Review of Secrets Hidden in Time by Tong Hua: A Sodden Makjang Mess of a Modern Novel

After five Tong Hua novels in a row, I’ve confirmed that I’m not her fangirl. I happen to be a fan of some of her novels and that’s about it. If I were her fangirl then I wouldn’t have to heart to do this. But it simply must be said – Tong Hua’s modern novel Secrets Hidden in Time is complete and utter crap. With three leads that I loathe to varying degrees (only male lead Lu Li Cheng is worthy of any positive impression from the reader), prose that is shockingly juvenile and discordant, and a story that made me barf up some of my lunch, this novel is best described as “I read it so you don’t have to.”

I still want to watch the drama adaptation with Wallace Chung, Janine Chang, Jia Nai Liang, and Han Xi Ting, because the cast is ridiculously gorgeous and if the ending is changed, then perhaps I can endure this painful exercise in “first love”. When I was reading this novel, I was shocked at how bad it was, even more stunned that Tong Hua wrote it, and in the end I would have flung it across the room in disgust but for the fact that I was reading it on my iPad. If you’re curious what kind of story gets my druthers up this much, read on and find out. But before I get started, I just have to point out how apropos that the acronym for the English title of this book is SHIT. Seriously, I did not make that up. I’ll call it Secrets instead.

Secrets is back to being written in the first person narrative, with the heroine Su Man (her English name is Freya, but she later pretends to be a girl named Amanda – played by Janine Chang) dropping us immediately into her life as a thirty-year old independent and successful white collar worker in the financial industry in Beijing. Society considers her on-the-shelf, though she’s not striving to recapture her youth but is instead relatively happy with her life which consists of her parents, her work, and her best friend Ma La Tang (the nickname means spicy soup, but her real name is Xu Ling Shuang – played by Han Xi Ting). The only thing Su Man has ever wanted in her entire life was a boy she crushed on back in high school and college, Song Yi (played by Jia Nai Liang). We’re subjected to paragraphs upon paragraphs about how he dazzled her innocent self with his splendor and charm, so much so she has never let the dream of him go. I was already headdesking by this point, but let’s continue.

In chapter 1, Su Man gets set up on yet another blind date by her parents. She reluctantly goes, but dressed like a crazy skanky ho just to be contrary and get that date ended fast. To her shock, her blind date turns out to be none other than Song Yi, who is back in Beijing after getting an MBA and working for a few years on Wall Street. Of course the date is a dud, but Su Man decides that fate has given her another chance by letting her meet the man of her dreams again. She decides to be brave this time and go get him. Apparently in Su Man’s wacky brain, that means quitting her job and faking her resume to get accepted to the same company Song Yi works for, solely to get close to him. At the same time, Su Man anonymously reconnects with Song Yi online at their college alum website forum and strike up a casual friendship. While Song Yi doesn’t know he’s been chatting online with the new girl Amanda working at his company, he also doesn’t know said girl knows everything about his life and is using it to get closer to him. Can we say…..stalker?

On the other hand, we have the only decent character in this novel in the form of Lu Li Cheng (played by Wallace Chung), Song Yi’s rival and Su Man’s new boss at the company. Whereas Song Yi is outwardly kind and considerate towards everyone, Lu Li Cheng is instead cold and distant. Lu Li Cheng is the only one at that company who knows Su Man is not the so-called Amanda but is instead Freya, and has lied on her resume to get into the company. He agrees to keep quiet about it after she pleads with him, knowing that she’s doing all this to land Song Yi. But he’s not stupid, and the reason he lets this go is because Su Man is smart and good at her job, despite all the faking of the resume to get hired. The first half of the novel was all work place stuff where Su Man changes departments from Lu Li Cheng to working directly under Song Yi, and the two of them getting closer every evening when they chat online.

The story takes a drastic step forward when Su Man needs to go on a business trip to NYC. Before she leaves, she reveals to Song Yi that she is his anonymous chatroom partner online, only to discover Song Yi already knew. They two of them sorta have an understanding with Song Yi expressing interest in Su Man, so she happily goes off to NYC thinking she’s finally landed her man. This is further confirmed when Song Yi flies to NYC to spend New Year’s Eve with Su Man before leaving the next day. Clearly the man is courting her, despite the two of them not directly discussing the nature of their growing relationship.

