GJ Reads Grey, Chapter 8

Want to go back? Read the previous chapter or the first chapter.

I flipped through the first several pages of this chapter without finding anything worth remarking on. The first chunk of the chapter is mostly email exchanges between Ana and Christian; he’s bought her a new laptop (without asking her first, of course) and keeps checking in to determine whether she’s been doing her assigned research on BDSM.

He ascertains that she’s done her homework, based on the fact that she calls him “Sir” with a capital S. He also calls her a “sassy wench.” How sweet.

Christian’s also exchanging emails with his former domme, Elena. Her email signature tells us that she owns a beauty business called Esclava. As in, the Spanish word for slave. Subtle.

Ana asks Christian what she should Google to begin her BDSM research, and he says, “Always start with Wikipedia.” This seems like risky advice at best. Why not just recommend some specific websites you know are good, Christian? Or buy her some books? You’ve done it before…

After spending some time Googling, Ana sends Christian a curt email that simply says, “Okay, I’ve seen enough. It was nice knowing you.” If this was a book about a dude who respects when women say “no,” this would be the end of the story. She doesn’t want you in her life anymore, so you get out – easy. But this is Christian, so obviously he’s not going to do that.

I sit back in my chair, dumbfounded.
Nice? Nice. NICE.
She thought it was more than nice when her head was thrown back as she came.

Yes, amazingly, orgasms are not actually the same thing as everlasting consent.

Christian drives to Ana’s house to try to change her mind, chardonnay and condoms in tow. Dude, take a hint.

I’m uneasy; it’s reckless and too presumptuous of me to come here. Then again, I’ve already been here twice, though for only a few minutes.

Hey, cool fact: having been to someone’s house doesn’t entitle you to visit it again whenever you want! And likewise, having fucked someone before doesn’t mean you can fuck them forever!

Ana’s roommate Kate lets him into the house, and he sneaks up on Ana where she’s seated at her desk listening to music and looking over his BDSM contract. Does he ever stop watching her without her knowledge?

“Are you biting your lower lip deliberately?” I inquire, my voice sterner than I’d intended.
“I wasn’t aware I was biting my lip,” she whispers, her face pale.

CAN YOU STOP WITH THE LIP THING ALREADY?? I am so sick of hearing about lip-biting. Uuuuughhhh!

“Did you mean [it was nice] knowing me in the biblical sense?”
Her cheeks pink. “I didn’t think you were familiar with the Bible.”
“I went to Sunday school, Anastasia. It taught me a great deal.” Catechism. Guilt. And that God abandoned me long ago.
“I don’t remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible. Perhaps you were taught from a modern translation,” she goads me, her eyes shining and provocative.
Oh, that smart mouth.

Ostensibly to “remind her how nice it was to know him,” Christian proceeds to have sex with her. It seems, actually, pretty consensual. Ana “launches herself at” him, and a few times he asks her check-in questions like “What do you think of that?” and “Trust me?” before going ahead with various actions. Okay, cool, yes. Why aren’t all the sex scenes like this? (Minus the creepy “sneaking into her apartment without her knowledge” beginning.)

There is one part, however, where he binds her and blindfolds her using a tie and her T-shirt, and then says, “I’m going to get a drink,” and does. Liiiiike… you probably shouldn’t leave someone unattended while they’re in bondage, particularly if they’re new to it.

Outside her room, I leave her door slightly ajar and enter the living room to retrieve the bottle of wine.
Kavanagh looks up from where she’s sitting on the sofa, reading, and her eyebrows rise in surprise. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a shirtless man, Kavanagh, because I won’t believe you. “Kate, where would I find glasses, ice, and a corkscrew?” I ask, ignoring her scandalized expression.

Poor Kate. She has to put up with a lot of weird shit in this book.

When Kate asks Christian where Ana is, he replies, “She’s a little tied up at the moment,” as if no one in the history of popular culture has ever made this joke and he’s brilliant for inventing it. Excuse me while I roll my eyes forever.

