I did warn you guys the other week that this part was total bullshit but I mean, here it is! You can accuse me of a lot of things, for sure, but you can't accuse me of not being thorough because that is one thing that I am. Oh how I am.
I did take a week off. That's how bad this chapter is. It's so bad that I took a whole week off and then procrastinated through most of the next week, too, and now here it is and I guess I gotta do this. Or not. I could also not. But I think I will. I think I will fight my way through this.
I really could just say that the rest of this chapter is some bullshit where CG hassles Ana about not going by "Mrs. Grey" at work because that's all that happens. But if I did that, you would be spared the true depth of my righteous, seething anger. You would get the basic idea of the rest of this chapter, but you wouldn't really feel it. You would not understand just how truly, truly terrible this is. Terrible to read. Terrible to think about. Terrible to imagine as a real-world thing. Terrible to write about. And yeah- probably also terrible to read about! But we are in this together.
I will say one thing about EL: she keeps finding new ways to establish CG's shittiness. She keeps reminding us that, yeah even though our heroes are married and whatever? That isn't the end. Marriage isn't the end. There is no happily-ever-after for Ana. Instead, there's just this endless sine wave. Peaking at sex, then dropping down to another stupid, stupid fight with her stupid, stupid husband who's just a fucking tantrum-toddler who wants everything his way all the time and he wants it goddamn yesterday.
I suppose part of my beef is that I don't really get ladies changing their names. Life is a big enough hassle as it is. I gotta move soon because my new landlords want to make more money or whatever and I cannot bear the thought of changing my address on every goddamn thing. The bills. The credit cards. The Netflix. The everything. And that's pretty much just doing a bunch of forms online. Not like changing my whole goddamn name. That sounds brutal. If that's a thing that you want to do, do it! Please! But it seems like a pretty big hassle to me, and not one I'd ever ask anyone to endure for my sake. Plus? It's just another one of those old school things where it's like, "Oh see, legally, you used to be your dad's property, but now you belong to your husband. Good luck! Enjoy life!" So if you have found a contemporary relevance for this antiquated thing, great! I shan't judge you for having a strength of imagination that I personally lack.
I do judge CG for being an asshole tho. Ana is awfully proud to be Mrs. Christian Grey and she runs around calling herself Mrs. Grey and everything yeah. I just don't see any possible angle for CG to doubt Ana's commitment to him. He literally bosses her around all the time about everything, and then she's like, "Oh maybe I want to maintain a certain amount of professional distance from your name so that in my professional life, I can be judged on my own merit and not merely feared because of your reputation," and he flips out because he is a bad, bad person, and bad people need little reason to flip out I guess.
But anyway. I'm just delaying the inevitable.
So where were we?
Ana Steele is married to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex.
- Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
- They ride a jet-ski back to their honeymoon yacht and riding jet-skis cheers up Christian a bit. Then they have sex.
- Ana discovers that Christian gave her a bunch of hickies and she is angry. But then she gets over it and they look at art together and CG learns that there was a fire in his server room.
- Ana buys a camera.
- Ana and Christian return to Seattle. After visiting Christian's parents, they become embroiled in a medium-speed chase on the interstate. After eluding their pursuers, they have sex in a parking lot.
- Ana figures out that Jack Hyde was the arsonist.
- Christian yells at Ana because she wants to go by the name "Steele" in her professional life.
Ok back to work. I can do this. I know I can. I know I can. I know I probably can.
CG is being all pissy because he found out in the most fantastical, nonsense way that she's keeping the name "Steele" at work even though she's legally changing her name to Anastasia Grey. Not going to get into it too much, but I guess the deal is that in EL James' world, changing your name also changes your email address. And because Ana's email address hadn't changed, CG found out that her name hadn't changed. At least at work. Dumb, right? Super dumb. So dumb that this is an issue, and so dumb how EL reveals this information. Ah well!
So after a super dumb email exchange, we get one of EL's famous four paragraph scenes about nothing. She's always sticking in these pointless transitional scenes that could easily be replaced with nothing but a couple of blank lines. Most of the scenes in this book could be replaced by a couple of blank lines, and things would only be better. But hey.
As is our ritual on a Monday, Hannah comes into my office with a plate for my packed lunch courtesy of Mrs. Jones, and we sit and eat our lunches together, discussing what we want to achieve during the week.
Huh. Turns out Ana is a pretty shitty person to work for, since she makes you do work through your lunch break and then tries to pass it off as though it's just your shared "ritual." Even too lazy to like, go get herself her own plate from the break room. Oh and why does she even need a plate? C'mon. You're too good to eat your bagged lunch without a plate? Well la-di-da.