During all this, Su Man’s best friend Ma La Tang knows that Su Man is angling for the man she’s had a crush on for years, but she doesn’t know its Song Yi. While Su Man is in NYC, Ma La Tang reveals that she went on a matchmaking date that actually turned out well and she gets along with the guy. But before that could turn serious, Ma La Tang also meets the man of her dreams that she’s been mooning over for the past 5 years. Ma La Tang then promptly ditches her matchmaking date and immediately starts dating her dream man.

When Su Man returns to Beijing, she gets the shock of her life when she discovers that her little happy Song Yi dream has turned upside down. She goes to meet Ma La Tang’s dream boat only to discover its none other than Song Yi, who is now dating Ma La Tang. What tha what? Yup, can we say bastard? Su Man almost loses it right there but Lu Li Cheng is around and steps in with a smooth lie that he’s dating Su Man and the reason Su Man is all weepy is because of two of them just fought. Good one, my boy. As if the knot couldn’t get more complicated, turns out the Lu Li Cheng is Ma La Tang’s matchmaking date. With Ma La Tang kept in the dark, she happily dates Song Yi and constantly wants to do double dates with Su Man and Lu Li Cheng. Song Yi can’t give Su Man any reason for his sudden change of heart other than “I’m really sorry.” With that, Su Man has to pretend she’s dating Lu Li Cheng in front of Ma La Tang to keep up pretenses.

Su Man realizes that her friendship with Ma La Tang is more important than the bastard so she keeps quiet about what happened between her and Song Yi. Turns out Ma La Tang suffered from kidney failure a few years ago and she was in NYC for a kidney transplant. At that time, she was almost completely blind because of it, and she had a conversation with a man at the hospital whose voice she never forget. He encouraged her to hang in there and she developed a crush on this man whose face she never saw. So when she randomly ran into Song Yi outside Su Man’s apartment building while Su Man was still in NYC, she heard his voice and knew he was the man she was searching for, and she went after him. Thus Su Man decides to let those two people be since Song Yi clearly chose Ma La Tang over her.

While Su Man is all mopey, Lu Li Cheng is by her side, though he never reveals that he likes her. Tragedy strikes some more for Su Man as her parents get in a car accident while vacationing in Vietnam. Her mom dies and her dad is seriously injured. What’s worse is discovering after the accident that her dad’s cancer has returned, so Su Man goes from mourning one parent to preparing for the death of her remaining parent. Her friends Lu Li Cheng, Song Yi, and Ma La Tang all step up to support her. It is during this time that Su Man discovers the GREAT BIG SECRET of this novel. Are you ready for it? Turns out Song Yi did not dump Su Man for Ma La Tang because he was rabidly in love with the latter. On the contrary, he was merely feeling guilty. Let me explain.

Ma La Tang happens to be the daughter of a powerful Chinese politician, but she hates her dad and rebels by never revealing her true identity or rely on her dad’s connections. The reason is that she had an older sister Xu Qiu, who seemingly was the perfect daughter on the outside, but secretly mentally and emotionally tormented Ma La Tang all during their childhood. Said sister finally went abroad to study and work, and Ma La Tang finally gained a reprieve. Su Man became Ma La Tang’s best and only friend, like the sister she wished she had. Xu Qiu is dead by the time this story starts, so is anyone here surprised if I said that Xu Qiu was Song Yi’s girlfriend when they both lived in NYC. Yup, Song Yi dated the older sister, and now he’s dating the younger sister. What a rock star kinda guy.

So the story goes that Song Yi and Xu Qiu had a passionate and quite volatile relationship. They were always fighting, which turned out to be Xu Qiu cheating on Song Yi and then feeling guilty about it afterwards. So the couple decides to visit Yellowstone for a vacation to try and salvage their relationship. Of course they fought like cats and dogs, and during one particular nasty night, Song Yi is driving and he gets distracted and they get into a car accident. He’s fine, but Xu Qiu is in a coma. Before the family pulls the plug, they secretly fly younger sister Ma La Tang over so that she can get a kidney transplant from her dying older sister, who let’s not forget she hates. Ma La Tang unknowingly gets her sister’s kidney, Xu Qiu goes into the great afterlife, and Song Yi feels like a turdy guilty boyfriend.

