Subtitle: When Ana meets Christian’s parents.
Of course, several chapters ago, Ana already met Christian’s mother. Remember the time they were just coming up for air and she showed up at his apartment? And he acted like a 16-year-old caught in the act up in his bedroom, even though he’s nearly 30 and his mother would probably not be shocked to learn her baby boy has sex? Yeah. Well, now Ana gets to meet his parents in a somewhat more appropriate context. I mean, other than the fact that she goes to their house without any panties on.
Yep. In the last chapter, Christian kept them after divesting her of them in the Red Room of Pain. Instead of asking for them back, she decides not to wear them…to dinner at his parents’ house. Now, I don’t really have a major problem with the no-panties thing. When wearing certain outfits, it does actually make sense. But Ana spends several pages making a big deal out of it. Can someone say, “I needed to meet a word count”?
When Ana arrives at the Greys’ mansion, we get to meet
Alice Mia for the first time. I admit to enjoying the original Twilight books. I can acknowledge their problems, and I won’t minimize them. They were a fun read, though, and I particularly liked Alice. But here’s the thing: Alice’s mannerisms worked for her in Twilight; they do not work for Mia in Fifty Shades.
For one thing, Bella was a teenager, and Alice was supposed to be acting like one. Ana is not a teenager, and Mia (who is supposedly Ana’s age) is not behaving like a young adult. I find it hard to believe that two women in their early twenties who have just met for the first time would continue to hold hands as they tour the premises. And Mia’s enthusiasm is just a bit over-the-top. Again, this fit Alice’s character perfectly in Twilight. On Mia, it just looks creepy.
Once everyone is settled down for pre-dinner drinks, we get another look at Ana the World’s Worst Friend. First, Ana manages to seem scandalized by Kate’s happiness that Elliot will be joining her in Barbados. Seriously, Ana? You spent your afternoon being whacked in the privates with a riding crop, then chose to attend family dinner without underwear, and you are chiding Kate for not showing some “dignity”? Let the woman be happy, for Pete’s sake!
Following that, Ana lets it slip that she’s planning a trip to Georgia for a few days. This was the first Christian heard of it, and he’s upset. Now, I actually think that in a normal relationship, that might be reasonable. If you’re in a relationship with someone, you’d think telling them your travel plans wouldn’t be a big deal. Informing your significant other that you’re flying across the country for an unspecified amount of time is kind of important. And doing it while having dinner for the first time at your partner’s house is in poor taste. However, Ana and Christian do not have a normal relationship. I can easily see why she wouldn’t have wanted to tell him sooner.
Anyway, Kate makes it clear to Christian that Ana has the right to go visit her mother and have some time away. Because Ana is ever so grateful to be defended by the wonderful best friend she gushes about whenever the woman isn’t actually around, Ana thinks,
Why is she so antagonistic towards him? What is her problem?
Yeah, Kate, what’s your problem? It’s not as though you see Ana cry nearly every time she’s been with him. It’s not like you’re worried about the way he stalks her. So you should probably just shut up and go enjoy Barbados with your hot new honey. (For the record, Ana’s behavior is not uncommon for people in abusive relationships. Many people go out of their way to defend their partners, accusing others of being interfering, self-righteous, and just plain wrong. I’ve been in Kate’s shoes before. In fact, even leaving the abusive relationship doesn’t always clear that up. Some people continue to defend their abusers long after they have left, including telling friends that the abuser “changed” from prince to beast or that their friends just “didn’t know” the abuser. But Fifty Shades isn’t supposed to be about domestic violence; it’s supposed to be a “love story.”)
The dinner is awkward and full of really strange conversations. These include Ana basically asking Christian if he’s going to spank her for planning a trip to Georgia behind his back, Kate bringing up José to make Christian jealous, and Christian threatening Ana for seeing José. Meanwhile, Ana is eying the Greys’ staff with suspicion because the maid is ogling Christian. Later, Dr. Grey waxes self-righteous about vaccinations. And we, the readers, have to suffer through this along with everyone else.
Once again, we have Ana waffling about her relationship with Christian. She gets territorial and defensive about the maid, but then she thinks she might stay in Georgia to avoid returning and signing the contract. Five seconds later, she’s gushing about how he’s “fifty shades of fucked up, but he’s mine.”
Believe it or not, I think the worst dinner table moment is when Mia is talking about Paris and starts randomly speaking in French. Christian notices and speaks French back to her, which causes the entire table to burst into
flames laughter–not because the weird French thing is so funny, but because Mia finds it funny and her laugh is “infectious.” There are no words.
I’ll leave it there for now, but before I go, one last thing. If you are a writer, please learn that words mean things. So do phrases. The thesaurus is not a writer’s best friend. Please do not just open it up to find synonyms for common words, because chances are, you will use a word wrong. This is not just using big words where smaller ones will do (though that abounds in Fifty Shades); it’s about knowing the subtleties of the language well enough to use the right word in the right context. Case in point: Ms James, in situ is not an appropriate phrase to use to describe having a two-parent home. Now go watch an episode or two of Word Girl.