If you haven’t read “Fifty Shades of Grey” or missed the last post, chapter one merely consisted of Ana and Christian Grey meeting. It was relatively bland and there was no real sexual tension. Nothing much happened. They met. He’s rich. She’s a little dull. It is now the writer’s duty to start with the actual story.
Ana is riding down in the lift from Grey’s office, heart pounding. She states that no man has ever “affected” her the way he has before and then asks a very important question. Is it his wealth? Or his looks? The answer, Ana, is yes. To both. You know nothing about him, something you yourself admitted before going to do the interview and know very little still now that the meeting has concluded. So yes….it’s both.
As she’s driving back home, she goes over the evident pros and cons of Christian Grey. Yes, he’s attractive and confident and probably has ten thousand a year but that doesn’t make up for his arrogance. Thinking back on the last chapter, I don’t really remember him being arrogant; just odd. But ‘arrogant’ is a word loosely tossed about in fiction to create a love/hate chemistry so let her have it.
One paragraph in this little section states, “I’m driving more cautiously than I would on any other occasion. And I know it’s the memory of two penetrating grey eyes gazing at me, and a stern voice telling me to drive carefully”.
It’s here that I put down the iPad and scream with laughter. I’m sorry. I am. But that’s just too sexy. Pedantic controlling of your speedometer is such a turn-on.
She warbles on a little longer and then decides to put the whole affair behind her. Of course, with 360 pages to go, one must assume this decision will not hold but we can hope. Maybe the rest of the story will be about Kate…
Ana gets home and exchanges a few words with the much more interesting Kate, who is in the living room surrounded by books and totally bangin’. Then Ana throws a complete spanner in the works. She claims she can still make her shift at Claytons. The latter, as it is soon revealed, is a huge independent hardware store. I’m actually a little shocked and pleasantly surprised. There’s something so left-field and cool about having her work in a place selling hammers and nails and all that B & Q stuff. It would have been super obvious to have her be a librarian or a reader etc.
Good work, James.
This chapter seems to be based on building up Ana and Kate’s roommate relationship which is fine but it is making me more and more of a Kate fan than an Ana fan. While Kate writes articles and listens through transcripts, Ana makes a sandwich.
Later on, after they’ve eaten, Ana gets to work on her essay about ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. Now, I hate to be a bitch, but what is a college senior who is studying English Literature doing writing her final essay on Thomas Hardy? I liked Tess fine…when I was fifteen. Then, as I’m remembering the tragic story of Tess, I am reminded of Alex and Angel and catch onto what James is heading towards. The two extreme representations of men; the self-righteously good Angel and the self-admittingly demonic Alex. She could have done “Pride and Prejudice” so snaps for avoiding that cliche.
Ana calls her mum who tells her she needs to get out more. She then calls her step-dad who is completely accepting of her. All in all, an extremely boring page of meaningless patter.
New character! Jose, an amateur photographer, and fellow student arrives at the apartment. He wants to celebrate with the girls after being granted the chance to display his photographs at some gallery. Ana goes on to talk about how they’re great friends but she knows in her heart of hearts that he would like to be more. She describes herself as missing the “need-a-boyfriend gene”……
Clearly, she does not possess the genes of self-deprecation or modesty either. Or humility. And don’t give me this shit, Ana! All last chapter I had to listen to you whine about how unbecoming you were and now this crap! Anyway…
Cut to Ana back at work doing whatever it is people who work in hardware stores do and, lo and behold, she has a visitor. Christian Grey has rocked up at Clayton’s without an explanation. If, like me, you don’t believe in coincidence then we can only assume he is a very skilled stalker.
He wants to buy cable ties. Amongst other things.
Maybe this scene is meant to be filled with suggestion but I’m just not feeling it. It’s too difficult to find any aspect of a hardware store erotic or sensual. Suddenly, Ana describes his hands as “long-fingered” and “beautifully manicured” and I’ve lost it again. I’m laughing like a loon. Christian Grey has a troubled past but insists on getting manicures. Okay.
He asks her for masking tape and suddenly I’m a little worried for Ana. Run. RUN!
As someone who works with customers in the service industry, I feel for Ana a little bit in this scene. It’s difficult to do your job when your customer clearly has an agenda. I have my casual stalkers at work and the fact that you’re taking their money while they want something more is incredibly uncomfortable.