Back to the present day, when Ma La Tang runs into Song Yi outside Su Man’s apartment building and recognizes his voice, he’s also recognized her as the younger sister of Xu Qiu. So when she wants to date him, he immediately agrees because he thinks he’s somehow atoning for his sins against Xu Qiu, and perhaps also because Ma La Tang’s got Xu Qiu’s kidney inside her. I have no clue, because I freaking HATE Song Yi. Of course Su Man finds all this out and confronts Song Yi. She’s more pissed that he’s using Ma La Tang to make himself feel better. Ma La Tang finally discovers the truth (about the kidney donation and Song Yi being Xu Qiu’s boyfriend before she died) and with it, her body starts to reject her sister-donated kidney and she gets hospitalized again.

Ma La Tang’s dad goes to see Su Man and shows her Xu Qiu’s diaries which detailed how she tormented Ma La Tang all during their childhood. Her dad is remorseful that he never knew his eldest daughter was demon spawn and a sociopath, and asks Su Man to please help save his remaining daughter Ma La Tang. Su Man reveals the contents of the diary to Ma La Tang, who realized that Xu Qiu was bitter that her dad remarried Ma La Tang’s mom after the death of Xu Qiu’s mom and thereby took out all her frustrations on Ma La Tang. She finally lets go of her anger towards Xu Qiu and her body stops rejecting the transplanted kidney. After all this, Su Man’s dad finally succumbs to cancer, leaving her all alone.

Su Man decides to leave Beijing and go teach in the countryside for a few years, wanting to get away from it all. Song Yi goes abroad to England, and Lu Li Cheng and Ma La Tang remain in Beijing living their own lives. the story ends like that……except Tong Hua decided to write an epilogue to this tale that had me seriously contemplating murder. In the epilogue, written from Lu Li Cheng’s perspective, we finally see how much he likes Su Man and has done for her behind the scenes. In the ensuing two years, she’s refused contact with anyone other than Ma La Tang, who finally caves and tells Lu Li Cheng where Su Man is teaching. He goes there wanting to finally reveal the secret in his heart to her, that he really likes her. When he arrives, he sees Su Man with that douchebag Song Yi walking hand-in-hand in the countryside.

Turns out that Song Yi came back from England some time ago, probably after he unburdened his soul or some shit like that, and managed to find Su Man. They finally got together as a couple, and had gotten engaged by the time Lu Li Cheng arrives on the scene. I would say once again too late, but based on this story, the man was too late the moment he had the misfortune of meeting Su Man. He has no choice but to act the part of a friend again and congratulate the happy couple on weathering all odds and being together in the end. The final sentence has Lu Li Cheng putting away his feelings for Su Man as a secret to be forever hidden in time. The end.

I still can’t wrap my mind around how this novel was written by Tong Hua. And it wasn’t her earliest book or some rough draft she dug out and beefed up. She wrote it after Bu Bu Jing Xin, Da Mo Yao, and Yun Zhong Ge. The quality of her writing here was like an elementary school kid compared to her previous works. It was repetitive, shockingly trite, and really boring. I never once got the desire to keep reading, but I continued only so I could finish it and see how crazy she was taking this story. Putting aside the immature prose, the story itself is also juvenile and unbelievable.

So much of heroine Su Man’s personality and thought processes remain impossible to fathom as realistic emotions of a functional adult woman, from her unrequited and undying crush on Song Yi all the way to finally getting together with him in the end. Can’t she see that he’s a loser and a douchebag, a guy who is emotionally weak and guilt-ridden? If Tong Hua wants to say that Su Man has to right to choose the man she loves (Song Yi) over the man who loves her and is more worthy of her (Lu Li Cheng), then she succeeded in hammering home this distasteful point. What’s worse is that the epilogue glosses over how Su Man and Song Yi reconciled, so all we’re being told is to throw confetti for this supposedly fated couple.

I don’t like this book not because my guy Lu Li Cheng doesn’t get the girl (though all signs point to a different ending in the drama), but because it reads so patently manufactured. All those stuff about kidney failure, donated kidneys, siblings who hate each other, guy dating both sisters – that’s the makjang stuff I thought I would never see in a Tong Hua novel. Where is honesty in this story?

