Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Chapter Six

Chapter Six

So after their slightly scary and borderline violent kiss in the lift, Christian and Ana get into his massive Audi SUV. The product placement in this novel is quite something, by the way. E. L. James is currently rolling around in a huge Audi, speaking on her Apple iPhone while she sips away at her Twinings Breakfast Tea.

Ana is lamenting the fact that Christian hasn’t mentioned their kiss. Give him a chance, it only happened two minutes ago. But of course, this is fan-fiction world, where the instalments were usually posted days or weeks apart, so when this was originally posted, it must have felt like an age since they last kissed. Ana comes to the conclusion, after a whole three minutes of Christian not mentioning it, that she must have imagined the kiss. That's sensible. If someone doesn't verbally acknowledge a kiss within 200 seconds of it happening, it means it didn't happen. 

Christian puts the MP3 player on and he’s listening to the Flower Duet from the British Airways advert opera Lakme. Ana says that her senses are all in disarray, with the music teasing and seducing her. I had never thought of the Flower Duet as particularly sexy, myself, but each to their own. Christian tells Ana he likes all kinds of music, from Thomas Tallis to the Kings of Leon. He puts Sex On Fire on. It’s cringeworthy.

As they pull up at Ana’s apartment, Christian tells Ana he won’t kiss her again unless it’s premeditated. Ana completely disregards all creepy insinuations and just wonders why he won’t kiss her. “His surname should be Cryptic, not Grey.” Ohhh, burn.

They go up to Ana’s apartment. Ana tells Christian she liked what happened in the elevator, and then says that she’s ‘not sure if [she] hear[s] an audible gasp’. Audible, by definition, means that you can definitely hear it – it’s clear and distinct. How can you be unsure of whether something was audible or not? “I wasn’t sure if I could see the book as it went sailing visibly out of the window.” Doesn’t make sense, does it?

As they get into Ana’s apartment, Kate and Elliot (apparently Christian’s brother, but most likely someone the author invented just so that Kate wasn’t a third wheel) are there, having been showing each other a good time all night long, by the sounds of it. Elliot has not been properly introduced to Ana, but he hugs her anyway. So does Kate. There is so much unnecessary hugging in this book, it makes me vaguely nauseous.

Christian and Elliot say goodbye – “Laters, baby.” You might want to remember this too. Like the lip-biting, you will come to despise it. The author knows how to take an in-joke and run and run and run with it, until you are so sick of it, you want to pull out your own eyeballs and use them in a slingshot, preferably directed right at E. L. James’ face.

Elliot kisses Kate goodbye and Ana feels an ‘unwelcome pang of jealousy’. Ana cannot be happy for anyone unless it’s herself. She is a shallow creature with cardboard, two-dimensional feelings.

If 50 Shades was a movie (which, I read, it soon will be), what follows is a shameless makeover scene in which Kate prepares Ana for her next date with Christian. She shaves her underarms and plucks her eyebrows. I’m not here to dictate what women should do with their body hair, but I’m finding it really hard to believe Ana hasn’t taken a razor to her pits in her whole life – especially as every other element of her being is so sheltered. “[Kate] assures me this is what men expect these days,” says Ana. Hey, what’s the sound? That, my friends, is the sound of us hurtling back through time, to an era where what men expect of women is more important than what women want for themselves. Shave your underarms or don't shave them, but don't let a man be the reason for the choice either way.

Ana can’t stop contemplating that tonight is the night. Context: Ana is a virgin who had her first drink two days ago and had never held anyone’s hand before, but she is quite happy to give up her virginity to this egomaniacal lunatic on what is essentially their second date. Again, I’m an advocate of women being able to do what the hell they want with their virginity, I just don’t think this is likely or realistic. But then, I guess if I was holding out for realism in this book, I’d have given up when she swan dived into his office and landed on her face at the beginning of chapter one.

Christian picks Ana up from work. “The drive to the helicopter is short, and before I know it, we arrive.” This is the most hilarious sentence I’ve ever read. Bar none.

Christian straps Ana into his big, manly helicopter. They take off, and there’s a whole sequence with Christian saying manly things like, “Roger tower” and “over and out” into his headset. I don’t know how much research the author did into actual helicopter jargon, but if it’s the same amount of research she did into the rest of the book, I’m going to go right ahead and say that she made the entire thing up off the top of her head.

The views must be incredible up above the city, but all Ana can look at is Christian. He confides he’s never brought a woman up here before, which makes me think Ana is insulting his gesture by just gawping at him all the way through and not taking in the view he obviously wanted to show her. “You’re just so… competent,” she says to him. Oooh, baby, I love it when you’re… competent. Who said this book wasn’t sexy?!

They land on Christian’s roof and go into his apartment. He offers her a glass of wine: “Pouilly Fume okay with you?” he asks. This is quite condescending of him. He knows she doesn’t drink, how would she know what specific type of wine she preferred? He’s making her feel small.

Ana sits down and contemplates that she feels like ‘Tess Durbeyfield looking at the new house that belongs to the notorious Alec D’Urberville’. I wish she would stop with these half-baked references. We know you’ve read the book (or at least looked up the synopsis on Wikipedia); you don’t need to keep proving it to us.

She asks Christian why he bought her the Tess book specifically, and he says, “It seemed appropriate. I could hold you to some impossibly high ideal like Angel Clare or debase you completely like Alec D’Urberville.” Is that supposed to be a really hot sentence? Psychological abuse vs physical abuse. Tough call. Ana says she’ll take the debasement. I weep for women everywhere.

Christian now presents her with a disclosure agreement. This is fair enough. If we’re to presume that Christian is a famous young CEO, perhaps equivalent to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, a disclosure agreement is probably a wise idea. Ana wants to sign it without even reading it. Hand me that pen when you’re finished, would you, Ana? I want to sign my own death warrant.

After she’s signed the disclosure, she asks, “Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?” Oh boy, one glass of wine and she’s pissed already. For a supposedly shy and reserved character, this is also a pretty forward sentence. “I don’t make love,” says Christian. “I fuck. Hard.” A thrilling prospect for any inexperienced virgin, I’m sure.

From here on out, what little plot there may have seemed to be in the chapters so far completely dissipates. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 


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