Jun 18 2015 1:15pm

E.L. James’s Grey Discussion Thread (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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Grey by E.L. James

Only two and a half weeks after learning that E.L. James would be publishing Grey, Christian's perspective of the events in Fifty Shades of Grey, here we are with the book in our hands/e-readers and ready to discuss!

With that in mind, allow us to present, as a conversation-starter, H&H blogger Janet Webb's spoilerrific impressions of the newly released book. We hope you'll share your own observations in the comments!

Note: This post is made up ENTIRELY of SPOILERS and is intended only as a place for fans to gather and discuss the book AFTER reading it, so if you have yet to finish, steer clear of anything after the jump. Go finish the book, then come back. (There’s a non-spoiler-y roundtable speculating on Grey here to whet your appetite, not to mention all our Fifty Shades content. And if you just want to talk the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, we have a reaction post here.)




***LAST CHANCE: Seriously, leave this post now if you haven’t finished GreyThis is a post to discuss the entire book.***

What was it like to finally get Christian's POV?

It was amazing. So much that was hidden from readers was finally revealed. Like what it was like when Elena took Christian under her domineering wing (at the age of fifteen).  A clue: Christian remembers his “first time with Elena, how embarrassing it was…but what a heaven-sent relief.” What Christian got off doing with Leila and his other subs. There are times when Ana reminds Christian of his time with Leila, like when Ana says his music is melancholy and Christian recalls Leila asking, “Sir. Is there something that you would like me to do…?” (to shake off the melancholy). It’s like Ana causes Christian to free fall through his memories. We learn what Christian wanted to do with and to Ana (trust me, it was not hearts and flowers). We see Christian with Taylor and Gail (heads-up, it’s Christian who brings Ana’s clothes to Gail for her to wash after their first “scene”), with Andrea and Ros, and with his trainer. Christian hanging out with Elliot, Christian having dinner with his family … it’s Christian behind the scenes, living his life, making business decisions, and above all, dealing with the exquisite turmoil and pleasure of falling hard for a brown-haired girl who tumbles into his office on her way to interview him. In his words, thinking about her after their interview: “Peace? I haven’t known peace since Miss Steele fell into my office.”

You know how teenage girls (and not-so-teenage girls) stare at the phone, willing it to ping with a text or a call—that’s Christian waiting to hear from Ana. Over and over again she’s doing her thing, living her life, not in a TPE (total power exchange) with technology. What she’s not doing is getting in touch with Christian. And that kills him. Christian may have amazing control when it comes to every aspect of his life, but when it comes to his interactions with women, he expects/demands/is accustomed to instant gratification. Lastly, Christian’s childhood memories, before and after his mother’s death, appear frequently and in some detail.

Why did I want Christian's POV?

The short glimpse E.L. James gave us of Christian's thoughts when he first met Ana and when he visited her at Clayton's Hardware store revealed a man who is swinging back and forth between what he wants (Ana) and whether or not he should go after it. I wanted more of the confusion that Ana generates in his ordered existence—and I got that in spades with Grey.

Before I delve into some of the overarching questions readers I have, a bit of a Kinky Christian Count-down (and keep in mind that these are thoughts, not actions, and Christian was honest, always, with Ana about his past relationships). His thoughts were too vivid not to share though!

- Christian asks Ana if she always wears jeans. Answer: mostly and he’s not happy: “I like my women in skirts. I like them accessible.”

- When Ana snaps at Christian that he’s “quite the disciplinarian” he thinks, “An image of her shackled to my bench, peeled gingerroot inserted in her ass so she can’t clench her buttocks, comes to mind, followed by judicious use of a belt or strap. Yeah…That would teach her not to be so irresponsible. The thought is hugely appealing.”

-  Ana’s untamed pubic hair is nothing Christian is used to…but he is rather taken with it. Or is he? After tugging it gently, he says, “Perhaps we’ll keep this,” but he thinks, “Though it’s no good for wax play.”

- More wax play thoughts when Christian spots Ana at graduation (after she hasn’t replied to his messages). He’s “really pissed” and “Closing my eyes, I imagine dripping hot wax onto her breasts and her squirming beneath me. This has a radical effect on my body.”

- Talking to Ana about anal play, Christian says,

“No. I’ve never had sex with a man. Not my scene.”
“Mrs. Robinson?”
“Yes.” …but he thinks and doesn’t share. And her large rubber strap-on.”