I never once believed in Su Man’s overwhelming love for Song Yi, which drove her to fake a resume to go work at the same company. Already she’s lost major brownie points for me in being duplicitous and calculating in pursuing her dreams of being with him. Tong Hua writes it like its supposed to be “romantic” and instead comes off as creepy and pathetic. At thirty, and being smart and successful and pretty, Su Man needs to have a life instead of wallowing in girlish dreams of the past. She constantly overlooks everything Lu Li Cheng does for her and just pins all her attention on a guy that is so spineless he might as well be a jellyfish.

I’m not saying Su Man needs to pick Lu Li Cheng because he’s awesome and loves her and is always there for her (which he is all of the above). But at least have Su Man NOT pick Song Yi, and go along with her life until the right guy comes along. Su Man left Beijing at the end of the novel because the city carried so much pain for her – the death of both of parents happened when she lived there, the whole thing with Ma La Tang and Song Yi, and the general exhaustion with the rat race and wanting a quieter life to heal. If she wanted to emotionally recover and move on, then picking Song Yi makes no emotional sense. He’s everything she ought to be leaving behind. My takeaway is that Tong Hua forces an ending that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Maybe Su Man is being true to herself, but then that makes Su Man a heroine I pretty much roll my eyes at. She needs to get a life AND grow a backbone.

Despite unleashing my ire on this novel, I am strangely totally excited about the drama adaptation. I especially love the pairing of Wallace Chung and Janine Chang, plus I think that not reading the story from Su Man’s inane perspective will make it more palatable. In general makjang stuff works better onscreen anyway, with all the crying and disbelief and hidden longing. Paired that with the rumors that the story will be different than the novel (even Tong Hua said so, saying that the drama will be using the novel just as a basis but building upon that in its own way), I’m game to check out the drama and see if this story works for me in a different medium and with some tweaks. For now, avoid the novel like the plague. And I suggest Tong Hua stay away from the modern era and stick with her bread and butter – the historical epic love stories.

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Review of Secrets Hidden in Time by Tong Hua: A Sodden Makjang Mess of a Modern Novel — 41 Comments

  1. HAHA…. thanks Ms. Koala! I’ll stay away from the novel then!! BUT… I do love those pics from your post!! Like you, I am looking forward to the drama and they better change the ending!!

  2. Ironically, I just posted my rant on the spcnet forums. Here’s a shortened version:

    After hearing this, I am RELIEVED. I just finished the novel via audiobook and I am very upset, beyond upset, I’m furious!

    The ending was just terrible, not in a ‘wow, I just wasted four hours of my life’ way but rather a ‘I want to throttle the author’ kind of way. I think Tong Hua has a mean sadistic streak in her because all her incredible leading men have dreadful endings – Eighth Prince in BBJX, Meng Jiu in DMY, Liu Fu Ling and Meng Jue in YZG, and now even the delightful, caring Lu Li Cheng!

    After I finished the book, I was incredulous that Tong Hua would actually let Su Man go back to that two-timing jerk Song Yi, especially when Lu Li Cheng was obviously a much better choice. All her other heroines are very forward thinking and independent, but Su Man just rubs me the wrong way. She’s too desperate. Who in their right mind would throw away everything to pursue a man that she’s never even talked to before? Who in their right mind would even love someone they haven’t talk to for ten years? Also, she should have exposed Song Yi right away and save both her and Ma La Tang some unnecessary heartbreak. Even if Song Yi had told her about his previous relationship with Ma La Tang’s half-sister, Su Man should have know that no good would have come out of Song Yi just using Ma La Tang as a replacement and once a cheater/liar, always a cheater/liar. There are plenty more fish in the sea. Just trash him and find a better man, I say. I thought that maybe she finally grew a backbone when she left Song Yi and Lu Li Cheng to seek out her own life, but then what happens? She accepts him back and actually gets married to that undeserving Wang Ba!!!!

    My poor Lu Li Cheng…

    Okay, I’ll stop ranting. I will share some of my favorite scenes with you:

    Su Man asks Lu Li Cheng to pretend not to know her. He agrees but then tells her that if she works overtime she can get her travel fees reimbursed. She turns around to thank him but then realizes that they were supposed to act as strangers.

    Su Man is waiting for a taxi and Lu Li Cheng pulls up next to her and asks if she wants a ride. She says no, but he didn’t leave, ignoring the honking cars behind him. Embarrassed, she jumps into his car.

