Last time on Fifty Shades of Grey, after seven stultifying chapters of teabags, cable ties, amateur neurosurgery and some of the worst commentary on Tess of the D’Urbervilles since Marie Corelli kicked it, Ana and Christian finally had sex.
It was actually rather dull.
Chapter Nine opens with Ana waking up, much like every other chapter of the book.
It’s a beautiful May morning, Seattle at my feet. Wow, what a view. Beside me, Christian Grey is fast asleep. Wow, what a view.
This is just the kind of pointed wit that makes me want to get in touch with my inner evil overlord, just so that I could drop people into unexpected scorpion pits whenever they attempted to crack wise. Failure like this should not go unrewarded.
Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that Christian Grey is still extremely good looking.
It’s tempting to reach out and touch him, but like a small child, he’s so lovely when he’s asleep. I don’t have to worry about what I’m saying, what he’s saying, what plans he has, especially his plans for me.
So. This relationship is off to a flying start, isn’t it? I love you so much – except when you’re talking. And doing stuff. And looking at me and forming judgements about me. Or thinking. She may as well have fallen head over heels in love with a fucking baked potato.
Ana searches for the bathroom but ends up in the closet (not touching that one with a barge pole) and tuts ‘with disapproval’ at the size of Christian’s wardrobe. Then she thinks about Kate and remembers she was supposed to text her. But she doesn’t actually text Kate because her imaginary friends have woken up.
[My subconscious] has woken. She’s staring at me with pursed lips, tapping her foot. So you’ve just slept with him, given him your virginity, a man who doesn’t love you. In fact, he has some very odd ideas about you, wants to make you some sort of kinky sex slave.
ARE YOU CRAZY? She’s shouting at me.
Ana, given that imaginary people in your head are shouting at you, I’m going to say yes – yes you are probably crazy. Or at least extremely weird.
After that Ana wanders into the kitchen, remembers to text Kate, leaves her a message and is once more overwhelmed by the contents of her peculiar little noggin.
Oh this is so confusing. I have to try and categorise and analyse my feelings for Christian Grey. It’s an impossible task. I shake my head in defeat. I need alone time, away from here to think.
Ana then ties her hair in pigtails, thinking ‘the more girly I look perhaps the after I’ll be from Bluebeard’. What. Then she puts on her iPod and starts dancing, because ‘there’s nothing like music to cook by.’ Clearly this is a great idea – a woman who can’t seem to walk twenty feet without falling over, dancing around in the presence of very sharp knives, gas jets and hot ovens. It’s a good thing Ana shucked off that minor character trait when the author forgot she was supposed to be clumsy.
She’s also supposed to shy and diffident, which is why she uses other people’s toothbrushes and goes through their kitchen cupboards while they’re asleep. Am I being unnecessarily English about this or is this just rude? She hardly knows him.
Perhaps I should cook Christian breakfast. He was eating an omelet the other day…um, yesterday at the Heathman. Jeez, so much has happened since then.
It has, hasn’t it? It’s almost like the author knows as much about realistic pacing as she does about character consistency.
Being busy is good. It allows a bit of time to think but not too deeply. Music blaring in my ears also helps to stave off deep thought.
About three pages back she was saying she needed to think. Dear God, this isn’t writing – this is just brain-vomit. This is first draft stuff.
Ana’s stupid subconscious pops up the moment she starts thinking about sex, keen to point out the difference between ‘fucking’ and ‘making love’. I don’t like Ana’s subconscious, or anyone who is twee enough to make that distinction. Fucking was good enough for D.H. Lawrence, and he wrote a much better controversial novel than this tepid puddle of brainsick.
Amy Studt is singing in my ear about misfits. This song used to mean so much to me; that’s because I’m a misfit.
No, Ana. You’re an idiot – there’s a difference.
Anyway, Christian Grey is awake and in the room.
“Good morning, Miss Steele. You’re very energetic this morning,” he says dryly.
