What’s the Big Deal?: Fifty Shades of Grey Live-Blogging Edition, Chapters 2-4
Last time on Fifty Shades of Grey, our heroine interviewed our hero in an office building. Nothing says sex and depravity like business suits and note-taking! What further naughty hijinks will ensue? To find out, join me now for chapters 2, 3, and 4, or as I like to call them, “Seriously?”, “No, SERIOUSLY?” and “Oh my God. Seriously!” I call them that because I’m making notes on my Nook as I read, and half of these notes say, “Uh…seriously?”
My notes are not very varied, but I nonetheless find the notion of making notes attractive….very attractive.
Our usual publication in-fo-may-shun:
Fifty Shades of Grey
by E. L. James
The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, $9.99 Nook book, ISBN-10 1612130291
Yay, we’re back!
Chapter 2 begins with
Bella Ana falling out of the elevator on the ground floor (girl needs some vertigo meds or better shoes or something) and hastening to Kate’s Mercedes to flee from the “very attractive” (again) man who has affected her the way no man ever has. She makes her flustered way home, internally cursing Kate.
Before she left in chapter 1, Ana received a stern command from Christian to drive safely. Yes, Mom. On her way home, she realizes she’s driving more conservatively than usual without consciously choosing to do so, and she knows it’s because she’s following his order.
Hey, it’s Mr. Red Flag. Is it me, or is Christian’s ability to exert Dracula-quality mind control over Ana after one semi-hostile meeting a bit eepy-cray?
Ana proceeds to drive as fast as she damn well pleases. In a Mercedes someone else owns.
Back at the ranch, Kate expresses concern over how long Ana was gone and thanks her for taking over, then asks politely how things went, which Ana calls “the Katerine Kavanaugh Inquisition.”
Ana gripes at Kate and huffs. Really. It says, “I huff.” I hope she means glue fumes, because no one over the age of 16 should literally huff for any reason other than physical exertion. Unless you’re a horse, of course, of course. That’s natural. So, high on glue fumes, Ana gripes at Kate about how old-fashioned
Edward Christian is, and Kate apologizes.
Ana goes to work. Like many literature majors, she works at a local hardware store despite being “crap at any DIY.” (Is Ana good at anything besides speeding, falling, and whining?) In a pointless scene, Ana works a shift. Plot advanced!
She goes mopingly home, where Kate points out that Christian tried to keep Ana around longer by offering her a tour. Ana puts this down to Christian’s need to show her how important he is, not a desire to impress her. News flash: That IS how men try to impress us. “Everyone does what I say! I have a nice suit! Mate with me!” It’s not complicated.
Kate praises Ana to pieces for the interview because Kate is a good and supportive friend who should be the star of this book, and Ana sulks and refuses to have an honest discussion of her impressions and gripes at Kate again because Ana sucks.
Side note: Kate says Christian is “quite taken” with Ana. These kids are supposed to be in Washington, state! Why do they sound so British? This might as well be set in Hogwarts. Please do not send me links to BDSM Harry Potter fanfic just because I said that. Thank you.
Ana studies, reads, gripes about her mom, and moons over Christian. Kate gets over her cold so Ana doesn’t have to “endure the sight of her pink-flannel-with-too-many-rabbits PJs.” All that is cuddly and adorable causes Ana pain. We’re introduced to
Jacob Black José, Ana and Kate’s hot Latino male photographer friend who has a crush on Ana. Of course, this crush is unrequited, because who in God’s name would want to jump on a friendly/studly/artistic young Latin hunk? Perish the thought! (Can someone pass me a tissue? I have a drool situation happening.)
Ana has never met anyone she finds attractive, and she wonders if there’s something wrong with her. (Oh, where to start.) Perhaps she has spent too much time reading about classic literary heroes, and ordinary men don’t measure up.
Can we talk about classic literary heroes for a sec? They’re assholes. Let’s go down the line: Mr. Darcy–Asshole. Mr. Rochester–Asshole. Heathcliff–the progenitor of all assholes. Show me a hero from British Regency/Victorian literature, and I will put an “asshole” stamp on his forehead. So yes, if Ana is looking for a fabulously wealthy, extravagantly handsome, unbelievably rude marriage prospect, they are indeed few and far between, and that certainly explains her single status.
On the other hand.
While she gripes about Kate every five seconds, she also has no shortage of praise for Kate’s talent and beauty. She even called her “gamine,” an impressive descriptor in this book. Kate keeps a roof over Ana’s head, Ana makes the food, Kate does her best, Ana snaps constantly…. They are so married. Ana is a shrewish wife, but maybe that’s from all the sexual tension. I think maybe the red flag could be replaced with another banner…
No? This book isn’t about lesbian awakenings?
