Hello again, good people of the interwebs. I am here with another instalment of misery, in the form of Grey, chapter 4! Try to contain your joy…
Now, you may remember that at the end of the last chapter, Ana had wanted Grey to kiss her, but instead, he’d warned her off with the classic “I’m not the man for you” manipulative bullsh!t that abusers so dearly love to use. As we start this chapter, Grey is having a terrible nightmare and gets up, only to glance at himself in the mirror and look away in disgust. Sadly, it’s not because he realises he’s a vile creature who treats women appallingly. It’s because he turned Ana down.
The thing is, this whole opening is so exceptionally melodramatic, I feel I can’t possibly keep it from you. It simply wouldn’t be fair. So…
No! My scream bounces off the bedroom walls and wakes me from my nightmare. I’m smothered in sweat, with the stench of stale beer, cigarettes and poverty in my nostrils…
What, exactly, does “poverty” smell like?!
…and a lingering dread of drunken violence. Sitting up, I put my head in my hands as I try to calm my escalated heart rate and erratic breathing. It’s been the same for the last four nights. Glancing at the clock, I see it’s 3:00am.
So, hey, who wants to make a guess as to how many days it’s been since Grey turned Ana down? Anyone? Yup, four. See, EL James is doing two things, here. Firstly, she’s reminding us that poor ickle Christian had a truly awful time as a child, therefore nobody can blame him for his behaviour as an adult. Secondly, she’s highlighting that his nightmares have gotten worse since he turned Ana down. The incredibly obvious subtext being that if Ana was there, he’d be okay. Because she could “fix” him. It’s important to note, because this is where the “Ana is responsible for fixing Christian” crap really starts. It’s the same in the original Fifty Shades; once Grey tells Ana he’s no good for her, she’s intrigued and starts wondering about his past and whether she could change him. Here, from his POV, EL James is very clearly setting up Ana as the one who can change Christian’s life and rescue him from himself. Never mind that she doesn’t change him at all; it’s not her job to change him in the first place. That’s up to him. He has to recognise his behaviour and want to change. Which, you know, he literally never does.
But hey, on with the drama…
I have two major meetings tomorrow…today…and I need a clear head and some sleep. Damn it, what I’d give for a good night’s sleep. And I have a round of fucking golf with Bastille. I should cancel the golf; the thought of playing and losing darkens my already bleak mood.
Christian Grey: a man so precious, the thought of losing a game of golf has the capacity to affect his mood. He really needs a better therapist than Dr Flynn, because WOW, issues.
Clambering out of bed, I wander down the corridor and into the kitchen. There, I fill a glass with water and catch sight of myself, dressed only in pyjama pants, reflected in the glass wall at the other side of the room. I turn away in disgust.
You turned her down.
She wanted you.
And you turned her down.
It was for her own good.
Good LORD man, get over yourself. Most of us have, at some point in our lives, turned down a person who was romantically interested in us. It’s not like you burned down her apartment (although I wouldn’t put it past you).
Grey ponders whether he needs a new sub to take his mind off Ana and he informs the reader that Elena usually finds him “suitable candidates,” which is super healthy, given that she’s the older woman who molested him when he was underage…
He whines on for a few paragraphs about how beautiful Ana is and how much he wants her. He contemplates calling his shrink, if Dr Flynn wasn’t in England on vacation, explaining charmingly:
His psychobabble shit would stop me feeling this lousy.
Would it? Because you don’t seem to listen to any of it. Besides which, Dr Flynn enables your awful behaviour, so…
Anyway, Grey starts wondering if he can find a way to apologise to Ana. This becomes relevant, when he hears a news item about a rare Jane Austen manuscript being auctioned off and thinks:
Christ. Even the news reminds me of Little Miss Bookworm.
Why does his internal monologue so often make it sound like he really doesn’t like Ana?! In the last few chapters, he’s criticised her dress sense constantly and now he’s calling her “Little Miss Bookworm,” which, I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I know he’s an asshole and I’m looking for stuff, just seems to come off as a little sneering towards her.
He remembers he just happens to have two Thomas Hardy first editions – Jude The Obscure and Tess of The D’Ubervilles in his library.
Both are bleak books, with tragic themes. Hardy had a dark, twisted soul.
He decides to send Ana the first edition of Tess of The D’Ubervilles “with a suitable quote.” He admits that it’s “not the most romantic book,” but to be honest, the way he talks about the plot and the non-romantic parts just makes it sound like EL James has read the CliffsNotes and wants to sound knowledgeable, after critics questioned the choice of book and quote, in the original Fifty Shades of Grey.
As he sits in the back of the car on his way to work, Grey tells the reader that he used fiction as an escape as a teenager.
My mother always marvelled that I read; Elliot not so much. I craved the escape that fiction provided. He didn’t need an escape.