Christian bosses Kate into helping him put ice in the wine glasses and pour the wine. Does he think all women are his submissives?! Kate quite reasonably asks him if he’s going to help her and Ana move into their new apartment, and he reacts like a caricature of a commitmentphobic man:

Fuck off, Kavanagh.
No way am I going to help. Ana and I don’t have that kind of relationship. Besides, I can’t spare the time.

So you have the time to travel back and forth between Portland and Seattle ad nauseum for sex dates but can’t spare a few hours to help Ana pack some boxes. Nice! Good boyfriend award over here. And on that note: he finally returns to Ana’s room, where the poor girl is still tied up and waiting.

I release each of her breasts from her bra so they’re supported by the underwire cups; her breasts are pert and vulnerable, just how I like them.

He takes her to the edge of orgasm five times but doesn’t let her come, and then when he finally fucks her, she apparently comes after the first thrust. Um. I suspect this isn’t exactly realistic. I mean, I know this is a romance novel, but come on.

As she lies flat on the bed, panting, I pull out of her and remove the wretched condom.

Of course Christian has a hate-on for safer sex supplies…

“Please pass me my sweatpants,” she orders, pointing to them.
Wow. Miss Steele can be a bossy little thing.

But… she said please…?!

I start the car and begin the drive back to Portland, analyzing what’s taken place between us.
She e-mailed me. I went to her. We fucked. She threw me out before I was ready to leave.
For the first time – well, maybe not the first time – I feel a little used, for sex.

Christian’s middle name should be Hypocrite. He’s constantly complaining about Ana doing the exact same stuff to him that he does to her. His sense of entitlement is staggering.

This chapter, in summary: a decent sex scene surrounded by terrible writing and problematic relations. That’s a good wrap-up of the entire book, actually…

GJ Reads Grey, Chapter 7

Want to go back? Read the previous instalment or the first chapter.

Content warning: This instalment contains mentions of blood, rape, and emotional abuse. If those are triggering topics for you, I encourage you to take care of yourself and skip this post.

We already know, from heavy-handed literary references in other chapters, that Ana has a thing for Victorian-era romantic heroes. So it makes sense she’d be interested in Christian. His attitudes about women, virginity and “sin” are so archaic that they make the Victorians look well-adjusted.

I wake with a start and a pervading sense of guilt, as if I’ve committed a terrible sin. Is it because I’ve fucked Anastasia Steele? Virgin? … Ana sleeps the sound sleep of an innocent. Well, not so innocent now.

He lies awake in bed, hours after their inaugural fuck-fest, watching her sleep – like Chuck Bass in my favorite fanfic. (Don’t judge me, please.) Christian reflects on Ana’s “unbridled enthusiasm for sexual congress” and concludes that “fucking her was merely a means to an end and a pleasant diversion.” This is the dude who’s melting the hearts of female readers the world over? Huh?

It’s at this point that I start wanting to count the number of times Christian’s “cock twitches in agreement,” because surely it’s been at least five so far. E.L. James is notorious for repeating the same words and phrases far too many times, but this is one of the first I’ve noticed in this book. Maybe her writing has improved (marginally) or maybe Christian is just less annoying than Ana (unlikely).

Ever-pretentious Christian goes to his piano – “my solace, where I can lose myself for hours” – and plays a sad Bach piece. I know he hasn’t forgotten that Ana’s there, so I guess he just doesn’t care if he wakes her up? And indeed, she does wake up, and comes to see him. When she calls him “melancholy,” we get a brief flashback to one of Christian’s memories, in which a previous submissive, Leila, also called him that word. It’s a welcome reprieve from the narrative, but doesn’t really reveal anything new about Christian’s character, like a flashback should.

They go back to bed and there’s blood on the sheets. “Evidence of her now-absent virginity.” Ana’s deeply embarrassed upon seeing this, but instead of comforting her, asking her if she’s still in pain, or offering to change the sheets, Christian just says, “Well, that’s going to give [the maid] Mrs. Jones something to think about.” Helpful.

They fall asleep together. In the morning, Christian is awakened by the smell of the bacon Ana’s cooking, and he goes to watch her in the kitchen. She doesn’t hear him come in because she’s wearing earbuds (see, she’s more considerate than him: when someone is sleeping nearby, she keeps her music quiet). “Christian watches Ana without Ana knowing” is a disturbingly frequent theme in this book.

