Friday, May 25, 2012

Chapter-By-Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapters 1 and 2

We open our book with our heroine staring at herself in a mirror. This is not the worst plot device ever conceived. I’ve never seen it done well, though, not even by seasoned writers. We learn through this mirror contemplation that AnaBella has dark, unruly hair and blue eyes that are too large for her face. Her skin is, of course, pale like porcelain and we the readers are supposed to think, “Oh, she’s so plain!” Yes, women with elfin faces are just heifers.

I do sympathize about the hair, though. My own hair is naturally wavy and then has large curls at the very ends (just the ends, mind—and I mean the very ends—the last half –inch or so), which was very annoying when I had it cut in a shorter jaw-length bob, but since I’ve grown it out past my shoulders, it looks slightly Middletonian, but only if I spend about twenty minutes on it in the morning with a blow dryer and a wide round brush.

Do you have a good idea about what my hair looks like now? AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO LOOK IN A FREAKIN’ MIRROR TO DO THAT. (Yeah, I know you thought I was being vain or something, but I was just showing how it’s done. If you want to know about my eyes, they’re green, just the right size for my face, and I have freckles so no porcelain skin for me. Boo. I guess I’ll never be as plain as a fanfiction heroine.)

AnaBella has a roommate who is also her best friend and has been all through college. I’m not saying this is impossible, I’m just saying that an eighteen-year-old heading into a situation where she is suddenly on her own for the first time in her life might actually find herself with a completely set of circumstances four years later when she is ready to leave said situation. But personal growth isn’t what we’re looking for here. AnaBella must be as unchangeable as a rock. Said roommate is Kate, a strawberry blonde who looks good even while having the flu and wearing flannel PJ’s with bunnies on them (um…where can I get a set of those jammies?), which would be a great place for the author to put AnaBella’s description as a contrast, rather than have her look in a mirror. Just saying.

Anyway, Kate needs AnaBella to head into Seattle for an interview with billionaire telecommunications mogul Christian Grey. She gives AnaBella a bunch of questions to ask him, a recorder, her Mercedes, and a wish of good luck, and soon AnaBella is off to another world where high-rise buildings are modern works of art (yes, they can be) made out of nothing but white walls, sandstone counters, and steel. In this world, there are only pretty blonde, impeccably dressed interns, and AnaBella is just totally out of her element. She should have worn a suit or something more suitable to the atmosphere.

In my college, we are forced to take a class that prepares us for any sort of interview, and the professors impress on us over and over again to always wear well tailored and pressed suits and plain shirts in an office setting, so I’m surprised that AnaBella didn’t figure this out on her own. Again, this twenty two-year-old is still acting like a sixteen-year-old.

We get our first glimpse at a non-white person who (of course) has dreadlocks and is dressed in yet another impeccable suit. I can’t help but wonder if this will be the only minority in this book. I think every minority in the world is hoping so.

Finally, AnaBella gets to meet Christian Grey, who she knows nothing about, and spectacularly face-plants on the ground by tripping over her own feet before doing so. This is because she’s clumsy. I mean, we can’t make her eyes too small for her face, or give her the odd pimple every now and then, or even a little rosacea around her forehead and on her cheeks, so we have to make her clumsy. I have to wonder if she can open a gift without getting a paper cut. Probably not.

Christian Grey is an Adonis. No, she actually calls him that. When I think of an Adonis, I think of Shemar Moore, not some pasty redhead, but to each her own.

Shemar Moore. You're welcome.

Chrisward has copper hair and grey eyes. If he had some other color, would his last name be different? AnaBella’s last name is Steele, so if they got married, their name would be Steele-Grey. Oooh, author. I see what you did there!

The interview commences, and AnaBella asks him really innocuous questions about how he got started, etcetera, and Chrisward answers politely and truthfully, and AnaBella decides he’s being very arrogant and calls him on it. He’s like, “Yo, I have twenty thousand people working for me. If I quit what I’m doing tomorrow, all those people would be out of a job. I have responsibility to them you lackwitted imbecile.” AnaBella’s all, “Oooh, he’s so arrogant! How dare he comment that he has that sort of power over people? How dare he know who he is and what he wants out of life! Who does that, anyway?”

Who indeed. Who indeed.

I’m sorry, I need to go and weep for anyone who thinks this character is a strong woman. Good lord, she doesn’t even know what she wants to do after college! And she’s been there for four years!

The author tries to go all Bogey/Bacall, Tracy/Hepburn, Grant/Russell on us, but it all just falls flat. AnaBella keeps trying to argue with Chrisward about how arrogant he is, but his answers are so logical that I as a reader think she sounds like a petulant little whiner. Also, her thought processes are just so crazy, she decides that everything he says is a double entendre, so her responses are also double entendres, and it’s very uncomfortable for me as a reader to think that he’s turning her on by saying that there’s nothing wrong with owning things, or knowing what you want and going and getting it.

