Chapter three concludes with the most hilariously dramatic non-accident that’s ever been written. Ana nearly gets knocked over by a cyclist (not a motorcyclist, not even a car or a van – a man on a pushbike). Christian pulls her out of the way just in time, and chapter five opens with Ana wishing he would snog her face off. “I’m not the man for you,” he says, out of nowhere. You’ve got that right, pal. Also a timely reminder that this is still only the third time they've met.
Christian holds her at arm’s length and all Ana can think about is how much she wants him to kiss her. Note: she doesn’t ever consider just kissing him. Are you mad? A woman making the first move on a man? When he doesn’t kiss her, she muses that she has royally screwed up this coffee morning, because of course, it's all her fault if a man doesn't want to kiss her.
Ana thanks Christian for saving her, and he says that he ‘shudders to think’ what might have happened to her if that man, who was probably going at about 10 miles per hour on a pushbike, had crashed into her. Bruises at best, I’d say, but the guy seems to have a penchant for melodrama.
This is a little nit-picky of me, and I’m not 100% sure on this, having never been to America, but Ana says that when she turns around, the ‘green man’ is showing, so she’s safe to cross the road. I always thought the signs were ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk’ in America. This novel is actually littered with British references that shouldn’t be there. I don’t understand how this was allowed to be published. It hasn’t even been glanced over by an editor (probably because if it was, it’d be in the bin before the end of the first chapter).
Ana says goodbye to Christian, runs back to the garage where her car is parked, and starts crying. Don’t you just love strong women in literature?
“Perhaps this nonsensical pain will be smaller the smaller I am,” she says, curling up in a ball in the garage. Perhaps that nonsensical sentence will be smaller if I throw my Kindle out of the window so that I can’t see it anymore. Punctuation and phrasing are a foreign concept to this author. This novel has been bashed out by a woman curled up on her sofa, typing in the breaks of Loose Women with a stray cat occasionally wandering across the keyboard.
Ana cries about her ‘dashed hopes, dashed dreams and soured expectations’ (she met him three times! I wish I was making this up), moaning about how she rebuffs every man who likes her because of her deep-rooted insecurities.
Then, this treat of a sentence appears: “Stop! Stop Now! – My subconscious is metaphorically screaming at me, arms folded, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration.” We've covered the random capitalisation of words which don't need it. We've covered the fact that you can’t interact with your ‘subconscious’. You also can’t scream ‘metaphorically’ at someone (especially if you are, in fact, someone’s subconscious). You’re either screaming or you’re not. A metaphorical scream is like me saying that I cried tears of metaphorical despair at that sentence. My despair wasn’t metaphorical. It was real.
When Ana gets home, she cries a little bit more to Kate, who reassures her that she’s a ‘total babe’, and then Kate shows her the finished Christian Grey interview, complete with wet-haired, flannel-trouser wearing pictures. Ana doesn’t read the interview, she just looks at the pictures (like little kids do), and decides that the reason Christian doesn’t want her is because he’s too good-looking for her. Surely not - surely it's the fact that she's boring and shallow and despite spending a fortune on college, doesn't seem to have any ambition or plans for the future.
When Ana finishes her final exam in the next paragraph (yes, quite a leap, I know – it’s not my narrative), she gets home and finds that Christian has tracked down a first-edition copy of Tess of the D’Urbervilles and had it sent to her address. That total bastard.
But, consider this: he’s never been to her apartment, he’s met her all of three times, but he knows where she lives. Romantic, right? No. It’s creepy as hell.
Ana considers it highly ironic (read: coincidental) that he’d choose that book to buy for her, because she’s just spent three hours writing about Thomas Hardy’s novels in her exam.
After finishing their last exams, Ana and Kate decide to go out and get drunk. I was quite pleased to read this – maybe Ana wasn’t so friendless and sheltered as I thought – until I read on a few pages and discovered that she’s never been drunk before. Ana has never held anybody’s hand, she’s never liked a guy before, and she’s never been drunk. She's the perfect, virginal princess whom no man has sullied - and she almost certainly reflects about 0.1% of the population. I am baffled as to why so many women seem to identify with her.
Ana drinks five margaritas (yes, five. She has no alcohol tolerance whatsoever but she can drink five margaritas and still be conscious) and decides to go into the bathroom and drunk-dial Christian Grey. I can’t contradict this. Drunk-dialling is a seminal part of life, it's almost a rite of passage. Except Christian’s controlling side comes out and he demands to know where she is. Uh oh. This is creepy because it’s so reminiscent of a father coming to pick up his daughter. And the thing is, she doesn’t even tell him where she is. He tracks her phone. Ladies, is this romance? Is this even legal?
Ana goes outside for some fresh air and what follows is actually quite a disturbing scene. Jose comes out and tries to force her to kiss him, and it’s just all kinds of wrong. And then…
“I think the lady said no.” Oh, yes. You guessed it. Right in the nick of time, Christian! Bear in mind that Ana is in Portland, and it’s probably been about three minutes since she hung up the phone to him in Seattle. But whatever, why let a little realism stand in the way of a
terrible good story?
At this point, Ana is sick all over Jose’s shoes. Good. Christian holds her hair back while she spews, which would be sweet if he hadn’t just stalked her across the state. Oh, and he also goes into total 'dad mode', reprimanding her and saying: “I’m all for pushing limits but really this is beyond the pale.” It is really? She got a little bit drunk and threw up. We’ve all been there, right? She's a grown woman who is fully capable of looking after herself (I think). I am a strong advocate of a woman being able to get drunk and puke her guts up on the night of her final exam, if that is how she chooses to celebrate (and many do).
Ana gets annoyed with him now, and rightly so. Joy! There is a backbone in there somewhere! And then just as I'm thinking we'll make a strong heroine of her yet, it all just fades away into a feeble excuse about never drinking again, and she agrees to let him take her home. Or at least, that’s the plan.
Ana heads back into the bar to tell Kate and collect her bag, and somehow ends up grinding all over Christian on the dance floor like she does it for a living, despite the fact she’s, let me guess, never danced before. Maybe we could make this novel a whole lot shorter by first covering the things Ana has done in the past. I'm guessing this is the exhaustive list: read, sleep, eat, breathe, fall over, whinge about everything.
Also, I can only speak for myself here, but when I’ve just spent the last five minutes vomiting into a flowerbed, the last thing I want to do is start grinding my backside into some stalker guy’s crotch on a sweaty dance floor. But hey, Ana is all for pushing boundaries now that she’s held a guy’s hand and felt lust for the first time. She’s a pioneer!
TBC - and thanks for the lovely comments. I am hating and enjoying this in equal measures :)