StatCtr

Sunday, April 1, 2012

50 Shades Darker







FIFTY SHADES
DARKER
Ok folks… We’re on the second leg of our book review of the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy; the second book is called “Fifty Shades Darker”…

NOTE: As an experiment, I’ve read four other book son the topic BDSM, DOM/SUB crap, and happy to report that I didn’t like any of them one single bit. The entire content was there in those books: sex, BDSM, bonding etc. minus LOVE.  I was going to read a 5th one, to be completely through in the experiment but my stomach couldn't handle it, so this amount of effort would suffice to conclude this experiement: I had no cordial feelings for any of books, and the subject matter -- confirming what I liked about the 50 Shades trilogy: It’s the aspect of love and the way it has been expressed made this book great.
I’ve acquainted you with the first book of the series in my very long previous ranting in my March posting. This is my favorite book in the trilogy though I love all three of them for different reasons. I’m going to dissect the book like a fun science experiment.
Well, there I was finishing the first book with snout running and crying (well almost; I was crying inside) because the two main characters who fell in love broke up because Christian Grey has twitchy palms and Ana thought she could handle flogging in lieu of him parting with some information of his past (stupid, stupid girl! I love you, and I know your heart is in the right place but sometimes I wonder where the hell your brain is!) If you’ve been half way around the block, you might have experienced that feeling, the hurt of a break-up or an argument (I’m not talking about those of you who has been around the block more often than the Good Humor ice-cream man! You might be a little callused. I’m referring to the average people); or if you’re part of a married couple, you may have had normal tiffs among each other (and if you are one of those people who proudly admits NEVER having arguments or fights (not the “get on your boxing gloves” kind), I pity you!  Because, if you’re not airing out your differences with your significant other, one or both of you is pushing the anger, disagreement or whatever the crap the you’re carrying down to blow up at some unexpected time with greater consequences. I’m one of those people who air things out; thus I’m happy to say I’m familiar with the feeling. And besides, arguments are spice of life ~ I don’t want to be like a dry piece of toast, no flavor, yuck! As long as you’re not menacing, and not mean, they’re actually very exciting. There are rules: 1. Never go to bed angry, 2. always kiss and make up, 3. make sure you don’t win the argument – if one of you wins, both of you loses. The purpose is to compromise. Ok.. Digressing…)
Anyway, there I was sitting with my box of Kleenex (just in case) in my back patio, our dog at my feet so sad to see Ana finally realize that she just may not be compatible with Christian because he has needs that she could never be able to fulfill. She cares about herself too much to find herself later being the dumpee after he thinks she’s not enough, and that he would walk away to find a “Suitable sub” who may be able to do everything he wishes to do in his playroom.

Side note: At the end of the “50 Shades of Grey” she got flogged, didn’t use the safe word, because she was too proud to admit she couldn’t take it, and perhaps she thought what if she says “no” and he thinks she will not be good enough to meet his needs. He has the need to want to hit woman for punishment, for control, for whatever else he gets his kicks on. Once the punishment is over, she gives him her piece of mind; she won’t let him touch her, and finally tells him to “sort his shit out!” because he’s too “f*cked up!” She’s all tears and regretting for falling in love with him too fast to hard, and he comes with past baggage of subs, exes, Mrs. Robinson the pedophile who is still in his life, a whip, a cane – if she allowed him the all the spanking she could receive would be enough to make a bridge from Los Angeles to Istanbul!

He likes her smart mouth, except when he doesn’t. He likes her to be obedient, but he tells her to be herself. He is very mercurial, and extracting feelings and words out of him is like standing there with a dentist’s pliers! It’s hard to tell which way is up with him! Neverthless, both are very deeply in love, and even though Ana would die for him, she decides to leave him, because in her heart of hearts someday she will not be enough for him, and he may leave her. So comes the break up to Christian's horror and hurt, and Ana's very broken heart.