She’s whisking eggs, making breakfast, her braids bouncing as she jiggles from foot to foot, and I realize she’s not wearing underwear. Good girl.

After she notices him and they chitchat awkwardly about pancakes and eggs, Christian pulls on one of her braids and says, “I love these. They won’t protect you.” ??!??!

“Mr. Grey,” she replies, with contrived formality, and winces as she sits.
“Just how sore are you?” I’m surprised by an uneasy sense of guilt. I want to fuck her again, preferably after breakfast, but if she’s too sore that will be out of the question. Perhaps I could use her mouth this time.

This is so alien to me. I am starting to believe Christian might be a sociopath, because how else could he view Ana’s sexual debut so cavalierly? Having sex for the first time is always at least kind of a big deal, and you need some time to process it and recover from it, at least emotionally if not physically. How can he think, Her vag is sore from her FIRST-EVER fucking; better make her give her first-ever BJ, too?!

After talking to her friend Kate on the phone, Ana asks Christian if it would be okay for her to ask Kate a few sex questions. The NDA she signed prevents her from going into too much detail about her sex life with Christian (including the fact that it exists at all), but she still wants to learn some basic things about sex. Christian tries to convince her to keep these questions to herself, and in doing so, he’s displaying a key behavior of emotionally abusive partners: trying to isolate Ana from her support systems. Nice.

“I know that lip is delicious, I can attest to that, but will you stop biting it? Your chewing it makes me want to fuck you, and you’re sore, okay?”

Translation: “My desire for you is entirely your fault, and if you push me over the edge and I rape you, it’ll be completely because of you, okay?”

They take a bath together. He lathers up her breasts and then kind of fingers her through a washcloth, during which he says to her, “Feel it, baby. Feel it for me.” He’s the king of dirty talk, right?! Also, here is a literal thing he says about his penis:

“I want you to become well acquainted, on first-name terms, if you will, with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I’m very attached to this.”

Then there’s some HJ and BJ action. To Christian’s credit, at one point he tells her, “Anastasia, I’m going to come in your mouth; if you don’t want me to, stop now.” Hooray, ongoing consent. I was enjoying this paragraph until I saw that the thing that finally makes him come is Ana using her teeth on his dick. Look, I’m not saying no man has ever enjoyed a very slightly toothy beej, but I do have to wonder if E.L. James actually asked any penis-havers about this before writing it.

After he comes, he tells her he “owes her an orgasm,” and then impulsively begs her to say yes to his Dom/sub agreement. Um, I’m not sure it’s ethical to make someone sign a contract when you’re implicitly blackmailing them with proverbial blue balls. How about you make her come first, take some time for both of you to cool down, and then talk legalities?!

Anyway, he doesn’t make her sign it just yet. Instead, he takes her to his bed, and there’s actually a pretty great cunnilingus scene. It’s only occasionally ruined by weird Christian-thoughts such as:

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen pubic hair up close and personal like this.

After some more fucking and two orgasms for Ana (yeah, girl!), they are interrupted by the arrival of Christian’s (adoptive) mother, Grace. They engage in some pointless small-talk. She leaves after about two minutes and we’ve learned basically nothing about her or her role in Christian’s life. Cool narrative development, E.L. James!

Christian and Ana go for lunch and he tells her part of his backstory: a friend of his mother’s, Elena, seduced him when he was a teenager, and he was her submissive for six years. He doesn’t say a lot about this relationship but it sounds pretty fucked-up, obviously. He also reveals to Ana that her devirginization the previous night was a first for him too: his first time having “vanilla sex.” (Ana doesn’t even know what this phrase means, and has to ask him for clarification. Oh, sweetie…)

Ana fidgets beside me as we wait for the elevator, her teeth on her plump lower lip. It reminds me of her teeth on my cock.

And with that haunting image, I’ll leave you til next week. I know you’re champing at the bit for the next chapter… just like Ana is champing at Christian’s dick.

