In case you didn’t notice, I have a new book to plug, so consider Fifty Shades Later well and truly plugged. It’s a chunky little number, half novel, half sweary literary criticism, and uses the words ‘sasquatch’ and ‘gangbang’ quite often and almost always in the same sentence. Stuff that in your search engines, you weirdos.
Anyway – on to the crap.
Chapter twenty, surprisingly enough, starts with Christian taking Ana into the boathouse, and no – that’s still not a euphemism for anal. (There is no anal in Fifty Shades of Grey) Once inside, she describes her surroundings right down to the colour scheme and then says ‘I don’t have time to describe my surroundings’. I’m so tired. You have no idea.
Grey eyes blaze with anger, need, and pure, unadulterated lust.
Holy shit. I could spontaneously combust from his look alone.
“Please don’t hit me,” I whisper, pleading.
It’s tender little moments like this that make this book so very, very special. And by ‘special’ I mean ‘What the actual fuck is wrong with you, James?’
Yadda yadda – kissy, gropy, fondle, gasp, various holy cows, craps and shits etc. He’s all steamed up because she said no to him by closing her legs at the dinner table. Because some women are weird and repressed like that, what with not wanting you to stick your fingers up their nethers when dining with your parents. Then Christian says something that solves the four-piece toddler puzzle of why he is like he is.
“No one’s ever said no to me before. And it’s so – hot.”
So – good work there, Carrick and Gresme. You’re terrible parents. It’s a good thing they never asked too many questions at the crack-baby sale where you purchased your various children.
“You’re mad and turned on because I said no?” I breathe, astonished.
“I’m mad at you because you never mentioned Georgia to me. I’m mad because you went drinking with the guy who tried to seduce you when you were drunk and who left you when you were ill with an almost complete stranger…”
…who then kidnapped you and removed your clothes while you were unconscious, before tucking you up in bed with him like a…oh no, wait. That was you, wasn’t it?
“…and I’m mad and aroused because you closed your legs on me.”
In front of your entire family, yes. Because to do otherwise would be inappropriate and kind of gross.
“This is mine,” he whispers aggressively. “All mine. Do you understand?” He eases his finger in and out as he gazes down at me, gauging my reaction.
Dear God – is this what you wanted to do at the dinner table? Cram your fingers up to the knuckles in her snatch while squawking ‘MINE MINE MINE’ like one of the seagulls from Finding Nemo?
This family is so incredibly fucked up.
He bangs her and refuses to let her come because ‘I want you frustrated. That’s what you do to me by not talking to me, by denying me what’s mine.’ And these books are feminist, by the way. What? Stop looking at me like that – it’s totally empowering to be treated like property.
Mia breaks up the happy humping party in the boathouse and then there are several pages of blither in which everyone takes their leave of each other and heads home. Christian and Ana get into the car and he says;
“Well, it seems my family likes you too,” he murmurs.
Too? The depressing thought about how I came to be invited pops unbidden and very unwelcome into my head.
She’s fun, isn’t she?
For once she voices her feelings, mostly so Christian can praise her and remind us – the readers – that we’re not actually supposed to find her unbearable.
“Anastasia, I’m delighted that you’ve met my parents. Why are you so filled with self-doubt? It never ceases to amaze me. You’re such a strong, self-contained young woman, but you have such negative thoughts about yourself…”
I wonder if that could have anything to do with the controlling psychopath who keeps chiselling away at her already pathetic levels of self-esteem?
He asks her if he can come with her to Georgia and she says she doesn’t think that’s a good idea.
“I was hoping for a break from all this…intensity to try and think things through.”
He stares at me.
“I’m too intense?”
Actually you’re a fucking psycho, but yeah. Whatever. Let’s go with intense, even if it is the kind of word used by morons to ascribe imaginary depth and meaning to relationships that are absolutely, categorically doomed…and hey, actually that works better than I could have expected.
She says she needs space to think and he’s not having any of it.
“What do you need to think about in Georgia?”
“Us,” I whisper.
He stares at me, impassive.
“You said you’d try,” he murmurs.
Yep. And so did you. Remember? Remember how you promised to be Mr. Normal Boyfriend ever now and again in exchange for her sacrificing her principles to please you and accept the gift of a car? And taking her to meet your parents doesn’t count as being Mr. Normal Boyfriend. Yes, you tried, but I’m afraid you failed. Normal boyfriends do not attempt vaginal fisting at the family dinner table.
She hints that she might be having second thoughts and he immediately puts pressure on her.
How did this suddenly become such an intense and meaningful conversation?
Ah, there’s that word again. See what I mean?
What do I say? Because I think I love you, and you just see me as a toy. Because I can’t touch you, because I’m frightened to show you any affection in case you flinch or tell me off or worse – beat me? What can I say?
The words ‘See ya – thanks for the car’ spring to mind.
“Talk to me, Anastasia. I don’t want to lose you. This last week…” He trails off.
The week. At this point they have been boning for eight whole days and she’s spent most of them in tears because he hit her. There are women in the world who resent their husbands for not being more like Christian Grey. And no, I don’t know either.
…the road is once more bathed in the neon light of the street lamps so his face is intermittently in the light and the dark. And it’s such a fitting metaphor.
It’s not, Ana. A more fitting metaphor for your entire relationship would be a dung beetle attempting to do its thing with diarrhoea – messy, unpleasant and doomed to failure.
This man, who I once thought of as a romantic hero, a brave shining white knight – or the dark knight as he said. He’s not a hero; he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark. Can I not guide him into the light?
No. See above. You’ll just wind up covered in shit.
