Monday, May 20, 2013

50 Shades Freed chapter 16 recap, or "Blind to Recursion"

The other day, I got the most delightful tweet:

The description DRF is talking about is:
I sit on the barstool beside my husband, who just looks radiant: freshly showered, his hair damp, wearing a crisp white shirt and that silver-gray tie. My favorite tie. I have fond memories of that tie.

And the picture that resulted?
Well done, my friend. Well done.

Also, Thea K believes this link will be of particular interest to everyone, and I am inclined to agree. It's an E! documentary on 50 Shades of Grey. I tried to watch it, but they said the book was selling at a rate of 1 per second, and I had to turn it off because I'm trying not to self harm anymore.

So, Ana has just learned that Leila, the ex sub who broke into her house and pulled a gun on her, and broke into Christian's house just to lurk around and be generally creepy, is in the building at SIP. Hanna asks Ana if she should send her away, and Ana says no. Leila is in reception, with someone else. Prescott wants to speak to Ana:
Hanna stands aside, and Prescott enters my office. She's on a mission, bristling with professional efficiency.
When other people are professional, it's a positive thing. When Prescott does it, she's "bristling."
"Mrs. Grey, Leila Williams is on your proscribed list of visitors."
"What?" I have a proscribed list?
No, Ana. Nobody is that controlling, right? Maybe that's why we haven't seen Jose in a while. Maybe he's proscribed.

Take a minute to think about how really, truly scary this is. Ana is constantly surrounded by security, allegedly for her own "protection." But now we know there are a list of people who are never allowed to come near her. Ana didn't know about this list; for all she knows, people who love and care about her have tried to contact her, only to be turned away, and Ana would never know. Her husband is literally keeping her a prisoner.

There is a reason handcuffs are on the cover of this book, and it has nothing to do with kinky fuckery.
I frown, not understanding. "Is she dangerous?"
Hold up, Ana. She pulled a gun on you, like, three months ago. She broke into your then-boyfriend's house to watch you sleep. I would say she's probably not not dangerous.

We find out that the only reason Ana knows Leila is in the building is because she happened to come in when Prescott was taking a pee break.
I realize that even Prescott has to pee, and I laugh. "Oh dear."
"Yes, ma'am." Prescott gives me an embarrassed grin, and it's the first time I've seen a chink in her armor. She has a lovely smile.
Ah, Ana. You are nothing if not predictably horrible. She has never had a single nice thing to say about Prescott up until now. Then Prescott fails at something, and Ana can compliment her. Ana can only like other women if she perceives them to be less competent than she is. Now that Prescott has made a mistake, Ana is free to think a single positive thought about her.

Ana knows that Christian is going to be informed of Leila's presence, and she desperately- for some reason that is never made clear- wants to see Leila. The person she was terrified of all through the last book. The woman who pulled a gun on her and had to go into a mental health facility just a few months before. Time is short, because Ana knows Christian is going to send Taylor and put the whole situation on lockdown. Setting aside the fact that Leila really was a danger to Ana in the past, you are now reading a "romance" in which a woman is playing beat-the-clock in order to talk to someone her husband, the "romantic hero" has forbidden her from talking to.

Furthering our themes of "you have got to be fucking kidding me" and "absolutely none of this bullshit makes sense," Ana has Hannah show Leila and her companion into the conference room so Prescott can frisk them. This is all going down at work. Now, I know that Ana isn't worried about getting fired, because Christian plans on giving her the entire company, but she isn't at all worried about looking unprofessional? Because meeting with your husbands' ex in the conference room doesn't exactly scream, "I'm super invested in my career and I won't let my personal life get in the way of it."

Hannah reminds Ana she has an appointment across town at four, and Ana tells her to cancel it. Spoiler alert, it's another appointment for her birth control shot.
What the hell does Leila want? I don't think she's here to do me any harm. She didn't in the past when she had the opportunity.
Except for when she broke in to watch you sleep and when she pulled a gun on you. But let's face it, Ana has no clue what constitutes harm, otherwise she wouldn't be married right now.
Christian is going to go nuts. My subconscious purses her lips, primly crosses her legs, and nods. I need to tell him that I am doing this.
I'm sure that will mitigate any damage.

Ana sends an email to Christian telling him she's going to meet with Leila and she'll slap her if she has to. No, really:
I'll use my newly acquired slapping skills with my now-healed hand, should I need to.
Tee hee, she's tough, tee hee, let's joke about the woman who committed B&E to threaten you.
I stand, smoothing my gray pencil skirt over my hips, pinch my cheeks to give them some color, and undo the next button on my gray silk blouse.
Is she trying to fuck Leila? Because it sounds like she's trying to fuck Leila.

Also, don't pinch your cheeks to put color in them.

Because this.

Welcome to mental health stereotypes 101, wherein we will discuss obvious and easily avoidable stereotypes about mental illness, and how slotting them into your fiction will be much simpler than writing a character's actions in such a way that shows healing or development through treatment:
Leila looks much better. More than better- she's very attractive. There's a rosy bloom to her cheeks, and her brown eyes are bright, her hair clean and shiny.
Because people who are mentally ill are always visibly so, by being unattractive, ashen, and greasy haired, of course.

There's another woman with Leila: Susi, who is another of Chedward's ex-subs. Hannah enters and tells Ana that Christian is on the phone, and even though Hannah is just Ana's assistant, she's pretty insistent. Which means Hannah probably knows that if Ana doesn't take the call, her job is on the line, because these two assholes treat people like they're fucking disposable. Ana doesn't take the call, and says she'll call him back shortly.
Susi speaks. "I know this is all kinds of weird, but I wanted to meet you, too. The woman who captured Chris- "
I hold up my hand, stopping her in mid-sentence. I do not want to hear this. "Um... I get the picture," I mutter.
"We call ourselves the sub club." She grins at me, her eyes shining with mirth.
 So, is this a survivor's group? Because it kind of seems like they're there for an intervention or something.

Susi leaves so Leila and Ana can talk alone, and we find out that Leila's nickname is apparently Lulu, which is fucking stupid because it's exactly the same number of syllables as Leila and also, why do we need to know her nickname? Why is she even here? What is the point of this?
Susi and Christian... it's not a thought I wish to dwell on.
But you probably will.

Prescott hands her phone to Ana. Of course, it's Christian:
"What the fuck are you playing at?" he shouts. He's seething.
"Don't shout at me."
"What do you mean, don't shout at you?" he shouts, louder this time. "I gave specific instructions which you have completely disregarded- again. Hell, Ana, I am fucking furious."
Ana tells Christian she'll talk to him when he's calmer, then hangs upon him. Let's all keep in mind, Ana is having all of this go down at work. She's on the phone to her husband, telling him not to shout at her, as she stands outside the conference room. How humiliating is all of this for Ana? And none of this, not Prescott, not Leila, not shouty phone calls, has anything to do with her. It would be awesome if Ana would get frustrated with this and acknowledge the fact, then come to terms with whether or not this is a life she wants. Then she and Christian could actually work on their relationship, which would be a better and more believable story than constantly running from cartoon villains.

Leila has come because she wants to apologize for breaking into Ana's apartment and fucking up her car, and to thank her for not pressing charges. Not that Ana had any choice in the matter; Christian is so anti-police that I'm pretty sure his mom's pimp was a crooked cop or something. Ana asks Leila if her doctor knows she's there, and the answer is no, because what legit doctor is going to say, "Oh, you want to find the person you tried to kill like three months ago and confront her in person unsupervised? That's a great idea, pack your bags!"
She looks suitably guilty. "I know I'll have to deal with the fallout for this later. But I had to get some things, and I wanted to see Susi, and you, and... Mr. Grey."
"You want to see Christian?" My stomach free-falls to the floor. That's why she's here.
Leila claims she wanted to ask Ana's permission to see Christian, because apparently Leila also has amnesia and doesn't remember how this shit works.
"Leila." I flounder, exasperated. "It's not up to me, it's up to Christian. You'll need to ask him. He doesn't need my permission. He's a grown man... most of the time."
She gazes at me for a fraction of a beat as if surprised by my reaction and then laughs softly, nervously twiddling the ends of her hair.
"He's repeatedly refused all my requests to see him," she says quietly.
Oh shit. I'm in more trouble than I thought.
Why are you in more trouble, Ana? You couldn't possibly have known that Christian didn't want to see her, because he never once told you that she was trying to contact him.

I'm sorry, but I'm getting to the point with these books that I feel like I'm just saying the same thing over and over again, and that same thing is always just, "Christian is a huge dick." He's being contacted, apparently more than once, by his ex who tried to kill Ana. And he hasn't mentioned this to Ana! What the hell?! If Ana gets a phone call from Jose, Christian acts like she ran out and vengeance fucked thirty-five people, but his murderous exes can call him, that's fine? I'm so tired of this book, you guys. I'm just tired of this whole thing.

This is me right now. And no, I don't think I'm being overly dramatic, why do you ask?