She didn’t understand why in the first place he liked her anyway, and from his own admissions there were a lot of willing volunteers to participate at his beckoning call in this life style who would say “how high?” when he said jump (granted she had permission to speak.) By that point I’m completely captivated, and rooting for Ana, and ready to kick Christian’s uppity ass till hell won’t have it again! Though you gotta feel sorry for the guy after Ana sadly decides to leave him; He did not expect or desired for her to do that. He’s devastated! But that’s the best thing she does in order to sort their relationship out. (This single act incidentally you will find out is the thing that will make CG stay away from any kind of spanking in the future – because it’s her Hard Limit)

She gives back the MacBook, the Blackberry, and the AUDI he bought for her graduation (later she finds out it’s the Submissive Edition; it turns out he buys all his submissives the same model Audi A3 in red, because of AUDI’s safety records.)

I jumped into the second book with both feet. Ana, who by now graduated from college, she and her roommate and best friend Kate moved to Seattle (these happened in the first book). She also had applied to some internship, and was accepted at SIP, a small publishing company as the assistant to the Commissioning Editor, a young man in his early 30s named Jack. She is more miserable without Christian to the point of suffocation because he’s her first love, and he’s the guy whom she completely gave herself to, bonded, and mated with. She doesn’t eat, she doesn’t call anyone, and she’s like a zombie as her life is just miserable.  Not much is different for Christian either.

They could barely spend a whole week apart. She receives white long stem roses from Christian congratulating her on her first day at work (long way to come around from a guy who doesn’t do hearts and flowers!) She then receives an e-mail from Christian reminding her that she was going to see her friend Jose for his photography exhibition opening, and since she still doesn’t have a car, would she mind he gave her a ride like they originally planned. She is excited, and finally concedes for him to give her a ride as she has no way of getting to Portland from Seattle.

I was at this point looking forward to this meeting and what he would do to make up with her, and what compromises if any he would extend to her. You’re here with me so far?  

Right then I took a break and looked for reviews and spoilers and the like because the suspense was too much! Then I came across this review of some big shot woman (never heard of her, she couldn’t be that important! Nonetheless, she’s entitled to her opinion. I’m just sorry that she exercised her right on my time…) She goes on saying how this book was “soooo poorly written, and has no literary merit!” (As opposed to what pray tell? The other steamy romance novels that has great literary merit? Honestly, sometimes what comes out of people’s mouths…)

Or perhaps compared to “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy?by Newton (oh wait, that’s not a romance book…), or “Apologyby Plato? Nope, that’s not a romance novel either…

Could it be that the green eyed monster of jealousy talking? A first time author wrote something everyone wants to read; clearly it doesn’t settle well with some people’s literary appetites…  Here, have a tablet of Tums!

There have been other books in history which were banned, criticized and shunned which are now hailed as masterpieces like Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”, or J. D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye”, or James Jones’ “From Here to Eternity” or John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”.  It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Is it that shocking that two people who are in love having great sex and hmm hmm (clearing throat), you’re not? Moving on… Taboos people… taboos. Where is your line drawn?

So, getting back to the book… Fifty Shades Darker.
When Christian picks Ana up from work he notices that she hasn’t eaten for an entire week other than a banana here, a yogurt there. She’s lost weight, she’s miserable (and he has a thing about finishing your food on your plate having starved as a child), and it’s clear that neither can live without the other. He describes his experience of her absence as “Purgatory.” He would avoid anything that would cause her to leave him again if she was to take him back. See, my policy is “tell the truth, shame the devil,” so, Ana told the truth that she loved him, but she still knew she couldn’t be what he wanted her to be, a sub. He then declares that “she’s exactly the way he wants her to be.” The visit to the gallery is laced with jealousy, and intense make up session afterwards, and thank Goodness they’re back together again.
There are additional characters though some of them were introduced in the first book; we have not seen them as often. Let’s introduce them first:

Katherine (Kate) Kavanaugh: Ana’s best friend. She’s assertive, holding her own, cuts to the point, very beautiful, and loves her best friend. She’s wealthy. Her father bought her the condo in Seattle to live with Ana. She has one brother,

Elliott Grey: Christian’s older adopted brother. Nice, cheerful guy, ladies’ man until Kate captures his heart (they meet in the 1st book). He’s got a construction company known for building ecologically sustaining homes.

