Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (part 19)

I said two posts in two days, but then my internet decided not to cooperate. Sorry.

Chapter 1

Previous chapter

Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter Nineteen

Christian wakes Ana up by kissing her. They’ve got half an hour before they have to leave for dinner with Christian’s family. I guess it’s nice he let her sleep, but that’s not much time at all to get ready.

Ana gets up and dresses in her clothing from earlier, but realizes that Christian has got her panties; he tucked them into his pocket after taking them off her. She figures he’s going to make her ask for them back, and decides not to ask for them at all, but simply go commando.

After getting ready, Ana goes down to meet Christian. They have some extra time, so they dance to a Sinatra song. Ana somehow manages not to be clumsy. Christian is clearly waiting for her to ask for her underwear back, and is surprised and amused when she doesn’t.

I should mention that, despite always complaining about her appearance, Ana rarely puts any time or effort into looking nice. Here, for instance, all she did was shower and take out her braid.

Ana seems to think that being out and about sans underwear is a very dangerous and thrilling experience. She’s wearing a knee-length dress, and it isn’t the sort that would put her in danger of flashing anybody. Unless she sits with her legs wide apart or something, she’s fine. Calm down, Ana.

As they’re being driven to the dinner by Taylor, Ana asks Christian who taught him to dance. Mrs. Robinson did. Ana is jealous of Mrs. Robinson again. Fuck you, Ana, she’s a rapist.

Ana asks about the cable ties. He says he likes them because they’re quick and easy, and because they’re “quite brutal”. Okay.

They make it to Christian’s parents’ house just before eight. Apparently it’s pitch-black out. Uh, no it sure as fuck isn’t at not-quite-eight PM in the summer. I may live across the country from Ana, but I’m also in the northern US, and in the summer the sun is still setting at eight PM.

Despite how unrealistically dark it apparently is, Ana is able to see that the house is a beautiful colonial-style mansion with roses around the door.

They’re greeted by Ana’s mother and father (her father is named Carrick, and he’s yet another attractive blond), and, a few minutes later, by Christian’s little sister Mia (no doubt Alice in the original), who is a tall, curvy brunette about Ana’s age. Kate and Elliot are seated in the living room, cuddled up together on the couch drinking champagne.

The conversation topic is vacations. Elliot has decided to tag along with Kate to Barbados. Carrick asks Ana if she’s planning on taking a vacation herself. Ana replies that she was considering going to Georgia for a few days to visit her mother. Christian, obviously angry not to have been told about this before, asks her when she plans on going. She says she’s going tomorrow evening, after her interviews.

For once, I get why Christian is mad. Even though Ana’s vacation isn’t cutting into their time together (at least, not if she’s back by next weekend), it’s good manners to tell people when you plan on going away. He’s probably hurt that she would withhold that information. (On the other hand, I completely understand why Ana wouldn’t want Christian to know she was going away. He’s an asshole and she needs space.)

They sit down for dinner. Kate, who seems to be trying to goad Christian into being mad (why?) asks Ana about her night at the bar with José. This, no surprise, makes Christian madder. Again, I can kind of understand it. José tried to force himself on Ana last time they were at a bar together.

The phone rings, and Grace goes to answer it. When she comes back, she explains that it’s another kid with measles. She goes on a rant about vaccinating your children and how Christian and his siblings were lucky to have had their shots and not gotten anything worse than chicken pox, which Christian and Mia both got very mild cases of. This clunky bit of writing effectively rules out Ana’s theory about Grey’s scars being from chicken pox, though she still doesn’t put two and two together.

Also, I’d just like to point out that if you get a mild case of chicken pox, it’s possible to get a more severe case later. Happened to my sister. Christian, being an adult now, wouldn’t get chicken pox; he’d get shingles, and that shit is nasty. Point is, there’s a chance he’s not immune if he only had a mild case. Shouldn’t his doctor mom know that?

The subject changes to baseball, which of course ends up being a male-only conversation. (Because sports are just for men, right?) Ana is preoccupied with making sure the maid, a pretty young blonde (another pretty young blonde!) named Gretchen, realizes that she and Christian are an item, because Gretchen keeps making eyes at Christian. Who the fuck cares? Christian isn’t even paying attention to her.

Hey, look, both sides of this relationship have abnormal jealousy issues!

At one point, during a conversation about Paris, Christian puts his hand on Ana’s thigh and starts… well, I’m not exactly sure what he was planning on doing, fingering her maybe, but he doesn’t get far because Ana pulls away. Or attempts to, but Christian seems to get the point anyway and stops.