GJ Reads Grey, Chapter 6 (second half)

Want to go back? Read the previous instalment or the first chapter.

Last time, we left off with Christian pinning Ana against an elevator wall and kissing her aggressively without checking in or ascertaining her consent in any way. Cool story, bro!

This time, we start with a smaller manifestation of that same contempt for consent: she asks him to call her Ana, again, and he still goes on calling her Anastasia, because evidently he doesn’t give a shit about what she wants.

“Why do you insist on calling me Anastasia?” she asks.
“Because it’s your name.”
“I prefer Ana.”
“Do you, now?”
“Ana” is too everyday and ordinary for her. And too familiar. Those three letters have the power to wound…

Christian drives Ana back to the apartment she shares with her friend Kate…

Kavanagh jumps up and gives me a critical once-over as she hugs Ana.
What did she think I was going to do to the girl?
I know what I’d like to do to her…

It’s like this dude has multiple personalities, and one of them is a murderer. He’s continually written to seem totally blind to his own creepiness. Ugh.

A lock of her hair has broken free, and without thinking, I tuck it behind her ear. She leans her face into my fingers, the tender gesture surprising me. My thumb strays to her soft bottom lip, which I’d like to kiss again. But I can’t. Not until I have her consent.

YES! CONSENT! I would be cheering and pumping my fists in the air right now, if I didn’t know that by “her consent” he means “her signature on a creepy BDSM contract.”

Then Christian gets in the car with his brother Elliot, who’s apparently dating Kate now, and they have another one of their classic bro-y conversations. It’s filled with stilted dialogue out of bad ’90s teen sex comedies, like “Man, I need some sleep; that woman is voracious” and “How about you, hotshot? Did she pop your cherry?” (Can we have an Elliot spinoff novel? I bet he’s more fun than Christian.)

The results come back from the background check Christian ran on Ana’s friend José (remember?). No sexual harassment charges; only “a ticket for possession of marijuana.”

And the little prick smokes weed? I hope he doesn’t smoke around Ana – and I hope she doesn’t smoke, period.

Grey has his assistant print out a non-disclosure agreement and a copy of his “standard Dom/sub contract” for Ana. Oh, the romance!!

For the first time in a long time, I have a sweet sense of anticipation. I’m excited.
Will she say yes to my proposal?
I picture her sleeping beside me, soft and small… and my cock twitches with expectation. I could have woken her and fucked her then – what a novelty that would have been.
I’ll fuck her in time. I’ll fuck her bound and with her smart mouth gagged.

It’s gross that for him, the appeal of fucking Ana is that it would have been “a novelty.” Not that he likes her, or wants to make her feel good, or wants to explore an equitable and mutually enjoyable sexual connection… but that she would’ve been an interesting new way for him to get his dick wet. Sigh.

Christian picks her up after her shift at the hardware store. “She’s dressed in black jeans… Jeans again.” Dude, it’s probably unsafe to wear a skirt when you work around sharp and splintery objects all day! Can you cut her some slack for wearing jeans to a goddamn hardware store?! She’s not here to please your eyes and your dick!

He’s taking her out on a trip in his helicopter, which is called Charlie Tango. I have italicized the name of the helicopter not for emphasis but because it is literally italicized every time it’s mentioned in this book. This is probably too boring and journalism-nerdy to even get into, but dammit, it annoys me. Who copy-edited this trash? I even just Googled “do you italicize the name of a helicopter?” but the results were unhelpful.

“Over there,” I order, pointing to the front passenger seat. “Sit. Don’t touch anything.” I’m amazed when she does as she’s told.

Really? You’re amazed that a small, college-age woman feels intimidated by the commands of an older, authoritative multimillionnaire in an aircraft she doesn’t know how to operate and won’t be able to escape from? What is confusing about that?

Do you remember the shot in the movie where Christian straps her into the seatbelt-harness of the helicopter, like she’s a literal child? That part is even creepier in the book. He’s “trying not to imagine her naked” while he does it, breathing in her “sweet, evocative scent,” and conceptualizing the straps as some kind of bondage device. “You’re secure. No escaping,” he tells her, and then, “I like this harness.” So glad I’m not Ana right now.