As she continues to sell him really bizarre items, Michael Bolton’s “How can we be lovers?” comes on shuffle and I’m more interested in being Michael Bolton than reading on.
When I drag myself back, they’re arranging to have a photo shoot so Ana can give Kate some stills to go with her article. Good thing Ana knows a hot, single photographer who’s pining for her. Derp.
The store owner’s son Paul enters the scene, clearly also harbouring a deep love for the mysterious and irresistible Miss Steele. She introduces him to Grey, which is awkward and unprofessional and Grey is cross. As he should be. The whole point of stalking someone at their workplace is to get their undivided attention and service.
When Paul asks if he can help Cristian, the latter replies with, “Anastasia has it covered, Mr. Clayton. She’s been very attentive”. Ana then goes on to say, “His expression is impassive, but his words…it’s like he’s saying something else entirely. It’s baffling.”
No, it’s not, Ana. It’s subtext. It’s an everyday occurrence and a gift of possessing the ability to speak. It’s why people go to the theatre.
Just before Grey leaves, he reveals that he’s pleased Ana came to interview him and not Kate. You shouldn’t be, dude. Kate is the shit.
Chapter three begins with three words. “Kate is ecstatic” and already my reading tail is wagging. Kate’s back! Yay!
Sadly, Kate’s excitement is only based on hearing about Ana’s experience with Grey at work. Her sole purpose is to point out the obvious. Grey is a stalker and was there to see Ana.
Ana calls Jose to beg that he do the photographs of Christian for Kate’s article. Jose is reluctant and Ana is rubbish at convincing him. Odd, considering she’s so confident he’s violently in love with her and would do anything for her. Kate grabs the phone and threatens him with pulling all advertisements for his gallery exhibit and shows Ana what it takes to be a compelling female character.
Next, Ana calls Grey and sadly Kate makes no appearance in the conversation. They arrange to meet altogether at the Heathman Hotel. “Be Our Guest” has now come on shuffle and I’m daydreaming about being a singing candlestick. Now there’s a love story…
The four of them meet at the hotel and Jose and Grey exchange terse greetings. When Ana introduces Kate and Grey, he opens with, “The tenacious Miss Kavanagh. How do you do?” and instantly, there is chemistry. The first flicker of real sexual tension in this book and it’s probably utterly unintentional.
They takes pictures and then, when it’s done, Grey asks Ana out for coffee but because it’s during the day we can only assume he’s being genuine and not using it as a euphemism for the old ‘how’s your father?’.
It turns out that Grey has a bodyguard/valet called Taylor who he goes on to boss about like a butler. Grey has a touch of Downton about him in this exchange and it’s not becoming.
They talk about Kate and when Ana declares they’ve been fast friends since their freshman year, Grey responds with a disdainful, “hmm”.
My eyes become slits. How dare he? Who is he to judge the flawless Kate. Jerk. Kate is clearly the only Hepburn-type I’m going to get in this novel.
As Grey buys the teas and coffees for the two of them, Ana sits down at a table and studies him. The whole paragraph is like an extract from a teenager’s diary but one particular gem is, “I envy him. Here’s me, all gawky and uncoordinated, barely able to get from A to B without falling flat on my face”.
Shut up. It’s not cute.
Grey sits down and Ana says that she likes her tea “black and weak” and Grey instantly responds with “I see. Is he your boyfriend?”
And I’m laughing like a loon again. Is this meant to be funny? I think so.
And blatantly Jose is not her boyfriend as she’s sitting here with you, Grey, getting all breathy and excited over her Twinings.
They do the basic first-date stuff. Talk about family, backgrounds and interests and I’m falling asleep. They leave because Ana has to study. College-level essays on high school material don’t write themselves apparently. Grey states that he doesn’t “do the girlfriend thing”. Ana tries to mask her disappointment.
Ana, from me to you, when this happens to you–when someone disrupts your schedule and demands that you spend time with him, time that fits into the modern interpretation of a date–and when he then goes on to say he doesn’t do the dating/girlfriend thing, you tell him to stop wasting your time and give him either the number of a good shrink or a sex hotline.
Then, because Ana is clumsy and a walking hazard, she almost gets run over by a bike messenger, and Grey saves her. As he hauls her onto the pavement, there is a whole paragraph dedicated to her staring up into his face, hoping that he’ll kiss her.
End of chapter.
‘I love rock and roll” has come on and I couldn’t care less about Ana and Christian.