Mia Grey: Christian’s adopted younger sister. Came to the Grey family as an infant. Christian is very fond of his sister. She was in Paris studying French cooking. Plays cello. Outgoing, cheerful, happy. Ana introduces her to Kate’s brother, and they’re now inseparable.

Jose Rodriguez: He’s the first friend Ana had at WSU; a good looking Mexican-American boy. They fathers are army buddies. Ana likes him like a brother; and he likes her more. In the first book when they were both drunk he tried to kiss her to show his feelings, but it didn’t go well with Ana, and Christian saved her from this unwanted assault.  He graduated along with them, and opened up a photography exhibition. Christian sees him as one of Ana’s suitors which of course he is. He’d jump at the first chance.

Grace Grey: Christian’s adoptive mother. She’s a pediatrician, a regal woman who expects her children to excel, and actually is a very nice person. She’s a great mom.

Mr. Grey: Christian’s father, a lawyer. He’s the head of the Grey family. A very nice man.

Dr. John Flynn: Christian’s shrink. He’s British; one of the very few people who is not intimidated by Christian. His counseling sessions actually help Christian to cope with his past, as well as move on to be the person he aims to be. Also a likable character.
Jason Taylor: Christian’s bodyguard, driver, head of his personal security. 30s ex-military, very professional, a likable character.

Mrs. Jones: Christian’s housekeeper and cook. Very sweet and professional lady. In her 40s. She and Taylor are involved discreetly.

Mrs. Elena Lincoln, a.k.a. Mrs. Robinson, a.k.a. the Bitch Troll: The woman who seduced Christian at the age of 15, turned him into her sub, did all kinds of kinky stuff with him. Ana hates her for being the Pedophile she is, f*cking Christian up more than he already was; and Christian doesn’t see it that way. He thinks she helped him to focus, stop his delinquent ways, and she’s the one who lent his first $100,000 to start his business, but he returned the favor by helping her out with her business. They’re now only friends, and business partners. She cares about him in her delusional way. Ana hates her guts, because the Bitch Troll can touch Christian on his arms whereas she can’t because of his issues from childhood (actually no one is allowed to touch him, except of course the BT, and he says it’s because “she know where to touch” on certain areas of his arm). They’re friends, they have dinner once in a while, they talk on the phone, and he opens up to her. Can you see why Ana would hate her guts? She’s done all these things to him as a child, and he won’t see that, and what’s more he sees his ex as a friend.  We’ll see a lot of her in this book.

Jack Hyde: Ana’s boss; he’s a Commissioning Editor at SIP Publishing. He keeps hitting on her; ready to sack her at the first opportunity. Ana is uncomfortable with the unwanted attention, and he will try to blackmail her later because of the email exchange and the steamy contents of it to get her into bed. He’s another guy who is f*cked up but he’s malicious, and evil. This dude is smart, and well educated and as the story goes likes rough sex, but he’s not a likable character; in fact I hate him from the first pass on.

Leila: One of Christian’s ex sub from about 3 years ago. She was dutiful to him apparently, and she too wanted more, but Christian didn’t. She left him then found someone else, and married, and a few months ago, left the hubby to run away with another man who died in a car crash. After seeing Christian’s picture in the paper with Ana on her graduation (he never ever had a picture in print with a woman which is why people thought he was gay), she knew Ana was different, and that was her breaking point. Now she’s stalking Ana. Tried to commit suicide at Christian’s apartment where Mrs. Jones rushed her to the hospital. That happened when Ana was in Georgia when visiting her mother and Christian was surprising her with a surprise visit of his. He rushes back to Seattle after hearing the incident to get her the help she needs. So, now the woman is creating a security threat to the two.

Ok, I think that just about covers the important characters.

In order to validate or disprove my previous hypothesis on why people liked this particular book (as in 50 Shades of Grey) in light of all the criticism it received from certain people calling “mommy porn”, and unfairly stating “sex sells” using clichés. I read 4 other books on the BDSM and DOM/SUB topic. It was a science experiment. I wanted to see if the appeal was indeed sex, or as I claimed whether it was “love”. People I’m happy to report that it’s not the sex that made this book appealing; it was love.
The 4 books I read for this experiment had nothing to do with love. After the 1st one I wanted to have nothing to do with another book on the topic. The disgust and other reservations I’ve held on the subject matters resurfaced. There were more hardcore stuff and luckily the books were much shorter; I wanted to get over with them. It left me with no cordial feeling towards any of those books which were a far cry from this trilogy. They were explicit, hardcore, definitive and after reading them I realized how soft this trilogy is because of it context. 