Ana asks Leila why it's so important for her to see Christian, and Leila says that if it weren't for Christian and Dr. Flynn, she would be in prison right now.
Once again I'm speechless. What does she expect me to say? Surely she should be saying these things to Christian, not to me.
"And for art school. I can't thank him enough for that."
I knew it! Christian is funding her classes. I remain expressionless, tentatively exploring my feelings for this woman now that she's confirmed my suspicions about Christian's generosity.
And your suspicions that Christian's money isn't really your money, after all. My husband and I put our money together; it's just easier for us than keeping track of who is going to pay what, and it works for us. Our money is our money. If one of us decided we were going to pay for someone else's education, we'd damn sure have to tell the other spouse about our plans. If Christian truly believed that what is his is also Ana's, he'd have told her about paying for art school for Leila with what is, according to him, Ana's money.
To my surprise, I feel no ill will toward her.
To my surprise, too, because it's completely out of character to the point of being entirely unbelievable. Ana dislikes all women for imagined slights; this woman has an actual connection to Christian.
It's a revelation, and I'm glad she's better. Now, hopefully, she can move on with her life and out of ours.
She's not better. If she were better, she wouldn't have shown up at Ana's work in the hopes of seeing Christian. If she were better, she would see how unhealthy her behavior is.

Ana asks Leila if she's missing classes, and Leila tells her that she is, but only two because she's leaving Seattle the next day. She also mentions that Christian has two of her paintings.
What the hell! My stomach plunges into the basement once more. Are they hanging in my living room? I bridle at the thought.
That's a weird word choice, isn't it? In this context, she could mean she lifted her chin to express resentment, or she took offense. There has to be a clearer verb to use there.

Leila asks Ana if they can speak frankly, then she launches into her personal life, telling Ana she loved her dead boyfriend, her husband, and Christian.
This is not news to me. When she lifts her brown eyes to mine, they are wide with conflicting emotions, and the overriding one seems to be apprehension... of my reaction, perhaps? But my overwhelming response to this poor young woman is compassion.
This sudden shift in characterization makes no sense at all. So far, all we have seen of Ana is that she feels every single woman on Earth is a threat. Even when they've had no contact whatsoever with Christian except in very minor capacities required by their jobs. Women whose names he will never even know are out to take him from Ana, so she has to be possessive and give them hateful nicknames. But here is a woman who was not only in an intimate relationship with Chedward, but she was in love with him and willing to kill him. Ana being totally unthreatened by her makes no fucking sense whatsoever, and at this point, we're reading about a totally different character. And she still sucks.
Mentally I run through all the classical literature I can think of that deals with unrequited love.
Given Ana's definition of romance as it pertains to classical literature, I assume the books she's thinking of are Mein Kampf and Frankenstein.
"I know, he's very easy to love," I whisper.
Her wide eyes widen further in surprise, and she smile. "Yes. He is - was." She corrects herself quickly and blushes. Then she giggles so sweetly that I can't help myself. I giggle, too. Yes, Christian Grey makes us giggly.
 Again- and I am loathe to point this out- a waitress even flutters her eyelashes because the air conditioning vent is on too strong and Ana is ready to blind her for the crime of gazing upon the perfection that is Christian Grey. Leila admits to being in love with Christian and it's happy giggles slumber party times?

Ana's characterization does a complete 180 in the middle of the last book of the series? Well, of fucking course. Because that's just how these books roll, and you can either roll with it or get rolled over. So strap in, because Saint Ana, Our Lady of Sisterly Protection, has stepped into the role previously occupied by Ana, Hater of Blondes and Scourge of Seattle.
My subconscious rolls her eyes at me in despair and goes back to reading her dog-eared copy of Jane Eyre.
So, what this is not so subtly trying to tell us is that Leila is the crazy wife in the attic and Ana is Jane.

"You'll get your chance to see Christian."
"I thought I would. I know how protective he can be." She smiles.
So this is her scheme. She's very shrewd. Or manipulative, whispers my subconscious. "This is why you're here to see me?"
I would pay money to hear Amy Poehler do an audio book of 50 Shades of Grey in the most sarcastic tone possible.

Ana, what is wrong with you? OBVIOUSLY she's there to see Christian. You're not important to Leila. How myopic is your world view that you honestly thought this visit had anything to do with Leila wanting to make amends with you?
Reluctantly, I have to acknowledge that she knows him well.
She was probably with him longer than you have been, Ana!

Leila tells Ana that Christian seemed happy with her on those occasions that Leila broke into his apartment to spy on them.
Do I want to hear this? A shudder runs through me. My scalp prickles as I recall my fear when she was the unseen shadow in our apartment.
She wasn't unseen. You saw her. WORDS MEAN THINGS.

Christian arrives, as Leila was anticipating:
Christian's burning gray gaze pins first me then Leila to our chairs. His demeanor is quietly determined, but I know better, and I suspect Leila does, too. The menacing cool glint in his eyes reveals the truth- he's emanating rage, though he hides it well. 
Well, if he's emanating it, he's not hiding it, is he?

Could you imagine working at SIP? Some random woman just started working there, gets promoted to editor within a week, and now her husband is bursting in unannounced and causing a scene just, you know, whenever? What a stressful environment.
"You," he says to Prescott in a soft tone. "You're fired. Get out now."
I blanch. Oh no- this isn't fair.
Oh, for fuck's sake, Ana, make up your damned mind. You have been lobbying for this woman's termination for fucking ever, now she's fired, and you don't want her to be? Oh, wait, I'm trying to assign past Ana's actions to St. Ana, when she's CLEARLY not the same character.
Leila peeks up at him through long lashes,
He stands, glowering at her. "Leila, if you come anywhere near my wife again, I will cut off all support. Doctors, art school, medical insurance- all of it- gone. Do you understand?"
"Christian-" I try again. But he silences me with a chilling look. Why is he being so unreasonable? My compassion for this sad woman blooms.
Because you're viewing your own victimization as it's happening to another person.  There's really nothing else to say about that point. It is what it is.

Christian grills Leila about the purpose of her visit, why Susi is there, and if Susi knew about Leila's stalking spree when it was going on.
"I had to know." And for the first time she looks up directly at him.
"Had to know what?" he snaps.
 "That you're okay."
He gapes at her. "That I'm okay?" he scoffs, disbelieving.
Okay, this is an example of a writer who needs to do some word economizing. This is an easy hole to fall into, because what's happening is E.L. is writing the way people talk. A lot of writers do this, I'm sure I've done it before, but when you have a conversation like the one above, the reader is going to notice how repetitious it is, and they're going to get annoyed with it. This is a place that could definitely have been trimmed. It could have looked like:
"I had to know." And for the first time she looks up directly at him.
"Had to know what?" he snaps.
"That you're okay."
and then he could go on to say the next part, about being fine. Or, it could have looked like this:
"I had to know." And for the first time she looks up directly at him. "That you're okay."
So many words could have been trimmed there. So, writers, don't fall into this very easy trap. Readers don't like to read characters repeating dialogue, even though people actually talk like that.
"I'm fine. There, question answered. Now Taylor will run you to Sea-Tac so you can go back to the East Coast. And if you take one step west of the Mississippi, it's all gone. Understand?"
*Raises hand* No. I don't understand. What's gone if she crosses the Mississippi? The east coast? Will the east coast be gone? Because that's what that says. I don't want that to happen, so I really hope Leila stays put.
"It might not be convenient for Leila to go back now. She has plans," I object, outraged on her behalf.
Christian glares at me. "Anastasia," he warns, his voice icy, "this does not concern you."
This is the exact face I'm making right now. I look super handsome.

How does this not concern Ana? She's the very object of your concern in this situation, Christian.

What if Leila and Susi came to rescue Ana? To steal her away and induct her into the "Sub Club," an organization that finds and gelds abusive rich men? That would be awesome.
"This is the Christian Grey I know," she says, her tone sad and wistful. Christian frowns at her, while all the breath evaporates from my lungs. I can't breathe. Was Christian like this with her all the time? Was he like this with me, at first? I find it hard to remember.
He's like this with you NOW, you daffy- UUUUURRRRRGGGH! This is not how you show character development for Christian Grey! Just having Ana say, "Oh, gosh, I don't remember how abusive he is and was!" doesn't make Christian magically not an abuser anymore or not an abuser in the past.

Christian asks when Leila's flight leaves, and tells her he'll send someone to Susi's house take her to the airport. I like how he just inserts himself in other people's plans like that. Shows he really knows how to be a dickbag.
I glare at Christian. He can't dictate to her like this... and how does he know where Susannah lives?
There's the Ana I remember! Weird and suspicious because Christian knows where one of his exes lives. Which is a totally normal thing to know, if you've been in a relationship with someone.

Leila leaves- although she says "Yes, Sir," to Christian on her way out, which made me "What the hell?" because it kind of shows that Leila isn't as better as she says she is.

After Leila leaves, Ana tries to preempt Christian's anger:
"Don't even think about being angry with me," I hiss. "Call Claude Bastille and kick the shit out of him or go see Flynn."
I guess this is the first time I'm noticing how obvious a name Claude Bastille is. I suppose Jacques Fromage was simply absurd.

