Things are going to be a little quiet on the blogging front this week, as I’ve just moved house and everything is stressful and basically internet-free. I imagine Christian and Ana would be boggled to hear that I waited three and a half years to move in with my boyfriend, as opposed to falling FOREVER IN LOVE after two weeks and swapping various bits of product placement every five pages.
So, we left off last week with Christian and Ana having the most boring sex in all of history, finishing up with Christian taking Ana to a salon where Mrs Robinson- his molestor- works.
Ana asks a staff member her name and who she is, and snorts about he being a paedo. Look, she’s right- Elena Lincoln (as her real name) is a real piece of shit for taking sexual advantage of a deeply damaged adolescent. Christian returns to Ana after an intimate chat with Mrs Robinson-
““You didn’t want to introduce me?” My voice sounds cold, hard.
His mouth drops open, he looks as if I’ve pulled the rug from under his feet.
“But I thought—”
“For a bright man, sometimes . . .” Words fail me. “I’d like to go, please.””
Yeah, for a bright man with a therapist, it seems really, really odd that he’s keeping around the woman who sexually abused him. Really, really odd. I know we all deal with trauma in different ways, but I feel like any good therapist would be like “NO, NO, GOD NO, GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HER AND ALSO MAYBE HAVE HER ARRESTED, FUCK NO”. Or, you know, just any person at all with a shred of decency. Fuck, this chapter is so depressing, mainly because no-one except Ana seems keen to call Mrs Robinson what she is, and even then, it’s framed more as sexual jealousy than as genuine disdain for an abuser. But then, we know how Ana feels about abusers, right?
Ana demands to leave (where did this backbone come from all of a sudden?) and asks if Christian took all his subs there. He replies that he did but that she’s the only one to know that the woman in charge of the salon took sexual advantage of him as a child. So…hurrah for sharing, I guess?
Christian gets an almost hilariously expository phone call, and reveals that Leila left her husband for a man who was recently killed in a car crash. Oh, and that she’s been granted concealed carry liscence with no background checks. Look, I know we Brits think Americans just run around shooting guns in the air willy-nilly like the Rich Texan in the Simpsons, but surely someone with severe mental health problems, a therapist, and a grudge wouldn’t be given a licence without some kind of background check? Either that, or phewwwww I’m glad I don’t live in the states.
We get this nonsense-
““Anastasia, Leila is obviously suffering a psychotic break. I don’t know if it’s you or me she’s after, or what lengths she’s prepared to go to. We’ll go to your place, pick up your things, and you can stay with me until we’ve tracked her down.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“So I can keep you safe.”
He glares at me. “You are coming back to my apartment if I have to drag you there by your hair.””
Let’s tick off that threat of violence, just to get it out of the way, and focus on the main thing here- why does Christian want Ana back at his apartment? The apartment Leila has already broken into? Wouldn’t that be putting her in more danger? Oh, wait, this is all just about controlling her, right? Silly me.
Ana refuses to go back to his apartment, so he throws her over his shoulder like a fucking caveman and goes to carry her. He eventually puts her down, and she starts fuming and making an internal list on everything he’s done wrong;
“1. Shoulder carrying—unacceptable for anyone over the age of six.
2. Taking me to the salon that he owns with his ex-lover—how stupid can he be?
3. The same place he took his submissives—same stupidity at work here.
4. Not even realizing that this was a bad idea—and he’s supposed to be a bright guy.
5. Having crazy ex-girlfriends. Can I blame him for that? I am so furious; yes, I can.
6. Knowing my bank account number—that’s just too stalkery by half.
7. Buying SIP—he’s got more money than sense.
8. Insisting I stay with him—the threat from Leila must be worse than he feared . . .he didn’t mention that yesterday.”
JESUS CHRIST FIFTY SHADES FAN, EL LITERALLY WROTE A LIST OF ALL THE ABUSIVE THINGS HE’S DONE TO ANA. Stalking, emotional and physical manipulation, exerting unhealthy amounts of control…how are you people missing this? Scratch that; how is EL James missing this? She’s WRITING IN THE FUCKING TEXT about how awful he is and how much Ana dislikes him. Remind me why this is a love story for the ages, again? Because he allegedly fucks her good?
Christian reminds Ana that Leila has a gun now, and she forgets her rage in the worry that he might get hurt and oh God fuck off. They go back to hers, he forces her into the car and doesn’t let her drive, etc. Honestly, I used to get outraged at stuff like this, but there’s so much worse in this chapter alone and I’ve got dinner in the oven, so I’m trying to power through.
Christian mentions that all his submissives were brunuttes, and that Mrs Robinson put him off blondes.
“Did Mrs. Extraordinarily-Glamorous-In- Spite-Of-Being-Old Robinson really put him off blondes?”
Mate, come on. If I showed you a picture of my Mum, you’d rethink those words. I mean, I would, but too many of you would try to vault the Atlantic to get with her over-fifty self, and that would just be awkward when you got brutally rejected. Also, isn’t EL…not exactly young herself? What kind of bullshit self-hating ageism is this?
Christian reveals that Mrs R funded his business start-up with her husband’s money, because she was ” a bored housewife”. Tick off another tired female stereotype on the big board of things wrong with Fifty Shades.