Yeah. No. Go away again. Please. You talk like an absolute cock.
I hate his ‘voice’ so much. You have no idea. I hated it back when it was Edward Cullen’s voice and I hate it now. He’s pompous, condescending and rude, but when they’re engaged in what the author later unironically refers to as ‘banter’ I want to reach into my skull and claw out the language centres of my brain.
“I slept well,” I stutter my explanation. His lips try to mask his smile. [How? What?]
“I can’t imagine why.” He pauses and frowns. “So did I after I came back to bed.”
“Are you hungry?”
“Very,” he says with an intense look, and I don’t think he’s referring to food.
Did you like that ‘joke’? You’d better. Because you’re going to be hearing it again. A lot.
He gently pulls my pigtail.
“I love these,” he whispers. “They won’t protect you.” Hmm Bluebeard…
What am I even reading here? How does he know she thought that? Is this because he used to be telepathic?
“How would you like your eggs?” I ask tartly.
“Thoroughly whisked and beaten,” he smirks.
See what I mean? This dialogue makes me want to kill myself. Nobody ‘says’ anything – they’re constantly smirking and murmuring and muttering and tossing lame innuendos back and forth while smiling about how clever and sexy they are.
And they’re not clever. Or sexy. They’re two of the most stupid, unpleasant characters I have ever encountered in fiction. If they were real they’d be the kind of people who are so awful that you end up exhausting even the simple joy of talking shit about them, because it’s far nicer just to forget that they exist.
They prepare breakfast – in protracted and mind-numbing detail – and then he calls her Miss Steele and she calls him Mr. Grey and it’s all so ha ha so fucking witty. He suggests they continue her ‘basic training’ and she immediately loses her appetite so that he can nag her about eating again.
I try a forkful of omelet but can barely taste it. Basic training! I want to fuck your mouth. Does that form part of basic training?
It’s fun inside Ana’s head, isn’t it? You’ve got the imaginary friends and the obese, three-legged hamster that is presumably working the wheel that operates her creaking mental machinery, and then you’ve got random violent sexual imagery added to the mix.
She asks what kind of ‘basic training’ he has in mind and he says that since she’s sore they ‘could stick to oral skills’. How about you don’t make her sore in the first place, asshole? I still can’t believe women are supposed to be thrilled by a manchild who knows his lover is a virgin and who still sticks it to her as hard as possible just to make some kind of stupid point about how he ‘doesn’t make love’ but ‘fucks hard.’
He wants her to stay another night but she says she has to go to work tomorrow. She says she needs clean clothes and he says he’ll buy her some more. She says no and he grabs her chin to stop her biting her lip.
“What is it?” he asks.
“I need to be home this evening.”
His mouth is a hard line.”
“Okay, this evening,” he acquiesces. “Now eat your breakfast.”
My thoughts and my stomach are in turmoil. My appetite has vanished. I stare at my half-eaten breakfast. I’m just not hungry.
Hey Ana – it’s almost like he makes you tense and uncomfortable when he makes demands on you. Funny how your appetite disappears the moment he starts sulking, isn’t it?
God, I hate him. Why on earth am I supposed to find him attractive? He’s a giant baby.
Then Kate calls and is apparently fascinated by Ana’s sex life. Ana says that Kate wanting to talk about sex is going ‘to be a difficult square to circle’ because she’s signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Two minutes on the internet could tell Ana that the non-disclosure agreement she signed (without reading) is not legally binding, but this is Ana – the kind of person who signs things without reading them. Maybe she thought it was a software agreement?
She asks Christian if she can talk to Kate about sex and he says no, allegedly because Kate is sleeping with his brother but we all know it’s really because he doesn’t want Ana to know that there are men out there who are bigger than a baby carrot and last more than five minutes.
“Come, let’s have a bath.” He leans down and kisses me. My heart leaps and desire pools way down low…way down there.