"You promised me you wouldn't do this." Now his tone is accusatory.
"Do what?"
"Defy me."
Well, it probably would have been easier for her to not defy you by seeing Leila if you had let her know she had a "proscribed" list of who is and isn't allowed to be near her. Which, by the way, is still so fucked up that I can't get my head around it. But this is a new and exciting area of abuse for this couple; now he gets to make rules without telling her, and emotionally punish her when she disobeys them!

The thing that's really bothering Ana here is Christian's attitude toward Leila. She asks him why he was so dismissive and cruel to her, and Christian's response is pure douchebag gold:
"Anastasia," he says, as if to a child, "you don't understand. Leila, Susannah- all of them- they were a pleasant, diverting pastime. But that's all. You are the center of my universe. And the last time you two were in a room together, she had you at gunpoint. I don't want her anywhere near you."
Okay, I get him not wanting Ana around a woman who tried to shoot her. This part, I truly understand. What I don't get is how he feels it is in any way acceptable to refer to women, to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS, as pleasant, diverting pastimes. No, you simpleton. They are people, with feelings. GOSH I WONDER WHY LEILA WENT CRAZY AND WHY THEY HAVE A FUCKING SUPPORT GROUP TOGETHER.

Look, if there is one thing I've learned from romantic comedies, it's that if your exes need to form a support group because of you, you're doing something very wrong.

Ana points out that Leila was really, really mentally ill- no one notes that she probably still is, by the way. She's just cured now. Keeping in mind we're in, what, August? And she pulled the gun on Ana in June, probably? But I'm sure, I'm absolutely sure, that she's 100% cured and this meeting with Christian and Ana won't cause her any kind of setback.
"But you've just played right into her hands. She wanted to see you again, and she knew you'd come running if she came to see me."
So, what you're saying, Ana, is that Leila is not better at all. Because that was why she was stalking you in the first place, because she wanted to get Christian's attention.
Christian shrugs as if he doesn't care. "I don't want you tainted with my old life."
A chapter couldn't go by without discussion of BDSM as a filthy thing only diseased perverts do, right? Ana is too good and pure to be "tainted" by his past lovers, the women who willingly engaged in and enjoyed BDSM.

Ana points out that Leila still cares about him, and his response:
"I don't give a fuck."
Again, I can see both sides of this. "I don't give a fuck," because you threatened my girlfriend with a gun, but at the same time, "I don't give a fuck," about a person you had a relationship with that wasn't bad until she became mentally ill and dangerous (probably due in part to your abusive actions).
This is the Christian Grey I know. Leila's words rattle around my head. His reaction to her was so cold, so much at odds with the man I've come to know and love.
The man who has a secret list of people who aren't allowed to get near you, and you had no idea it existed or who is on it? The man who gave you so many hickeys on your honeymoon that you were embarrassed to wear a bathing suit, all because you accidentally sunbathed topless in France? The man who shamed you for your virginity and tried to get you to sign a sex contract so he could beat you in order to take out his anger at his dead mother? YEAH THIS SOUNDS NOTHING LIKE THE MAN YOU'VE COME TO KNOW AND LOVE.

"Look, Christian, I don't think Leila and I will be swapping recipes and knitting patterns any time soon. But I didn't think you'd be so heartless to her."
His eyes frost. "I told you once, I don't have a heart," he mutters.
Ana doesn't laugh directly in his face, which is what I would have done. But at least she sees through his bullshit and thinks that he's being adolescent.
It's painstakingly obvious that he cares. Why does he deny it? It's like his feelings for his birth mother. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore. No wonder he's so mad. I sigh and shake my head. Paging Dr. Flynn, please. How can he not see this?
He has an enormous blindspot, just like you do? Remember that whole, "This is nothing like the man I fell in love with" bullshit you tried to pull just a page ago? Also, it's "painstakingly obvious that he cares?" As in, "It's diligent and carefully obvious that he cares?" Yeah, that's not the right word for that sentence.

Christian tells Ana that the discussion is over, and they're going home, but it's too early, Ana still has work.
"Home," he insists.
"Christian." My voice is weary. "I'm tired of having the same argument with you."
He frowns as if he doesn't understand.
"You know," I elucidate, "I do something you don't like, and you think of some way to get back at me. Usually involving some of your kinky fuckery, which is either mind-blowing or cruel." I shrug, resigned. This is exhausting and confusing.
Christian seizes on "mind-blowing" and runs with it to distract Ana from the very real concern she's brought up.
Crap! I do not want to discuss this in SIP's meeting room. My subconscious examines her finely manicured nails with disdain. Shouldn't have brought the subject up, then.
You're right, subconscious. She should have just kept her mouth shut and not called Christian out on the fact that he uses sex to punish her. If she just ignored it, it would all go away. Because that's what's making her relationship so awesome right now.

So, because it's worked in the past and will continue to work in the future, Christian decides to seduce Ana, running his finger over her lip and getting real close so he can talk softly in her ear.
Pursing my lips, I strive to appear unaffected by his touch. He is so artful at diverting me from anything painful, or anything he doesn't want to address. And you let him, my subconscious pipes up unhelpfully, gazing over her copy of Jane Eyre.
I'm torn. On the one hand, her stupid subconscious has a point. Christian is doing this because he's found this behavior affective in the past. On the other hand, I resent the implication that women should train men like they're fucking toddlers. It's a little too close to, "If I love him enough, he'll change."

Christian wants Ana to list off all the "mind-blowing" things he's done to her, because god forbid she cease feeding his ego for even a moment. Then he tries again with the "come home" bullshit:
His lips curl in a slow carnal smile. "Come home." His tone is seductive.
"I have work to do."
"Home," he says, more insistent.
We gaze at each other, molten grey into bewildered blue, testing each other, testing our boundaries and our wills I search his eyes for some understanding, trying to fathom how this man can go from raging control freak to seductive lover in one breath.
He didn't. He's still being a control freak, demanding that you come home and fuck him because he wants you to.
"We could stay here." His voice is low and husky.
Oh no. No. No. No. Not in the office.
Remember in the first book, when they're in the restaurant and he basically threatens to rape her there? And remember how everyone insisted that he's suuuuuuch a different person in this book from the first one? He's done this big emotional journey that turns him into a nice guy? Yeah, so basically if Ana doesn't go home and fuck him, he's going to try to seduce her here.

Ana says she doesn't want to have sex in a room where his mistress has just been.
"Don't overthink this, Ana. She's history," he says dismissively.
I sigh... maybe he's right. I just want him to admit to himself that he cares for her. A chill grips my heart. Oh no. This is why it's important to me. Suppose I do something unforgivable. Suppose I don't conform. Will I be history, too? If he can turn like this, when he was so concerned and upset when Leila was ill... could he turn against me?
Yes. Yes he can.
"Oh, Christian, you scare me sometimes." I grasp his head in my hands, twist my fingers into his hair, and pull his lips to mine. He stills for a moment as his arms fold around me.
How does he manage that? He's either moving or not. He can't do both.
"You could turn away from her so easily..."
He frowns. "And you think I might turn away from you, Ana? Why the hell would you think that? What's brought this on?"
Then Ana goes, "Uh, just exactly what happened like two seconds ago, right here in this room." And then Christian goes to the hospital because he has jerknesia.

Not really. What happens is:
"Nothing. Kiss me. Take me home," I plead. And as his lips touch mine, I am lost.
So basically, his manipulative ploy worked again, and we're once again being told that this is romantic. That if a woman doesn't do exactly what a man wants, when he wants it, he can cast her aside like trash and that's ROMANTIC.

They go home, they have sex, and she gets him to admit that he does care about Leila. Then there's a section break, some emails that reveal it's now three days later, and Jose senior calls Ana to tell her that Ray is in the hospital, presumably after an attempt on his own life in a desperate bid to escape this book. Hey. We needed MORE subplots in this mess, right?


  1. Wait. Bursting into her office, accusing her of defying him, listening to her few attempts at having a vertebra, then seducing her into leaving work (or at least trying)?

    Didn't that already happen in chapter 7? Is that something everyone at SIP will have to endure once a week?

    All together now!

    1. I can pretty much guarantee that everything that's happened in this book has already happened in this book. Actually, everything that's happened in this book has already happened in books 1 and 2. This series is sort of an endless cycle of psychological torment and if it keeps going, I'M going to have to join the Sub Club (which sounds way too much like a Subway thing. Ooh, marketing idea.)

    2. there's an actual place called sub club in my town! they do 6" or 12" subs, plus like 4' and above subs for parties.

    3. @ali - Really? That's awesome! Or maybe not, because now BDSM and sandwiches are inherently linked in my mind so when I read your comment it was...interesting.

  2. Aargh...this chapter...this book. So much frustrating, but I don't want to break my desk in half by bashing my head on it. I LIKE this desk.