I realized that whatever Christian Grey did in the past (which we don’t know much as far as his acts with the former subs were concerned), he was way too easy with Ana.  I would not be able to draw that conclusion before because I had no other reference points to compare this lifestyle; but since I read 4 other books by other authors covering the BDSM lifestyle, I now do. As I had said in my previous review that this is a topic I wouldn’t be interested in reading about, and after I read the other books my feelings are confirmed. CG’s relationship with Ana and the things they do, are only a step away from vanilla. Because he's respectful to her needs, loving towards her, and always aware of her presence and full of concern for her well being along with the desire that "he aims to please." 

These other books however were really demeaning to women (I wouldn’t recommend to anyone), devoid of love, and only carnal lust of one way gratification, and the dumb girls who expose themselves to be subservient of other men who are actually quite cruel in their ways. I don't want to list the names here; should you want to know what they are, shoot me an e-mail.

It would be unfair for anyone to completely dismiss the criticism of the lifestyle (I disagree on their conclusions on this trilogy though). The 4 books I read were really disgusting. Really really really disgusting. I say it again DUMB GIRLS, stop getting yourselves into positions worse than torture! Einstein’s quote comes to mind: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe!” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

However, Ana is none of that. She’s smart, she knows what she wants, who she wants, she knows how far she’ll give in, and what is not good for her. Despite her love she heavy heartedly leaves Christian and that is his wake up call. Not everything, least of all people are in one’s control regardless of who you are.

 This book confirms and elates what I have said all along: LOVE CONQERS ALL! CG is not a bad person. He’s had a rough start in life, been abused by a family friend, and he sees himself as the husk of a man. He does humanitarian work (sending food shipments to Darfur), and actually supported his ex-subs when they needed help even after they broke up. He cares about people in his own way.

Those of you who liked the book but couldn’t exactly tell why that was, I’ll summarize it for you: You made a connection with the book relating to a value you hold. There are those of you who led sheltered lives and you liked the love; it’s a flight of stairs up from Darcy and Elizabeth, but it’s possible that Darcy and Elizabeth could have uhmm, a good intimate life, though I can’t imagine Elizabeth doing things Ana is willing to do for Christian. Then again Mr. Darcy would be more of a vanilla guy which is perfect in itself. But not everyone has had a sheltered life, and some of you may be involved with people who had at least 5 shades of Grey. And that’s what appeals to most people. The redeeming quality: If Ana can be exasperated with the bimbos, and the ex-subs, and the Bitch Troll whose shadow is always in the background, and the arguments, the twitching palms, initial separation, murderous jealous exes, excessive jealousy (so much so that Christian bought SIP to better protect Ana without her knowledge)… if your relationship can withstand anything, I like to shake your hand, because you’ve made it!

You know why, because nothing makes sense unless these two are together. The concept of “us”; togetherness. Therefore the bottom line again is: “Nothing makes sense, unless they’re together.” It’s making sense out of a relationship. Yes, as Ana puts it they have vanilla and some kinky f*ckery, but when they’re a couple (and married, because CG can’t bear the idea that someone else might have a claim on her because he loves her so much and is willing to just go vanilla had she so desired, can’t imagine life without her), but Ana is willing to do some of the things he likes without getting hurt, and that’s compromise. What did you expect a couple who is in love and finally married to do? Look at his stamp collection? You know, people criticized Tom Cruise for jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch because he was so in love with his wife he couldn’t contain himself. Why should that warrant criticism? The guy’s in love, and declared love to his wife (are we that prude like the lady I gave as an example on Turkish TV in my previous review?) Why should a declaration of love on national TV be seen as something crazy?
You will get exasperated along with Ana, because of the ever present Bitch Troll, and her butting in, threatening Ana (CG tell her off a few times), and you’ll get heartbroken with their turmoil, worried for their safety, feel Ana’s pain when she gets a glimps of what Christian was like as a Dominant – she sees that when Leila shows up to shoot her, and Christian wants her out of the place so he can resolve the issue at hand, but it’s not easy to be dismissed by your boyfriend in front of his ex. Oh the list is endless. All 50 shades. But, I’ll tell you one thing: Life is never dull around the Greys.

