WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers. But, of course, that's kind of the point.
We decided to tackle the Fifty Shades of Grey series one book at a time and give everyone chapter-by-chapter summaries and critique. We're going to read Fifty Shades of Grey... so you don't have to.
Summary: Christian Grey drives Anastasia home. They listen to music, he takes a few business calls, and his brother Elliot calls. He is with Kate at the apartment, so Christian plans to pick him up when he drops off Ana. Elliot shows Kate a lot of public affection and tells her "laters baby" which is just idiotic and something we refuse to believe actual grownups say (we only mention this because it becomes an ongoing joke in the rest of the book). Kate helps Ana get ready and then Christian picks her up at work that evening. He flies her in his helicopter "Charlie Tango" to his home in Seattle. He makes her sign a non-disclosure agreement before he will further discuss anything. She asks if he's going to make love to her but he says "I don't make love. I fuck... hard." and explains that there is still more paperwork to go over. But first he takes her to his "playroom"... dun dun dun!
Sexiness factor (scale of 1-10): 1.5
Number of times Ana's "subconscious"and/or "inner goddess" communicates with her: 3
What am I doing here? You know very well what you’re doing here – my subconscious sneers at me. Yes, I want to be in Christian Grey’s bed.
My subconscious is staring at me in awe.
My inner goddess glares at me, tapping her small foot impatiently. She’s been ready for this for years, and she’s ready for anything with Christian Grey.
We're still trying to figure out how Ana's inner goddess, who lives inside her head, can glare at her, or how her subconscious can communicate with her at all.
Foreshadowing that Christian Grey is a dom: 7
Foreshadowing that Christian Grey is a dom: 7
I'm so glad that I never seriously entertained the thought of working for him. I shudder at the very idea. He’s just too controlling and cold with his employees.
I hold my breath as he pulls at one of the upper straps. “You’re secure, no escaping,” he whispers, his eyes are scorching. “Breathe, Anastasia,” he adds softly. Reaching up, he caresses my cheek, running his long fingers down to my chin which he grasps between his thumb and forefinger. He leans forward and plants a brief, chaste kiss on my lips, leaving me reeling, my insides clenching at the thrilling, unexpected touch of his lips. “I like this harness,” he whispers. What?“It requires control and concentration… how could I not love it?”
"It seemed appropriate. I could hold you to some impossibly high ideal like Angel Clare or debase you completely like Alec D’Urberville,” he murmurs, and his gray eyes flash dark and dangerous.“If there are only two choices, I’ll take the debasement.” I whisper, gazing at him.
Plot Holes, Fact Checking Fails, and Other Observations:
"My taste is eclectic, Anastasia, everything from Thomas Tallis to the Kings of Leon. It depends on my mood. You?” [...]
He presses a button and the Kings of Leon start singing. Hmm… this I know. Sex on Fire. How appropriate.Not to nitpick, but it's just Kings of Leon. Not the Kings of Leon.
“Why do you insist on calling me Anastasia?”What a charmer that Christian Grey is. We're swooning as we type.
“Because it’s your name.”
“I prefer Ana.”
“Do you now?” he murmurs. We are almost at my apartment. It’s not taken long.
“Anastasia,” he muses. I scowl at him, but he ignores my expression. “What happened in the elevator – it won’t happen again, well, not unless it’s premeditated.”
Ana,” he smiles, his blue eyes twinkling, and I like him immediately. He’s obviously nothing like Christian, but then they’re adopted brothers.That's so stupid. Him being adopted has nothing to do with why they're nothing alike. Are genetic brothers always exactly alike? No, of course not.
Under Kate’s tireless and frankly intrusive instruction, my legs and underarms are shaved to perfection, my eyebrows plucked, and I am buffed all over. It has been a most unpleasant experience. But she assures me that this is what men expect these days.She's 21 years old and almost a college graduate, yet she has to be instructed on how to perfectly shave her legs and underarms? Really? We know that not everyone feels that they want or need to do this (which is totally fine) but they've certainly heard of the concept, no? Is there really anyone who didn't know that some men "expect" that "these days" to the point that they'd have to be "assured" of this fact? Her mother has been married several times, but she never taught her daughter how to shave her armpits? E L James is just going out of her way to portray Ana as completely innocent and ignorant as possible.
"It seemed appropriate. I could hold you to some impossibly high ideal like Angel Clare or debase you completely like Alec D’Urberville,” he murmurs, and his gray eyes flash dark and dangerous.Grey and Ana keep making references to Tess of the d'Urbervilles throughout the book, so we thought we'd actually address that at this point. Despite Ana's going on and on about how she's looking for a romantic literary hero, the characters she most often references are far from romantic and far from heroic. Here's a quickie summary:
“If there are only two choices, I’ll take the debasement.” I whisper, gazing at him.