“You’re safe with me,” I reassure her, and add, “Well, while we’re flying.” I give her a wink, she beams, and I’m dazzled.

Is this what serial killers’ flirty banter is like?

Before and during the takeoff, there’s lots of technical jabber about helicopter motors and dashboards, etc. E.L. James: always a riveting writer. (Just wait til we get to the BDSM contract, y’all. It leaps off the page, with its many salient details about nutrition and living arrangements and clothing. Yawn.)

“Do you always impress women this way? ‘Come up and fly in my helicopter’?”
“I’ve never brought a girl up here, Anastasia. It’s another first for me. Are you impressed?”

Can we talk about how she used the word “woman” and he immediately switched it out for “girl”? This encapsulates so much about this damn book.

He takes her to his house, which is called Escala. I wonder why its name isn’t italicized like Charlie Tango. (Okay, I’ll stop being a copyediting nerd now, I promise.)

“Do you play?” She looks at the piano.
“Of course you do. Is there anything you can’t do well?”
“Yes… A few things.” Cook. Tell jokes. Make free and easy conversation with a woman I’m attracted to. Be touched…

Yikes. Just… Yikes.

He has her sign the non-disclosure agreement, which she does willingly. Then she asks if he’s going to “make love” to her tonight and he delivers one of his most well-known lines: “I don’t make love. I fuck, hard.” He invites her to check out his “playroom” and she delivers one of her most well-known lines: “You want to play on your Xbox?” Oh, honey…

He takes her in there and they have an incredibly awkward conversation that seems to indicate pretty clearly what any astute reader knew was true: Christian has very specific desires for Ana and she doesn’t have much knowledge of or interest in what he’s telling her. She seems confused, unsettled, and unwilling. Any half-decent human would have abandoned this whole endeavor if they were in Christian’s shoes, seeing how uncomfortable Ana is. But he’s Christian, and he puts his own agenda first, always.

“So you’ll get your kicks by exerting your will over me.”
Spot on, Miss Steele.
“It’s about gaining your trust and your respect, so you’ll let me exert my will over you.” I need your permission, baby. “I will gain a great deal of pleasure, joy even, in your submission. The more you submit, the greater my joy – it’s a very simple equation.”
“Okay, and what do I get out of this?”
“Me.” I shrug. That’s it, baby. Just me. All of me.

Then he shows her the bedroom where she’ll stay, Fridays through Sundays, if she agrees to the terms of his contract.

“I’ll sleep here?”
“Not with you.”
“No. I told you, I don’t sleep with anyone, except you when you’re stupefied with drink.”

Christian, you dumb shit!! You just gave her a powerful incentive to get blackout drunk more often! Not to mention, after he says this, he continues plying her with wine, even though she won’t eat anything and it’s probably not safe for her to be drinking so much on an empty stomach. Ugh, someone please delete this book from my Kindle before I throw it out a window.

“I will punish you when you require it, and it will be painful.” For example, when you get drunk and put yourself at risk.

Like right now, perhaps???

He gets frustrated with her (quite reasonable) series of questions, so he shows her the rules laid out in the BDSM contract. Their ensuing discussion leads to the revelation that Ana is a virgin.

How the hell did I get this so wrong? Anger lances through me. What can I do with a virgin? I glare at her as fury surges through my body. “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?” I growl, and start pacing my study. What do I want with a virgin?

After he calms down a bit, he tells her he wants to “rectify the situation right now.” HOW are women worldwide swooning over this character?! HOW is it at all romantic or exciting for someone to express their desire for you as wanting to “rectify [your] situation”?? A bit later, he rephrases it to, “Please, Ana, let me make love to you,” and that’s better, but still. He should have led with that.

He takes her to his bedroom and there’s a sex scene that is, actually, not terrible. He makes her come by just sucking on her nipples (unrealistic, maybe, but she does admit she’s never masturbated, so maybe a first orgasm would be that easy?) and then they fuck twice in two different positions. You know, if it weren’t for the horrible, awkward dirty talk, E.L. James might not be too awful at writing sex scenes, I will concede.