This is my favorite because finally love is declared in all its glory and they get married (I’ll invoke Elizabeth Bennett here: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”)

Although, the ever cynical Dary among you might say “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” Here’s a list of metaphors for your reference then:

Ø  Deer in the headlights
Ø  Moth to a flame (from one of my favorite books: The Merchant of Venice. “Thus hath the candle singd the moath.”)
Ø  Love at first sight
Ø  Icarus to sun

There was a 19th century French author Jules Renard who said it most eloquently about love: “L'amour est comme un sablier, avec le coeur remplir le vide du cerveau.

It translates as: “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.

In short, love makes you lose your reason: You get a renewed purpose and that’s the person of your affection.
Elizabeth Browning has a poem “How I love thee? Let me count the ways…” which clearly states the “madness and passion” that is love and what extents one would go for love:

Je t'aime du plus profond de mon âme.” (I love thee with the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.”)

Ok., lets recap why you might like this book in the series:
 
Ø  Lots of love (laced with triple shots of possessiveness, a little extra jealousy, mercurial moods, competition from the exes)

Ø  Kinky f*ckery (I swear it’s Ana’ and Christian’s description; not mine). Although, I have to warn you there are some weird stuff they try. Call it morbid curiosity; I had to actually look up the toys they’ve used to see what they’ve looked like. For instance, there are these vaginal silver balls – which are also called massage balls (they may also be used as pelvic toners – yes, live and learn) -- they introduced which are supposed to be worn for a period of time. You walk around in it and apparently it’s supposed to wake certain muscles up you, sort of expect a certain action upon removal of said object. Never having seen one, I looked it up. Apparently they’re different lengths, and number of balls in the link (some are rubber, some are metal, some hard, and some seemed a little softer - and they looked like either like a hair tie with little plastic balls at the end, or our grandmother’s pearl necklace, and the expensive ones linked differently and looked, well, expensive.)

The price for one was, I assume it was a sturdy one because it was $438 Dollars. There was one on a different site that was for sale for only $5.89, but I wouldn’t recommend that one. Because it looked like the beads a kid strung up, and you might insert 6 pieces of balls in, and retrieve only 3 back. That would be a fun conversation at the emergency room or at your OBGYN’s office – at your expense. “I had no idea Dr.! The string just broke on the way out, and we still have 3 pieces left behind!” Guess if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t even try. There are other toys, but I’m sure Google images can help you to look up those in your own time.)

Ø  Action. Yes, there is action.

Ø  High life, and fun activities (such as gliding, flying, yachting, high end parties) that may be laced with any of the above.

Ø  Lots of good music (yes, they’re mentioned and all of which are the types of music I love! Classical to modern.)

Ø  Marriage.

Ø  Love (Α and Ω)

If you loved the first book, you will love this one even more!  Because, in this book Christian and Ana truly becomes a couple with all its entanglement, with all its love and lust, and passion, and fights and make ups. This one is a good couples’ book.

In the end, I think the book begs the question how far are you willing to go to help the love of your life to redeem him or her? Will you think of your own self-preservation, or will your love conquer all? Most people opt for option 1; it is the sensible thing to do, it’s what your shrink would recommend. Love yourself first, this person is not good for you, or may be destructive. But where love is concerned, I’d go for option 2 granted that the person of your interest is worth the effort; if you have any experience in life at all, you'll be able to make that distinction. I’m strong, but not delusional. Where love is concerned, there are at least 3 people a person would be willing to lay his/her life down for. Love of your life, your children, sibling(s), and one’s parents, even a best friend maybe… At least 3! Think about it? Reason leaves your brain, does it not? I know quite a few mothers who would cut out their own hearts for their children had it been required. I’ve also met mothers who care only enough about their children as if it was their friend’s or a stranger’s. I shudder to think the extent of love they can offer to those who are not part of their own flesh and blood. I don’t want to hang out with those, neither do I want to read about them. Cold people are not for me in any capacity.

