christian sounds the more knowledgeable. I snort softly as I half listen to their conversation, sadly acknowledging that his expertise is the result of his experience with so many shrinks.
Interestingly, research in the last ten or so years has led many psychiatric professionals to the conclusion that there is one condition where the ‘talking cure’ may in fact do more harm than good; psychopathy. If Christian Grey were real he’d tick more than enough boxes on the Hare Checklist to fit this diagnosis.
And then Elliot proposes to Kate and the chapter ends.
The attention of the entire restaurant is trained on Kate and Elliot, waiting with bated breath as one.
I love how she’s determined to tell me that everyone is interested in these aimless, worthless shitheads. I lost interest in whether they lived or died sometime around chapter two of book one, although there was a moment in book two when I thought he might at least have been seriously injured in a helicopter crash. That was a fun five pages.
Kate says yes and oh happy happy joy here are another couple of idiots who get engaged after three months. Everyone in the restaurant applauds like that bit in Titanic when Jack kisses Rose on the grand staircase and their love is so pure and so perfect and oh no, wait – he’s currently on his way down to the bottom of the North Atlantic, even colder and sadder than a Findus Crispy Pancake.
There’s about two more pages of pointless applause and we get to see the ring (‘Exquisite’ – that’s going on the list, E.L. No! Bad!) and Christian orders Cristal – 2002, if you have it please.
We all sip, well, I glug…
The first step is admitting you have a problem, Ana.
…Hmm, Cristal tastes so good, and I’m reminded of the first time I drank it at Christian’s club and later, our eventful elevator journey to the first floor.
Did you like that sentence? Good. Because you’re about to have it again.
Christian frowns at me. “What are you thinking about?”
“The first time I drank this champagne.”
His frown becomes more quizzical.
“We were at your club,” I prompt.
He grins. “Oh yes. I remember.” He winks at me.
See? Wasn’t that good? Even better than the first time.
“Oh, make it a Christmas wedding. That would be so romantic, and you’d have no trouble remembering your anniversary.” Mia claps her hands.
I hate Mia, by the way. Every time she appears she’s clapping her hands like she’s trying to believe in fucking fairies and gabbing inanely about parties and clothes. I hated her when she was Alice Cullen and I hate her now that she’s Mia Grey.
Zax is the most exclusive nightclub in Aspen – or so says Mia…I glance at my watch – eleven thirty in the evening, and I’m feeling fuzzy. The two glasses of champagne and several glasses of Pouilly-Fume during our meal are starting to have an effect…
If you tried to match Ana drink for drink while reading these books, you’d probably end up in a coma. Just saying.
They go into a nightclub. It’s very boring.
The floor and walls vibrate with the music pulsing from the dance floor behind the bar, and lights are whirling and flashing on and off. In my heady state, I idly think it’s an epileptic’s nightmare.
Oh Ana, you card. Taking a serious neurological condition and using it for a cheap laugh. Of course, most epileptics have a distinct advantage over Ana here – their brains may throw a few short circuits now and again, but at least they fucking work.
There is a blonde girl in satin hot pants and Ana is already spitting at her for being blonde, pretty and within five feet of her worthless dickbag of a husband. Because whores. Probably.
“Show me your ring.” I raise my voice over the music.
Well. That took a turn for the outré.
The ring is exquisite [No! Bad!], a single solitaire in a fine elaborate claw with tiny diamonds on either side. It has a retro Victorian look to it.
Oh. That ring. Boo, you whore.
Also when you’re talking about jewellery a solitaire means ‘single’. Do you know anything or were you made in some kind of vat?
Then there are two pages devoted solely to the ordering of drinks. Ana ‘I’ve never been drunk before’ orders more champagne. Hic.
“Bottle of Cristal, three Peronis, and a bottle of iced mineral water, six glasses,” he says in his usual, authoritative, no-nonsense manner.
It’s kinda hot.
It’s kinda rude. Do you think we could get a please in there, Mister? I wonder how many waiters have dipped their dicks in drinks they then served to Christian Grey? It’s happy little thoughts like this that get me through these recaps.
Miss Hot Pants Number Two gives him a gracious smile, but he’s spared the fluttering of eyelashes, though her cheeks redden a little.
I shake my head in resignation. He’s mine, girlfriend.
And you, girlfriend, are more than fucking welcome to him. Incidentally don’t you just love how the wait-staff – who actually appear in this book – are referred to as Miss Hot Pants Numbers One and Two, while Caroline ‘Not Appearing In This Series’ Acton gets a whole name?
“Mrs. Grey, are you jealous?”
“Not in the slightest.” I pout at him. And I realize in that moment that I am beginning to tolerate women ogling my husband. Almost. Christian clasps my hand and kisses my knuckles.
“You have nothing to be jealous of, Mrs. Grey,” he murmurs…
Huh. For once I agree with Christian Grey – at least with regard to the husband thing. Some diamonds and a helicopter might be nice though.