    Apparently Su Man and Lu Li Cheng got caught in a compromising situation so there are rumors flying around the office about them. Lu Li Cheng says that it isn’t a big deal, let them gossip. Su Man retorts that it’s okay because he is a guy, so he just gets one more conquest added to his list but she, a girl, gets shamed in front of everyone. She also says that it’s a good thing that her boyfriend didn’t hear about this. Lu Li Cheng says that if she had to explain such a thing to her boyfriend, he obviously doesn’t know her well enough and that she should dump him right away.

    Lu Li Cheng pretends to be Su Man’s boyfriend after she first finds out about Song Yi’s betrayal.

    When Su Man meets Lu Li Cheng’s nephew, who calls her auntie, even though she is only seven years older than him. She complains to Lu Li Cheng that she actually considers herself in the same generation as his nephew.

  3. When I got to the kidney failure, I stopped reading and just skimmed and jumped to the end. And then I found out that she ended up with SY, I was like WTH!!! but I decided to give up trying to understand SM. I agree with you that the only positive thing from this story is LLC. I didn’t like the novel but am excited about the drama after hearing news that it might have a different ending (and cute/hot Wallace Chung playing LLC XD)

  4. lol Why’d Tong Hua even come back to write an epilogue like that? I think it would have been better without it, can just think that she might finally end up with Lu Li Cheng.

    I think Tong Hua is best in historical too cause she’s a great weaver. The things she does with a historical backbone is amazing. lol Let’s just forget she wrote this. I wonder how her other modern story (The Time Never Back) fairs. That one seems to have alot of people like it.

    • The Time Never Back is quite good, and completely different to this one. I quite liked it, the best thing about Secrets is LLC. I’m thinking TH has a grudge against a guy with the same name or sth, that’s why she came back and wrote that nonsense epilogue.

  5. “I just have to point out how apropos that the acronym for the English title of this book is SHIT.” Bwahahaha. Oh Koala, you crack me up.

    What a messed up story – and what a pathetic heroine. What successful 30 year old woman is still hung up on her first love to the point of committing fraud in order to stalk him? How sad and creepy. Maybe all the makjang bizarro twists are because in modern times there is no war and royalty to provide the epic love stories complete with tragic separations and conflicts between love and duty that Tong Hua seems to love so much? Of course I haven’t read any of her stories, I’m going from your excellent summaries/recaps, but it seems like she loves that kind of stuff. But it really works better in a historical context.

    As far as the ending – WTF, is all I can say. They had better change the ending, to give this drama any chance of being decent.

  6. You got me with, “. . . acronym for the English title of this book . . .” HA! Thank you for another entertaining write up.

  7. Wow, I just have to say, dang, all of that–plotwise has been done already…same old story like some of the other dramas I’ve seen… it’s not so original at all. Why is the main character in here so weak? and her taking SY back? Really? some things are forgiveable but others aren’t—like a guy who says he likes you but so weak he can’t make up his mind and dated your bestfriend behind your back? Bullshiet. I don’t believe it. Thanks for summarizing this book. I’ll watch the ending of the adaptation of the book just to see what they did with the ending–who ended up with who. LOL 😛

  8. I think she is addicted to tragic endings…it would have been fine without the epilogue but instead we regress. No one regresses in her period works and all that tragedy works better in the past LOL

  9. Can’t believe that the person who wrote Bu Bu Jing Xin and Yun Zhong Ge could produce this. Thanks for the write-up Ms K!

  10. I kinda like all the cast, they are all gorgeous but just like that??? hopeless ending.. haiyah~~ what a waste..
    definitely stay away from this drama if the ending is like that..
    I’m not sure if they will change the ending.. I’d traumatized with BBJX n SWAK ending, which both drama is said to have a different ending and end up making me disappointed.

    I watch drama to have me entertained & to make me happy, not to make me depress like this..

    • just remember after re-read all the comment..

      I prefer Li Bing Bing character in “I Do” (movie)
      successful 30 year old woman who finding a husband and very realistic..
      when her ex-boyfriend, who betray her by leaving her 7 years ago, come back for her, she didn’t even want to come back with him, but she still become his best friend at the end.
      She surely know how to choose who is the best for her.
      this ending is much more better..

