Well, here's another 20 page chapter of pointlessness. See, it seems like there's a story being told, because characters talk endlessly, but really nothing much happens. We've had about 50 or so pages of story so far, but unfortunately for us, it's been spread out over 250 pages of typing.
:: So, we start almost literally where the last chapter left off, because we need to experience every moment of Ana's idiotic life. Christian shows up at her door to celebrate her acceptance and discuss the soft limits yet again.
:: "Nothing beats a good Bollinger." "Interesting choice of words." "Oh, I like your ready wit, Anastasia." Wait, when did the wit happen? I missed the wit. Where was it? Did it get cut out?
:: Blah blah blah extraneous details about her apartment and teacups and fumfah fumfah fooferaw. He catches the quote she pulled from Tess of the d'Urbervilles and deems it "very apt," which it certainly is not. I get it, EL James read Tess of the d'Urbervilles and wants us all to know that it's just as much an inspiration for this novel as her masturbatory fantasies of Robert Pattinson. Except the parallel she thinks is there isn't there. Also, dear Nyalarthotep in the walls, do not compare yourself to the literary canon when you're writing fanfiction, because it just makes your work look even more ridiculous and small.
Christian does say: "I thought I was d'Urberville, not Angel." You are correct. Alec d'Urberville was a rich sexual predator, so, yeah, that part I'll give you, James. Well, except that you're comparing him to the other guy in a ham-fisted attempt to get us to see this as a dark, tragic romance, which it most certainly is not.
:: So, Ana's uncomfortable with the books and wants to give them back, but Christian refuses and tells her not to "defy" him, so she figures they're hers and she can donate them to a charity auction, which makes him angry and remote, so she backpedals immediately, trying to save the whole night. He even sort of questions her character, saying "As a submissive you would just be grateful for them. You just accept what I buy you because it pleases me for you to do so." Sorry, but you don't get to dictate her reactions, you just have to accept them and go from there. She says expensive gifts make her feel cheap. He plays it off by downplaying the gift entirely, dismissing her feelings, and then changing the subject.
Ana, he has been at your apartment for three pages. (Three pages in EL James' world equals about two minutes of actual time.) It should be a warning sign that you two can't even have a celebration without hostility and hurt feelings. Also, it should be a warning sign that Christian is uncomfortable when the focus is on you and your feelings and anything outside of being "his."
:: When pouring, Christian actually says, "with relish," "Bollinger Grand Annee Rose, 1999, an excellent vintage." It's like a caricature of a rich person. It's so stupid. Also, can a book get called out for having near-constant product placement? It's like EL James somehow thought corporations were going to send her Bollinger or Audis or MacBooks as thank-yous, or something.
:: Christian's sister Mia is coming into town. I wonder if she'll be the same kind of vague, shadowy non-character as his brother Elwood or Marmot or Petey or Stuckey or Jasper or whatever the hell his name was.
:: Christian basically interrogates Ana about her internship interviews and all kinds of shit because EL James is just padding and stalling again because, I guess, serious books are thick. He also bugs her about whether she ate, and she says to us "not this old chestnut" because, again, Ana speaks the way modern 22 year-olds do.
:: "The next time you roll your eyes at me, I will take you across my knee." It made me sigh in exasperation, but it makes Ana's panties start melting, so what the hell do I know?
:: And then the list comes out and we have to talk through the list again, for something like the third or fourth fucking time. Ana's having reservations about anal sex, to which Christian responds: "I’ll agree to the fisting, but I’d really like to claim your ass, Anastasia."
"Your ass will need training."
"Your ass will need training."
"Your ass will need training."
"Your ass will need training."
:: "I've never had this conversation in so much detail." Well, thank goodness we're here for this one!
:: I know I keep bringing it up, but seriously, it is the worst part of this whole thing: I'm an atheist, but I pray every week for Ana's inner goddess to take an arrow to the frontal lobe.
:: "'I promised not to laugh. I've apologized twice.' He glares at me. 'Don't make me do it again,' he warns. And I think I visibly shrink..." Ana characterizes this moment of abusive threatening as "bossy." Portrait of a naive character who is in over her head but is merely a thinly-veiled author avatar being written by a woman who is in over her head.
:: Ana actually has a cogent question: how is she going to use safewords if she's gagged? Christian's dismissive response? "First of all, I hope you never have to use them. But if you’re gagged, we’ll use hand signals."