The chapter ends with Ana falling asleep next to Christian, devirginized and sated and happy. Yes! Get it, girl!

Can we just end the novel here before shit starts to get really scary?

Want to keep reading? Go to the next chapter.

GJ Reads Grey, Chapter 6 (first half)

Want to go back? Read the previous chapter or the first chapter.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that chapter 6 starts with Christian climbing into bed next to Ana and watching her sleep for hours. Watching someone sleep is the creeper pastime, after all.

I have never slept with a woman. I’ve fucked many, but to wake up beside an alluring young woman is a new and stimulating experience. My cock agrees.

In the morning, he places some orange juice and Advil next to the bed to soothe Ana’s probable hangover when she wakes up, and then leaves to go for a run. Seems like you should stick around if you take a drunk person home with you, so that they won’t be hella disoriented and terrified when they wake up. But then, of course, this is Christian, and he’s bad at everything.

He’s still calling her “the delectable Miss Steele” in his internal monologue from time to time. This bums me out.

I knock on the door and enter. To my delight, she’s sitting up in bed. The tablets are gone and so is the juice. Good girl.
She pales as I saunter into the room. Keep it casual, Grey. You don’t want to be charged with kidnapping.

Totally, ’cause taking a drunk woman back to your hotel room without her consent and taking her clothes off is A-OK. Right, Christian?

“Did you undress me?”
“Yes.” Who else would have undressed you?
“We didn’t – ?” she whispers, staring at her hands.
Christ, what kind of animal does she think I am?
“Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing.” My tone is dry. “I like my women sentient and receptive.”

It strikes me as a form of pre-emptive gaslighting for him to insist to her that he’s not into “animalistic” kinks like necrophilia, when in fact he is going to ask her to enter into a strict BDSM contract without her having any past experience with kink or even sex. He’s pretty self-deluded if he believes that necrophilia is monstrous but dominating someone you’ve manipulated into uninformed submission is just fine.

They engage in more “flirty banter” about the events of the previous night. Christian refers to himself as a “dark knight” and also tells Ana that if she were “his,” he would punish her with a severe spanking for “putting herself at risk” at the bar. I want to smack my head against a wall because Christian is so dense and seems completely unaware of what a hypocrite he is.

An image of her shackled to my bench, peeled ginger root inserted in her ass so she can’t clench her buttocks, comes to mind, followed by judicious use of a belt or strap. Yeah… That would teach her not to be so irresponsible. The thought is hugely appealing.
She’s staring at me wide-eyed and dazed, and it makes me uncomfortable. Can she read my mind? Or is she just looking at a pretty face.

Then he “grants himself permission to touch her,” and after rubbing her cheek with his finger, he tells her, “Breathe, Anastasia.” This is not the first time he has told her this, as if he thinks his mere presence is enough to steal her breath. Arrogant ass.

When I [return from my shower] she’s out of bed and searching for her jeans… She really has great legs. She shouldn’t hide them in pants.

I had a creep literally say this exact thing in a comment on one of my outfit photos. It is so classic male creep to moralize women’s physical attributes, as if we have an ethical and aesthetic obligation to show off our bodies for the benefit of penises everywhere. This is also the same “logic” that’s used to shame fat or “ugly” women into hiding our bodies: beauty and ugliness are reframed as moral issues. Ugh. I haaaaate it.

A boring scene passes in which Ana showers and they eat breakfast together. Christian comments to her, “Your hair’s very damp,” as if he either forgot she just took a shower or is the most boring conversationalist in the galaxy.

“Anastasia, I’m not a hearts-and-flowers kind of man. I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You should steer clear of me. There’s something about you, though, and I’m finding it impossible to stay away. But I think you’ve figured that out already.”

“I’m not right for you. And I don’t want to be with you. But I do! But I don’t. But you should stay away! But I want you. But I’m annoyed by you! But I want to flog you. But…!” Oh, shut up, Christian. Pick a lane.

My mother once told me that if someone warns you to stay away from them, you should listen. HEAR THAT, ANA?

Her hair is beautiful. Lush. Long. Thick. Idly, I wonder what it would be like to braid.