Hmph. Fine. But I’m calling it right now: There will be 50SoG fanfic with an Ana/Kate slant, and it will be much more romantic and healthy than this storyline, as Kate is much nicer to Ana than Christian, even though Ana doesn’t deserve her.
Ana goes back to work. Christian randomly shows up, 168 miles from Seattle in a hardware store where Ana happens to work, with his voice “warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel…or something.” Wait, is this book about to include recipes? Ana blushes, stammers, and generally freaks out. I would freak out, too, because this is a…
Red flag: STALKER ALERT.
But no, it’s clearly a coincidence, because Christian is too attractive to have anything to do with Ana. Never mind that hot José wants her to strip down so he can take boudoir photos of her before they go for it with the DSLR’s video setting on (not in the book; I’m ad-libbing).
Christian buys cable ties, masking tape, and rope (natural filament). At this point, I’d make a whips ‘n’ chains joke. Ana, on the other hand, thinks he’s remodeling, as though someone who brags about managing 40,000 people is into DIY home decor. She tries to sell him coveralls. When he says he could just take his clothes off, she blushes and tries to banish an “unwelcome” mental picture of his naked body.
No, no, Ana. Let’s do an exercise. Imagine Kevin Smith (of Jay and Silent Bob, not of Xena: Warrior Princess) without pants. Yikes! Banish image! Banish image! Now, imagine Christian without pants. Look, he’s “very attractive!” That wasn’t so scary, was it?
Ana takes this opportunity to tell him she likes books, “The usual. The classics.” The usual? The usual for insecure young lit majors who think reading canonized works by dead folk will prove how deep and tasteful they are, maybe, but I don’t think most of us are usually immersed in Thomas Hardy. Actually, I think most of us are currently immersed in Game of Thrones or, well, 50SoG. Anyway, the point is, she’s blown a great chance to say, “Oh, I love Anais Nin, D. H. Lawrence… Did you know nerdy can be dirty?”
More inane conversation ensues, and Christian offers to do a photo shoot for the interview article as a thinly-disguised excuse to give Ana his phone number. But she has to call before ten, which is when
vampires go to bed he will be too busy to set it up.
Mike Newton Paul, the store owner’s handsome, amiable brother shows up. Ana thinks he’s too familiar for putting an arm around her shoulders, but she doesn’t have the spine to tell him to be professional, so she just whines about it to the reader. Christian gets all jerk-like with “hooded” eyes. What are hooded eyes? This phrase pops up in romance novels, like, 85% of the time. Total mystery. Please enlighten me in the comments if you have any clue.
Paul walks off, clueless that he’s just participated in an alpha male standoff, Grey pays the bill and leaves, and Ana finally admits to herself that she likes him and “cannot hide from her feelings anymore.” A week is such a long time to hide from your feelings for a man you’ve met twice. I get that.
Ana calls Kate, who tries to explain that when men show up two hours from home at your workplace, it means they like you. Duh. Ana calls José about the photo shoot. Paul comes in and asks Ana out. He always asks, but “he’s no literary hero” (true, he seems nice), so she always takes a rain check, and he vows to ask again. This is called “leading a man on.”
Ana calls Christian and schedules the photo shoot. Then she dreams about “dark, dark unexplored places.” I myself dream of Antarctica frequently, so I completely understand what she means.
They have the photo shoot. Kate is commanding, self-possessed, professional, and basically as awesome as Ana isn’t. Christian gets all alpha-male at José. Pictures are taken.
Christian asks Ana for coffee, making her internally whine that she doesn’t like coffee. She says yes anyway, despite Kate’s warning that Christian seems dangerous. See how much smarter Kate is?! See?!
Ana goes anyway. Christian holds her hand, which no one has ever done. Not “no man,” but “no one.” This poor girl has never known any sort of physical affection. No wonder she can’t handle social interaction! She’s like one of those monkeys in that experiment where they got Coke cans instead of parents and grew up stunted.
Ana orders tea and Christian acts like she’s weird. They drink their hot beverages and Ana mentions that Christian is “slim.” Yes! Another adjective. Okay, now we know he is tall, slim, and very attractive. Definitely a must-boink, am I right? He asks suspicious questions about her relationship with José, since he believes that smiling at each other means that two people are a couple. Man, I have been asking out a lot of customers at work, then, because I smile at people all the time! Then he asks about Paul. Is José your boyfriend? Is Paul your boyfriend? Is Barack Obama your boyfriend? Is that barstool your boyfriend? Lay off! Then he tells Ana that she ought to find him intimidating. Ahem.
Christian tells Ana she is mysterious, since he cannot tell the difference between mystery and dullness. They swap family histories, telling each other things the reader already knows, and Christian tells her some of his crazily uptight habits like only letting his family call him by his first name. He alludes to the sexual orientation question from the interview, which Ana has mentioned approximately ten million times in the last 20 pages, and she is once again mortified and in need of intensive therapy. Really? Asking someone if he’s gay is pretty intrusive, and reading a question to someone without first reading it to yourself is inadvisable, but therapy?