My notes at this point just say ‘cunt’. Again, it was good enough for D.H. Lawrence.
They get into a bath together and Ana is verklempt because they’re naked and stuff. He tells her to stop biting her lip – again – and says that her chewing on it makes him want to fuck her and he can’t because she’s sore. Such a shitlord.
I am naked, in a bath with Christian Grey. He’s naked. If someone had told me I’d be doing this when I woke up in his hotel suite yesterday, I would not have believed them.
If someone told me that it was only a day since she woke up in Creepo’s hotel bed, I wouldn’t have believed them either. The pacing in this series is terrible; there’s a weekend in the second book that seems to last for a short Ice Age. It doesn’t help that there are whole pages devoted to the acts of removing one’s socks or dipping a teabag in water, but when you add up the pages devoted to long circular arguments or pages of the infamous sex contract, you begin to get some idea of why these books are such bloated horrors.
Anyway. He masturbates her for a little while, which is maybe something he might have considered doing last night instead of cramming it up her like Genghis Khan, and it’s almost sexy. Almost.
“Feel it, baby” Christian whispers in my ear and very gently grazes my earlobe with his teeth. “Feel it for me.”
Oh well. There goes the sexy. His sex voice is even worse than his ‘banter’ voice.
Then he stops, because he’s an asshole, and then tells her to turn around and shoves his dick in her face. Wow, this guy’s a winner, isn’t he? Such a gentle, sensitive and considerate lover.
“I want you to become well acquainted, on first name terms if you will, with my favourite and most cherished part of my body. I’m very attached to this.”
It’s so big and growing. His erection is above the water line, the water lapping at his hips. I glance up at him and come face to face with his wicked grin. He’s enjoying my astounded expression.
“Oooh. Looks like a penis. Only smaller.”
I know, I know. It’s an old joke, but it’s aged well.
She starts sucking him off and surprise surprise – she’s the cocksucking Queen of Seattle!
Ha! My inner goddess is thrilled. I can do this. I can fuck him with my mouth. I twirl my tongue around the tip again, and he flexes his hips. His eyes are open now, blistering with heat…wrapping my teeth behind my lips, I clamp my mouth around him. His breath hisses between his teeth, and he groans.
“Jesus. How far can you go?” he whispers.
All the way, apparently. Despite spending the last half of chapter four extensively pebbledashing a parking lot with margarita sick, by chapter nine Ana’s gag reflex has gone the way of her shyness and her clumsiness – into the bin of Things The Author Couldn’t Be Arsed To Remember.
My tongue swirls around the end. He’s my very own Christian Grey flavour popsicle. I suck harder and harder, pushing him deeper and deeper, swirling my tongue round and round. Hmm…I had no idea giving pleasure could be such a turn-on, watching him writhe subtly with carnal longing. My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.
I’m quoting that whole, infamous paragraph just to show you that it’s real. Yes, it exists. And yes, it really is that awful.
“Don’t you have a gag reflex?” he asks, astonished. “Christ, Ana…that was…good, really good, unexpected though.”
You know what would be unexpected at this point? A sentence that doesn’t contain a fucking comma splice.
“Have you done that before?”
Yes. She never said her mouth was a virgin, bro. (Kidding. She hasn’t. But she is gifted with the magical Mary Sue powers of perfect blowjobbery.)
He takes her to the bedroom saying he ‘owes her an orgasm’ and then asks her to trust him.
I nod, wide-eyed with the sudden realisation that I do trust him. What’s he going to do to me now? An electric thrill hums through me.
Right, that does it. The next person to mention electricity gets to take a bath with the toaster.
“Good girl,” he breathes, his thumb brushing my bottom lip. He steps away into his closet and comes back with silver-grey silk woven tie.
I usually default to British spelling when I’m quoting, but in this case it’s verbatim – nobody’s thought to change ‘silver-grey’ to ‘silver-gray’, which makes me wonder if the only line edit this thing had was a quick and dirty spellcheck courtesy of Microsoft Word. I know this because when I write books set in America I try to follow American spelling rules; for some reason when you hyphenate a British spelling the spellchecker doesn’t pick it up, even when you’ve changed the language setting on the document.