Christian braiding Ana’s hair is one of the moments in the movie that consistently makes me giggle like a loon. I love the idea that such a supposedly macho man enjoys braiding hair.

However, any affection Christian won from me is instantly decimated again in the next scene. Despite having just told Ana he’s “not going to touch her” (not before she signs the BDSM contract he has in store for her), he looks over at her in the elevator, gets hard “instantly,” and then tells her, “Fuck the paperwork” and aggressively kisses her while pinning her arms above her head.

Granted, she seems pretty into it. If he were to ask her afterward whether she consented, I think she’d give a resounding “yes.” But, as we’ve established, Christian’s notions of consent are troubling at best. I don’t think it’s okay to physically trap/restrain someone during your first kiss with them, unless they’ve explicitly told you they want that. If Ana wasn’t into this kiss, how could she escape? She’s in a moving elevator in a stranger’s hotel and her body is immobilized. Dial it back, Christian.

“You’ve brushed your teeth,” I observe with wry amusement.
“I used your toothbrush,” she says, eyes shining.

Oh god. The banter in this book is intolerable.

As he’s driving her home, Christian tells Ana that what happened in the elevator “won’t happen again… unless it’s premeditated.” Okay, good. So he sees why that kiss was problematic, I guess. Although his usage of the word “premeditated” still seems to indicate that as long as a kiss isn’t spontaneous, it’s still allowable even if it’s not mutually consented to. Or am I reading into this too much?

Chapter 6 is a long one, so I’ll be back next week with the second half of it! (Click here to keep reading.)

GJ Reads Grey, Chapters 4–5

Want to go back? Read the previous chapter or the first chapter.

As if Grey hasn’t been enough of a nightmare already, chapter 4 begins with Christian having a nightmare.

I’m smothered in sweat, with the stench of stale beer, cigarettes, and poverty in my nostrils and a lingering dread of drunken violence.

Christian has some fucked-up classist notions, of which this sentence is just one example. “The stench of poverty”? Earlier in the book, he also remarked to himself that both Ana and Kate looked privileged and spoiled. It seems that Rich Boy was unaware of how ironic it is for him to feel that way about anyone. He’s got issues around money, to say the least.

After he wakes from his poverty nightmare, he ruminates on how he kinda regrets rejecting Ana. He mentions that his psychiatrist is on vacation in England, which makes me wonder if this entire disastrous relationship could’ve been avoided, had Christian been able to talk with a mental health professional about his predatory tendencies before acting on them with Ana.

He hears someone talking about Jane Austen on the radio and it gives him the idea to send bookworm Ana his first-edition copy of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The way he talks about it, though, it seems less like a romantic gesture and more like a contemptuous act to prove to Ana that he’s not as vapid as she seemed to think.

Christian goes to work at his company, where one of his assistants asks him about “the Darfur project” (what does Grey Enterprises Holdings even do?).

“Would you like milk [in your espresso], sir?” Andrea asks. Good girl. I give her a smile. “Not today.” I do like to keep them guessing how I take my coffee.

Yes, this seems like a good use of your work time, Christian: guesspresso games. I can see why you’ve become so successful in your field, whatever it is.

Christian calls up the private investigator who did the background check on Ana before, and asks him to find out when her last exam is. Increasingly, Christian is doing things that would cause me to call the cops on him if he did them to me IRL. He has zero chill.

We see him interact with his “number two” and a couple of female assistants, and he’s categorically an asshole to all of them.

He chooses a quote from Tess of the D’Urbervilles to inscribe on the notecard he’s sending Ana along with the books. The quote is essentially a warning telling her to stay away from him, or at least guard against him. I wish she would listen, but I know she won’t. Sigh…


As chapter 5 begins, Christian gets a phone call from his brother, Elliot, who says, “Dude, I need to get out of Seattle this weekend. This chick is all over my junk and I’ve got to get away.” Don’t you love when middle-aged British ladies try to write like twenty-something American jocks and fail spectacularly?

Elliot sleeps most of the way to Portland. Poor fucker must be fried. Working and fucking: that’s Elliot’s raison d’etre.