In my notes, I have: “she does realize she’s putting everything on a recorder, right?”

AnaBella finally gets that she’s in an argument she can’t win, so goes onto the next question Kate put on the list. “Are you gay?” This of course makes Christian Grey angry. A guy secure in his straightness would laugh this off, so my personal answer to this question is “probably. Either that or a huge homophobe.” Since the story hinges on these two getting together, I’ll go with the latter.

Seriously, my dad asked me if I was gay, and I laughed so hard at that. I was angry at him for asking me because it was none of his business, but when he asked, all I could do was laugh.

So, Chrisward finally gets good and angry at AnaBella, which good for him. I hope his anger is because it’s none of her business and not because he thinks it’s an insult, and calls in for quid pro quo. Quid pro quo, Clarisse. He starts asking her all the questions. Really tough ones, like what she wants to do after college. When she has to admit that she doesn’t know (she’s just in college for fun? Just to spend time? She has no goal in mind? I think of Auntie Mame where Mame asks Gloria what her major is, and Gloria's like, "My what?") Chrisward offers her an internship, which is pretty nice considering he doesn’t know what her major is. AnaBella thinks about all of the gorgeous blondes in their impeccable suits and says that she just so obviously wouldn’t fit in at Grey Enterprises or whatever it’s called. He’s all, “I don’t think it’s obvious at all” and a million fangirls cream themselves because he can look past her awkward, ugly exterior and see how good she is on the inside!

Finally, AnaBella decides to go, and Chrisward walks her out and helps her into her jacket. When they touch, sparks fly. She can feel it! The electricity between them is so palpable!

I have this in my notes: i'd love a counter to this in chrisward's perspective. "Stupid young girl comes into office. trips all over herself. starts asking probing questions and getting flustered and even visibly angered by my responses. i escort her out in order to ensure she actually leaves my office, and she gasps when i put her jacket--some low-class nylon thing she more than likely bought at WalMart...good God, what if she accepts my intern proposal and comes dressed in this...jacket? It's a jacket, yes?--on her and touch her shoulder. just to unnerve her, i call her by her given name. who names their kid anastasia, anyway? she calls me by my christian name and i can't help but laugh at how pathetic she is at playing hardball. a tenth grader could talk his way into her pants. pathetic."


In chapter two, we open with AnaBella not trying to think about Christian Grey. Oh, Chrisward! The first man AnaBella has ever thought of in this way! And she wants to know what it was about him. One of the markers was his civility. Civility? Is this Regency-Era London? No other guy has ever been civil to her? This is the great power he has over her? Oh, AnaBella. There is so much more to life. Too bad you’ve never tried to learn what.

Back at home, Kate is walking around and talking for some reason, and I wonder if the author has ever had the flu. Either Kate was faking, or the soup AnaBella made for her had angel tears in it, because she’s all ready for food and to talk about Christian Grey. AnaBella gives Kate her tape and muses that Chrisward is so very cryptic and arrogant because a guy who takes his responsibilities seriously, and who doesn’t appreciate personal questions about his sexuality is just an enigma wrapped in a Batman cape and deep fried in the blood of orphans.

In my notes, I have: protagonist: ur doin it rong

So, Kate can tell that Chrisward was totes into AnaBella from the recording and teases her about it, so AnaBella throws herself into studying and work in order to not get all hot and bothered by the implications of Chrisward liking her. Are we in middle school?

To keep her mind busy, AnaBella calls her often-married mother who immediately picks up on the fact that AnaBella met someone because that’s how mothers work. She then calls her mother’s second husband, who AnaBella considers to be her father. He apparently taught her the difference between a hawk and a handsaw. I must be a genius, because I didn’t need my dad to teach me the difference between the two.

hawk

handsaw









It’s also really good that AnaBella knows the difference, since there are a lot of hawks in Washington State, and she works at a hardware store. It’d be terrible if she mixed them up.

We eventually meet José, who is totally not Jacob because Jacob is Native American, and we all know that South Americans, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans have nothing in common with each other. José brings our minority count to two, and considering that there are only three actually white characters so far, this book is already 100% more racially diverse than Twilight.

Joscob has the same role in this novel as in Twilight, which is to be in love with AnaBella, but in an unrequited way. He is a photographer, and a studio in town wants to display his photos, and I love this because I think every college student has a friend who is either an artist or a photographer, and they always manage to get their work displayed somewhere, and then everyone has to go and see it and ooh and ahh like they’re Ansel Adams or Van Gogh, so nicely played, Author.