Ana and Christian retire to his apartment, where Ana tells him she’s still mad for what he did. Then she goes upstairs to find that he’s purchased her ludicrously expensive clothes, specifically against her expressed desires. Not that Christian would ever do anything without her consent! For some reason, Ana refers to Christian as “Fifty” almost constantly in this chapter, and it’s jarring on me really, really hard. Maybe because these “fifty shades” she’s referencing are really just hilariously polar swings between furious and a walking erection.
Speaking of which, Ana mentions the clothes to Christian, and brings up the fact that she doesn’t want them. She also wonders why Christian wants her, when he had so many submissives who would do exactly what he wanted without question. He explains:
“”I am used to women doing exactly what I say, when I say, doing exactly what I want. It gets old quickly. There’s something about you, Anastasia, that calls to me on some deep level I don’t understand. It’s a siren’s call. I can’t resist you, and I don’t want to lose you.””
Yep, even though Christian ignores Ana’s express desires- everything from forcing money that she doesn’t want on her, buying her clothes she asked him not to, and coercing her into sexual activity she doesn’t like- what he actually wants is someone who challenges him by not doing what he wants. Even though he has repeatedly gotten genuinely angry- angry enough to scare Ana-when she doesn’t do as she’s told. Maybe the “fifty shades” thing is meant to reference ALL THE TIMES CHRISTIAN CHANGES HIS FUCKING MIND IN THIS SERIES. Franco, the hairdresser, arrives in a flurry of homophobic stereotypes:
“Franco is small, dark, and gay. I love him.
“Such beautiful hair!” he gushes with an outrageous, probably fake Italian accent. I be the’s from Baltimore or somewhere, but his enthusiasm is infectious.”
Ah, those gays, always faking accents and being from Baltimore! Christian asks Ana if they can discuss their problems in bed, and she says no:
““Over lunch, then. I’m hungry, and not just for food,” he gives me a salacious smile.
“I am not going to let you dazzle me with your sexpertise.””
…she just told you she doesn’t want to go to bed, and you’re all, “nah, we’re goin’ fuck tho”. At least Ana has some semblance of backbone, even if she is basically going along with everything he wants in this chapter. Just her token protestations are an improvement. They talk about Mrs Robinson some more:
““She can touch you,” I repeat.
He purses his lips. “She knows where.”
“What does that mean?”
He runs both hands through his hair and closes his eyes briefly, as if he’s seeking divine guidance of some kind. He swallows.
“You and I don’t have any rules.”
I really don’t feel like repeating myself again in this chapter. But they do have rules. Many rules. Just because they’re not written down doesn’t make them void. Christian wants Ana to do everything he says, but also defy him, and let him dress her and pluck her and wax her, but also stand up for herself, and eat when he says, but be an independent woman, and do everything he wants in bed, even though she wants a vanilla relationship. You’re right, though- no rules.
Christian tells Ana that touching is a hard limit for him, which is fair enough. Then she asks him about the fact he knows her bank details- and reassures her that it’s okay, because he runs these kind of invasive background checks on all his submissives. Remember back in the first book, when Ana protests Christian tracking her phone, but he excuses himself by saying that the technology is technically legal? This feels a lot like that. “It’s okay for me to do it because I’ve done it before/it’s not actually against the law!” doesn’t work. He admits that he knew she worked at the hardware store, and that’s why he came by.
““I don’t misuse the information. Anyone can get hold of it if they have half a mind to, Anastasia. To have control—I need information. It’s how I’ve always operated.”
BUT THERE ARE NO RULES. NO RULES AT ALL. EXCEPT THAT ANA ISN’T ENTITLED TO HER PRIVACY. NO. RULES. NO RULES. NOT ONE. Fuck, this chapter is both boring and exhausting.
Christian tells Ana he makes $100,000 an hour, which is an amount I actually bark-laughed at because it’s so specifically and obviously a lie. Ana goes off to make some food for them, and dances round the kitchen to Crazy in Love, which is a song so, so much better than this book. Seriously, go listen to it, and remind yourself how much you loved that song when it first came out. Don’t think about Ana making an omelette in excruciating detail like I’m being forced to do. Don’t be like me.
Christian walks in, and puts on Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You. Not…Annie Lennox’s version? How rude, after she recorded it specifically for your movie. We get this-
“I watch him, enthralled as slowly, like the predator he is, he stalks me in time to the slow sultry beat of the music.”
They grope at each other for a bit, then Taylor walks in and he and Christian leave for the study. This chapter is so long that I’ve just noticed the stubble on my calves, and I shaved right before I started writing this. Send help.
They eat, and listen to some classical music that Christian can ponce over like Niles fucking Crane (truly, the sexiest man on earth). Ana goes and transfers all her stuff to the new computer, and Christian comes in to find her looking up “multiple personality disorder” online, BECAUSE THAT’S NOTHING BUT A GOOD SIGN.
No time to linger though, as Christian is handing her some lipstick.
“It’s harlot red, not my color at all.”
Yes, for lest we forget, Ana is a virginvirginvirgin and if she so much as wears red lipstick she’ll be sullied for good. It turns out that he wants her to draw on him, so she can know the parts of his body she can touch. I can’t think of anything funnier that drawing plastic-surgery prep marks all over someone’s body, but somehow it leads to banging and mercifully, the chapter is over.