Posted in Recommendation

Didn’t Love You Enough

Genre: Historical, Mature, Romance, Slice of Life, Yaoi

Summary [from NU]

This is the story about the rebirth of a xiao gōng with a sweet steamed bun-like xiao shòu.
In the past life, xiao shòu, in order to help xiao gōng block a poisonous blade, ended up dying due to blood loss.
After the rebirth of xiao gōng, xiao shòu was loved till overflowing.
This is a cliche story which is warm, sweet, no abuse.

Personal Thoughts [no spoilers]

With only four translated chapters at the moment I can’t say that I am strongly recommending this story to others yet, but I’m putting it on my radar for the fluffy sweetness that it is promising. Sometimes, I just want to read a sweet, drama-free story set in historical times. Also, the translator (YHA Translations) did a wonderful job with the first four chapters. Historical, wuxia, xuanhuan, and xianxia are some of the hardest Chinese genres to translate imo, so major props to YHA Translations for making this story flow so well in English. (Sadly, they’re dropping the project due to RL circumstances, but I’m glad they introduced me to this story nonetheless.)

The premise of this story is similar to The Wife is First. A scum gong mistreats and/or neglects the virtuous shou in his first lifetime and then tries his utmost to make amends in his second lifetime. They’re also both set in ancient times.

Problematic Elements

A reviewer bought up some troubling points about this story based on the first 4 chapters. They bashed the gong for r*ping the shou and then “falling in love” with the shou after the show’s heroic sacrifice and subsequent death. I am in total agreement, but due to a similar conversation I had with another reader over a different story, I would just like to present a different perspective. Yes, the gong did r*pe the shou in the first lifetime. As a modern person, I am not excusing him for that. But in the setting of ancient China, especially within the palace, all the women (and gers) in the palace belong to the emperor, whether they’re a maid or a concubine. So technically the emperor is “entitled” to have anyone he wants in the palace. I don’t like it, but that is the dissonance in our values. To the people of that setting, it’s okay because those are the standards and morals that they’re raised on. As for the whole “falling in love” part, I’ll address that next.

Thoughts on the Romance

The gong was complete scum at the beginning. He took the shou out of lust and then just forgot about him, leaving him to suffer. But I think the gong’s current love for the shou is very realistic, in that it’s not a pure love, but more of an idealized love. Because the shou died for the gong, the shou will always remain noble and beautiful in the gong’s memory. On top of that, none of the women in the gong’s life is truly devoted to him, so when that’s the basis for comparison, the gong will elevate the shou in his mind even more. And then, before the gong’s rebirth, he had years to lament over the shou’s sacrifice and beautify him in memory, leading to an idealized version of love.

But I think this will work out even when they reunite in person, because the shou is genuinely a good person, and even if the shou doesn’t love the gong, he still holds the gong in high esteem simply because the gong taught him a few Chinese characters. Consequently, the shou will treat the gong with respect and kindness. So even if the shou is not perfect, as long as he never does anything bad, the gong will always see him through rose-tinted lenses, and either turn a blind eye to his faults or find them cute. Under those circumstances, over time, I think it’s possible for a truer form of love to grow. At the very least, they will be devoted to each other in the second lifetime. Whether or not it will be a healthy relationship remains to be seen, but at the very least, several reviewers who read the entire story promised a fluffy romance, so I’m looking forward to that.

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