Tess Durbeyfield is hired by Alec d'Urberville, who makes repeated advances to her. She puts up with it, because she needs the money, but she's so inexperienced she doesn't realize how dangerous he actually is (sound familiar yet?) Alec "rescues" her from a situation with some other guy, but then rapes her. She goes home and later gives birth to a baby who soon after dies. Years later, she falls in love with Angel Clare who, thinking she's a virgin, proposes marriage. After they're married she confesses what happened with Alec and Angel is appalled. They separate and later on she encounters Alec again. He begs her never to tempt him again and then later proposes marriage, but she's already married. Her father dies and her family is evicted. Alec tells her that Angel will never return for her so she agrees to become his mistress because she's basically desperate. When Angel does return, she blames Alec for her losing Angel a second time and kills him. Angel forgives her, she's arrested and executed. Angel goes off with Tess's sister Liza-Lu, per Tess's wishes. Happy ending! True romance!
We can see there are a lot of parallels to 50 Shades of Grey, but they aren't good ones. Not sure if E L James is using it as ominous foreshadowing or if she actually thinks it's a romantic story. Christian Grey perhaps isn't as bad as Alec d'Urberville (perhaps) but neither of them are the literary hero Ana claims she's looking for.
Some of the worst writing in the chapter:
He hasn’t mentioned the outburst of passion that exploded in the elevator. Should I? Should we talk about it or pretend that it didn’t happen? It hardly seems real, my first proper no-holds-barred kiss. As time ticks on, I assign it mythical, Arthurian legend, Lost City of Atlantis status. It never happened, it never existed. Perhaps I imagined it all.
“What are we listening to?”Yes. Music is the key to him. Quick, take singing lessons and learn to play the oboe.
“It’s the Flower Duet by Delibes, from the opera Lakmé. Do you like it?”
“Christian, it’s wonderful.”
“It is, isn’t it?” he grins, glancing at me. And for a fleeting moment, he seems his age: young, carefree, and heart-stoppingly beautiful. Is this the key to him? Music? I sit and listen to the angelic voices, teasing and seducing me.
Why won’t he kiss me again? I pout at the thought. I don’t understand. Honestly, his surname should be Cryptic, not Grey.Nah, 50 Shades of Cryptic isn't as catchy.
I flush at the memory of his mouth on mine, and the thought that I’d been unable to touch him enters my mind. I wanted to run my fingers through his decadent, untidy hair, but I’d been unable to move my hands. I am retrospectively frustrated.His hair is decadent? What does that even mean? For the record, we Google imaged "decadent hair", and this was the first result, so just assume this is what his hair looks like:
His look is so intense, half in shadow and half in the bright white light from the landing lights. Dark knight and white knight, it’s a fitting metaphor for Christian.Shut up, Ana.
“It’s a very big place you have here.”But is it big?
“It’s big,” he agrees, and his eyes glow with amusement. I take another sip of wine.
“Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?” Holy shit. Did I just say that?We're with Ana's subconscious or inner goddess or whoever is doing the thinking for her right as this moment - we can't believe she just said that either. And not only because it's seriously goofy but because she says it right after he makes her sign a nondisclosure agreement and basically implies that he's got some deep dark secret that she needs to know about before they get involved. Maybe let him clue you in before you start talking about making love like you're on an episode of Days of Our Lives.
“No, Anastasia it doesn’t. Firstly, I don’t make love. I fuck… hard. Secondly, there’s a lot more paperwork to do, and thirdly, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. You could still run for the hills. Come, I want to show you my playroom.”Really, E L James? Really? Really? We don't even like Ana at this point and we're still offended on her behalf that ELJ insists on making her so ridiculously naive and clueless. She may be inexperienced and Christian is acting weird and being all mysterious about his secret, but there's still no way that Ana would think that he brought her all the way to Seattle and made her sign an NDA so that they could play Call of Duty together.
My mouth drops open. Fuck hard! Holy shit, that sounds so… hot. But why are we looking at a playroom? I am mystified.
“You want to play on your Xbox?” I ask. He laughs, loudly.
“No, Anastasia, no Xbox, no Playstation. Come.” He stands, holding out his hand. I let him lead me back out to the corridor.
Conclusion: In this chapter we learned that Christian likes flying and listening to music while Ana likes white wine and Christian's hair, but does not like shaving her legs. We're starting to feel like we really know these characters, you know? We've also finally reached the big moment when all will be revealed in the Xbox-free playroom. Laters, baby.