We, as descendants of all Mediterranean people (including French, Italian, Greeks, Turks, Spanish and the islanders…) are hot blooded people. Love is a very strong emotion for us. I remember my dad hearing a song on the radio, and grabbing my mother by the hand, and say “come on wife, we love this song. Let’s dance!” Seize the moment, seize the day! What would you do for those people you love? What would you give up? Those questions are answered but inadvertently they’re also asked to you. You’ll find yourself answering those questions, or remembering people who changed their ways for love. It did for me.

The book reminded me of my own dad who had as many shades as CG in different ways. My dad owned a successful club when I was very young. He made ton of money, and with money, comes power and club business there are rivals who would do anything to derail you, or take over you. After having conversations with my mom when I was old enough for her to have a conversation with her, she told me that she always wanted him out of the business, but he wouldn’t give it up. Power, money, elite part of the society hanging out with you day in and day out and adoring women around who are bold enough to call his wife at home to tell her to leave him so they can get their claws on him.  She begged him to get out for his sake, his children sake. When I was a teenager, I asked her why she never walked out on him during that time. She simply stated: “oh, how easy it is for you single people to declare divorce. Love is patient; I’m not keeping the records of his wrongs. I write them down in the sand, and his goodness in stone; I’m strong enough for all of usDespite what we endured, we always loved each other. Your dad is the only one for me.” He left his business, and the money that came with it for her! He worked his ass off, always been a great father, very protective of his children and his wife; even after giving up he worked so hard for, he never complained for the loss of it up what for a greater cause: Love. Even today, we can’t even slightly raise our voice to our mother in any sort of disagreement without his wrath: “If you have a grievance with your mother, take it up with me. I put that woman through a lot; I will not let anyone to hurt her feelings in any way!” When he had a life threatening surgery with a 10% chance of survival, and the pain of the surgery was excruciating, he didn’t open his mouth to let out a single cry with worry that she might hear him and not handle it well.

After his surgeon discussed the chance of his survivability with him, my sister who is a nurse and myself asked our father if this is what he wanted to do. I pleaded with him that it was such a low chance of survivability at 10%; whereas he may live 3-5 without it. He was determined to go through with it. He said “I want to show my kids and grandkids, that life is worth living and fighting for despite all the miseries, difficulties and despite this pain I will have to endure, it will be a lot. I want to have more than 5 years with your mother. If God didn’t destine me to survive beyond the surgery I’ll reckon with your mom in heaven, but I will do my best to survive so she’s not alone for others to look after her.” But that wasn’t it, he knew that she wouldn’t survive much longer without him, and he wanted to make sure she lived to be old and grey. That’s love! I’m happy to report that he in fact did survive his surgery, and became the first person in Canada to be a survivor with the type of problem he had! He’s in medical books now, and his case is studied in vascular issues around the word in different medical conferences. (Happy anniversary today mom & dad! We're very lucky to have parents like you!)

I’m incredibly lucky to see one of the few rare examples of true love so close my life. Sets my priorities straight. Hope this book does that to you as well. If you as an individual find someone to put up with your shit, hold onto her/him, and do both of you a favor and you had better sort that crap out. That’s what CG did without losing the character traits: this is the main appeal of the book. In the end, love conquers all; and that’s the bottom line. And some people complain about sex in it. Here’s my solution to the complainers: If it offends you, by all means, abstain yourself. But don’t tell other couples who are in love and married (that’s what CG and Ana is halfway thought the book) to avoid it to express their love solely because you don’t like it.

2 comments:

Rohit Singh Jain said...

Didn't know how fast I browsed through the post; provided me a good read! Nice writing, keep it up!

Janell said...

If you liked (or hated) “50 Shades of Grey,” check out “Anything For Georgetown And Other Stories” on Smashwords.com. Brilliant, beautiful Monica meets new guidance counselor Gabe Houlihan. He offers to help her get into Georgetown University. But will she agree to be punished via spanking and tickling for her transgressions? Now in print at Lulu.com! Ebook available at Smashwords.com. (Be sure to deactivate the adult filter!)