Hand signals? Hand signals? Hand signals? HAND? SIGNALS? A tied-up and bound woman is going to use hand signals as a safeword? What? Just, stop. Stop it. How has this guy, who is dismissive of your every concern, earned any trust when it comes to any of this?
He's constantly telling her this is all about her and her limits but every time he hits a limit he tries to talk his way through it, telling her it's all part of the package and it just comes with the territory, but that's not what a D/s relationship is, for fuck's sake. Ana blanches, Christian insists, then talks until she starts to get overwhelmed. Naw, naw baby, it's all going to be so pleasurable for you and this is all about you and I'll train your ass and this is all part of the deal, and trust me, baby, come on, just trust me you don't even know better come on trust me.
:: "'You're biting your lip,' he says darkly."
:: Oh, and did I mention Christian is basically just feeding her alcohol this whole time? Keep on refilling that cup. He's getting her drunk on an empty stomach. Yeah, he really cares about her consent, whining (and wining) his way into getting whatever he wants, and whatever she doesn't want, well, she just doesn't know she wants it yet, apparently.
Then, he pulls the biggest dick move yet. Remember, Ana wants more. So Christian says, well, when she's not his sub, "perhaps we could try." So, you know, Ana may be reluctant to take it up the ass, but, hey, this all might just be leading to bigger and better things for us, so why not just bend over a little and we'll see where this goes, huh? How much more manipulative can this asshole get?
How about a car. A car more manipulative.
Yes, he's gotten Ana an Audi for her graduation because he doesn't like her old deathtrap (I'm sure the fact that it's Jose's has nothing to do with this decision), and oh by the way, accepting this expensive gift you're not comfortable with is literally a condition of us trying to have anything remotely resembling a normal relationship, and by the way I already ran this car thing past your dad without telling you, and he thinks it's a fabulous idea so, you know, if you turn this car down it's like spitting in both of our faces jsyk.
She's pissed. He doesn't give a fuck. She agrees to accept the car as a loan. He gets really angry and says "It's taking all my self-control not to fuck you on the hood of this car right now, just to show you that you are mine, and if I want to buy you a fucking car, I'll buy you a fucking car." He pulls her hair and drags her inside. She actually is chastened and apologizes for throwing his gifts back in his face, meekly adding "You scare me when you're angry."
Hands up: who thinks being afraid of the man you're with is a sign you're in a healthy relationship?
:: What happens next? Fucking. Poorly-written fucking. Duh.
:: "'You. Are. Going. To. Have. To. Learn. To. Keep. Still,' he whispers..." You. Are. Going. To. Have. To. Learn. To. Keep. Still. I'm. Captain. Of. The. Starship. Enterprise. I. Am. Responsible. For. The. Lives. Of. Four. Hundred. And. Thirty. Crew. Members.
:: "No bra, Ms. Steele. I like that." Jesus, stop talking.
:: She's all thrilled and amazed because he wants her to undress him and she's never undressed a man before and she approaches it with the thrill and wonder of a baby petting a dog for the first time. She also has to be straight-up told how to put a condom on him, which is probably one of the most self-explanatory things you'll ever figure out for yourself. There's a reason they don't keep changing the design; it's pretty fucking self-evident.
:: "Holy shit." "Holy fuck." "Hmm." "Whoa." "Suddenly it's Christmas." "Oh." "Holy crap." "Oh my." "Fuck!" "Oh, please." "He really is a fine specimen of man." That's pretty much the whole experience.
:: I never want to hear it called an "oh-so-happy trail" again. Ever. Ever. Do not defy me.
:: "That's right, baby, feel me, feel all of me." Jeebus Q. Kazoo, will you please stop talking?
:: Anyway, she sucks him off for a bit, then she's on top, which is so mind-blowing that she (and EL James) stop communicating coherently and the final paragraph is just words and Ana loses her mind or dies or passes out or some fucking thing. We'll find out next chapter, since I'm sure we'll pick up right where we left off, as the EL Jamesian style seems to be just moving forward in infinitesimal-yet-vague detail with no context or depth.
Blah blah blah.
Update: Thanks to my wife's comments, I now really hope there's an ass training montage in the movie, set to either "You're the Best Around" or the training music from Rocky IV.