    You know, Ana being initiated into the Sub Club and all their funtimes could be an interesting plot. Kinda like a John Tucker Must Die situation (I haven't seen the movie so I don't know)? But, because it's interesting, I know it'll never happen. *sigh*

  3. So with the Sub Club, was it six beatings and then a free sandwich? Because I remember that promotion working a lot differently.

    Also, why did Ana's Ob/Gyn recommend the shot again? I mean if Christian really doesn't want kids it seems like the implant would be a much better solution. Of course, if she did have something that would stop her from being pregnant for so long then Christian would not be able to blame her for a pregnancy and hold that over her head forever.

    But of course he would never do such a thing because he's a changed man.

    1. If Christian really doesn't want kids, why didn't he have the snip? Is this addressed in the books? I don't remember and I'm sure as hell not going to re-read the books to find out.

      And, why does Ana trust such personal matters to her assistant? She should be making her own appointments for birth control shots.

    2. But if Christian had the snip, it's like saying that men are responsible for pregnancies or something. It's clearly the fault of the woman. Why would you even go there?


    3. @aussiespikefan

      Because it's just one more way of exerting control over women for him.

      Plus that would make him 'less of a man' in his mind, I bet.

    4. Aussie, a lot of men who really do not want kids EVER are afraid of snipping. Due to the nature of the procedure, men are awake while their scrotums are cut and they feel the tugging on their vas deferens, even though there's no pain. In the days following there is usually some mild pain and discomfort. Christian doesn't like to be uncomfortable.

      As for Ana, she had been conditioned by Christian to not handle anything important. Also something so many people aren't realizing is that Depo doesn't flush out of your system at three months on the dot. It last several months and boosters are overlapped at three-four months to help lessen the chance of a conception happening as the med starts to wear off (which it starts doing from the moment you get it). Women wanting to conceive are routinely told to expect it to be a year before it's out of your system.

      It's not likely, though possible, that delaying a booster by a week or so would result in a conception. This would be falling within the normal rate of failure.

    5. Christian does want children, he just doesn't want them right now. Because of course he wants children, selfish people make the very best parents.

    6. Or because any woman that comes close to his "manly thing" would swoon and be unable to perform said snip.

      A man doctor? Well, in a jealous fit of rage, because no one can be as endowed as Christian Grey, they could voluntarily harm his manhood.


    7. Or, you know, he could stop being such a fucking child and wear a condom every time he has vaginal sex with her.

  4. Oh God, if Ana had joined the Sub Club and left this utter dick for brains, I could have mustered up a teensy weensy bit of respect for EL James and for this book in general. But nope. No, we get manipulative, emotional/sexual abuser Christian and Ana thinks it's all ever so romantic, so the reader is supposed to as well.


    *weeps for humanity*

  5. I thought this article was fitting:
    3 Things to answer before you break up

  6. I really really want to know who the people are that think a secret list of people who are not allowed to see you is "romantic".

    So that I can stay far the hell away from them.

    1. 50 Shades Fans, probably. On the plus side, that means you're probably already on their Proscribed list.

  7. This was the point where I just sat there and sighed as I lowered my heads into my hands and gave up on all possibility of there being any change.

    1. I had to take a few minutes to collect my thoughts, just as I did the first time I read this.

      Fans say Christian changed, but right there we saw him manipulate Ana, and Ana, in a moment of appearing to grow a backbone while acknowledging Christian's a frightening control freak, played right into it.

      Also Prescott wasn't at fault. Ana gave her an order and was going to do what she wanted. Christian punished her for not physically restraining people.

      It's truly disheartening how many people think Christian is a good guy. I got into it with someone in a Goodreads thread. She started off trying hard to make Christian sound like a good guy, and backpedaled without admitting to backpedalling. She tried claiming Ana wanted the sex scene in chapter 12 of the first book to happen (remember she sent that e-mail saying she didn't want to see him anymore, and he immediately brok into her home to have sex with her and ignored her when she said no) because Ana was horny a little earlier. Also notice how Mocha thinks she hasn't been affected negatively by these books. Either she was a victim-blamer and abuser-excuser before the books, or her thoughts altered after reading these books. She also calls you and this blog juvenile.

      So many fans don't understand Stochkholm, or how it can get someone to say Yes to what they don't want to try making it easier on themselves, and how victims can be too ashamed to admit to what just happened, resulting in them claiming they wanted it all along to others. They don't understand how Ana is still scared of her husband, how much control he has over her when he went behind her back to ban people from seeing her. They don't understand that it's not normal for exes to band together and form a club. The only times I know of that happening was for support groups. We already know Christian either took as a sub a mentally ill woman or that he abused her into mental illness.

      Yet this is what readers want, and it's why I'm afraid that The Boss and my novel Sacred Blood will ultimately be failures. Women who have their own strength and willingly consent, and men who are perfect for their willingness to own up to their errors and shortcomings and make true efforts to change correct their faults (for those with some knowledge of my book's plot, I'm not referring to Juliette's abuser - that creep gets what's coming to him - I'm referring to Tristan) seem to have no place. I think we need to form a group of people who want to try changing the tide to help get word out about positive books. We won't change minds by bashing the trash, but we may sway people by presenting them with alternatives.

      This is all I can think of that we can do at this point. We've got to do what we can. I'm truly frightened that these books have taught so many women to excuse abuses. I'm scared that there are guys out there thinking this is what women want because a woman wrote it (Don't read the blog of Nathan from Boyz II Men).

      While reading this entry and typing this, I just had to convince my 11-year-old cousin not to read these book. I wish I was kidding.

    2. Mocha and I get into it frequently on goodreads. Love/hate relationship and all. But she's from New York, and her experience is just more cultured than yours or mine, okay?

    3. Wow, Alys, that is terribly depressing. I feel empathetic despair at, well, everything. But especially the bit where you say you fear novels that are different are doomed to fail. I know exactly how that feels (in another genre and for other reasons, though).

      I am really sorry and I wish there was something I could say to make it better.

    4. Shadow we've got to keep trying and chipping away. I think it's going to take time, and those going against the grain first usually don't make much headway. But if some is made, then you try again, and it's easier for others after you. What the anti-abuse, pro-empowerment writers today are doing IS important, and if the stars align right, maybe one of these books will blow the abuse-love to smithereens. We just have to be realistic so we're not disheartened by our hopes being trampled. We've got to keep trying and be vocal.

      Readers like that one person twisting abusive scenes to try making the scenes not be abuse, while claiming to not be effected by these books, helps make the case. We're up against people who don't want to see reason and who are fiercely protective of the abusers. But the pendulum will start to swing back. It has to. Those of us writing anti-abuse now are trying to pull it back sooner.

    5. Zee, the belief that being from Mew Yawk meaning more sophisticated (because growing up going to ballets and stage productions and large museums in multiple states and participating in productions and taking art classes from a classically trained grandmother while learning three instruments on which one prefers to play classical music and yet rocking out to classic rock is obviously a lack of culture =D) reminds me of Stacey McGill from The Babysitters Club.

    6. Lol! I used to want to be Stacey McGill when I was eight. Except I used to eat junk food when I read and she was a diabetic so maybe not.

      I never feel like pointing out to her I live near London (okay, about five minutes from the M25, which is the road around London) so culturally, we should be on a par. If she, or anyone else *coughs*JamieMacGuire*coughs* thinks that being from New York, or anywhere for that matter, makes you better or more socially/culturally aware then let them. It's evident that she's not as forward thinking as she believes herself to be in debates like that one, because sometimes her arguments seem like they contradict themselves.

      I loved you going through her excerpts from the book and putting them back in context btw :)

    7. Alys, your determination is very contagious. I definitely feel better after reading that. You're right, we should keep on trying, even if only to give people another option. If enough readers choose to turn away from the abuse-love narrative, the tides might turn against it, and we could relegate it to the forsaken, dark corners of literature.

      I think that it's ultimately a matter of mob mentality and global consensus. Because these books are globally seen as romantic, they can't be abuse. If the tides turn and they're seen for what they are, the very people who staunchly defend it now will change their tune to follow general consensus.

    8. Thank you for that link, Alys. I needed that argument. It felt good.

    9. Zee, Shadow, and Alex, thanks!

      Zee, if there's something that gets under my skin, it's people taking sentences out of context to try fooling themselves into believing a lie. With abuse this is dangerous.

      Shadow, each person we can get to see the light (pardon the cliche) is a step in the right direction. I've had two betas realize their own relationships were bad and were inspired to get away, and one man beta who finally understood how it isn't as easy for a victim to escape as simply wanting to. In addition, some of Erika's die-hard fans who I've connected with on Twitter are no longer in denial about her work and are wanting to read more about women who have strength. Baby steps. They are baby steps, but still progress.

      Alex, having been on the receiving end of abuse, I'm very passionate about trying to get people to understand that it's not romantic and shouldn't be an aspiration. Sometimes it feels good for me to just let it all out on a long teal-deer reply. :) I do appreciate knowing my little pseudo-rants are read. :)

    10. Alys, you're right. I've managed to get friends to see the truth, but it's still a veritable uphill battle. I'm really hopeful about your success with other people and I genuinely hope your novel does very well. We need all the help we can get fighting this.