There’s a lot more talk at the dinner table, but none of it seems particularly important, so I’ll spare you it. Dinner is excellent, and Ana again eats a full meal. Christian seems to be in a better mood now; Ana suspects it’s because she’s eating. She also suspects that she’s able to eat a full meal because he seems to be in a better mood. Is this a chicken/egg question or something?

At one point, while talking about France, Mia lapses into speaking fluent French without noticing she’s doing it. Christian points out her mistake in equally fluent French. I mention this because I don’t think this is the sort of thing that actually happens.

Look, I’m going out on a limb here, not being bilingual myself. Maybe people who know two languages fluently sometimes mistake one for the other. But I know a lot of bilingual people, and I’ve never seen anyone switch languages accidentally, let alone do so and not realize their mistake.

I took French and German in elementary and middle school, and continued taking French through high school. I’m far from being fluent in either language. My French vocabulary is very limited, and my knowledge of French grammar is limited to the basics. My German is considerably worse. Even so, having started learning both languages as a young kid, the basics are pretty deeply ingrained. Often, when I’m trying to think of synonyms for an English word, the French or German equivalents pop to mind; sometimes quicker than the English ones. This happens with phrases, too. However, I’m always aware when my mind makes a substitution in a language that isn’t English.

Now, I’ve switched between foreign languages a few times without always realizing right away, but that’s just when I don’t know a word in one language but know it in another. (I did this a lot during my recent trip to Italy, since I only know a handful of words in Italian.) I’m pretty sure this happens because my brain lumps foreign languages together in a “this isn’t English” category. The closest I’ve ever come to a slip-up of the sort Mia made was when, right after getting off the plane from Italy, I said “thank you” in Italian to the cashier at Starbucks. It’s worth noting that, at this point, I had been awake for twenty hours straight and had spent the past ten days getting into the habit of thanking everyone in Italian. Also, no one needed to point out the mistake to me.

(Yeah, I know that was an overly long rant, but sometimes minor details annoy me. Plus, thinking about how the brain treats language/handles multiple languages is interesting. Brains are interesting. Sometimes I channel my twelve-year-old self, who really wanted to be a neurologist like Oliver Sacks.)

Ana gets horny watching Kate and Elliot flirting. I want to hang a big neon sign on this moment, because it’s the first time Ana has gotten horny over anything but Christian.

Grace and Mia start clearing up and doing the dishes, even though they have a maid. I don’t get it. It’s like the author keeps forgetting her characters are filthy rich.

Christian puts his hand back on Ana’s thigh. She pulls away again, and he stops again. Then he asks her if she’d like to go tour the grounds with him. Uh, last I checked it was pitch-black out. Ana’s not sure she trusts Christian’s motives, but goes with him anyway.

The grounds are beautiful. The house is right by the bay. Seems the family owns two boats and a boathouse. Christian sets off towards the boathouse, and Ana tries to follow, but eventually tells him to wait up for her because she’s in high heels. In response, Christian scoops her up and carries her over his shoulder towards the boathouse. She squeals in surprise, and he slaps her hard across the rear and tells her to keep quiet.

If they had a healthy, consensual relationship, I’d be down with this, but as it is:

  1. Christian obviously doesn’t give a shit whether Ana consents or not
  2. Ana has a strong aversion to pain, but he’s just slapped her hard anyway
  3. He’s doing this as an act of revenge

So, yeah, not down with this.

Ana, feeling nervous, asks where they’re going. Christian tells her he’s taking her to the boathouse for some privacy, because he plans on spanking her, then fucking her. She’s surprised, as she thought he was past his anger. The chapter ends with the implication that perhaps she’s done something new to set him off.

Holy Cow! Alert:

  • Holy cow, I am meeting his folks!
  • Holy Cow. I can’t help but smile at her boundless enthusiasm.

Also: one “Holy crap!”, two “Holy fuck!”s.

And Now, A Word From Ana’s Subconscious Alert:

  • [Ana decides to go commando] Anastasia Steele! My subconscious chides me, but I don’t want to listen to her – I almost hug myself with glee because I know this will drive him crazy.
  • [Ana has second thoughts about going commando] My subconscious gives me an unhelpful I told you so expression.
  • [Ana thinks maybe Christian only invited her to dinner because it was expected of him] My subconscious nods sagely, a you’ve-finally-worked-it-out- stupid look on her face.
  • [Christian picks Ana up and carries her towards the boathouse] Oh no… this is not good, my subconscious is quaking at the knees.