He makes her drink some water because she’s had, “Three glasses of white wine at dinner and two of champagne, after a strawberry daiquiri and two glasses of Frascati at lunchtime.”
You know it’s true love when you’ve gone from near teetotal to functional alcoholism in the space of less than months.
Ethan and Mia are back.
“Ethan’s had enough, for now. Come on, girls. Let’s hit the floor. Strike a pose, throw some shapes, work off the calories from the chocolate mousse.”
Fuck off Mia.
Ana gets up and insists she’s not drunk, it’s just that her heels are very high. Then they get on the dance floor and ‘throw some shapes’ (An expression I haven’t heard in the wild since about 1997) and Ana thinks about dancing in the way that only Ana can.
Why did I spend the first twenty years of my life not doing this? I chose reading over dancing. Jane Austen didn’t have great music to move to…
Yep, Austenistas – that just happened. Ana somehow missed the part where Jane Austen was not only keen on music and dancing but also the way her entire body of work includes a large number of…well…dances. Pride and Prejudice opens with an invitation to a dance and Northanger Abbey features Catherine and Isabella navigating the various ‘crushes’ of fashionable Bath. Most Austen heroines spend a good amount of time thinking about their dance cards and the men who fill them. In fact, when you ask most people what springs to mind when you say ‘Jane Austen’ they say Empire line dresses, Colin Firth in a wet shirt and lots and lots of dancing.
I don’t know what Ana was reading, but it sure as fuck wasn’t anything by Jane Austen. And it definitely wasn’t Tess of the D’Urbervilles either.
Then some guy grabs Ana on the dance floor and she slaps him across the face. Then Christian gets up on the dance floor and punches him. Because that’s what men do when they love you.
He’s glaring at my assailant with a malevolence I’ve not seen before flaring in his eyes. Well, maybe once before after Jack Hyde made a pass at me.
Jack did not ‘make a pass at you’, Ana. He attempted to rape and blackmail you. And Christian was not angry with Jack – he was angry at you for ‘putting yourself in danger’, just like he was when José tried to force himself on you in the parking lot. Because he’s a victim-blaming piece of shit.
I put my arms around Christian’s neck until he finally makes eye contact, his eyes still blazing – primal and feral. A glimpse of a brawling adolescent. Holy shit.
Hey Ana, why don’t you paste that in your creepy mental scrapbook next to your portrait of starving little Victorian orphan Christian? You can think about it the next time he’s fucking you.
My hand is throbbing. I have never slapped anyone before. What possessed me?
A stranger touched your butt. He should expect to get slapped, at the very least.
Yet deep down I know why I hit him.
Because he grabbed your ass without permission?
It’s because I instinctively knew how Christian would react to seeing some stranger pawing me. I knew he’d lose his precious self-control.
Oh yeah. Because that’s healthy. ‘My husband treats me like property. He’s so dreamy.’
And the thought that some stupid nobody could derail my husband, my love, well, it makes me mad. Really mad.
I’d be more concerned that my husband has a hair-trigger temper and is capable of beating people to a bloody pulp whenever someone else touches things or people he considers to be ‘his’, but then I wouldn’t marry a man like Christian Grey. The only legal agreements I would enter into with men like Christian Grey would be restraining orders. Because he’s a fucking psycho.
Then they dance all sexy because that is Ana’s job now – to talk him down when he’s angry. Oh, this book makes me uncomfortable. Let’s all make cocoa with marshmallows and talk about nice things, shall we?
“What if there had been press here?” I ask…
… “I have expensive lawyers,” he says coolly, all at once arrogance personified.
I frown at him. “But you’re not above the law, Christian. I did have the situation under control.”
His eyes frost. “No one touches what’s mine,” he says with chilling finality, as if I’m missing the obvious.
Did I tell you about the time my niece used her school craft project to knit a tiny pink sweater and matching hat for her pet guinea pig? I didn’t? Oh well – it was adorable.
Dear God, isn’t this awful thing over yet? And apparently I’m only 53% done with the entire book. How can this be?
I’m still processing how I feel about Christian’s behaviour. At the time I was worried that it could have been worse.
Yeah – you see? That right there is a problem. You married an angry, grabby toddler. Unfortunately he’s over six foot tall and mysteriously quite muscular. (I say mysteriously because we never see him bench-press any more than we see him at work.)
Then we go home and Christian takes off her make-up and shoes for her because she is totally and utterly drunk.
“You were so mad,” I murmur.
“Yes. I was.”
“No. Not at you.” He kisses my shoulder. “For once.”
I smile. Not mad at me. This is progress.
This is not a thing anyone in a happy relationship should ever be thinking about their spouse.
Then it’s time for the chapter to end and little Miss Sozzled to fall asleep.
And then Christian putting me to bed. Who would have thought? I grin widely, the word ‘progress’ running around my brain as I drift.
Progress = he only punched him once and still thinks I’m property, but at least he’s not angry with me this time! Yay!
It’s not just me, is it? These books are depressing as hell.