It has become clear to me that E.L. James watched every Bond movie ever back to back before writing the second two books, because it is obvious she has a checklist of things that are "exciting" and she is bound and determined to include every single fucking one of them regardless of how regoddamndiculous they are or whether they do anything to advance the overall plot. But we'll come back to that.
The nonsense in Chapter 4 begins right off the bat. Ana decides she wants to go shopping in town and also take the jet ski to shore, but when she tells Taylor this he visibly shrinks back and says that allowing her to do any such thing would imperil his job. This is 100% true and I'm not sure why he doesn't get a better job. Ana's not having it, because she's a strong confident woman who can make her own decisions! Except, you know, NO SHE FUCKING ISN'T. So she marches into Christian's office and announces in no uncertain terms that she is going shopping and will be taking the jet ski to do so. This is the claim she makes to Taylor anyway. In reality she is flat out lying to him because her husband terrifies her. What she REALLY did was go into his office and meekly state that she would like to go shopping and will take security with her, without ever mentioning the jet ski. He approves this plan, she points out, without asking any other questions, because he is preoccupied with the fire back in Seattle, the implication being that if he were not distracted she would have been grilled endlessly about her intentions on this "shopping" trip. Such a trusting marriage already, three weeks in! I write in my notes "this relationship is sickening."
Outside, Taylor is teaching her how a jet ski works, which takes ages, and then once she gets it going, instead of going to shore she decides to race full speed around the boat a couple times, drawing Christian out onto the deck. Guess who is not happy? And guess who, just as he predicted, gets an irate phone call from Christian asking what in the actual fuck he was thinking letting Christian's completely inept wife ride a jet ski ALL BY HERSELF? Once on shore, Taylor relays Christian's displeasure to Ana who is instantly remorseful - Christian has so much else to deal with, and then she goes and upsets him by doing something any normal adult married to another normal adult should not need "permission" to do! How could she do this to him? What was she thinking? I'm left confused again, as I am more and more with every turn of the page. Is Christian an unreasonable, controlling, abusive prick? Or is Ana a thoughtless, self centered, entitled princess who is also genuinely incapable of handling the responsibilities of an adult? Or both? HELP ME YOU GUYS I DON'T KNOW WHO TO HATE ANYMORE.
So Ana goes shopping and buys herself a little ankle bracelet for 5 euros because she is just not comfortable wearing that 30,000 euro bracelet from Christian and money won't change her you guys! SHUT. UP. Telling me the exact cost of the inexpensive things you buy does nothing to make you appear LESS obsessed with money. Look at you. We know who you married. If a broke ass recent graduate you were dating tried to treat you the way Christian treats you you would be out of there in a heartbeat. You married for money, Ana, so why don't you just go ahead and own it? She also decides to get Christian a present - a camera for taking photos of her (which apparently he can't do with the camera he already owns). Thing is, she doesn't know shit about cameras. Not a problem though, because Jose does! So she calls him, waking him up since it's the middle of the goddamn night in Portland, but fuck it, the whole world revolves around Ana, why be considerate of anyone else?
When Ana gets back, Christian is mercifully already over her transgression with the jet ski, but if they aren't going to fight about that, they are sure as fuck going to argue about something else, so when Ana gives Christian his new camera and tells him what she's hoping he'll do with it, instead of being excited it makes him fucking miserable. Christian, you see, has only ever taken photos of his lovers for the purposes of blackmail. At no time ever did it occur to him that he could actually also use them as wank fodder. He finds the gift confusing. Would taking nudie pics of his wife AT HER OWN REQUEST make him a misogynist? Is this the slippery slope that will lead him back to the path of darkness and dysfunction that James feels characterizes all BDSM activities? Christian shuts down and won't talk to her, so Ana goes into a tailspin for many pages wondering how she went so wrong and does this have something to do with his dead mother and what can she do to fix this huge mistake...the only thing I write in this whole section is "MELODRAMA". I don't even remember how she manages to bring him back to his happy place. All I know it that eventually they fuck and it solves everything, exactly the way life works in real life.
The next day, after an afternoon at Versailles, Ana is online checking her email to make sure everyone is missing her the appropriate amount when a fucking miracle happens: KATE INSTANT MESSAGES HER ON SKYPE. I write "FINALLY JESUS FUCK." Ana has finally discovered something on the internet that people decades her senior who did not even grow up having constant access to the internet have been using with great success and regularity for years. Ana, we also have these amazing things called electric lightbulbs that let you see stuff at night, you should check them out, it's way beyond our time. Anyway, Kate and all of Seattle are abuzz about the fire and wondering if it is arson. Christian has confirmed previously that this was the case, and apparently someone did eventually bother to inform the police, but Ana can't tell Kate because for some reason SHHH DIS A SEKRET.
Chapter 5 - The Stupid Explodes. The honeymoon is over, and for some reason Christian and Ana take a commercial flight home. And while jet lag is absolutely to be expected in this situation, Ana's amazement that she's been awake for eighteen whole hours in a row! is not impressive to me. When you get up to around 30 hours or more, call me and I'll tell you about the time that not only was I up for that long, but my evil friends in Hitchin got me completely pissed AND THEN I got up at 7 the next morning and rode roller coasters the entire day. This is point where we begin all manor of in your face foreshadowing about Ana's pregnancy, with Christian pointing out that Ana has "put on a little weight" on their honeymoon. Later, Ana asks if Christian would ever let her drive the Audi and he tells her yes but not to dent it and she gets SUPER FUCKING PISSED because he OBVIOUSLY LOVES HIS CAR MORE THAN HE LOVES HER. PREGNANT BITCHES BE CRAZY Y'ALL.