AnaBella goes to work at the hardware store where she firmly knows the difference between a hawk and a handsaw, but no word yet on whether she can tell the difference between a paint gun and a porcupine. Of course Christian Grey walks into the store, and of course AnaBella can tell what he’s wearing from his boots to his cream-colored sweater. I have in my notes: chrisward cullrey is standing behind her counter, and she knows the sort of boots he's wearing already. walking boots. when customers stand behind your counter, you look at their shoes first. of course he's wearing a neutral color. and of course he's at the hardware store by sheer coincidence.

Stalking: ur doin it rite.

So, this is the “warm and husky” voice quote part:
"his voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel...or something."

Yes. Or something. That is what ten dollars buys you. Or something.

Chrisward spends a lot of time smiling enigmatically like he has a secret only he knows. I can understand someone laughing at a private joke, because I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of that, but I don’t get how you get that from a smile. I’ve seen smiles be mocking or grateful, or acknowledging an act of kindness. But if I’m talking to someone and they’re smiling, I tend to think they’re smiling at me or at the situation we’re in. The only time I’d think someone was smiling at something I wasn’t a part of is if they were on their own, in which case, their smiling at some secret thing would make sense. AnaBella really projects a lot onto Chrisward. And there can be no other explanation because the narrator is Word of God, and that’s all we get. How about, “He’s smiling, and I hope he’s smiling at me and not laughing at a private joke he’s thinking of as I talk to him.”

So, Chrisward is at the hardware store for really creepy stuff like zip ties, duct tape, and rope. I can’t help but wonder if he has a van with tinted windows and an airbrushed painting of unicorns and naked women on it in the parking lot.

Zip ties, duct tape, and rope. Maybe he’ll invite AnaBella to his pad to check out his severed toe collection later.

We find out that AnaBella thinks her subconscious resides just below her medulla oblongata (brain stem just doesn’t sound sexy enough, I guess), and then a friend returns from Stanford and gives Bella a nice hug, then puts his “possessive” arm around her shoulder. This is not a friendly arm or a comforting arm. It is possessive. AnaBella can tell these things because she's psychic.

I have this in my notes: christian grey is watching them like a hawk. good thing she knows he's not watching her like a handsaw. (no, I will never let this go. Couldn't it have been "The difference between a bansaw and a handsaw? Or a hawk and an eagle?)
AnaBella continues to be convinced that Chrisward is talking in double entendres, but has no concept that she’s a box of Hefty heavy duty trash bags away from selling him a serial killer kit, so I at this point am sure that she has a dirty, juvenile mind prone to flights of fancy, yet she is unable to live in the real world.

Thankfully, Chrisward walks “with renewed purpose” out the door before AnaBella can embarrass herself any further, and I just have to stop and remind everyone of the many projections AnaBella puts onto Chrisward. Along with double entendres, being arrogant, and smiling at his own secrets, he now walks with renewed purpose? I get the impression that this means he leaves with a quick step. Does she not think that he’s trying to get away from her? Is he just so excited about his Jeffrey Dahmer special that he’s purposing to get to stalking and killing someone for fun tonight?

Stay tuned for more idiocy.

Edit from the future: Okay, I just finished all three books, and this whole part is put in at the end through Christian's perspective. I loved it because you get to see Christian being a complete and utter asshole without Bella...er...Ana...attempting to convince you that he's just OMGSohandsomeOMG.
So...handsome?
It was also awesome because Ana's jacket is totes from Walmart! Ha! I can't believe I got that right! I totally punched the sky when I got to that part. The roof was too low and I had to raise it.

I also loved how overbearing and controlling he already wanted to be, when he noticed it was raining and he wanted to "forbid" her to drive in the rain. Hey, asshole! Thousands, perhaps millions, of people drive when it rains. The precipitation in the Pacific Northwest is such that one must expect rain almost all the time. If you want someplace dryer? Try moving to Southern California. Ask anyone; it never rains here. The bottom line is that if you expect to "forbid" Ana to drive in the rain, then you are basically asking her to never drive. Grow up. Get a life.

Ladies, if you think this guy is in any way attractive or what you'd want in a man, please see a counsellor and find out why you'd enjoy an abusive relationship.

Baby, we are so good. Laters.

34 comments:

  1. Maybe she meant hawk as in this tool:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawk_%28plasterer%27s_tool%29

    But it's still a dumb choice since how many people would know what she's talking about?

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    1. I think she was trying for alliteration and failed.

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  2. Hawk and a handsaw is a line from Hamlet. She's making a ham-fisted literary allusion to British classics to show how much of a smart and speshul snowflake AnaBella is.

    Don't worry, they'll be a LOT MORE of these.