    11. Mocha's actually depressing me right now on that thread. I bet she thought Staubenville wasn't rape because the girl never said no. Completely ignored the point I made when I said the only time it's okay to have unlikeable protagonists is when you're writing a book that tackles an issue or sends a message. We all know fifty does that, but as it's sold as romance it does not fit. I guess because that's too logical an argument.

      I used to at least respect her, but right now :(

    12. I had to give up with Mocha. She's completely disingenuous. She's believes it isn't rape if the victim was horny and/or if the victim said "no", but then said "yes" after the first "no" (and even the second) was ignored. Now it's one thing if you believe that out of sheer ignorance. But I corrected her, and rather than admitting she hadn't been aware that counted as rape, she said victims of that particular kind of rape who called their experiences that are lying.

      She just doesn't want to accept that she likes a story that uses rape as a romantic element, so she's decided to dismiss the experiences of actual rape victims instead. And when I called her out on it? She acted as though I was saying false accusations never happen, and then linked to several high profile cases that I'm not entirely convinced were false accusations anyway. She's a vile human being.

  8. This book. This fucking book. It's hard to even read the recaps anymore.

  9. I feel like closing my laptop, laying down and just staring at the ceiling. The book is bad enough, but compounded by the fact that it's more insanely popular than chocolate-covered crack... this is just... I can't... words... not workign anymor.

    1. The popularity of this stuff is a constant source of amazement to me. I started watching the doco Jen linked to above, but hearing the comments about how wonderful these bloody books are makes my head hurt. I just can't believe that so many women don't see the fuckedupness.

    2. Even if people don't see the flaws in the relationship, the writing is horrendous and there really and truly is NO PLOT!!!! That alone should have sunk these books. How can someone who's ever read an even halfway decent novel think there is anything worthwhile in this crap?

    3. Do you think people just skim through the plotless filler looking for another "juicy" sex scene? That's the only way I can imagine it.

    4. Bells -- I would hope so, except when you read the stuff people write defending it, they go on about this great love story and it's pretty clear they actually do read the books in entirety and somehow manage to fill in some plot from somewhere. And the sex scenes are written as horribly as the rest. It's inexplicable except to say that maybe people are getting dumber and dumber.

    5. @manybellsdown - the sex scenes in the book are about as juicy as dinner with grandma... no scratch that. sunday brunch and church with grandma (im an atheist). the are like reading a plain flat block wood, there is no way any open-minded and sexually experienced person would find them "juicy".

  10. I could see this book series as good. Hear me out, before grabbing pitch forks and torches.

    First, it needs to be better edited and what not, but that is beside the point.

    Second, a bumper on the front and back needs to be added, or maybe one just tacked onto the end, where the entire book series is framed as Ana as a Dungeon Mistress of some kind or other, telling a new person her story, explaining that this is not a good relationship. In my version of the story, this chapter is the turning point, where Ana starts to get the idea, finally, that Christian is a most horrible person.

    Also my version of the story has the two divorcing, and since there was no pre-nup, she gets half. Taylor, ends up getting fired, but since there was a contract violation, he ends up taking a large portfolio of the illegal and a-moral activities to the board of directors of the companies Chedward works for. This causes Chedward to lose all of his income, and most of the rest of his money. After which, Taylor sues Chedward into abject poverty (for wrongful dismissal, possibly even a class action suit for the dozen or so people that seem to have been just fired for things beyond their control), but because he is a good person, Taylor hires Chedward to mow the lawn that Chedward use to own.

    Sorry for the lack of use of pronouns, this book series has me paranoid of pronoun confusion.

    Also, feel free to steel my ideas, and write a 4th book for everyone's enjoyment where these things happen. I would buy two copies if there is a case of debilitating testicular torsion thrown in.

    1. In my spite-fic, Ana gets away and discovers kinky fun with a stable guy. Christian gets his when an ex sub gives him a C4 buttplug-- he was going to make a snuff film, after all!

    2. I haven't seen any updates recently. I want more!

    3. So you're saying this book is good, so long as everything changes?

      Omfg, this book is the Christian to your Ana (although, you are so freaking right, but still) ... that's mindfuck territory, right there.

    4. ... well Yes, in a way. If the book is framed as a tale of abuse, then it could be good, since well, it is an excellent portrayal of abuse.

      the context of a story can make it good or bad, like how fight club would be terrible and despicable if it was a self help book. As a love story, twi... 50 shades, is a skin crawlingly bad story. As a story of a deranged sociopath and a poor innocent girl, then it is well made... If lacking serious editing.

    5. Working on Chapter 23 now. Hopefully will be done tonight or tomorrow. Depends on my wee ones and how cooperative they prove to be.

    6. Ok, Chapter 23 is up!

  11. Wow I am so shocked the black woman got blamed

  12. Wow I am so shocked the black woman got blamed

    1. I know, it's like the book isn't blatantly prejudiced against anything that isn't white, rich, male, straight, cis and physically attractive.

  13. Oh Jenny, you have outdone yourself again. I always enjoy the recaps but today I had people coming to my desk to find out why I was laughing so hard, so thanks - I really needed that!

    As far as this: Ana knows that Christian is going to be informed of Leila's presence, and she desperately- for some reason that is never made clear- wants to see Leila. The person she was terrified of all through the last book. The woman who pulled a gun on her and had to go into a mental health facility just a few months before.

    I just assumed the reason is that Ana and Christian got married and so Ana wants to rub that in, ya know, her whole "Mine, bitch." attitude. But, then she goes all compassionate and giggly with Leila, so I guess that theroy doesn't hold up.

    1. I like to think Ana realized she's screwed, and so hoped Leila would finish what she tried earlier, and then got giggly from excitement.

  14. Weird thought that seriously just occurred to me reading this recap (don't judge me on that, I've been having head issues lately) ... wasn't Ana all squicky about committing to Christian's weekend love dungeon or whatever the fuck the kids are calling it these days for longer than a month, and he insisted on three months anyway? Aren't we now up to month three?

    I really wish Ana had told her inner goddess and her 'subconscious' to STFU for a minute and then listened to her gut instinct on that one. But we'd need a clued in heroine for that one, I guess. Still, hope you've enjoyed your three month trial which has seen you commit everything, you freak!

  15. So, is this a survivor's group? Because it kind of seems like they're there for an intervention or something.

    This makes me think of this excellent spitefic that a friend of mine wrote where a former sub helped Ana understand that a relationship with Christian is not what she thinks it is. You can read it here: On LiveJournal. It's really good, I swear.

    This is me right now. And no, I don't think I'm being overly dramatic, why do you ask?
    Incidentally, I regret watching that movie with all of my soul.

    This is the exact face I'm making right now. I look super handsome.
    Perfection. Just… Perfection.

    I suppose Jacques Fromage was simply absurd.
    The face I just made:
    Screw this site for not letting me embed images.

    Then the rest of this chapter wiped that look right off my face. What a load of crap this is.

    1. I'm reading Merv's Sporks of FSoG right now. They're very good too. I'm a fan of Snape and Sands. Have you gone through those yet? LNT is on my list for after I finish the FSoG first book recap. I hope the second will be done.

    2. I've been over on Das Sporking for a few years now, so I have read 'em. I'm looking forward to the discussions we'll be having with the second and third books of FSoG (they're taking a break between books, but they will finish the series).

      Right now, I'm sporking Walking Dead stuff in the community. I've got one chapter left in my current one.

    3. Read it, love it! Ana had a personality and everything!

    4. Your friend's fic was awesome! So so good. Loved that she managed to keep everything in character.

    5. I just checked out Das Sporking for FSOG.

      Look under characterization for the part where he runs Chedward's personality through a risk factor test and such. I found that pretty insightful by itself. Goes with Jenny mentioning that Ana fits the profile of being in an abusive relationship with him.

    6. Yeah, Gehayi is pretty damn thorough when it comes to her research.

    7. @Anonymous: The entire section on rape and time travelling makes such a scary amount of sense. The bits about anecdotes from FSOG fans about having found their own Christian Grey was depressing as hell, but illuminating.

    8. @Shadow

      That creeped me out. Then when she (sorry, I thought the writer was male before) pointed out her theory of older fans loving and relating to it because James took her older version of being a young women and put it in modern times (no internet, email, limited sexual knowledge) was actually really enlightening. What if that's really it? Otherwise, Ana truly never makes any sense at all.

    9. Yeah, that's pretty much a stroke of genius on Gehayi's behalf. The idea that EL James is basically writing a younger version of herself in the modern age makes quite a bit of sense.

      That said, it's a genuine shame that it seems that the reason she doesn't realise she's writing abuse is because she's from a different time. A lot of people her age (and older) have adapted to the times and are perfectly capable of recognising abuse and escaping it.

  16. I have to admit, I'm actually one of those few readers who likes reading characters talk like regular people, repetition be damned. I don't know, I just feel like something's lost when it gets trimmed down.