The next day they go over to his parents' house for the day and Ana is bitchy and out of sorts the entire time because I wonder if she's pregnant. After the party, Christian tells her that now is her chance and she can drive the Audi! Elated at this show of trust, she respects it and drives carefully home. Haha just kidding! She IMMEDIATELY fucking floors it the second they are out of the driveway and leaves their security team in the dust. Eventually she slows down when she realizes she has upset Christian, surprised as always that her irresponsible selfish actions get her the exact reaction she intended. It is at this point that Christian gets a phone call setting off a series of events that made me throw the book across the room twice. THEY ARE BEING FOLLOWED YOU GUYS. The security team knows this because there is a car with fictitious plates directly behind them. At no point is it explained how they managed to run someone's plates without the help of the police or access to the state motor vehicle database, or whether or not they are running the plates of every single car Christian shares the road with just in case there's bad guys lurking. Christian and the security team know exactly what to do, though: they instruct Ana that when she gets to the highway, she should start driving as fast as she can. Ana is concerned about this because oh my god, what if she gets pulled over by the police and gets a ticket? Christian tells her, rightly, that that would actually be a good thing because then the police would be involved. What he does not do, nor anyone else in their entourage, is ACTUALLY CALL 911 AND INVOLVE THE POLICE. (throws book) For once Ana does as she is told. She pushes the car past 110 miles an hour and additionally weaves recklessly in and out of traffic and cuts across multiple lanes because a good way to solve the problem of someone chasing you is to make sure you also endanger the lives of every single other person on the road by driving like a fucking asshole. And hey, as long as you're not calling the police to report a suspicious car following you, why not also decide not to drive directly to the nearest police station like a sane person would, and instead lead your pursuer STRAIGHT TO YOUR FUCKING HOME? (throws book) Actually, they didn't, they pulled off in a parking lot a couple blocks from home to see if the mysterious pursuer would notice. He/she doesn't and instead proceeds to their home and, according to security, "cases the joint". I don't have time to wonder exactly what the fucking plan would have been if they HAD been followed into the parking lot, because Ana is so shaken up from the experience that they are going to have to fuck right there in the car, immediately, even though someone apparently wishing them harm is still driving around somewhere looking for them. I don't even
In Chapter 6 they get back to the apartment. It turns out the car sex just wasn't enough sex to calm Ana's frayed nerves, so they end up spending the bulk of the chapter in the playroom having what would be entirely forgettable sex if it weren't the first time Ana had a tiny butt plug up her ass. Also, she is bent over (gasp!) a table! That husband of hers is so very naughty. She actually says naughty right there. Once the sex is over and everything has calmed down, Christian has a minor freak out because if something happened to Ana he wouldn't know what to do with himself. Not that this stopped him from telling her to drive like wannabe crash test dummy just an hour before. Christian goes off to get "debriefed" on the situation by his security team (who also get screamed at for losing them in traffic since they should be omniscient and know his dumb ass wife is going to drive like she stole the damn thing), and Ana decides she's going to wash the butt plug, despite the fact that she knows nothing at all about sex toys or how to properly sterilize them. On the way, she runs into the housekeeper and becomes super embarrassed because she probably knows that Ana and Christian have sex, a fact which no one except Ana would find scandalizing and in fact they probably don't ever think about it at all. Ana takes this opportunity to continue complaining about how very hard it is to be rich and have a staff. I write "go fuck bears."
Ana goes off to the library to have a think, not exactly one of her strengths. She first thinks about how badly Christian is going to react when she tells him she wants to continue to go by the name Steele professionally, especially since they argue constantly about whether she should be working at all. I am confused again. In real life, I think the decision to change one's name to that of one's spouse is a personal decision and none of anyone else's business. I have no plans to ever get married, but if I did I certainly wouldn't want to change mine, I fucking love my surname. If it were that important to my spouse that we have the same name, I'd be happy to share mine. However, in this case, Ana HAS changed her name to Grey, she only wants to use Steele "professionally". Again, lots of people do this, but most of those people have established careers at the point where they make this decision. Ana is 21 years old and has been working in publishing for about two months now, three weeks of which she was away on her honeymoon. She has no established career. Based on her character and how desperately she wants to morph with Christian into a single physical entity, I feel like the only reason for her to make this decision is because James wants them to fight over it. They will, I'm sure, even though Christian's OWN MOTHER goes by her maiden name professionally. Anyway, after she thinks about that, she downloads the photos off the memory card from Christian's new camera and discovers he has covertly taken HUNDREDS of photos of her. YOU GUYS ISN'T THAT SO ROMANTIC AND NOT FUCKING CREEPY AT ALL? Ana is suddenly overwhelmed by her feelings for Christian, because WHAT IF SOMETHING EVER HAPPENED TO HIM? so she runs sobbing into his office to "check that he's safe." She finds him on the phone with a security guy from his office, which in no way stops her from climbing into his lap like a frightened child. Christian is looking at his monitor, where the security team has enhanced the video from inside the server room showing a mysterious figure lurking there on the day of the fire. Ana looks up from her weeping and realizes that HOLY SHIT she knows who it is!
Guess what? It's her ex-boss/attempted rapist Jack Hyde! Thank god someone solved that mystery! I was beginning to fear we would never know who wants to kill Christian. Besides me.