Ana starts Chapter 9 by claiming that she cannot contain her ‘jubilation’. And by ‘not contain’ she means that she smiles extra wide. This must be a particularly British type of jubilation. One wouldn’t want one’s jubilation to be toooo terribly, well…jubilant. Stiff upper lip and all that.
The crazy comes on hard and fast in Chapter 9, a non-stop orgasm of emo feels.
There’s talk of liberation from millstones, manna from heaven, confessions and absolution, and then this: “This beautiful, fucked-up man, whom I once thought of as my romantic hero – strong, solitary, mysterious – possesses all these traits, but he’s also fragile and alienated and full of self-loathing.”
Oh GOOD! He’s all the best things, all rolled into one.
Ana’s heart grows three sizes that day, while they’re still in the shower. It’s a grower…in the shower.
Wait. Nevermind. Ana hopes her heart is big enough for both of them. Whatever that might mean. Seriously, you can’t make this shit up! Well, you can. Obviously somebody did…
Then Ana has an idea. An awful idea. The Ana has a horrible, awful idea. Wait. I think that’s a different story. The idea is: let’s have sex! Great idea Ana, I could not have foreseen this. They towel each other off. Sexfully.
Christian wraps a towel around Ana’s hair, and they stare at themselves in the mirror for a disconcerting amount of time. Ana decides the towel on her head makes her look like a biblical heroine in a Baroque painting. Like…some kind of Middle Eastern towel-head? WOW. Not one of the good people at Vintage thought that was even a little off colour? Not even a teensy tiny bit?
Apparently not, because it’s in there.
The toweling continues unabated, as Christian’s eyes get ‘darker’ and ‘more deadly.’ Ummmm…and that’s…okaaaayyyy…with everyone? I’m not even sure if he’s meant to be legitimately aggro or if it’s just a poorly chosen metaphor for desire. That’s not a good place to be as a reader. On a scale of 1 to Even, I just don’t.
Then we fade to black for the sex! Because why would there be sex in a sexy book like this here sexy book? Why indeed.
The violins come out in full force, and we learn more about Christian’s tragic upbringing with his lame plot device of a mother. Young Christian spends days beside his dead, crack whore mother, until he is unceremoniously rescued by her pimp, and dumped into the hands of Richie Rich Senior and His wife.
When we’ve all had quite enough of this crap, Christian suggests some fresh air and a surprise! Ana likes surprises, so all is suddenly light and good again. They get dressed, “each watchful and acutely aware of the other…” Ana likens it to two people who know each other well. No Ana, that’s not how that works. Two people who are super close and comfortable aren’t hyper vigilant all the time. That’s how someone in an abusive relationship acts.
Christian gets dressed, lookin’ all like he stepped out of a Sears catalogue, and playfully threatens to beat Ana. Ana is no longer filled with dread by the prospect, because Christian loves her! And that makes it A OK! Awesome, the violence is becoming normalised. Healthy.
They head off to the surprise, and Ana gets upset because Christian tips the valet a little too well. Really? Christian is obscenely rich. He can afford a ridiculous tip. And how is it Ana’s business in the first place? It isn’t. Why can’t Ana get mad about something that is actually a problem for once? She comes off as a petty bitch.
They stop off to buy a car, and to eat lunch before the surprise. Since Ana was upset that she had the same car as all Christian’s subs, Christian agrees to buy her a different car. Ana is upset about that too. She says, “I resign myself to my fate.” Her terrible, awful, no good fate. Of being given a luxury car. For free. She does wheedle him into getting a convertible, and all is good again.
Ana flashes back to their chapter-straddling shower of emo delights. “This man,” she thinks, “God’s gift to women – loves me.” O. M. G. It’s like every cliché ever has come out to play today. Ana wonders briefly, and inexplicably if Christian will pay for the car with his own credit card, or with the butler’s credit card. Why. Would he. Do that?!The sense! It makes none.
Lunch is boring and uneventful. We’re told that Christian outlines his corporate and philanthropic plans, but we aren’t SHOWN any of that conversation. We are just assured that it happened and that it was totally gripping. Character building at its finest.
Finally, the surprise. It’s a boat! Richie Rich Junior has a boat. Ana is astonished. She just keeps forgetting how loaded this guy is. Rich guy has a boat. Fucking unprecedented! And it’s named after Christian’s adopted mother. Ana is shocked to find that Christian loves his adoptive mother. Seriously. She had no idea. I’m concerned that Ana is always, ALWAYS surprised that other people have feelings that don’t directly involve her. It’s worrying.
Out on the boat, they make some vague entendres, and the whole afternoon is, basically, a long, poorly plotted set-up for sex on the high seas. Ana sails the boat without needing any instruction, and they hurriedly push Christian’s hired man into a dinghy to do whatever while they get it on.
Ana strips at Christian’s command. Christian’s desire is ‘evident on his face…and elsewhere.’ Really? Like where? His arm? His sternum? His spleen? We’ll never know because they just can’t say…it’s tooo naughty. Tee hee.
Ana is surprised that she is no longer embarrassed to be naked around Christian. Now that he loves her for real and for truey, she no longer feels cheap and ashamed. They are making love now! She’s no longer a sinful whore! Love really does fix everything.
The Chapter-ending sexy times commence in earnest and, as always, are perfectly choreographed. No awkward sounds or positions. Nothing to make it seem real or believable. No one has to say, “No, more like this,” or “Move your arm, you’re pulling my hair.” But I guess that’s just part of the magic that is Chapter 9. The stupid, ass-backwards, poorly thought-out magic.