I think it’s such a happy coincidence that I’m translating Tong Hua‘s fantasy romance novel Lost You Forever right now, reminding me daily of all the things I love about her writing which all started with her first novel Bu Bu Jing Xin (Startling with Each Step). It’s her most famous work to-date and likely deserves all the affection it gets. She took the real life princely battle for the throne in the Emperor Kangxi era Qing dynasty and made it into a time-travel romance novel involving a few of the historical princes with a fictional leading lady. The C-drama adaptation ended up being a raging success and I was also one of the many who thoroughly loved it when it aired. A sequel has been bandied from the very beginning but getting it made turned out to be a complicated factor of aligned schedules and career interests.
In the end, the modern day sequel Bu Bu Jing Qing brought back some but not all of the BBJX cast, but you can say it managed to get the two most important returnees in Liu Shi Shi who played the leading lady Ruo Xi (or Zhang Xiao in her modern life) and Nicky Wu as 4th Prince who later ascended the throne to become Emperor Yongzheng. The sequel brings modern day Zhang Xiao back with her reincarnated 4th Prince, and I’m sure there are lots of other narratives to come in BBJQ but frankly it’s all background noise as far as I’m concerned. The thought of Ruo Xi and her 4th Prince getting a happily ever after simply can’t be topped even if it comes with other makjang filler. Ahead of its April 22nd premiere, check out the just released new set of character stills which are light years better than the first deadly dull set when the drama started filming last year.
History wasn’t kind the Emperor Yongzheng who won the throne after a heated and bloody behind-the-scenes scuffle with his brothers, and he was also sandwiched between the two longest ruling and most well-remembered emperors in Qing history, his father Emperor Kangxi and his son who would become Emperor Qianlong. But Tong Hua managed to fictionalize the life of Emperor Yongzheng to include a soulcrushing love story for the ages, so much so that the mere thought of the BBJX ending turns on my tear ducts automatically.