Cool so then Christian shows up and he wants to fight with Ana. This is one of the things that really makes it seem like bullshit that CG is a legit rich guy business type who made his fortune with hard work. He never does anything and nobody knows what the shit his business is. A wise choice they made in the film was to throw in a single sentence early on--something like, "So you made your fortune in telecom but it seems you have a lot of different interests," or something. The word "telecom" is sufficiently vague to keep things general, but internet-adjacent enough that it seems plausible. But in the book, CG is like Scrooge McDuck only instead of splashing around in his money pit for fun, he hits ladies with different implements. Otherwise they're equally plausible tycoons. Oh except for the fact that Scrooge McDuck is an actual duck. CG is a vampire which seems a little bit less fantastical to me than a talking duck.
I'm just going to paste in a few of his shitty, threatening bits of dialogue:
“If you’ll excuse me, Roach, I’d like a word with Ms. Steele.”
“Ms. Steele, may I sit down?”
“I’m just looking over my assets.”
“All of them. Some of them need rebranding.”
“Now, Ms. Steele, where were we?”
Emphasis is original. Also Hannah runs to get CG coffee, and at this point that dumb thing where all ladies mentally undress themselves for Christian is getting so frequent that it barely has to be pointed out. Just alluded to:
“Do you need anything else, Mr. Grey?” she asks all breathless. I want to roll my eyes at her.Whatever. I'm with Hannah on this one because c'mon: this moment right now is like some poor intern bumping into Jeff Bezos and feeling all awkward about it. Hannah feels awkward! No big deal. Although she shouldn't feel that weird since she works with Bezos's wife, so this meeting was inevitable. But whatever. I'm sick, sick, sick of the way EL uses these other characters to try to trick us into thinking that CG is desirable in some way. Oh well.
At least Ana has the proper response to this jagoff lined up:
“You were rudely interrupting my work day to fight with me about my name.”
Christian blinks once—surprised, I think, by the vehemence in my voice. Deftly, he picks at an invisible piece of lint on his knee with long skilled fingers. It’s distracting. He’s doing it on purpose. I narrow my eyes at him.
“I like to make the odd impromptu visit. It keeps management on their toes, wives in their place. You know.” He shrugs, his mouth set in an arrogant line.
Wives in their place! “I had no idea you could spare the time,” I snap.Oh FTB. I like that first part where Ana tells it like it is. You go, Ana! For once we're in agreement. But what is the thing with the lint? What the hell is that? Oh, right. I forgot about that one scene in which CG introduces Ana to lint-play, an obscure activity that I'm just really not going to into again because, honestly? It just weirded me out a lot and I don't even want to think about it again if I don't absolutely have to.
But yeah. Wives in their place. This mutterflusher.
“How is this not about me?” He cocks his head to one side, genuinely perplexed, some of his detachment slipping as he stares at me with wide eyes, and I realize that he’s hurt. Holy fuck. I’ve hurt his feelings. Oh no . . . he’s the last person I want to hurt. I have to make him see my logic. I have to explain my reason- ing for my decision.
“Christian, when I took this job, I’d only just met you,” I say patiently, struggling to find the right words. “I didn’t know you were going to buy the company—”
What can I say about that event in our brief history? His deranged reasons for doing so—his control freakery, his stalker tendencies gone mad, given completely free rein because he is so wealthy. I know he wants to keep me safe, but it’s his ownership of SIP that is the fundamental problem here. If he’d never interfered, I could continue as normal and not have to face the disgruntled and whispered recriminations of my colleagues. I put my head in my hands just to break eye contact with him.
I'm skipping most of the shitty shit that CG says because you don't need to read it. You know this guy. You've been reading along with me, I think. But like, c'mon. Here's a fun one: “I suffocate you?” That's a thing he asks. Of course you goddamn do. That's like your whole thing.
“I’m renaming the company—to Grey Publishing.”K. Well. Now we're really getting somewhere just kidding. Does EL think she's raising the stakes? I don't give a shit about Ana's publishing career. Does anybody? Ooh it's like a childhood dream come true! Running her own publishing company!
“And in a year’s time, it will be yours.”My mouth drops open once more—wider this time.
Best is the last line. At some point earlier, Ana's mouth dropped open because that's a thing that happens to real-life people who aren't cartoons seriously we swear! Happens all the time! Constantly! Not at all a contrivance! No! But once her mouth had already dropped open once, EL couldn't think of anything else to say to express Ana's shock other than to have her open her mouth even wider. That's good writing, folks! There is of course a direct relationship between how open your mouth is and how surprised you are.
So. After a few pages of that dumb fight about Ana's name, we're in this new whole dumb part where CG is telling Ana how smart he is and how he's putting her in charge of the publishing thing and I can't even be bothered to be even a little bit interested. My hope is that this book is going to be well over before a year passes so I'm never going to be asked to read any of the parts where Ana is in charge of this publishing house because let's be real: there is not much that's interesting happening in this book, and none of it has anything at all to do with Ana reading shit at her desk.
Oh here's the worst part tho:
CG is trying to convince Ana to do it with him right there at work or whatever.
“Christian, no. I mean it. You can fuck me seven shades of Sunday this evening. But not now. Not here!”
