You guys! We made it! It's the last installment of this rage inducing series! And OH BOY am I looking forward to the palate-cleansing sorbet of Sweet Valley High after this shit sandwich of misogyny, emotional abuse and mind-numbing fuckery. So without further ado, let's crack on with Volume 14!
(Catch up: Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13) Phew!
Now that Kate is confronting Ana and Christian, EL James uses all the words from her bag of word-magnets and ham-fistedly jams them into Ana's reaction:
All the color drains from my face as my blood turns to ice and fear lances through my body.
WELCOME TO METAPHOR CITY. POPULATION: YOU. Kate demands to know what the hell is up with all this contract business and asks Ana what Christian has done to her. Ana tells her it's none of her business and it turns out that the email was in the pocket of a jacket Christian had left on the back of Ana's bedroom door. Ana's response to this is really something, coming from her.
What the hell is she going through my clothes for? It’s usually the other way round.
SHE WAS PROBABLY LOOKING FOR HER PLUM DRESS AND ALL HER OTHER STUFF, YOU THIEVING BITCH.
Christian asks Kate if she has told anyone about the contract, but she hasn't and Ana then reassures Kate that everything is good between them (I...give up) and the contract stuff is in the past.
“Ana has consented to be my wife, Katherine,” he says quietly.
Imagine a 27 year old talking like that. Because that's how old Christian Grey is, by the way. Twenty fucking seven. Actually no, it's his birthday so now he's twenty eight. MUCH BETTER.
Once Kate has been assured that Ana is happy with her terrible relationship, she's delighted for her and everything is fine and that whole chapter-ending cliffhanger is resolved within a page and a half, so it was just another load of pointless tension that went nowhere.
Christian's mother comes into the dining room to get them, because there's a crowd of people waiting to welcome their guest of honour and they all burst into applause when Christian comes into the living room. And everyone is there! All his friends! And by friends I mean employees! i.e. Mac from the boat, a random black guy that was briefly seen in Christian's office in the first book and hasn't made an appearance since then, Ros the assistant and even Dr. Flynn, turning up to his patient's social gatherings like a big weirdo. Oh AND Elena is there. Because she's a friend of the family and we need to manufacture some last minute drama, goddammit!
But first, Gretchen the sexy blonde waitress (who was also in the first book) turns up with a tray of champagne, just in time for Ana to remember that she hates her, "flushing and fluttering her eyelashes at Christian" like the big smelly whore she undoubtedly is. Everyone comes forward to wish Christian a happy birthday, including Elena, who hugs and kisses Christian and asks why he hasn't been returning her calls. He gives her the brush off and says he has an announcement to make to the room.
"This beautiful woman” - he glances down at me - “Miss Anastasia Rose Steele, has consented to be my wife, and I’d like you to be the first to know.”
Again with the consenting. Why can't he talk like a normal fucking person? It's an especially weird choice of words, considering that he couldn't give a tiny twirly fuck about Ana's consent in literally every other situation. Ana looks around the room, which is again filled with applause and notes how jealous all the other women are. Because obviously there's no point in getting engaged if everyone else isn't choked with envy.
Lily (Mia's bitchy friend who is in love with Christian and was kinda mean to Ana previously), who is standing beside Mia, looks crestfallen; Gretchen looks like she’s eaten something nasty and bitter. As I glance anxiously around at the assembled crowd, I catch sight of Elena. Her mouth is open. She’s stunned - horrified even, and I can’t help a small but intense feeling of satisfaction to see her dumbstruck.
YOU SEE THAT, OTHER WOMEN/COMPETITORS? ANA IS VICTORIOUS AND HAS CAUGHT THE GOLDEN SNITCH OF ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. SHE WINS AT BEING A WOMAN BECAUSE OUR OBJECTIVE IN LIFE IS TO BAG A HUSBAND THAT EVERYONE ELSE WANTS TO FUCK. IT'S ALL OVER. EVERYONE GO HOME.
Mia then asks to see the ring and Christian says they're going to choose one together, while "glowering" at his sister for asking a perfectly legitimate question.
“When will you get married? Have you set a date?” She beams up at Christian.
He shakes his head, his exasperation palpable. “No idea, and no we haven’t. Ana and I need to discuss all that,” he says irritably.
I know I gave out about Mia being a pretentious headwrecker in the first book, but it seems like Christian is constantly mad at her for no fucking reason. These are the questions that LITERALLY EVERY engaged couple get asked when they make the announcement and he's acting like she's asked whether they've had anal sex yet. (They haven't, by the way.)
Ana and Christian end up chatting with Dr. Flynn and his wife Rhian. Dr. Flynn congratulates Christian on his engagement by saying “That was one googly you bowled there, Christian”, because he's English and sure we all know that Brits can only communicate through the medium of tea and royal babies and cricket references that they know full well Americans wouldn't understand.
I had no idea Dr. Flynn would be here, or Elena. It’s a shock, and I rack my brains to see if I have anything to ask him, but a birthday party hardly seems the appropriate venue for a psychiatric consult.
Jesus Christ. YA THINK.
While chatting to Rhian, Ana realises that Christian and Dr Flynn are discussing Leila and she just can't help trying to listen in, "rather rudely tuning out Rhian". Well at least this time she knows she's being fucking rude. Anyway, they're talking quietly so she can't make out what they're saying but they stop when the group is joined by Ros and her girlfriend Gwen.
She’s one of the few women I’ve met who isn’t dazzled by him...well, the reason is obvious.