- Thinking back to Leila, Christian remembers, “I’m tying her big toes together, turning her feet in so she can’t clench her backside and avoid the pain. Yeah, she loved all that shit, and so did I.”

Many readers want to know the details behind some pivotal scenes, like:

1. His thoughts during the time before/during/after he's given her the contract and she's taking her sweet time to decide. How does instant-gratification Christian deal with that? Christian thinks about Ana constantly: a recurring theme is how she smells and what memories that are evoked for him, specifically, “She has a fresh, wholesome fragrance that reminds me of my grandfather’s apple orchard.” This ties in with Christian’s food issues—when he first comes to the Grey household, he constantly hides bread and apples, because he’s terrified of starving. The books Christian gives Ana are off his shelves in his personal library. He searches for days for the perfect quote from Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  It’s Christian who gives Taylor a shopping list when she spends the night in his suite—complete with sizes and colors. Reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I assumed that Christian delegated some of the things he did for and with Ana—I found out not so. Lastly, and this is the theme of Grey, Christian refuses to acknowledge that he is a goner for this girl—he self-talks constantly: “Grey. Stop this nonsense. Fucking her was merely a means to an end and a pleasant diversion. Yes. Very pleasant.” Well Christian you just keep telling yourself that. Another surprise for Christian—that when Ana isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, like when she throws him out of her apartment after he surprises her with ice cubes, Chardonnay, and a fabulous tumble complete with their favorite grey tie. This passage shows all of Christian’s conflicted thoughts:

She threw me out before I was ready to leave. For the first time—well, maybe not the first time—I feel a little used, for sex. It’s a disturbing feeling that reminds me of my time with Elena. Hell! Miss Steele is topping from the bottom and she doesn’t even know it. And fool that I am, I’m letting her. I have to turn this around. This soft-sell approach is messing with my head. But I want her. I need her to sign. Is it just the chase? Is that what’s turning me on? Or is it her? Fuck, I don’t know.

2. Elena and Christian at dinner talking about Ana leaving town to go visit her mother. What was said between them? How do they deal with each other? Elena constantly texts and emails Christian. She wants to set him up with a new sub. Seriously, she’s his pimp or that’s how it comes across. He emails her … his tone is brusque compared to how he banters with Ana. An example, “…if I’m free, I’ll let you know. Latest results for the beauty business look promising. Good going, Ma’am…Best C.” It’s clear that Mrs. Robinson doesn’t want Christian to be with a woman who’s not in the BDSM scene. Why? Because she’ll lose her tenuous hold on him. Elena tells Christian to go after Ana when she’s visiting her mother in Georgia but it’s obvious that she’s hoping Christian the Dom Stalker will scare off recent graduate Ana. Elena says, “The poor girl is probably bored to tears down there. Go. You’ll get your answer. If it’s no, you can move on, if it’s yes, you can enjoy being yourself with her.”

3. How does Christian deal with Ana wanting “more”? What does more even mean to him? Does it bring back memories of getting precious nothing from his birth mother? Is that why it makes him so uncomfortable—because he believes his a monster, undeserving of love? Christian foreshadows his breakup with Ana. They are talking about her preference for calling her Anastasia. Ana says, “I prefer Ana.” “Do you, now?” Christian thinks, “ ‘Ana’ is too everyday and ordinary for her. And too familiar. Those three letters have the power to wound… And in that moment I know that her rejection, when it comes, will be hard to take.” He acknowledges to himself (but not to Ana) that he can’t “Cook. Tell jokes. Make free and easy conversation with a woman I’m attracted to.” Ana is the mirror of everything he wants and doesn’t think he can ever have. Christian “tries” to treat Ana like his other subs, like when he phones his Neiman Marcus contact Caroline Acton and says, “I’d like the usual.” “The capsule wardrobe? Do you have a color palette in mind.” Nothing so much out of the ordinary, since Christian has done this for every sub, except Christian has thought carefully about the colors and clothes and fabrics he wants for Ana and tells Caroline to send him pictures. Finally, unusually, he says, “No budget. Go all-out. I want everything to be high-end.”

4. The “more” experience of Christian’s relationship with Ana was gliding with her in Georgia. How did he feel at the time and how does he feel looking back at it? Christian references and remembers and refers to their gliding morning often. It’s all there when they get out of the glider.