Because Grey is SO MUCH MORE TRAGIC than Elliot and nobody could ever understand such things! Also, the way that sentence is worded makes it look as though Elliot didn’t marvel that Christian read, but their mother did. Just saying.
Grey ignores the receptionist who gives him what he calls a “flirty wave.”
Every day… Like a cheesy tune on repeat.
Ignoring her, I make my way to the elevator that will take me straight to my floor.
Here’s the thing, douche-canoe… You’re that girl’s boss. Have you literally never considered that she smiles and waves at you whenever you come in, because you pay her freaking wages and she figures she ought to be friendly and polite towards you, even though you’re a massive ass-hat?!
Probably not. This guy is, after all, the most arrogant human who has ever lived.
But notice how he talks to the security guy:
“Good morning, Mr Grey,” Barry on security greets me as he presses the button to summon the elevator.
“How’s your son, Barry?”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
See, he refers to this guy by name. He has clearly spoken with Barry before about his life, because he references Barry’s son having been unwell. Compare that to the way that Grey treats women who works for him. He mentally admonishes them all for “flirting” with him when they smile or are polite towards him and he cuts them off when they try to speak. Don’t believe me? Look how he treats Andrea, his PA, when he gets out of the elevator:
“Good morning, Mr Grey. Ros wants to see you to discuss the Darfur project. Barney would like a few minutes…”
I hold my hand up to silence her.
Yup. Christian Grey is a misogynist.
Just to ram home the point, he informs the reader that he can’t see Olivia around and that it’s a relief, because she’s “always mooning over me and it’s fucking irritating.” And when Andrea asks Grey if he’d like milk in the coffee he originally wanted Olivia to get, he replies “not today” and then smirks to himself, because he likes to keep the office girls guessing as to how he likes his coffee.
Because women are beneath him, duh.
Of course, once he’s at his desk and should be working, Grey immediately calls Welch and tells him to find out when Ana’s last exam is, “as a matter of priority.” Because what’s more important, eh? Running the global business you brag about, or gaining further information without consent?!
Next up, there is a seriously, seriously dull meeting with Ros about business stuff, which genuinely, I might print out and keep beside my bed for when I next struggle to get to sleep. You can really tell the sections where EL James knew she had to pad this crap out and just decided to fill it with unnecessary details that I doubt even the biggest fan of this abomination is interested in. The only thing that may be of interest is Grey pouting over the idea of opening up an arm of his empire in Detroit, because he was born there and spent the first four, tragic years of his life, there. But that doesn’t make much sense, because if he knows there are poor people there, and he’s dedicated part of his business to feeding the hungry in Africa because he went hungry as a kid, why doesn’t he want to create job opportunities for poor families in his home city?!
Andrea interrupts this meeting to let Grey know that Welch is back on the line with the information he asked for: Ana’s last exam is – conveniently – tomorrow.
Before long, it’s lunchtime (thank goodness; we know Grey does not tolerate hunger – EVER), but EL James can’t even write a simple lunch scene without reminding us that all women love Christian Grey, but Christian Grey hates all women:
At 12:30, Olivia shuffles into my office with lunch. She’s a tall, willowy girl with a pretty face. Sadly, it’s always misdirected at me with longing. She’s carrying a tray with what I hope is something edible. After a busy morning, I’m starving. She trembles as she puts it on my desk.
Tuna salad. Okay. She hasn’t fucked this up for once.
Dude, if she’s “shuffling” into your office and “trembles” as she gives you your lunch, it might not be that she has this big, giant crush on you. She’s probably freaking terrified of the vile boss who treats all of the women in his company with such enormous contempt. Ugh.
Anyway, Olivia also has some blank notecards for Grey to choose from, in order to write a quote to send to Ana.
“Great,” I mutter. Now go. She scuttles out.
I take one bite of tuna to assuage my hunger, then reach for my pen. I’ve chosen a quote. A warning. I made the correct choice, walking away from her. Not all men are romantic heroes. I’ll take the word “men-folk” out. She’ll understand.
Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me? Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks.
Grey then buzzes for Andrea and tells her to send the books to Ana, ensuring they arrive the next day. Andrea apparently smiles as she leaves the office, which Grey thinks is odd, because apparently Andrea “never smiles.” I think the reader is supposed to be all “aaaw, Andrea’s smiling because her cold-hearted boss has melted because he’s in luuuuurve,” but for all we know, she might just have wind.
She never smiles. Dismissing the thought, I wonder if that will be the last I see of the books, and I have to acknowledge that deep down, I hope not.
And that, friends, is the end of this truly riveting chapter. Yes, literally all that happened is Grey had a nightmare, which the author subtly put responsibility on Ana for stopping, he went to work and was a misogynist sh!t-weasel, got yet more information about Ana without her consent and sent her some books.
Wow. I think that might have been the dullest chapter of a so-called erotic novel I have ever read. Ever.
At least I know I’ll sleep like a baby after reading that drivel…
See you next time!