Do you pay any attention to your own life, Christian? Literally all you do is work and fuck, too. (And hike, apparently.)

After a day of bro’ing out – mountain biking and watching a Mariners game – Christian and Elliot are hanging out at the Heathman hotel when Ana calls from a bar. She’s drunk… because she’s an adult and can decide to drink if she wants to.

Anxiety blooms in my gut. She’s a young woman, drunk, somewhere in Portland. She’s not safe.

This guy knows that bars in Portland (hell, bars everywhere) are filled with drunk young adults, right? That’s kind of how bars work.

“What’s the problem?” Elliot calls over from the sofa.
“I’ve just been drunk-dialed.” I peer at him and his mouth drops open in surprise.
“Yep.” I press the callback button, trying to contain my temper and my anxiety.

When Christian shows up at the bar to “save” Ana from her own drunkenness, he spots her being accosted by her friend, José. This is one of the only instances (maybe the only instance?) in the book where Christian seems to understand the importance of informed, enthusiastic, level-headed consent. He can comprehend that Ana is incapacitated and José is taking advantage of her and advancing on her in a way she doesn’t want. Why can’t Christian apply this understanding to his own behavior?

I seem to remember that in the movie, this altercation involved Grey punching José. In the book, he just says, “I think the lady said no,” and José backs off. It’s unusual for Book Christian to be a better dude than Movie Christian; this is one of the few times that’s the case.

Then José says “Dios mío,” which is essentially his catchphrase, because E.L. James doesn’t know how to write non-white characters without being shitty about it.

I grab her hair and hold it out of the way as she continues to throw up everything she’s had this evening. It’s with some annoyance that I note she doesn’t appear to have eaten.

Oh god, I love that Christian apparently a) studies Ana’s vomit closely here and b) can diagnose her recent eating and drinking habits from reading her vomit like tea leaves. Amazing.

“It’s about knowing your limits, Anastasia. I mean, I’m all for pushing limits, but really this is beyond the pale. Do you make a habit of this kind of behavior?” Perhaps she has a problem with alcohol. The thought is worrying, and I consider whether I should call my mother for a referral to a detox clinic.

Are you fuuuuucking serious. She goes overboard on one night of drinking and you automatically assume she’s an alcoholic who needs to go to rehab? Without even knowing her?! Aaaargghhh, Christian. (Also, for the record, this is literally Ana’s first time being drunk. Of course she didn’t know her limits yet.)

Let me take Miss Drunk Bookworm home, but for some reason she seems reluctant to go.

Could it be because she’s drunk, has just learned that awful men will try to take advantage of her when she’s drunk, barely knows you and has no reason to trust you? Could those possibly be the reasons she’s hesitant to go back to your hotel with you, Christian?

I know I should take her home, but it’s a long drive to Vancouver, and I don’t know if she’ll be sick again. I don’t relish the idea of my Audi reeking of vomit. The smell emanating from her clothes is already noticeable.

It is a mystery to me how anyone reading this book could possibly think Christian cares about Ana, let alone loves her.

After Grey undresses Ana (!) and puts her to bed at his hotel, he contacts his private investigator again to find out whether Ana’s friend José has a police record. I feel conflicted about this. One dude with problematic ideas about consent is trying to keep another dude with problematic ideas about consent from enacting those ideas…

Then he emails his driver, Taylor, with a detailed list of clothing items he wants Taylor to buy for Ana: blue jeans (size 4), pretty blue blouse (size 4), black Converse (size 7), socks (size 7), underwear (size small), and bra (“estimate 34C”). I know this is supposed to seem sweet, but it’s just creepy.

I text Elliot. “Ana is with me. If you’re still with Kate, tell her.”
He texts by return. “Will do. Hope you get laid. You soooo need it. ;)”
His response makes me snort. I so do, Elliot. I so do.

I know he’s not going to attack Ana while she’s sleeping, but… I still wish I was there and could tell her to get the fuck out of this dude’s hotel room.

Stay tuned for the next chapter; I think it’s the one where Christian non-consensually bites Ana’s toast. Riveting stuff, people!