Dec 192012
 

Just when I think this book has hit the nadir, that I can’t hate these characters any more, E.L. James exceeds my expectations.

Probably drunk at this point (and it’s early evening), Ana tarts herself up for a meeting with the architect of their new home, Gia Matteo. Ana is convinced that Gia is after Christian, based on the facts that Gia touches Christian’s shoulder once and licks her upper lip before drinking wine. (She’s blond, so she’s obviously a minion of Satan.) Rather than deal with Christian’s abusive ways, Ana doubles-down on her jealousy of every heterosexual woman on Earth who isn’t related to Christian.

See . . . he’s mine.  Annoying—infuriating, even—but mine. I grin. Right now I really love you, Christian Grey.  I slip my hand around his waist then into his rear pocket of his pants and squeeze his behind. Gia gives us a thin smile.

We have stepped into the mind of a not just jealous, but delusional and paranoid, woman.

Reaching up to open the cupboard, I’m aware his eyes are on me, and I’m gripped by the uncanny feeling that Christian and I are putting on a show, playing a game together—but this time we’re on the same side pitted against Ms. Matteo.
Does he know that she’s attracted to him and is being too obvious about it? It gives me a small rush of pleasure when I realize maybe he’s trying to reassure me.
Or maybe he’s just sending a message loud and clear to this woman that he’s taken.

Mine. Yeah, bitch—mine.  My inner goddess is wearing her gladiatrix outfit, and she’s taking no prisoners.

Christian hands the decisions about the house over to Ana, who doesn’t consider that he is completely controlling every other aspect of her life.

He doesn’t like that idea but he doesn’t overrule me, shoot me down, or make me feel stupid. God, this man is a mass of contradictions. His words from yesterday come to mind: “I want this house to be the way you want. Whatever you want. It’s yours.”  He wants me to be happy—happy in everything I do. Deep down I think I know this. It’s just—I stop myself. Don’t think about our argument now. My subconscious glares at me.

Christian steps out to deal with matters in the manly, political, public sphere, and leaves Ana and Gia to deal with, you know, domestic, womanly things. Maybe he hopes they will start catfighting.

“You’re right to be nervous, Gia, because right now your work on this project hangs in the balance. But I’m sure we’ll be fine as long as you keep your hands off my husband.”
She gasps.
“Otherwise, you’re fired. Understand?” I enunciate each word clearly.
She blinks rapidly, utterly stunned. She cannot believe what I’ve said . I  cannot believe what I’ve just said. But I hold my ground, gazing impassively into her widening brown eyes.
Don’t back down. Don’t back down!  I’ve learned this maddening impassive expression from Christian who does impassive like no one else. I know that renovating the Greys’ main residence is a prestigious project for Gia’s architectur-al firm—a resplendent feather in her cap. She can’t lose this commission. And right now I don’t give a hoot that she’s Elliot’s friend.

This is horrible. Christian bullies Ana, so later Ana bullies Gia. She even uses the same techniques, who’s given to threatening his subordinates. She’s identified with the aggressor.

Now that I have the upper hand, I feel myself relax for the first time since my meeting with Christian this afternoon. I can do this. My inner goddess is celebrating her inner bitch.

The person I really feel sorry for in this is Gia. She thought she was going to discuss business with her clients at an evening meeting. Instead, she got dragged into a three-hand rewrite of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Now her client’s sloppy drunk, deranged wife is threatening her and calling her a slut.

It gets worse. After Christian comes back and Gia gets the hell out of that snake pit, Christian  compliments her.

“Ana, she’s a sexual predator. Not my type at all. How can you be jealous of her? Of anyone? Nothing about her interests me.” When I glance up, he’s gaping at me as if I’ve grown an additional limb. He runs a hand through his hair. “It’s only you, Ana,” he says quietly. “It will only ever be you.”

A “sexual predator” is someone who slips rohypnol into people’s drinks, not someone who may or may not make flirty gestures with clients.

Ana’s problem is not that Christian might be unfaithful to her. It’s that he is so utterly obsessed with her that he’s suffocating her.

Of course Ana is going insane. Christian is gaslighting her without even trying. She’s so deep inside the Christian Grey zone, bought and paid for, his child/asset, that she might as well fast forward to when she’s the permanently sauced figure-head president of her company and Christian’s trophy wife who terrorizes the help. All she can do is embrace the cliche, because she has no vocabulary to express herself in any other way.

Harper: I burned dinner.

Joe: Sorry.

Harper: Not my dinner. My dinner was fine. Your dinner. I put it back in the oven and
turned everything up as high as it could go and I watched till it burned black. It’s still
hot. Very hot. Want it?

Joe: You didn’t have to do that.

Harper: I know. It just seemed like the kind of thing a mentally deranged sex-starved
pill-popping housewife would do.

Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Scene 8

Would any of the 2725 people who gave this book a five-star review on Amazon please justify this scene? Explain to me how this is not a portrait of a toxic, abusive relationship. Explain to me how the great love story of our time includes the leading lady being warped into a deranged, drunken bitch.

After this, Ana gets weepy and finally says what she should have said earlier that afternoon.

“You’ve got to let me make my own decisions, take my own risks, and make my own mistakes, and let me learn from them. I need to walk before I can run, Christian, don’t you see. I want some independence. That’s what my name means to me.” There, that’s what I wanted to say this afternoon.
“You feel railroaded?” he whispers.
I nod.
He closes his eyes and runs his hand through his hair in agitation. “I just want to give you the world, Ana, everything and anything you want. And save you from it, too. Keep you safe. But I also want everyone to know you’re mine. I panicked today when I got your e-mail. Why didn’t you tell me about your name?”
I flush. He has a point.

If that’s enough to make Christian “panic”, he’s not a functioning adult.

Then Ana quotes King Lear, specifically a line about a daughter’s love for her father.

Christian says he would change his surname to hers, but only as a gambit to get what he wants. As almost always, Ana folds and Christian gets what he wants.

“Does it mean that much to you?”
“Yes.” He is unequivocal.
“Okay.” I will do this for him. Give him the reassurance he still needs.
“I thought you’d already agreed to this.”
“Yes I have, but now we’ve discussed it further, I’m happier with my decision.”

So, he bullied her into conceding her name, and a few hours later sweet talks her into repeating the decision.

Then they go shampoo and cut Christian’s hair for several pages. As you do after waging psychological warfare on unfortunate employees.

This of course leads to sex, with some light bondage. I could critique this scene, but it’s pretty vanilla and I just loathe this characters so much right now, I won’t.

Seriously, Jack Hyde could blow up the building and kill both of these people, and the world would be a better place.

By the way, Ana discovers that Taylor and Mrs. Jones “got a special thing goin’ on.” and that Christian keeps a gun in his desk.

After a lot of very uninteresting stuff (EL James apparently believes that even the minutiae of Ana and Christian’s lives are fascinating), we get back to the hint of Ana topping Christian, which he’s not at ease with at all.

“Ana, I don’t know how I’d feel about you touching me if I were restrained.”
My scalp prickles. It’s like he’s confessing something deep and dark.
“This is still too new.” His voice is low and raw.
Fuck. It was just a question, and I realize that he’s come a long way, but he still has a long way to go. Oh, Fifty, Fifty, Fifty.  Anxiety grips my heart. I lean over and he freezes, but I plant a soft kiss at the corner of his mouth.
“Christian, I got the wrong idea. Please don’t worry about it. Please don’t think about it.” I kiss him. He closes his eyes, groans and reciprocates, pushing me down into the mattress, his hands clasping my chin. And soon we’re lost . . .

Christian can’t handle being touched while bound. That’s his hard limit, and he has a right to that. Ana doesn’t need to apologize for suggesting it. I have no idea if we’ll ever see this plot threat picked up.

That ends the most aggravating chapter I’ve read so far. And I’m not even halfway through this book.

  One Response to “The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades Freed, Chapter 8”

  1. I am one of those who gave the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy 5 stars and you seem to be falling back into a common fallacy that just because someone finds a book entertaining that this also means that they actually condone or endorse the actions of the main characters. This isn’t always the case. I enjoyed the soap opera story of Ana and Christian. That’s why I gave it 5 stars. If you have ever watched any daytime or nighttime serial soap opera, you know that not everyone is normal and rational and functional and sane nor do they always do what normal, sane and perfectly rational people would do. There would be no story if they did. At least, no story that most would find interesting enough to keep people tuning in for every episode. My favorite character from Dallas was J.R. Ewing. He was not the “good guy” of the story. That’s precisely why I liked him.

    As far as justifying the scene with Gia, I don’t think I agree with your assessment of her character. You seem to view her as an innocent bystander getting caught up in the craziness of Ana and Christian’s marriage. Yes, Ana and Christian both have jealousy issues. That doesn’t mean that those feelings are ALWAYs unfounded. Gia was flirting with Christian in front of Ana and Ana, rightly or wrongly (…that’s a matter of opinion…) felt the need to be assertive and put her in her place. I’m not the biggest fan of Ana’s character overall. For most of the 3 novels, I thought she was a total nitwit. However, in this particular instance, I don’t feel that she was being paranoid or delusional. Gia was flirting with him and the touching does make Christian uncomfortable.

    Even though I thought it was an odd word choice, I didn’t take Christian’s “sexual predator” comment that seriously. I thought he was being “exagerrant” ( <—slanguage, but the term fits what I am thinking of perfectly) on purpose to make his point to Ana. Christian doesn't seem to like alpha female/type A personality women like Gia and Kate. He'll do business with them but he isn't interested in them sexually or romantically.

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