    1. I totally agree with this. I think the repetition is no problem, as long as it's done effectively it can amp up the tension a lot better than people talking in full eloquent sentences.

      The issue I have with 50Shades is the repetition of them having the same conversation over and over again.

    2. Cassandra Parkin picked up on the reptition too, and ordinarily I'd agree with you on the whole realism front, but now when I see this, all I can remember is how Cassandra started rewriting it into a musical. I think it started when they started repeating the word ass ... so now if Ana or Christian repeat anything, there is a show choir just singing ass in my head.

      Well played, Cassandra.

  17. I actually just have to skim these reviews because (as much as you're an excellent writer) I'm being triggered left and right and I just need a break. That said, DAMN THIS FUCKING BOOK.

    1. The only reason I'm still reading these is out of a sense of solidarity with Jenny. Not even her outstanding humor can get me through an entire trilogy of recaps, but I donated for all three books and I am damn well going to hang in there with her.

  18. Leila is so fucked up. Why would Christian be proud of her for Breaking and Entering? That is so creepy.

    That sentence was the ONE time that Leila actually seemed both real and scary.

    1. I think he was proud of Leila because her actions made Ana more afraid and easier for him to control. Leila inadvertently assisted Christian in his plans.

    2. That makes a scary amount of sense. Ugh, shudders.

  19. You know... Everything in these books is "a revelation". That phrase - It was a revelation - is repeated a lot.

  20. Ana, Hannah and Susannah.

    Fail. Just so much fail.

    1. Thought the same!

    2. Ordinarily, I'd agree and point out they follow a similar pattern to Erika, but since my sisters and I have accidentally done something similar with our kids, I feel like a hypocrite (Noah, Oliver, Elena-I know, my poor niece- and Alyssa. They all have -ah sounding suffixes :/)

    3. Ana, Susannah, Hannah, bo-bana, Fee-fi-fofana, ANA!

  21. "Ray is in the hospital, presumably after an attempt on his own life in a desperate bid to escape this book"

    Bravo, take a bow, Jen! THis book is so horrible that at this point, what more can be said about this tripe? I can't wait until the chapter on Ana finding out she's pregnant comes up! Chedward is even MORE of a douchebag!

    I printed that quote above, because I cannot stop smiling! TOO FUNNY!

  22. Take a minute to think about how really, truly scary this is. Ana is constantly surrounded by security, allegedly for her own "protection." But now we know there are a list of people who are never allowed to come near her. Ana didn't know about this list; for all she knows, people who love and care about her have tried to contact her, only to be turned away, and Ana would never know. Her husband is literally keeping her a prisoner.

    *ahem* If I may contribute a shameless plug to my spitefic fully taking advantage of such a horrifying plot point...

    1. *reads*

      Oh, this is muuuuuch better! And there's 22 chapters!

    2. Actually, my story only has three chapters so far, I think you may have confused it with someone else's, lol :P

    3. Oops, you're right! I was thinking of one that has, like, only one word different in the title. Reading yours now.

    4. Intervention of Ana (currently at 22 chapters) is my spitefic :)

    5. @Mandi Really?! It's really good. I need to go leave a review and subscribe to it.

    6. I'm so happy at these spitefics! Thanks for sharing the links you guys! It kind of makes me feel better about these fucking books.

  23. Chedward. How I hate you.

    I read a Hannibal slash story earlier where Graham safe worded Lector and Lector was cool about it ( Isn't it great when a cannibalistic serial killer is more respectful towards his partner than Chedward?

    1. God, tell me that someone's written a fic where Hannibal kills and eats That Fucking Guy.

    2. Ignoring the safe word would be considered rude. Chedward would be considered rude. Hmm, what would Hannibal choose to eat from Chedward? Or would he feed him to the dogs like Mason Verger?

    3. Heh. I'd love to read a fic where Hannibal eats That Fucking Guy, or feeds him to the dogs. Since Chedward sucks as a human being, I'd worry he'd give them food poisoning.

    4. I'VE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR AGES! I think I actually described this fanfic in a recap from the last book.

      Also, I want Clarice to shoot Ana. Please?

    5. Please someone write this.

    6. Hannibal would have to eat Ched just for appropriating the Goldberg Variations.

  24. a puppy trying to get out of a bowl:

    that's all i've got.

    1. Thank you. Jenny should include pictures like this at the beginning and the end of every post about this thing.

    2. ^ that is a incredibly good idea, sona.
      This F***ing BOOK!

  25. "You promised me you wouldn't do this." Now his tone is accusatory.
    "Do what?"
    "Defy me."

    That's where I lost it. I snapped. I snapped like a dry twig who's been out in the desert all day. All of the fury, I am feeling it. All of it. I have grown beyond the "I wish him death" stage. I now wish him an eternity of pain.

    You do not say "I told you not to defy me" to your partner unironically, because that means "I told you not to go against my will", and that is such an excess of psychopathic control freakery that it skids straight past horror and barrels into homicidal rage.

    All of my horror has been transmuted into wrath. I am galvanised by hatred; it will be my shield. You can't terrify me any longer, EL James.

    Bring it.

    1. I think dear Westley has the proper plan for Christian:

      "The first thing you lose will be your feet....The left, then the right. Below the ankle. Then your hands, at the wrist. Next your nose. No smell of dawn for you. Followed by your tongue. Deeply cut away. Not even a stump left. And then your left eye--....Your ears you keep, so that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish--every babe that weeps in fear at your approach, every woman that cries, 'Dear God, what is that thing?' will reverberate forever within your perfect ears. That is what 'to the pain' means. It means that I leave you to live in anguish, in humiliation, in freakish memory until you can stand it no more; so there you have it, pig, there you know, you miserable vomitous mass, and I say this now, and live or die, it's up to you: Drop your sword!"

    2. Damn straight! IMO the only appropriate response to words to the effect, "I told you not to go against my will", from your SO, is "Get fucked!"

    3. Where is Wesley when we need him?

    4. Could not possibly agree more with you all.

      I feel ready for the inevitable Breaking Dawn copypaste where Ana finds out she's pregnant and Christian acts like a monstrous douchenozzle (but eventually becomes the perfect father due to "the power of love") so that we can get a completely unnecessary pro-life message.

      I am braced. Let's do this.

  26. I'd like to argue that Ana's empathy towards Leila isn't out of character because we're supposed to see Leila as someone who has been established to not be a threat to her in a romantic sense (apologies in advance for weird English, I'm not a native speaker):

    1) Ana is insecure, her self esteem comes from outside validation, and she's especially insecure about "keeping" Christian, probably because he's secretive and unpredictable. So if she perceives a woman to be interested in him, she'll never know whether or not that means something to him, or how it will play out, e.g. he's hidden from Ana how close he and Mrs. Robinson still are (doesn't matter whether it's purely a work relationship or not), and he kept brushing off her concerns and questions about that. I don't think anybody would be surprised if it turned out that Christian still has a couple women on the side. Leila, on the other hand, he did brush off, so there's a precedent as far as she is concerned -- also she made her feelings for Christian clear in front of everyone involved, so the whole situation has an air of "open and honest" instead of sneaky and secretive. Ana doesn't need to angst about "what if" because she (feels she) has all the information necessary, and since Christian turned Leila down but Ana wears a precious ring now, Ana can be all generous and pat-on-the-head-friendly about Leila's confessions.

    2) Willing to bet that in 50 shades world, mentally ill people don't count as proper sexual beings and aren't supposed to be perceived as potential romantic interests ever. Ana is not supposed to perceive her as a threat, so she is free to pity the poor little mentally ill girl, and we're expected to view things the same way.

    1. Good point. In 50 Shades land, only young, "sane" white women are sexual threats.

  27. Holy shit, this fucking book. I started this recap laughing and finished it with rage and the beginnings of a migraine.

    Anyway, I read the other day that charity shops are being swamped with these books. For every one they sell, two get donated. I wonder how much of that is people buying it because everyone else was and now they've actually got around to reading it and thought NOPE, do not want. Although if I somehow wound up with one of these books, I wouldn't give it to charity, they deserve better. I'd set it on fire during some sort of cleansing ritual.

  28. As always, the recap is awesome. The documentary however is more about real people who are into BDSM, and 50 shades is just mentioned as the thing that spiked interest in the BDSM lifestyle. All the couples (3) are actually super cute and not abusive at all, and there's this chick who is a switch, who is like super awesome. They barely talk about 50 shades. I did not hear that these books sell 1 per second, that's kind of horrible.

  29. I read these recaps fairly religiously and I just have nothing to say. Like, WHAT? I just do not understand it at all.

    Why are these books popular?

  30. Raises hand* No. I don't understand. What's gone if she crosses the Mississippi? The east coast? Will the east coast be gone? Because that's what that says. I don't want that to happen, so I really hope Leila stays put


  31. I love your writing advice in these recaps and the Buffy re-watch.

    Over the past few months, I've whittled a 134k-word novel down to 112k, which has made me *extremely* sensitive to prolixity (or, as Muriel Spark put it, writers "pissing words," although she put the phrase in French, so it sounded classier :-). We all do it in rough drafts and even first "polished" drafts, but surely part of an editor's job is to suggest streamlining exchanges like the one you point out? Books like this are why so many people seem to believe nothing gets edited any more.