Their coffee concludes with his “I’ve-got-a-whopping-big-secret smile.” His I’ve-got-a-whopping-big-flogger smile, more like. Ana feels like she’s had a job interview instead of a date, always a bad sign. She asks if he has a girlfriend, and he says he doesn’t “do the girlfriend thing.”
Player alert! Of course, Ana has no idea what he means. Maybe he is gay!
On their way out, a
van cyclist going the wrong way almost runs over Bella Ana, but Edward Christian saves her! He’s so heroic! She’s intoxicated by his scent, also known as fabric softener and soap! It’s epic! She wants him to kiss her but he doesn’t and she’s royally pissed off!
He warns her to stay away from him again.
Look how close the flags are getting!
Ana gets embarrassed. They have a weird conversation about how dangerous the cyclist was, and how thankful she is that Christian saved her. I’m sure it would have hurt, but CYCLIST. Edward saves Bella from getting hit by a van in Twilight, and it’s actually a fairly awesome moment because a) she could have died and b) he risks revealing to the world that he’s a vampire by instantly crossing the parking lot with his super speed and shielding her with his invincible body, but he doesn’t care because he just wants to save Bella. However, saving someone from getting hit by a cyclist by pulling them back a step is NOT an epic, heroic action. It’s not like he flew around the world backwards to reverse time and save her from a landslide. Let’s get some perspective.
Ana goes home and cries because no one’s ever rejected her before. Kate asks her what’s wrong. Again, the “Katherine Kavanaugh Inquistion.” She does the “what did that jerk do to you” BFF thing, but Ana deflects the conversation because she can’t even have an honest discussion of her feelings with her best friend. She talks about the near-miss cyclist instead, and Kate also acts like her life was in mortal danger. Are bicycles faster in Washington? Are they armed? Is “cyclist” a code word for “rampaging triceratops?” I don’t get it.
They talk. Kate tries to bolster Ana’s self-esteem, which annoys Ana for no reason.
Ana wonders if Christian Grey is celibate. Yes. He’s saving himself for marriage. Well spotted, Ana.
Ana takes finals. She decides she’s going to get drunk for the first time ever! When she gets home, she finds a box with no return address waiting for her. Oh, thank God, it’s a bomb. She’s going to blow up and we’re getting a new heroine!
No, it’s three first edition copies of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Why would anyone leave something so valuable on her doorstep, with no return address? Christian suddenly seems both creepy and dumb. Oh, and he’s left a note, once again warning her to stay away from him, which she would probably do if he’d stop stalking her, asking her to coffee, and sending extravagant gifts.
Probably he also drew this flag on the note.
Ana goes to a club with Kate and José and gets drunk, for the first time ever, just like she wanted to! She has five margaritas. She drunk-dials Christian from a bathroom stall and hangs up once he’s annoyed. He calls back and tells her to stay put so he can come get her crazy drunk self. She’s so worried, she almost vomits, which is certainly not the reaction I have when my boyfriend tells me he’s coming to see me. Then she feels better, because he doesn’t know where she is…right?
Wrong. He shows up just in time to save her from being kissed by José. Oh, the horror, the horror. He also shows up just in time to hold back her hair as she barfs extensively and repeatedly. Okay, seriously, the horror, the horror! Why would the author add an extended regurgitation scene? NOT sexy. But Christian is superior because he holds her hair, while José freaks out and gets out of firing range. Yeah, José is such a jerk for not wanting Ana’s vomit all over his shoes. I can’t believe that guy.
Ana asks Christian how he found her. He says…get this…”I tracked your cell phone, Ana.”
OMG, ANASTASIA. RUN, GIRL! RUN HARD, RUN FAST, AND DO NOT LOOK BACK!
Also change your phone number, move, get plastic surgery…Lose this stalker!
Instead, she lets him take her into the club and make her dance even though she doesn’t want to. Ana’s subconscious, who frequently pops up to belittle and lecture her, pops up to belittle and lecture her, and is now personified to the point that she’s wearing half-moon specs. Because her subconscious is Marian the Librarian, and is also going to be an important secondary character, it seems.
Meantime, Kate’s gotten cozy with Christian’s hot and socially functional brother, Eliot. Again, please to change heroines? Ana is scandalized and vows to give Kate a safe-sex lecture, as if Ana would know anything about sex, safe or unsafe. I’m getting the picture that Ana is a virgin.
Anyway, Ana, who knows everything and is morally and intellectually superior to the rest of the planet, then passes out in a drunken stupor. End of Chapter 4.
Where’s the sex?
I was made to understand there would be sex?
I’m to chapter 5. No sex. No kissing, even. Just a lot of whining and some high-level stalking, and one product-placement moment when Ana mentions owning a Stanley knife.
