Fifty Shades of Grey (E. L. James) – Chapter One

The book starts out with our heroine staring in the mirror, frustrated because her hair doesn’t just hang about all lackluster and because her best friend Katherine is sick.  And her frustration here doesn’t stem from the fact that her friend isn’t doing very well, but that she now has to help her out.

DAMN THOSE FRIENDS! ALWAYS NEEDING HELP WHEN THEY’RE SICK!

After that charming introduction into the mind of Ana, we also get a look at her:

I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me, and give up.

Let me see, current beauty standards are light skin, light eyes in combination with dark hair and big eyes. And you have light skin, light eyes in combination with dark hair and big eyes. What exactly are you giving up? Trying to convince us that you’re not pretty?

Anyway, the thing Kate needs help with: she managed to get an interview with this industrialist, a pretty big coup for the student newspaper and apparently no way to reschedule. And now she has the flu and can’t go, so she’s asked Ana to do the interview instead (because there are no other people working at the student newspaper or something). And Ana has agreed to do it, even though she should work and study, but not without letting Kate beg. Because Kate is pretty even when she’s sick, she totally deserves that.

Finally, Ana is done bitching about Kate inside her head, while giving her soup and medicine and Ana leaves to drive to Seattle and meet fate Christian Grey.

As she arrives at Grey House, Ana gives us a rundown of what she’s wearing. Because she usually totally doesn’t care about fashion or her looks, she just talks about it all the time. *eyeroll*

Also, and maybe I’m just a tad jaded by Hollywood here, how about security? Ana just says that she’s here for Kate, the receptionist says, that Kate is expected, doesn’t question that there’s somebody else here for that appointment and just sends her right up, past the two security guys (“who are both far more smartly dressed than I am in their well-cut black suits.” Girl, stop talking about clothes if you want to make people see that you don’t care about them).

But then again, when Ana isn’t talking about her and other people’s clothes, she’s describing the office building over and over again (glass, steel, white sandstone. Could it be any different?). I don’t know what’s worse.
But I think we’ve reached our low point for this scene here:

Beyond that, there is a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the Seattle skyline that looks out through the city toward the Sound. It’s a stunning vista, and I’m momentarily paralyzed by the view.

Look. I enjoy a view just as much as the next person, but being paralyzed by a skyline? Is the window open and you two centimeters from the edge? Or did you grow up underground? If that’s not the case, a view should not have the power to paralyze.

Ana continues angsting about the interview, complaining that Kate didn’t give her any info about the guy she’s supposed to interview other than the questions she should ask. (Did you ask Kate to give you information? Do you know what the internet is? Can you google?) In any case Ana would have preferred to stay home and read a “classic British novel.” Which is a very conspicuous attempt to stay, “look, she’s smart” without saying “look, she’s smart.”

Ana gets offerd a refreshment, while she waits for Grey to have time for her. Finally, “the office door opens and a tall, elegantly dressed, attractive African-American man with short dreads exits. I have definitely worn the wrong clothes.” WILL YOU JUST GET OVER WHAT PEOPLE AND MOST OF ALL YOU ARE WEARING? PLEASE!

As Ana is sent into Grey’s office, she stumbles and falls on her face. Look how adorably clumsy she is!

Double crap – me and my two left feet! I am on my hands and knees in the doorway to Mr. Grey’s office [do you think that's foreshadowing?], and gentle hands are around me helping me to stand. [Why are his hands around you? Isn't it more customary to hold out a hand so that you can take it to get up, instead of just picking you up?] I am so embarrassed, damn my clumsiness. I have to steel myself to glance up. Holy cow – he’s so young. [Holy Cow, this writing sucks.]

Anyway, meet the young, hot, young Christian Grey:

So young – and attractive, very attractive. He’s tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that regard me shrewdly.

Ana explains who she is, while Christian seems to be terribly amused by her in general and her nervousness in particular. Which is charming and endearing and not at all condescending, dontyouknow! And we get another description of his office, which I’m not going to repeat here.

When Ana makes a comment about some artwork in the office that isn’t entirely stupid, she catches Christian’s attention. Which makes her blush, of course.

Ana tries to set up her mini-disc recorder (seriously, who the fuck still uses mini-discs?), dropping it twice and generally fumbling about. Christian is still amused.

When I pluck up the courage to look at him, he’s watching me, one hand relaxed in his lap and the other cupping his chin and trailing his long index finger across his lips. [I just tried to copy that pose. It's a totally natural thing to do. Maybe my index finger isn't long enough or something...] I think he’s trying to suppress a smile.

Well, the tone of the entire thing remains the same: Ana is doing her best to be at least semi-professional, which amuses Christian who condescends to her. Though I have to admit that the following deadpan was totally deserved:

“I have some questions, Mr. Grey.” I smooth a stray lock of hair behind my ear.
“I thought you might,” he says, deadpan.

Finally they get around to the interview. First question: why is he successful? Answer: He’s successful because he knows when people and plans are good.

Actually, his answer is self-confident but not overly arrogant, I’d say. But Ana is hackled and challenges Christian, first by telling him he’s just lucky and secondly by calling him a control freak to his face. (Very professional, Ana. And you were trying so hard before.) The interview continues:

“Do you feel that you have immense power?” Control Freak.
“I employ over forty thousand people, Miss Steele. That gives me a certain sense of responsibility – power, if you will. If I were to decide I was no longer interested in the telecommunications business and sell up, twenty thousand people would struggle to make their mortgage payments after a month or so.”
My mouth drops open. I am staggered by his lack of humility.

What lack of humility? If he fired his employees, they’d struggle financially, probably. That is not lack of humilty, that is fucking realism.

If I was Christian Grey, I’d probably have thrown out Ana and told the student newspaper to send somebody who understands the basics of economics and journalism the next time.

Apparently Grey starts flirting now and

for some reason, I’m confounded and heated by his steady gaze. His eyes are alight with some wicked thought. [What people always take away from the eyes of other people. Makes me feel like I'm missing some perception mode... In any case, eyes alight with wicked thought is terrible writing. Absofuckinglutely terrible.]

Moving on. Grey says that he doesn’t have a heart (what a sexy thing for a man to say) and that he goes a long way to protect his privacy. But he also has philantropic projects, though he says he only does them because they’re good business. And…

Are you as bored by this as I am, by the way?

Control freak again, yadda yadda, was adopted, bla bla bla, temperature in the room is rising, he’s not gay, …

Finally Christian figures out why exactly Ana is here and that she’s not part of the school paper which leads him to cancel his next appointment (which would be in two minutes) to question Ana. Who doesn’t want to be questioned, but answers all his questions nevertheless and then packs up and leave in about one minute, making the earlier appointment cancellation even more ridiculous.

Anyway, Ana gasps when Christian touches her while helping her into her coat and then practically fless the office building and we are done with the first chapter. Hooray!

2 Responses

  1. Ooh, do I really want to go through this again?? But I enjoy your commentary, so I think I’ll have to. ;)

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