  11. Wow it really does sound like a terrible story.

    I haven’t finished DMY yet but I’m almost done and I really love it so it is surprising that she wrote this. I don’t know how the publishing market works in China but if it is anything like the American market Tong Hua was probably pressured into this novel. It’s likely her publishers “forced” her to write too much too fast and/or “encouraged” her to write a modern novel versus (I’m guessing her preference) another historical. At least that is the only excuse I could think of. Well, anyway I probably will skip out on this drama adaptation.

  12. After reading your review , I can say this novel is not my cup of tea ^^
    Thanks for this review, Koala san !
    I’m eagerly waiting for the vol. 2 of YZG 🙂

  13. At the risk of sounding dumb, I enjoyed the story. I dislike the initial writing style and thought it reads like a historical novel. Su Man’s character doesn’t help because she appears too naive/juvenile for a modern woman, with an even more unbelievable hangup on her first crush . But got through the story I did, and being so “shallow”, it helped me got through the depression that was Yun Zhong Ge.

    Actually, there is only one secret in the book which is LLC’s one-sided love. I can’t seriously root for a guy who didn’t even confess so although it is bad for the book, it is good for me because it helped me get over my Tong Hua depression. The version I read goes that Ma La Tang lead Song Yi to Su Man after the 2 years. LLC actually found out Su Man location all by himself but he is one step too late. To be frank, he tried to confessed many times, including around chapter 3 or so when he sort of kidnapped Su Man. He was about to confess his “secret” when the drunk Su Man perked up at the word “secret” and confessed that she loved Song Yi. Ahhh…. **bang head on desk**.

    But I love all the scenes with LLC and here are some to share:

    When Su Man fell sick, LLC treated her to a meal at a restuarant. She happily chose the venue (spicy food) and ordered alchohol but only realised at the end that LLC tricked her into eating bland food and drinking chrysanthemum tea. Better yet, he pretended to agree to bring her to a pub only to let her eat some drowsy cough-meds, which ended in her felling asleep in his car.

    Their hilltop date, even though there is another person with them.

    LLC being so happy when Su Man waited for him outside an open bath to pass him a winter jacket.

    Su Man trying to console LLC and asking him to smoke less. LLC said “I’m waiting for my girlfriend to say that”.

    • You’re right,a guy that never able to fully confess, is very hard to root for. Maybe had he been able to do that earlier on, she might eventually turn to him.

      The scenes are very cute. I think your last one about smoking would be full of feeling. ^^

      Man I really need a light dose after reading her CXN. Totally get why you’d b happy to read this after YZG. For me, the only light enough would be DMY and I’ve went through that already. I’m out of TH stories to read, so I’m turning to other authors now.

    • Thank you Koala for creating this thread. Sorry I ranted at some other thread prior to this. I was that pissed.

      I thought Koala made a mistake but I didn’t realize there were different versions…I read your version too…the one LLC found out she’s teaching near his hometown by coincidence but was a step too late. And I was positively fuming when I realize SuMan is accepting SongYi just like that. And it was Ma La Tang who revealed SuMan’s location to SongYi. WTH! How could she be so biased? And to the man who dated her even though he never loved her. And it annoyed me no end that both girls declare that “they never for one moment blame him…” I’m so speechless. It’s like SongYi is so bloody perfect – which is like the biggest BS I’ve read in years.

      SongYi has no passion for his work (he’s not even ambitious), hung up on a girl so messed up (and he wasn’t even aware! – so much for being smart!) and never got the courage to be forthright in his feelings for Su Man even as he was courting her. Date an ex-gf’s sister out of guilt…it’s not even noble idiocy…just plain mindboggling idiocy.

      The only fault I find with LLC is that he smokes way too much. But of course he claims he’s waiting for someone to stop him – so I cut him some slack. I’m not sure it would help if he confessed his feelings, with SuMan being such an utter blockhead with a heart seemingly only for SongYi. But I like their first meeting and their little vacation together – where he even got a kiss and they got pretty close. But the ending. I freaking HATE it. I wished I never read it….such a waste of my time…TongHua must really despise her second male leads. She gets crueler every book. Before the guys lose the girl through their own choice, so I have no complains, but here LLC was…NOTHING! In the end, HE embodies the bloody secret hidden in time. I suppose maybe it was meant to be cheeky twist or something, but I am so not impressed.