So far, I am not impressed, although I am getting a little depressed by this too-stupid-to-live heroine and her obsessive stalker crush boy.
José! How we pine for thee!
That’s what she said! 😀
Yay for metal-monkey-mom references!
Did you ever see the monkeys at Little River Zoo that had come from one of those experiments? The staff considered it progress if they sat close together. They wouldn’t even groom each other. I’d still rather hang out with them than Ana.
Ha! Emotional stuntedness = no whining or huffing. No, I’ve never been to the Little River Zoo. I’m kind of glad I haven’t seen those monkeys, though – how sad.
That zoo is closed now, and all the animals were dispersed to other zoos. Since they were a rescue zoo, many of their animals came from labs. They had a macaque whose experiences as a test subject for mental health meds left him with bouts of sudden aggression. Apparently he had a teddy bear, and some days he’d snuggle the bear, and sometimes he’d shred the bear.
This is hilarious! I cannot wait to hear the next chapter!
I’m pretty sure that your commentary is much more exciting than the actual book! And to fill you in on the cycling culture in Washington, there have been a couple of pedestrians killed by cyclists in the past year, so there’s been some bad media/bike speed limits imposed in some areas. I can’t wait to hear about the next chapters–although I’m admittedly bracing myself as well!
THANK YOU for explaining the cyclist thing, Kristin! I’m in one of those parts of the country where “bike lane” is commonly understood to mean “sidewalk” and riding in the road will get you flipped off if you’re lucky and get trash flung at you if you’re not. So…I guess that’s the one authentic Washington factoid she squeezed into the book besides “there are coffee shops.” Definitely not one of those books where the setting is an extra character…
While we’re at it, you don’t know what “hooded eyes” means, do you? No one’s thrown me a bone on that one.
I love love love the twilight comparisons! so hilarious. I too was saying, run girl, run. People keep telling me this is just a graphic porn novel but I really don’t see it that much different than any other romance novel, well any other romance novel, except this one has less plot. I am also reading the Game of throne series so reading these three books was very light reading. Im about half way thru with the last one…
Thanks for your perspective!
It’s a difficult book to categorize. It does have a lot more sex and a lot less plot and feeling than good romance novels, and then the sex is not as well written as in erotica. I think it pretty much belongs in the circular file.
I am seriously enjoying your blog. Your comment about the Coke can monkeys made me laugh so hard I alarmed the dog. As a native Seattleite, I am happy to enlighten you on the Northwest-specific mistakes in the books, which I found especially annoying – if you’re going to write about a place, shouldn’t you try to visit, rather than just get your info from Wikipedia? Anyway, I think the scene with the bicyclist actually happened in Portland, which makes it highly plausible. Portland bicyclists are rabid. They are morally, physically, and intellectually superior to the rest of us whose carbon footprints are the size of Bigfoot’s. If there isn’t a bike lane, they will make one, preferably on the sidewalk. Looking forward to reading the rest of the story, I like your version better!
I do not understand WHY she bothered to set the story in the Northwest at all if she wasn’t going to make the setting integral. Why not just make up a city? Why set a story in a place with a very specific landscape and culture and then completely ignore those factors? I know Twilight was set in Washington and that’s where it’s coming from, but I don’t know why she didn’t change it in the alleged editing process.
I live in Oklahoma and like to ride my bike. Down here, we don’t really have bike lanes. We have “bike route” signs that are supposed to warn motorists to share the road with us squishy, non-armored cyclists. Unfortunately, the signs are usually near a sidewalk, giving motorists the impression that bikes are supposed to ride on the sidewalk, which is actually illegal. Ride in the road, and you have motorists yelling profanities and throwing soda bottles out the window at you. Sounds like the Portland cyclists you describe have gotten pretty spoiled!
Lol! Love your commentary! I’m at about page 300 and have gone from yawn/transparent foreshadowing (pg 1-97) to what’s the big deal (who hasn’t enjoyed a stolen moment in an elevator or a little hands over the head) to “no way no way no way! Get out of there!!!!” after the eye roll incident (coming soon) and now around 300 I am going – email thing cute – and she would NEVER walk down this path if he wasn’t rich – even if he was totally hot but worked in the mail room NO WAY! I have no idea why women feel awoken sexually from this. I had a minor stirring in there somewhere but nothing radical. Still holding out for a climax worth reading. Again- thank for the laughs – seriously laughing out loud at your red flags. I agree.
I agree about the aspect of wealth. Imagine the same story, but make Christian a super-hot drive-thru guy at Burger King. Instead of a laptop and an Audi, he brings home leftover Whoppers and lets Ana ride on the handlebars of his dirt bike. Then he asks her to sign the infamous contract. Would she say yes to that Christian Grey? Never in a million years, just like no one ever say, “Poor little poor boy.”