Does “Inner Goddess” Mean What I Think It Means? Alert:

  • [Ana figures that Christian is trying to make her ask for her underwear back] My inner goddess grins at me. Hell… two can play that particular game.
  • [Ana thinks about how much she likes Christian blah blah] My inner goddess sighs with relief. I reach the conclusion that she rarely uses her brain to think but another vital part of her anatomy, and at the moment, it’s a rather exposed part.
  • [Ana is jealous of the maid, Gretchen] Fortunately, he seems oblivious to her, but my inner goddess is smoldering and not in a good way.

Oh My! Alert: Just once.

Thoughts So Far:

It remains to be seen what’s going to happen at the boathouse, so I’ll reserve judgment, but I have the feeling I’m going to hate it.

Aside from that, this was a fairly benign, if tedious and stupid, chapter. I don’t have much to say about it, so I’ll just talk about Christian’s relationship with Mrs. Robinson instead.

See, the book seems to have no idea how it wants to present this relationship. A couple times it’s been referred to as sexual abuse, but most of the time Ana acts as though it was a consensual relationship and the only problematic part is that Mrs. Robinson introduced him to BDSM. The thing is, though, if I share her mindset that what happened to Christian wasn’t rape, then I’m annoyed at her for being jealous and for demonizing a woman she doesn’t know just because said woman is a Domme. If I look at things realistically, Mrs. Robinson is a rapist and Ana’s jealousy is completely misplaced, as well as being hella weird.

Really, most of the problems with this book (if not all) come down to the author’s lack of skill. She doesn’t have the talent to present her story to her audience. Not that it’s really a story worth presenting, anyway.

Next chapter

7 Responses to “Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (part 19)”

  1. The only thing I’d really like to mention (and I’m not at all trying to be rude, it’s just something I noticed and thought of) is that if Alice is completely fluent in French–i.e., having learned it from a *very* young age–then I think it is completely possible for her to accidentally switch to French if she’s passionate about something French or talking about France, which she was doing. I’m bilingual myself, being completely fluent in both English and Hindi, and I have often slipped up when I was with my friends and we were talking about India or something else related to India. Oftentimes, it’s easier for me to describe India and Indian things by using Hindi words, because I grew up learning about those things with Hindi, and I don’t know a way to translate those words to English without losing the fundamental meaning and sentiment. Of course, I am extra extra careful to not slip up around my American friends because none of them speak Hindi, but when I am with my Indian friends, I tend to slip up a lot more often. I also tend to not notice I’m doing it, because it’s second nature for me to mix English and Hindi words, phrases, and sentences together.

    TL;DR: If Alice–or Mia, rather–grew up learning French to the point where she is as comfortable with it as she is with English, then I personally believe it is completely possible for her to have done what she did in that scene. I say this from personal experience, not because I want to be rude or contrary or anything. Sorry if I offended you in any way, it wasn’t my intention at all. I love the blog and I can’t wait to read your reviews of the rest of the book. :)

    • “Oftentimes, it’s easier for me to describe India and Indian things by using Hindi words, because I grew up learning about those things with Hindi, and I don’t know a way to translate those words to English without losing the fundamental meaning and sentiment.”

      That’s a really good point, and I ought to have mentioned that — however, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t apply in Mia’s case. I still don’t know at what age she started learning French, but assuming she started in grade school, she would be unlikely to be as comfortable with French as she is with English.

      Hell, for all I know, she could have just learned French on this trip, which makes it really ridiculous.

      Also, you say you often mix English and Hindi together and aren’t always conscious of doing so, but I got the impression from Fifty Shades that what Mia did was switch from speaking only English to speaking only French. I can see slipping in some French words and phrases without noticing, but the way it was described made it sound like she switched instantly from one to the other.

  2. knickyknackynoo Says:

    It is possible to switch languages without realising, but only really if both languages are ones you commonly speak. My grandma lived in Norway until she was 20ish and then moved to England, and travels between the two a lot. I’ve had to correct her at least once every time I’ve seen her because she doesn’t realise that she’s switched into Norwegian. On the other hand, Mia isn’t French in any way (unless I’ve missed something), so I’m going to assume that this was just James’ attempt at showing off another one of Gray’s talents and being silly. Again.

    But this book…ugh. Just…ugh.

  3. Perhaps the true reason Christian’s attracted to Ana is that she’s the only non-blonde who’s not his sister… :P

    • I actually wondered if maybe he hires only blonde women because he has a thing for dark-haired women, but hiring people on the basis of hair color is not legal, so who the fuck knows?

  4. Whole L33t Bread Says:

    [Ana decides to go commando] Anastasia Steele! My subconscious chides me, but I don’t want to listen to her – I almost hug myself with glee because I know this will drive him crazy.

    -Why did she just randomly switch the genders on Ana’s subconscious?

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