Grey wakes from a recurrent nightmare about when he was three. At the age of 27, he really should be past nightly nightmares. I know that neglect and abuse can be hard to move past, but he’s had 23 years living in security, luxury, and love, and yet all he dreams about are the years most people remember nothing about. Since he uses his very early years as an excuse for what he does, I strongly believe he prefers to keep himself in the role of victim. As he later tells Ana, he like “little brown-haired girls” who look like his mother, and he likes to punish them in her place. If he let himself move past the first four years of his life, then the fantasy he enjoys of beating and raping his mother (I’m not making that up) would probably not be so enjoyable for him.
So he gets out of bed, looks at his own body in a mirror, and chastises himself for not kissing Ana. It’s been too long since he had sex. He could have Elena Lincoln (more on her when he tells Ana about her) find him a new sub, but no, he wants Ana, dammit! Ana’s the toy he wants, and so he’ll find a way to get her into his bed!
He listened to a radio program until a news item comes on about an unfinished Jane Austen manuscript being auctioned in London. This is only noteworthy because this actually happened. James is known for her lack of research, and yet she hit this on the head. In June 2011, an unfinished manuscript for Austen’s last unfinished book went up for auction at Sotheby’s. The Watsons is available to buy on Amazon, completed by several people. The purist in me won’t read other people’s completions, though her three unfinished manuscripts are available together as well.
Back to whatever you want to call this story. This book is just so dull, and I’m trying to make it interesting.
Once again he calls her an “incurable romantic.” (Redundant phrases are redundant. Get creative, James. This is a time to use that thesaurus you love to abuse for other things.) This sparks an idea! Ana loves English literature, despite the fact that we never see evidence of this. At least Bella fell asleep reading an Austen novel. Ana never did more than misunderstand Heathcliff and Cathy’s story.
So what better thing than to pull out some first printing, first edition books classics he just coincidentally happens to have, and give it to her since he’s so sure that she’s never seen, let alone owned, a first edition Hardy book. Never seen on? Does Grey not realize that Ana lives extremely close to one of the largest bookstores in the entire world? Powell’s literally is so huge that they give you a map so you won’t get lost in thee. Powell’s also has the Rare Book Room. There are books so old in there that any Hardy first-edition may as well be brand new. As a lit major, Ana probably would have ventured to Powell’s a time or to and maybe have gone into that room, and seen books as old, or older, than the book Grey’s trying to buy her with. I’ve personally held books from the 16th century in that room. Their oldest and most valuable codices aren’t even in display.
We get a small time-skip, as sudden as the leap from Powell’s back to this recap, and like magic, he’s outside Grey House. If you’re wondering what on earth that is, you aren’t alone. I had to figure it out as well. What he means is Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc, the name of his company. In all of he other books, it was never called Grey House, and hasn’t been in this book either, at least until now.
He opines that people who read fiction need an escape from a bad life, which is why, as teenagers, his brother never read books, but he did. I wonder what his parents would do if they knew that, even as a teenager, even as an adult, he considers his life to be a bad one, that all they’ve done for him still isn’t good enough because the first four years of his life sucked because he was raised in poverty by a woman who prostituted herself to try to support him. Seriously, it could be so much worse than to be raised by someone who made her best effort, and then died. He could have had my mother’s childhood, which is a horror story best left unrepeated. Even she managed to move past 18 years of some of the worst abuse you can imagine. Grey had four years with someone who tried, and then luxury and the world handed to him, and still his life sucked.
Also we can thank him to letting us know that people who enjoy fiction have bad lives they’re trying to escape from.
Two pages of jabbering between his assistant, Andrea, and himself, about things that relate to nothing, though we do see how little that feed-the-world-starting-with-Darfur means to him. He hand-waved it. Not important. He’s got better things to worry about, like how to sex up Ana. He has Andrea call up Welsh, the guy who did that illegal background check, and tells him to find out when Ana’s last exam is, and to do it immediately.
Once again WSU Vancouver gets to look bad. They don’t give out student test schedules to whoever calls. The only way he could get this info is if the school is incompetent, if he has someone planted on the inside somehow, is paying someone off, or is hacking.