    Better you than me slogging through this thing!

    1. I also love how Ana can see her own eyes as "We gaze at each other, molten grey into bewildered blue."

      Or maybe she's actually having a dissociative episode as a result of all the mental and emotional abuse, and I should be more charitable ...

    2. You can tell how inferior Leila is, too, because she keeps banging on about her eyes being brown.

      Like ELJ I'm fat and brown-eyed. Unlike ELJ, I stopped writing slim blue-eyed wish fulfilment heroines when I was about 12.

    3. I have the habit of making my heroines look a lot like me ... Except they have cute, upturned noses. lol

  32. I wish that Christian was a real person so that I could kill him and be done with him. BET that Taylor would let it happen. I would maybe all just off Ana because these people are the fucking worst.

  33. I wish Ana would shut up about the books her subconscious is reading. Classics are classics for a reason, but how many people do you know that honestly consider Jane Eyre is their favourite book? Or even in their top five?

    There's this annoying trend where supposedly bookish protagonists never seem to read anything but incredibly well-known classics. They never seem to read Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams or Jim Butcher or even Dan Brown. Or anything published in the last hundred years.

    1. One. I know one person who has Jane Eyre up there on her favorites list. Anna Karenina first, and Jane Eyre after.

      This is why I read so many recaps and comments. People point out good things. I have my main female protag reading (she also went to school and got a degree she will actually use), and the times I do mention what, it's classics that are actually things believable to her character. But I think I'll toss in a Nora Roberts book for good measure, maybe Adams too. Hitchhiker's Guide is contemporary enough and I can tie that in to her character easily.

      Thanks for the idea!

    2. I actually love Anna ...

      ... and I actually get fed up with protagonists being readers, or authors, or in editing. FFS, if you want to get people reading, how about a protagonist who hates reading? That's kinda what I've done with my story, the protagonists hate reading, and you know what? They live instead. I think I instantly love books where the main character doesn't describe themselves as a journalist, or wanting to write, or keeping a journal, or any of that crap. Maybe that's just me.

    3. It's the old adage, "write what you know". Most writers are avid readers, and there's a cultural pressure that you're only to be taken seriously as an author if your tastes are "cultured" (which means that you read only the classics, and never watch TV or read anything contemporary, especially genre fiction).

    4. True, and I guess you could argue that writers are reassuring their readers, particularly the younger books, that there's a future in writing. And although I love reading, and writing, and I can't imagine life without either, there's just so much else out there that I guess I wish that was reflected more in books. The flipside is when you watch a TV show or film where someone's an actor or a screenplay writer, for me it almost begins to feel like a parody. There are way more Joey Tribbiani's out there than Tad Hamiltons ...

    5. Yeah, but I'm in a healthcare profession and I'm already completely immune to the appalling way most medical issues are portrayed in all kinds of fiction.

      You get used to it.

    6. I think it's less a matter of "I want to prove my tastes are cultured" or "I want to promote reading" than it is "I am a writer/reader and it would never occur to me that any other person on earth wouldn't be." I mean, really, think back to a time you've met someone who said, "I don't read." If you're a reader, chances are you're as capable of understanding that as you would be of understanding someone saying, "I breathe water." You're just like, "What?"

      As for watching a tv show or film where a character is an actor, and they turn out like Joey (obligatory "How you doin'?"), well... that shows you what the screenwriter feels about actors, doesn't it? LOL.

    7. Jen: You make a great point. That's probably the case, yes.

      Also, Joey rocked. "How you doin'?" will go down in history as the best flirting line ever.

    8. But IS she a writer/reader?

      I first noticed this when I was a teenager reading tons of YA. On the one hand, we have John Green, who falls into this category. I think he's baffled by people who don't read. But in any given John Green book, a wide range of other books are referenced. "Looking for Alaska" turned me onto to Auden and Edna St. Vincent Millay (poets), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Spanish language fiction), Edith Wharton, Kurt Vonnegut and J.D. Salinger (classic literature) . . . and those are just the ones I remember right now. All authors he referenced in some context, and that I became curious about.

      Stephanie Meyer referenced Jane Austen.

      Ever since then, I've been paying attention not only to which books authors reference, but how many books they reference, ESPECIALLY when the main character is supposed to be a bibliophile. Ana is an English major, for christ's sake. Yet she's mentioned, what, three books in the whole series? I read more books than that in a week. Good books, bad books, genre fiction, classic lit, you name it.

      So when it looks like an attitude of, ""I am a writer/reader and it would never occur to me that any other person on earth wouldn't be," but the author is apparently ignorant of all but a few books, I get suspicious.

    9. Les Miserables is actually one of my top favorite books ever. I absolutely loved that book. It was one of those few books that I wanted to immediately re-read after I finished it, but I was afraid it would send me into a suicidal spiral from intense depression, which is part of what makes it so good! lol

      I'm reading Ana Karenina now and I like it, but I don't love it. I'm about halfway through. And I cannot stand anything Bronte. I've tried. Several times, I've tried. They're just terrible. I feel the same about Jane Austen.

      Now, a character who love Douglas Adams I would seriously love.

    10. Or better yet: a character who loved Les Miserables AND Douglas Adams. Now that is a realistic, likeable character. Me, I love Steinbeck and Terry Pratchett :)

    11. A character who loved Les Miserables AND Douglas Adams?! That's me. THAT'S ME. (I also love Terry Pratchett)

      Seriously, though. Much Les Miserables love. That, and Moby-Dick. Which I'm currently in the process of getting a full sleeve tattoo of.

    12. I have to jump in here. (this may be more of a twilight rant, but really, are Anabella really different characters?)

      Pride and Prejudice is actually my all time favourite novel. I adore the shit out of it and I'll never be ashamed. The purpose (I think) in making these classical illusions in fiction is to put their protagonists on par with the protagonists in the novels they reference.

      EL James (and Meyer, really) completely miss the mark when they compare characters like Ana and Bella to Lizzie... when Darcy was an arsehole to Lizzie and then tells her he loves her even though he doesn't want to (and that is what he said to her when he proposed at Rosings)... Lizzie cracked it and essentially told him to kiss her arse. She recognised that for the INSULT that it was, to like someone against her better judgement. Characters like Ana(Bella) hear "I like you even if I don't want to" and latch onto the first half of the statement. They can't be compared to Lizzie because they lack her gumption.

      Chedward cannot possibly be Mr Darcy because HE FAILS TO GROW AS A CHARACTER. Mr Darcy was a prick in the first third of P&P. He has this awesome thing called character development where he becomes lovely by the end of the book.

      What I'm saying is.... if you're going to allude to classical fiction (which you can, but I disagree that having classical tastes makes you any better than anybody else... Hello Mary Bennet) you better make damn sure your characters have something in common with the people you're alluding to!!!!!!!!!

      *insert generic rage here*

    13. Jenny, wow, a Moby-Dick tattoo, we need pictures! I adore Moby-Dick. I recommend Matt Kish's illustrations to everyone:

      re 'classic' (ugh at the term) literature. ELJ has the subconscious idiot reading 'the complete works of Charles Dickens vol 1' at one point. Just think about how dumb that is. Most Dickens novels are huge. There isn't going to be a volume containing David Copperfield and Bleak House and Great Expectations, it would be a foot wide. Could she genuinely not name one Dickens novel? And why not choose another Bronte or Hardy novel, since those are supposedly her 'themes'? Genuinely I think ELJ is just very ignorant. She wouldn't know allusion/reference/intertextuality if it cable-tied her to a bedpost and told her not to 'defy' it.

    14. Uh...Jane Eyre is actually my favorite book of all time. lmao.

      Which is why I wish it would stop getting mentioned here especially considering the fact that, despite being written over 150 years ago, it shows more feminism than 50 shades.

      And just...I want to keep nice things away from this pile of steaming shit. /sigh

      Sorry, this was OT of the rest of the thread pretty much...

    15. "there's a cultural pressure that you're only to be taken seriously as an author if your tastes are "cultured" (which means that you read only the classics, and never watch TV or read anything contemporary, especially genre fiction)"

      Too bad for those who think this. My main protag loves art museums and some classics, sure, but also watches TV and loves 80's comedies and uses what she watched in video games to formulate a war plan later. Good thing Jack Thompson is out of the spotlight or he'd accuse me of endorsing first-person shooters.

      My irritation with characters liking classis is that they often like nothing else. Classic books and classical music and rarely ever anything else. I don't think that makes for a well-rounded character.

      Among my own favorites are Les Mis, Angela's Ashes, and a bunch of books by Nora Roberts. I'll listen to classical music, Lynyrd Skynyrd, New Kids on the Block, and Lady Gaga. Activities I enjoy are the Portland Art Museum, Portland Zoo (I'm a member of both of those), the Oregon Ballet Theater and other events at the Keller (I volunteer for the OBT and take classes there), watching CSI with friends, and being politically incorrect in joking with friends who are like-minded. It's not impossible to like a wide variety of things. So I think it's silly that a lot of writers want to give characters the depth of a teaspoon.