Sadly these idiots are determined to attempt to have some kind of meaningful relationship even though they want wildly different things and in spite of the fact that she’s a malleable nitwit and he’s a controlling headcase.
And that’s my cue. I unbuckle my seatbelt, reach across, and clamber into his lap, taking him completely by surprise. Wrapping my arms around his head, I kiss him long and hard, and in a nanosecond, he’s responding.
“Stay with me tonight,” he breathes. “If you go away, I won’t see you all week. Please.”
“Yes,” I acquiesce. “And I’ll try, too. I’ll sign your contract.”
At that moment the car swerved wildly to avoid a raccoon. It hit the crash barrier at around 80mph and rolled several times before smashing into a tree. Ana was killed instantly. On receiving the news of her only child’s death, her mother thought about flying to Seattle for the funeral, but instead decided to remain in Georgia and make a Facebook ‘like’ page about the burial instead.
Christian Grey lingered for two weeks after the accident. He suffered seventy five per cent burns to his face and body and when he discovered that he would be disfigured, his sad, hollow chicken heart gave out and he died, piqued to death by the loss of his precious beauty. His family were devastated for at least a week, but moved on relatively quickly since they – like their late and unlamented son – were also astoundingly shallow and unpleasant people.
Oh well – so much for cheering myself up. Who wants to read another fifty pages in which Ana and Christian have sex? Of course you do. What do you mean, you’re so bored you’re considering DIY trepanation? Come on – it’ll be fun. Maybe this time they’ll do weird stuff with chocolate pudding and a loofah. You never know.
He reaches up and grasps my chin, freeing my lip from my teeth.
“One day I will fuck you in this elevator, Anastasia, but right now we’re tired – so I think we should stick to bed.”
I think you should stop yanking on her chin every time she bites her lip. Seriously – he does. Every time. It was annoying enough to start with but it’s really starting to get to me now – every time he does it I want to reach into the book and sock him on the fucking nose.
They go into the bedroom, remove various items of clothing and then Ana decides to change things up a bit, because she’s never happy unless she’s making herself miserable in some way.
“Don’t you want to fuck?” he asks.
“No,” I breathe.
“Oh.” He frowns.
Okay, here goes…deep breath.
“I want you to make love to me.”
He doesn’t ‘make love’, Ana. He fucks. Hard. Remember? Why are we even doing this? God, I hate people who make the distinction between ‘fucking’ and ‘making love’. I feel like they should just read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and get over it – fuck is a perfectly shapely verb and it can be carried out in countless ways. You can fuck happily, fuck tenderly, fuck fiercely or fuck warmly. You can even fuck hard, if you really must.
Besides, why hasn’t Ana read Lady Chatterley or Richard Hoggart’s famous introduction to the same?
And yes, I know – stupid question. I’m expecting the world’s worst written English Major to actually have read more of the canon of Western Literature than whichever bits of Tess of the D’Urbervilles she wilfully mangles to suit her silly purposes. Just like I’m expecting her workaholic consort to actually go to work once in while.
Anyway, it’s a big no on the ‘making love’ front, and no to her touching him, because he doesn’t like to be touched in certain places. This leads to a lot of endless dither about issues and boundaries and him sulking because it looks like they’re just going to go to bed and not have sex – again. Because they’ve only done it three times today.
While we’re on the subject, Ana must be the only recent virgin who can go from zero to three-times-a day without getting a scorching UTI caused by all the unaccustomed jiggling about.
“You know this is not how I saw tonight panning out,” he mutters petulantly.
“Imagine if I said to you that you couldn’t touch me.”
He clambers onto the bed and sits cross-legged. “Anastasia, I’ve told you. Fifty shades. I had a rough start in life – you don’t want that shit in your head. Why would you?”
“Because I want to know you better.”
“You know me well enough.”
Eight days. Just saying.
This leads to them ‘negotiating’, which is basically yet another way to pad the wordcount with their endless whining. He comes back with a pair of ben-wa balls and says he wants to put them inside her.
Inside me! I gasp, and all the muscles deep in my belly clench. My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.
“Then we’ll fuck, and if you’re still awake, I’ll impart some information about my formative years. Agreed?”
He’s asking my permission!
If you consider it a victory that your boyfriend asks permission before inserting things into you, you may just be dating a rapist.
He makes her suck on the ben-wa balls to lubricate them and she thinks;
Fuck, this is sexier than the toothbrush.
Yep, that was an actual line in an ‘erotic’ novel.
Then he spanks her and they have sex for another five million pages, then she demands to know something about his past.
He sighs, slides in beside me, and pulls me into his arms. Careful not to touch my stinging behind, we are spooning again. He kisses me very softly beside my ear.
“The woman who bought me into this world was a crack whore, Anastasia. Go to sleep.”
Oh yeah – that works, doesn’t it? That’s a nice thought to go night-night to. The only other information she manages to wring out of him is that his mother died when he was four and that he doesn’t really remember her, but to Ana it’s another layer to add to the Oedipal lasagne of her feelings for him. Mmm, ricotta and mommy issues.
And I slip into a dazed and exhausted sleep, dreaming of a four-year-old, grey-eyed boy in a dark, scary, miserable place.
Don’t you just love the way she always dreams specifically about what’s happening in the book? She never goes to sleep and has random dreams about sea-lions with coke problems, or anxiety dreams about her teeth falling out. It’s always relevant to the ‘plot’ or whatever anvilicious metaphor is about to come clanging down on our heads in the next handful of chapters.
Anyway, that’s the end of chapter twenty. Bet you can’t guess how chapter twenty-one begins.