It says something about the steaminess of these sex scenes that I’m wandering off to talk about minor glitches Microsoft Word, doesn’t it?
So, yeah. He ties her up with the tie on the book cover, then he kisses various bits of her in slow, agonising detail. While this is the kind of thing that usually works well in erotic fiction, it doesn’t work here, mainly because we’ve just had about six pages of blowjob.
He glides his tongue up my instep – and I can no longer watch him. It’s too erotic. I’m going to combust. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to absorb and manage all the sensations he’s creating. He kisses my ankle and trails kisses up my calf to my knee, stopping just above. He then starts on my right foot, repeating the whole, seductive, mind-blowing process.
See what I mean? It’s the same problem as before. It’s just ‘he put that there and then he did that and then he did it again and it was sexy’ – the same discrepancy between what we’re being told and what we’re being shown. I mean, foot fetishists might be rubbing one out to the paragraph above, but to be honest it’s just clunky and dull.
…I know what he’s going to do, and part of me wants to push him off because I’m mortified and embarrassed. He’s going to kiss me there!
This is actually a momentous occasion; Christian Grey is finally going to eat pussy. Enjoy.
…he’s between my legs, running his nose and down my sex, very softly, very gently. I writhe…oh my.
He stops, waiting for me to calm. I do and raise my head to gaze at him, my mouth open as my pounding heart struggles to come out.
What? I don’t think it’s supposed to do that, Ana.
“Do you know intoxicating you smell, Miss Steele?” he murmurs…
So much for that. Hey – you down there. Less talking like a cunt and more talking to the cunt, capisce?
Every time there’s a part where you can almost, sort of – if you drank maybe half a bottle of vodka then squinted and turned your head sideways – see something that you could concievably wank to, he starts fucking talking and ruins it. He’s slimy. Everything he says is gross.
“I like this.” He gently tugs at my pubic hair. “Perhaps we’ll keep this.”
See what I mean? Eugh.
He swirls his tongue round and round, again and again, keeping up the torture. I’m losing all sense of self, every atom of my being concentrating hard on that small, potent powerhouse at the apex of my thighs.
Right, well. I’ve used the word ‘cunt’ three times in this chapter already. Still – you have to admit that bad crotch euphemisms are part of the joy of bad romance novels.
“Oh, baby. I love that you’re so wet for me.”
She comes, and somewhere in the middle of her howling, world-shattering climax (Ana never comes with a shudder and a sigh – not now, not ever) she ‘vaguely’ hears the rip of foil, only to find him inside her a moment later.
“How’s this?” he breathes.
Unexpected. Some might say non-consensual. What the actual fuck?
I’m not kidding, by the way. He doesn’t ask her if it’s okay until he’s actually inside her. Presumably her agreeing to trust him at the start meant – at least in his mind – that he could do anything he liked. Actually consent should be more of an ongoing process than this. No wonder he doesn’t want her to talk to anyone else about sex.
That was unpleasant. And if it wasn’t bad enough, he clearly thinks that giving her oral is some kind of preamble to him fucking her again. Not an actual sex act in itself. Of course, Ana has another voice-activated orgasm as soon as he does.
“See how good we are together,” he murmurs. “If you give yourself to me, it will be so much better. Trust me, Anastasia, I can take you places you don’t even know exist.”
Like a women’s refuge? It’s a good thing the blurb copy says this books are ‘liberating’, otherwise I’d be really fucking disturbed by what just happened.
The chapter ends with Christian Grey’s mother arriving at the apartment and they hear her talking to Taylor (the bodyguard) in the hall. Just as well – I could use a break.
Happy Holidays and thank you for reading!
“Offensive…not cool, Ms. Roberts. Not cool.”