He blinks and narrows his eyes once more. Then unexpectedly he laughs.
“Seven shades of Sunday?” He arches an eyebrow, intrigued. “I may hold you to that, Ms. Steele.”
“Oh, stop with the Ms. Steele!” I snap and thump the desk, startling us both. “For heaven’s sake, Christian. If it means so much to you, I’ll change my name!”
Doesn't Ana sound awfully American? Very. Seven shades of Sunday? What the shit does that mean? When I google it I basically only get references to this book. So I mean. I guess it means "a lot" but goddammit EL James. What are you even saying?
Oh and then she lets herself get bullied into changing her name. I'm no longer going to get upset with you Ana. You're in an abusive relationship. You tried. I saw you try to stand up for yourself, and then you just got bullied some more and it was terrible. I'm sorry for all the jokes I've made at your expense, Ana.
And here's a thing I can't figure out: is CG making a joke about how Ana just said a nonsense thing? Is that what's happening? or is he accepting the premise? Is this a weird alternate universe where people say this kind of shit? Is that the thing? I don't even know. I just don't even know.
And then CG leaves, having accomplished all the bullying he felt like bullying. And then EL doesn't know what to do in this book either so she has her heroes exchange some emails and I have a strict not-giving-a-shit-about-emails policy when it comes to this book so I shan't bother you with them.
I'm trying to get through this. I really am. There's just so little happening that it's hard to know what to mention. Here's a part I can't resist:
He’s in his navy suit, looking crisp and clean with floppy sex-hair and a guileless expression.Right? They're back at home and haven't had any sex in like, pages. So what the hell does EL mean by "floppy sex-hair"? What a truly, truly unpleasant phrase that is. Floppy sex-hair. What's weird is that even after people stopped using 5.25" floppy sex-hair and switched to 3.5" they kept calling it floppy even though it wasn't really floppy anymore. Wow. This joke is really a goddamn stretch. You guys remember floppy discs tho right? Right? This thing on? Hello? Anybody? Floppy discs? No? K.
Anyway Ana is still mad at CG because CG is an asshole and because he's an asshole he doesn't understand why anyone would be mad at him.
I'm not going to talk about this scene of them fighting more in the kitchen and alluding to the sex that they're going to have later because it's dumb and I hate it. Also it's completely pointless. Just further recapitulating the scene back at the office. Only they're no longer at the office. Why? Why why why?
Now we're told that the architect whom Ana hates for being too sexy is about to show up and show them architect pictures or whatever and I don't care but hey that's what's happening next so I guess we'll read about it yay!
Ana is worried about the sexy architect so she decides to sexy up her own situation. "Wait, what?" you ask. "Ana wants to make sure that the architect thinks she's hot, for some reason?" Yeah I guess. Sure why not.
I squint at myself in the mirror. I look pale, and now I have that woman to deal with.
I’m wearing my gray pencil skirt and a sleeveless blouse. Right! My inner goddess gets out her harlot-red nail polish. I undo two buttons, exposing a little cleavage. I wash my face then carefully redo my makeup, applying more mascara than usual and putting extra gloss on my lips. Bending down, I then brush my hair vigorously from root to tip. When I stand, my hair is a chestnut haze around me that tumbles to my breasts. I tuck it artfully behind my ears and go in search of my pumps, rather than my flats.
“I hate fighting with you,” he whispers.
“Well, stop being such an arse.”
He chuckles and the captivating sound reverberates through his chest. He
tightens his hold on me. “Arse?”
“I prefer arse.”
“You should. It suits you.”You can almost imagine EL, typing away, and then remembering that Americans don't say "arse." My spellcheck doesn't even recognize the word. Underlines it in red and offers me a bunch of suggestions, none of which is "ass." Ah well.
Does summarize the problem effectively, tho. The reason they keep fighting is because CG is an asshole and keeps starting fights. Suggests, to me at least, that he is not to be trusted when he claims that he doesn't like fighting. I think he likes it just fine.
Particularly when he wins, which is always.
And then, the architect shows up, and that's the end of the chapter.
But hey. Let's talk about one real obnoxious thing here:
Before this chapter, our heroes were frequently referring to each other as "Mrs. Grey" and "Mr. Grey." So, all indications were that Ana had gone ahead and taken CG's last name. Sure fine why not. This idea is only contradicted about halfway through this chapter, but then we return to the status quo a few pages later when Ana says, fine, fine, ugh, I'll be Mrs. Grey at work, too.
Meaning that once again, our sine wave analogy holds up. Things go up and down but always end up in the same place so why worry too much? It's like a bad sitcom. The conflict throws things in temporary disarray but they'll be back to normal in no time so who cares? No, really. Who cares?
There's no reason we couldn't cut this chapter entirely. Only "news" hits during that half-page where CG tells Ana that since he's a billionaire, he's going to put Ana in charge of his publishing company because he can so why not? Might as well! The rest? No point in any of the rest. Doesn't advance anything. Just makes me angry.