“That was extraordinary. Thank you,” she says, her eyes sparkling with joy.

“Was it more?” I pray she can’t hear the hope in my voice.

“Much more.” She beams, and I feel ten feet tall.

5. What does Christian experience when he’s giving Ana six of the best with his belt? How do her words make him feel? Christian feels on top of the world—until Ana tells him how she feels: “I drop the belt, savoring my sweet, euphoric release. I’m punch-drunk, breathless, and finally replete. Oh, this beautiful girl, my beautiful girl. I want to kiss every inch of her body.”  But Ana is incredibly upset. Christian thinks the endorphins haven’t kicked in, but he is so off base. Ana tells him that he is “one fucked-up son of a bitch” and Christian knows, she has seen the monster that he is. Christian is faced with what he has always known—that inflicting pain only works if it’s done with women who like it. And Ana doesn’t.

6. Only two people (other than Christian’s subs) know about Christian’s private predilections: Elena, Mrs. Lincoln, and Dr. Flynn. How do they both react to his breakup with Ana? Elena tells him he sounds like shit and reminds him, “This life isn’t for everyone,” and that, “it’s for the best.” Dr. Flynn, Christian’s psychologist, has very different advice.

“You need to focus on where you want to be,” Flynn continues. “And it sounds to me like you want to be with this girl. You miss her. Do you want to be with her?”

Be with Ana?

“Yes,” I whisper.

“Then you have to focus on that goal.”

7. Does E. L. James give us more than the movie–that is, how Christian feels after the elevator doors close? YES! We get Christian in pain, Christian sending flowers, Christian run/stalking Ana’s apartment, and lastly, focused, in-love Christian, determined to get Ana back. By any means possible and on her terms. Christian buys Ana an iPad and fills it with songs that will say for him what he wants to say to her directly. He allows himself to dare to hope. Our last glimpse of Christian is waking up from a hopeful dream of Ana listening to him play the piano.

I love listening to you play, Christian. I love you, Christian. Ana stay with me. You’re mine. I love you, too.

I wake, with a start. Today, I win her back.


Learn more about or order a copy of Grey by E.L. James, out now:

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Debbie Haupt
1. dhaupt
OMG I so agree with your feelings about this novel. In fact my review on Amazon headlines, Eye-Opening for fans. Wow yes. I just love the nay sayers and everytime I read a fb post or anywhere I usually comment by reminding them of how many more new readers this titialating series brought to the pool and how many of them will actually benefit from EL James fantastic books.
2. Jen.kev
I loved seeing Christians side of things. As they always say there are two sides go every story. I couldn't put this one down and found my self several times referring to fifty shades of grey and it just completed everything. Want the other two books from Christian's side now.
3. TDR
What a difference an editor makes eh? Much better than the first three. No repetitive dialogue. No inane internal monologues. Common sense pacing. Made me wish it went through Darker and Freed.
4. TMK
We learned in the original 50 Shades that Christian has nightmares. I very much enjoyed these glimpses into his past as he relives them. I thelps to explain why he is in such a panic sometimes when he wakes.

I hope EL James writes Christian's VP of the other 2 books as well. I would love to see what happened when Christian was dealing with Leila, and after the helicopter wreck.
5. NSmith
I totally agree with everything you said! I'm so glad we got to see how he felt when they first made love, when he first woke up to her in his kitchen cooking, how he felt about Jose and her relationship and most definitely I love that she put in the end how he was when they broke up. I cannot wait for the next two books to come out and see what's going on inside his head!! There's a lot of steamy drama to come and it only gets better!!
Janet Webb
6. JanetW
So thrilling to see the comments start to come in ... it really was fascinating to see his perspective on scenes that I thought I already understood (both from reading FSOG and seeing both versions of the movies). There were a lot of surprises.
7. TDR
I don't believe there's a firm plan to do Darker and Freed from Christian's perspective. Grey went through the early chapters of Darker after all.
8. Kareni
Just finished Grey. I suspect that those who liked the original trilogy will also like Grey while those who didn't will not.
9. Withwarmregard
I love the story of two people trying, wanting to make a relationship work. I loved Elliot and Christan relationship; they cared for each other. There was a friendship as well as brotherly love.
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