Another short time skip. He and his second-in-command, Ros (like Ross? Roz?), are talking business. Clearly, of all the things fans and non-fans said about this book, James did at least hear the criticism about how he never works. Truth be told, we still aren’t really seeing him work. He’s bitching about bureaucratic red tape making it hard to do what he wants to Darfur, and says he could always “grease some palms,” and mentioned a non-existent senator.
Well. At least we know he indeed bribes government officials. As an American, I’m not going to get so mad at James for writing in bribery as if it’s business as usual. I’m going to continue to be mad that corruption really is common.
Since this book is full of filler, I’m wading through a couple pages of business talk that make little sense without knowing the details, and I don’t care enough to wonder what they are. Who cares about a brownfield project. Who cares tax breaks in Detroit. WHO CARES. Too bad the publisher didn’t tell James to cut the freaking fat out of this book.
Plans go on hold when Welsh calls with info on Ana’s final exam.
Have you ever watched movies on TV on Saturday, and the commercial beaks were always at strange times? You know, rather than cutting at a tense scene so that you want to watch after the break, cutting at a lull, and then starting a commercial that’s louder and more exciting, so that you lose interest in the movie? The breaks in this book at like that. After reading that Welsh called with Ana’s exam info, there’s another break, another time skip, but there’s nothing hooking me.
“Andrea, I need a blank notecard to write a message within the next hour,” I say, and hang up. “Right, Ros, where were we?”
We have no real context for the card (he’s going to write a quote from Tess of the d’Urbervilles on it), and it’s boring. It’s back to business talk that already wasn’t interesting. Why, WHY, would someone be compelled to continue reading?
It’s 12:30 on that day, and we’ve had three time skips. We already know he’s convinced his other assistant, Olivia, wants to get into his pants. He delivers his lunch and a selection of white notecards. On one of them he writes,
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…
It’s from Tess. The full quote is
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; but I never had the chance of discovering in that way, and you did not help me!
The incomplete quote lacks the needed punch of the last sentence. As he writes it, it’s like he’s asking her why she didn’t heed the warnings that she would have known had she bothered to read anything. I’m unable to be amused at what is likely an accidental insult since he is warning her that he’s a dangerous guy, but yet he’s actively pursuing her.
He calls in Andrea, and tells her to have a courier deliver the books by the following day, at latest, as if that’s such an impressively tricky thing to pull off. One-day delivery! Here’s a little non-secret. Seattle and Vancouver as close enough that UPS Ground takes one day.
In reality, if you have a package to a UPS Customer Service Center by the end of the day, which is usually 6pm, it’ll go out the same night. The times shown build in extra time for the customer. I use UPS regularly for my business, and so deal with this very often.
A courier isn’t needed. Just UPS is. They can even get it there by 8am.
After his little show of how powerful he is that he can have a local delivery made overnight using a service available to literally every single person in the United States, he orders Andrea to find him first-edition replacements for the books.
Regarding the set he’s sending to Ana, he thinks,
I wonder if that will be the last I see of the books, and I have to acknowledge that deep down I hope not.
Of course he hopes he’ll see those books again. He hopes to nail her and have his way with her, and so see them again in the privacy of her home. Really. That’s it. He’s trying to pre-pay her, like a prostitute. He’s doing the equivalent of a man buying a woman dinner, and then making her feel obligated to ride the baloney pony later because, after all, he did buy her a meal, and with buying something comes the obligation to pay him back. Ladies, most guys aren’t like that, but the ones who are deserve nothing more than a knee to the groin.
By the way, the chapter is over. Nothing has happened to advance the plot. Literally this entire book can be summed up as:
Girl and boy meet. Boy decides he owns Girl, and decides to try to buy his way into Girl’s pants because he’s horny and she’s pretty.
We are 88 pages in, and that literally, truly, non-figuratively, literally, sums up the plot. In other words, there is no plot.
This book. This book. THIS BOOK. No plot. Just an obsession with owning and abusing another human being. Yet it is part of one of the best-selling franchises in world history, and held as one of the top romances. It makes me sick to my stomach.