LESBIANS ARE IMPERVIOUS TO CHRISTIAN GREY. GOOD FOR YOU, LESBIANS.
Grace then announces that dinner is being served buffet-style in the kitchen, which seems unlikely for a giant mansion with servants doing the rounds with trays of champagne, but whatever, this book is almost over so let's just power through.
While everyone makes their way towards the food, Mia catches up with Ana and offers her a lemon martini.
I glance up at Christian, who releases me with a best-of-luck-I-find-her-impossible-to-deal-with-too look, and I sneak into the dining room with her.
I know, right? What a TOTAL BITCH. SO IMPOSSIBLE AND RUDE.
Mia says she needs some advice, and can't talk to her friend Lily, who is apparently very judgemental (Ana is the best of all the women, you see) and also very jealous of Ana because she fancies Christian and thought she had a shot with him.
This is something I will have to contend with for a long time - other women wanting my man.
Well, that's the price you pay for winning the Woman Hunger Games, Ana. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, and all that.
Anyway, Mia's problem is that Ethan doesn't want to date her because his sister (Kate) is going out with Mia's brother (Elliot) and he thinks it's all a bit "incestuous", but Mia knows he likes her. Ana's advice is to give it some time, seeing as Mia has only just met him, which she at least realises is a bit rich coming from her and tells Mia to try talking to Kate, which she runs off to do.
However, as soon as Mia leaves, Elena appears and closes the door, cornering Ana alone in the dining room and suddenly shit gets real. And by real I mean so ridiculously over-dramatic that the Dynasty and Dallas writers would probably have found this conversation a bit much.
“I would offer you my heartfelt congratulations, but I think that would be inappropriate.” Her piercing cold blue eyes stare frostily into mine, filled with loathing.
Oooh, piercing! Cold! Frostily! WHAT A VILLAIN!
“I neither need nor want your congratulations, Elena. I’m surprised and disappointed to see you here.”
She arches an eyebrow. I think she’s impressed.
KA-POW! Such verbal sparring! This goes on for a while, and involves words like "worthy adversary" being carelessly bandied about, Elena asking Ana what she thinks she's doing "consenting to marry Christian" and Ana replying with "what I’m consenting to do with Christian is none of your concern". I don't think I've ever in my life heard anyone refer to getting engaged as "consenting to marry" their other half, and the characters in this book literally can't stop saying it. It's so weird.
In any case, Elena calls Ana a "mousy little gold-digger", at which point Ana throws her drink in Elena's face. It's actually kinda refreshing to hear Ana being described as something other than beautiful and amazing and witty and shrewd. Christian then enters the room, unwittingly knocking Elena off-balance with the door before she can lunge at Ana and pull her hair or whatever, and then proceeds to shout at Elena, when he sees what's going down. They have a big loud argument about their previous creepy relationship when Christian was younger and next thing you know, Grace appears and overhears what her friend got up to with her then-teenaged son. Grace slaps Elena and kicks her out of the house and Ana runs off to Christian's room upstairs while Grace and Christian have a mother-son chat.
After a while, Christian comes looking for Ana and tells her that his and Elena's business relationship is over and then gives out to Ana for drinking without having eaten.
"You need to eat. It’s rule number one. I believe we’ve already had that discussion after our first night together.”
Oh yes. The Heathman.
Oh yes, the time when they didn't really know each other and he said he was going to take her back to her place when she was blind drunk and instead took her to his hotel room, took her pants off and watched her sleep all night like a terrifying fucking psycho. A magical night.
When the last of the guests have left, Christian brings Ana to the boathouse and she gets all giggly on the way there, thinking about the last time he brought her there. The time that he dragged her there over his shoulder while furious at her for resisting him groping at her crotch under the dinner table while his parents were there and she had to plead with him not to spank her. AGAIN. MAGICAL.
This time, however, the boathouse attic is filled with flowers and fairy lights and Christian gets down on one knee so he can re-propose, only this time it's all romantic and what have you and he's got a ring. "Jeez - it's big..." Ana says yes again and tells us that they're "meant to be" and I guess it's meant to be all wonderful and lovely, despite Christian being:
And just when you think it's over and you can throw this book into a fire, BOOM! POINTLESS EPILOGUE! RIGHT IN THE FACE!
A shadowy figure is hiding outside the Grey mansion, blowing smoke rings and drinking "cheap bourbon", so you KNOW he's bad news.
The helicopter had been a rash and bold move. One of the most exhilarating things he'd ever done in his life. But to no avail.
ERMAHGERD, SABOTAGE. The shady new narrator goes on about how Christian underestimated him, just like everyone else always does, but that his chance will come soon and it's all super ominous and mysterious, except it's clearly creepy Jack, Ana's former boss. Who seems to think that attempted murder is a reasonable reaction to him losing his job. When it was his own fault for trying to rape his employees.
END OF FUCKING BOOK.
So despite the fact that everything could have been wrapped up at the end of this one, there's an entire third
book, because this is basically Twilight after all, so there has to be a
wedding and a demon-baby or something. A demon-baby that Christian will
probably be jealous of and end up insisting on a C-section delivery,
because no one is allowed near Ana's vagina but Christian. NO ONE.
took two years for me to calm down sufficiently before I could even
entertain the notion of recapping this one (Fifty Shades Darker, as it's actually called), but I probably will do Fifty Shades Freed at some point. Just not right away.
For now, I'm out.