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    1. Thank you for clearing that up! I have noticed quite a few nods to other books, and even have in my notes, "I see that plagiarism is still going strong in fanfiction. Has Cassie Claire taught us nothing?" I don't get why fanfiction authors do this, but you would think once they got published, the editors would stop the practise.

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    2. The ham-fistedness knows no bounds. When Hamlet says that he knows the difference, he's saying that he's only acting crazy, but he's really sane enough to know that two completely different things are different. The idea that anyone would have to TEACH someone the difference...

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    3. There is some speculation that Hamlet's 'handsaw' is a typical variation of 'heronsaw', from the Old French 'heroncel', a heron. Thus aligning the avian allusion.

      Such was I taught when reading Hamlet in college some 20+ years ago.

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    4. I love how horrible these books are that we need to bring up actually good authors and start trying to understand what they were saying in order to cleanse the awfulness of Fifty Shades from our palates. And while we're on the subject, "Wherefore" means "why," and "Whyfore" means "where."

      I have never been in a class that required me to read Hamlet, though I have read about five other plays and seen a few. Hamlet is one that's never been there for me. I'm going to check for the Shakespeare in the Park that's in OC to see if they'll do Hamlet any time soon. (Maybe I should go with Cher Horowitz and watch the Mel Gibson version.)

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    5. I never knew wherefore is "why". I always assumed wherefore is where. Never even heard of "whyfore". I just learned something new about English! :D

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  3. Holy moly how I loved your musings. really made my inner goddess laugh. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks this is absolute tripe!

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    1. Inner goddess? I see what you did there.

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  4. Your chapter-by-chapter synopsis are leaps and bounds more entertaining than the books. I laughed hard with tears in my eyes reading these, the entire time my husband looking at me like I was nuts. Thank you for these gems.

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  5. Another thing that gets me - Katherine or whatever is supposed to be the newspaper editor of a university magazine and we're supposed to believe that the ONLY - the ONLY person available to do the interview with a high profile, important article like this was an inexperienced roommate?

    And this roommate is supposed to be an ENGLISH major and she doesn't know how to prep for an interview? College education fail.

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    1. The contrivance that was used to send Ana there (and even later when Jose is the only person alive who can photograph Christian) is just so ridiculous. It works for fanfiction, but the author should have come up with something better for a book. And I do not believe that this college did not require some sort of career planning class, and that Ana didn't have interview clothes already.

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    1. Thank. You. So. Much!

      Also: Awesome, your icon is.

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  7. You totally forgot how often the "apex of my thighs" line was used. I was starting to think about making a drinking game out of it. One shot for that reference, two shots for how his pants hung off his hips, three for when she bit her lip....

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    1. If we took a drink every time she bites her lip, we'd have alcohol poisoning.

      The one good thing about this book was that I've often wondered if romance novelists shouldn't use technical terms like "penis," "vagina," "vulva," and "clitoris" rather than "staff" or "honeypot" or "silken bud" and I've discovered that no. They shouldn't. They should really stick with "rod" and "softness" and "aching bud." Besides, most romance novelists seem to think that the hymen is located deep inside a woman's vagina, so it's not like you want them to get too technical.

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  8. Hmm. Late night three hour meeting that went on till 1 am. Slept at 2 am. Up at 6 am. At work at 9 am....after i was done with my Mommy things....and this is just the kinda thing I needed to read. I am also sick of the number of "holy craps" and "oh, my"s AnaBella utters. Ugh. I swear I am getting "twitchy-palmed"

    Sigh. Guilty of reading it.

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  9. Thank you.

    For the Shemar Moore break.

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  10. I tried to read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' just because I wanted to understand all the rage and be able to properly discuss it with people. I couldn't get past the first fifty pages.

    Thank you for these wonderfully entertaining synopses that pick apart the exact things that were driving me up the wall and for letting me see what I am (thankfully!) missing out on by not reading it.

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    1. I've found that few reviewers are really pinpointing what is wrong with the books, so thank you. I'm glad I'm addressing the rage.

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  11. You do realize that white people of european descent are a minority in the world.

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    1. I'm really not sure what your point is on that. If you want to read books where there are only white people, then these are the books for you.

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  12. I m excited for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. I cant wait for releasing date of Fifty shades Movie

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  13. Kristen Stewart has finally responded to rumors that she's a favorite to play Anastasia Steele.
    the movie fifty shades

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  14. I can't wait for the movie. I loved the books. I should agree these are the best written books.
    Anastasia Steele

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  15. So Ian Somerhalder!!! He should definetly play Mr.Grey in Fifty Shades Of Grey.
    Christian Grey

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  16. The question is: who's going to play the inner goddess?

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  17. I loved book so much eagerly waiting for the Movie....Fifty shades of grey..
    Fifty Shades Movie

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