      And the story? It was really boring in the beginning with all the financial stuffs.. And all that makjang stuffs only emerged in the last 3 or 4 chapters…the ludicrousness of it all made my head spin.

  14. I was forever changed after I heard a 2 hr rant on SHiT from my former TH fangirl cousin. I was almost done with DMY back then…she also raved till I caved and read it. I tried this for a chapter to see how unbelievably horrible. Even though I didn’t read a page more, but it’s alarming how I’ve heard every word you said and know it’s so very true.

    So, I’m stalled with YZG for a month now because of the distaste SHiT is transferring and interfering even after I took quite a break fr TH, I come to terms the more TH I read, I’m moving more and more towards a non-fan. I can’t help it. I’ve made peace YZG is just not meant to be my read.

  15. Thanks for the review. Was comtemplating on reading this since I heard about Secrets being adapted into a drama, but now I’m glad I started. With an ending like that, I’m definitely staying far away from Secrets. Initially, I high high opinions of Tong Hua b/c of the raves and Bu Bu, but the more I find out about her books, the less of a fan I become.

  16. No, Tong Hua doesn’t hate her male leads. She might like to torment her readers, but she screws over first and second male leads alike with equal aplomb.

    Lu Li Cheng is the male lead of Secrets. He has more page time and TH has confirmed he’s the lead.

    Meng Jue is similarly the lead of Yun Zhong Ge, he has more than double the page time from Ling gege.

    • yeah…I figured as much by the end of the book. But I say it’s pretty amazing she made me hate almost all her characters in SHIT, whereas I could hate none of the main characters in BBJX and DMY or YG.

  17. Whilst I agree with you that this novel is Tong Hua’s worst, I have to beg to differ on your last statement- that TH’s forte is historic rather than modern stories. Her other modern novel- “Na Xie Hui Bu Qu De Nian Shao Shi Guang”- talks about the stories of youth and growing up, and is absolutely amazing, and is even better in terms of writing than BBJX (though BBJX has a more special place in my heart).

  18. WHAT does it matter to a girl
    WHO can fake a resume to get a job?
    WHAT probably ran through her mind
    WHEN it come to the excuses by Song Yi;
    WHITE lies like her resume,
    WHAT bond them together is this common traits: deserved each other!

  19. I bought the book because of the review I read from here. To be honest, I have mixed feeling on the book. I could understand why the girl chose to be with at the end of the story, but at the same time, am totally fall in love with LLC. Gosh, why on earth there is no girl will fall for him!!!
    I hope, and I believe all the fan out there will wish the ending of the drama will be totally different!!

  20. The TV version ended last night. After 47 episodes, the ending left me confuse. I don’t know who ended with who. It’s so disappointing

    For the 46 episodes, I was glued to its story and was rooting for the tandem of Lu Li Cheng and Su Man. If we will base with the book version that Su Man ended with Song Yi, it is very acceptable to me if they ended together. But with the TV version, the three of them saw each other after two years and they were just staring at each other. Then they just show garden of flowers. That’s all. The ending is so abrupt.

  21. Thank you for the review of Secrets. I never read the novel but I’m currently watching the drama. I watched 33 episodes that were translated in English and I can hardly wait to see the rest. Hope the final is not like you describe it.

  22. There are 2 endings with the drama and I think they are both plausible.
    From these posts it seems like some viewers prefer ending no.2 (heroine ends up with LLC) for the realism of such an end. This ending leads to a nice concluding event as someone who is nice/noble/caring/loving/ willing to sacrifice his time and energy for a woman he loves should be rewarded.
    However, I personally think ending no.1 (heroine ends up with SY) is more challenging and therefore displayed a more sophisticated writing style from the author. This ending manages to weave our hope/optimism of true love– we should always live and love without fear of the consequences– together with our sacrificial temperament– we can suffer setbacks of any magnitude and persevere. I think as a fictional writer the ending no.1 (heroine ends up with SY) beautifully incorporates both the human tendency to be self-destructive and our belief that such actions can lead us to a better/happier place because we do not loose faith in our love and in the love others have for us. Whether this is realistic or not realistic depends on each reader’s experience. But I think this ending shows how the author successfully merged different realities/themes to make a final statement.

  23. I got the impression that TH was trying to show that song yi and su man are fated to be together no matter how crappy they both are. Beside I think they both should be together as well. LLC is too good for Su man.

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