    16. Brook, I think a lot of writers (cough-SMeyer-cough-Erika) don't understand Austen and how her books her satirical.

      Oh, and to the people saying les Mis and Douglas Adams as loves would be great - I've already been editing in some Hitchhiker's Guide references, and there were Les Mis references in the very first draft. Juliette's cool for other reasons though. She ends up completely taking charge and turning the tables on her ex. You'll love her if you ever read Sacred Blood.

    17. Alys, all excellent points, but the problem is that writers rely too heavily on pre-existing stereotypes and archetypes. It's one of those embedded bad things that get repeated in writing classes and told by great writers, and people just lap it up without actually thinking about it. A story succeeds not because it has stereotypical/archetypical characters, it succeeds in spite of them.

      Stereotypes and archetypes are fine if you're a beginner and you're still getting the hang of writing (which is what fan fiction is for, coincidentally), but archetypes won't make a story good on their own. Having your stereotypical "cultured" character who only reads classics and avoids "plebeian" activities, it's not good writing. It's the opposite of good writing. Complex characters have quirks and facets and often like things they should hate and hate things they should like.

      It's lazy writing, that's what it is.

  34. Jacques Fromage needs to live.
    I'd read the crap out of a book with a character named Jacques Fromage. His love interest is Amandine Bordeaux and/or Thierry Bordeaux. Villain is Florentin Croissant.
    Lord those books are ridiculous; even Jen's recaps are painful to read now. Thankfully, I bought a few of her books, and those aren't painful at all.

  35. This is not a chapter in a book, this is a "new chapter!" from a fanfic.

    As Jen has pointed out so many times, the women who like 50 Shades of Grey don't read it as abuse, they read his insane possessiveness as visible signs of how much he is into Ana. They find the idea of someone liking Ana -- them -- so much exciting.

    In the same way, they have to validate that feeling of "getting picked/winning" by feeling superior to other women. This scene between Leila and Ana that serves absolutely no point plotwise probably had the exact effect EL James wanted when she wrote it -- she probably got tons of reviews from squealy girls going "OMG go Ana!"

    When you think about the 50 Shades trilogy not as a book, but as a collection of stories that EL James posted every week for an audience, its meandering, fluffy, jubbly plot makes a lot more sense.

  36. God dammit, the Leila art school thing. I can't remember if this happened at the end of this chapter or in the next, but Ana asks Christian about owning some of Leila's paintings, and he is an ENORMOUS PRETENTIOUS ASSHOLE about it. Actually it bothered me so much that I brought out my copy of Fifty Shades Freed to look it up, because even though I read it three months ago, I'm still so pissed about it that I need to vent:

    "Leila says you have two of her paintings," I whisper.
    "I used to. I didn't really care for them. They had technical merit, but they were too colorful for me. I think Elliot has them. As we know, he has no taste."




    I count no fewer than three grievous offenses in that quote: he trashes Leila's artistic ability, he manages to be pretentious about something he knows NOTHING about, and he disses Kate (because "Elliot has no taste", ostensibly in art and in women). Actually make that four offenses, because he reinforces that Ana is EL James' personal Mary Sue with the "Elliot has no taste" thing.

    But that's typical Christian for you. He might (loosely) pretend to see women as equals, but in reality he doesn't see their careers as anything other than expensive hobbies.

    1. The Leila art school thing is making me kinda crazy anyway. Art school is HARD. It's hard to get into, and it's hard to finish. Yet according to Christian, Leila enrolled over the summer or something because "she's always been interested in art."

      Gee, thanks, E.L. James. Good to know that you consider art school a good dumping ground for mentally ill girls who are "interested in art." I spent a YEAR on my portfolio, you bitch. Studio classes are five hours a week, per class, and that's not counting all the work you do on your own time. Also, you can't just up and enroll in the middle of the summer, with no portfolio, no interview, no preparatory work.

      And yeah, his criticism of Leila's paintings is bullshit. It doesn't even make sense. If I used the phrase, "Too colorful for me," during a critique session, I'd probably get kicked out of class. But I bet Ana takes his opinion seriously!

    2. I had thought 'art school' was Christian's snobbish euphemism for 'private psychiatric hospital where she does a bit of art therapy'...

      I bet Ched is the kind of dickhead who pays top whack for canvases painted - yes - entirely one shade of grey, because someone tells him they're an investment. Everything about him s described demonstrates that he has very poor taste.

  37. Spoiler alert, it's another appointment for her birth control shot.

    It just hit me that, sixteen chapters in, there's no sign of anything actually approaching a plot. It's just been completely pointless filler.

  38. You can see your own eyes, Ana? There's a talent.

  39. Can you return books to the store you bought them from? Wouldn't that make quite the statement if everyone who was disgusted/disappointed by these books returned them? Even if they wouldn't give me my money back, I'd still like to leave them on the counter. I've never tried, but would if I owned these (I borrowed from the library). I read (struggled through) the first one to see what all the hype was about and then skimmed the 2nd. Silly me, I thought maybe Ana would grow up when she left him at the end of the first and was curious to see where the 2nd would go (apparently nowhere). It makes me wonder how many bought these books and never finished them? The silent majority??? Too bad we'll never know....

  40. How does the breath evaporate from her lungs? It's already a gas.

  41. You lost me at "pinch my cheeks to give them some colour". I'm sorry, is Ana a 90 year old lady?

  42. OK so - who thinks ELJ should offer the 50SOG 'world' out to Amazons new fanfic-for-money platform?

  43. This chapter feels like the ultimate proof that Chedward has not changed at all. If I remember correctly, didn't he do this in the first book too? She "did" something and he showed up at her job and started yelling at her and she almost broke down crying. How can he see this as a normal part of a relationship? If my boyfriend tried that at my job he would have been carried out.
    I am going to share a secret with you Chedward. Even if Ana did everything that you asked for, if she quit her job, stopped seeing all her friends and pretended that she was happy, you still wouldn't have been happy. You would still have found problems, maybe not big problems but big enough that you feel the need to punish her. Maybe by ignoring her, acting like a child or hit her. How do I know this? BECAUSE SHE IS NOT THE FUCKING PROBLEM, YOU ARE!

  44. I have a theory about all the giggling Leila and Ana do together. Leila is trying to kidnap her, so she attempts to knock her out with laughing gas, which doesn't work because they BOTH get high off it.

    Laughing gas is actually the only way I could stomach these books...

  45. I recently saw a request in an anonymous prompt meme for a "BDSM" fic that was actually abuse and I face-palmed b/c I'd bet goood money that the requester has read 50SOG.

    But! Here's the good news! Someone else promptly replied and explained why what the requester wanted was not actually BDSM and was actually just an abusive controlling relationship. And then a few more people replied to that comment and thanked the person for their post b/c they too were bothered by the fact that abuse was labelled as BDSM.

    So while there are definitely people who have been led astray by these books, there are also people everywhere who understand what BDSM actually is and will (hopefully!) be able to explain the difference to avoid any further confusion.

    This was kind of a bad news/good news post I guess. haha.

  46. Since people have talked about how much of a creepy sociopathic douche Christian is in the past, I stumbled upon this article from the POV of a female sociopath who's written a book on the subject. A rather disturbing read:

    1. That was a very disturbing (but very informative) read. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    2. No problem. Crept me right out as well.

    3. Trigger warning on that for people like me that get very upset about bad things happening to animals.

  47. Actually my name is Leila (spelled differently) and my nickname is Lulu (spelled differently.) I agree it's not really a nickname, but I thought it was worthing pointing out.

    As a Leila/Leyla/Layla/Laila myself, the character of Leila is one of the reasons I hate these books so much. My name was once synonymous with "that amazing Eric Clapton song" and now it's "that crazy bitch from 50 Shades of Grey." So THANKS EL James. Thanks a fucking ton.

  48. I got the sense that the Sub Club isn't a support group, more like an group of women who take pride in the fact that they had the honor and privilege of Christian Grey's cock inside them. What greater distinction can a woman in the 50SoG universe hope to achieve?

  49. "My compassion for this sad woman blooms" What the hell is this, a hallmark card? Ana's personality shift is weird; she went from being one type of Mary Sue to another. Someone should categorize the types of Mary Sue most often seen in fiction.

    Like you said previously, Ana relates to other women in a very "off" way. When she wants to show dominance over other women she does so in a sexual manner, such as unbuttoning her blouse. She has done this with Leila and Gia, and probably others that I can't remember. It seems like she thinks that to "defeat" another woman in any capacity she must be more sexually appealing than them. She thinks that the only quality that matters in women is their sexuality. Ana is supposed to be smart (well, book smart), why doesn't she value that quality?

  50. I'm curious, you refer to Prescot peeing as 'Prescott fails at something'
    Fails at what, wetting herself? Holding on so long her bladder explodes?


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