I have fallen in love with a novel.
A Chinese novel to be precise.
As my first foray into Chinese novels, I randomly picked up Grabbing Your Hand, Dragging You Away. The synopsis is just so intriguing I couldn’t resist. I considered other novels but my mind continued to wander on this title until I finally gave in.
Translations thanks to XIA0XIAO1MEI:
I am a princess, moreover, I am a fool of a princess.
Born in the imperial palace, my appearance is as average as that of the white radish and cabbages in the fields. Throughout the four seasons of the year, my face is always displaying a dull expression, eyes forever shrouded in haze.
But in reality, I know of the secrets within this palace.
Including hers, his, and theirs.
Just leisurely living my days comfortably in the palace like this, I firmly believe I can continue to play dumb to the end.
Who wouldn’t want to know how this kind of main character plays out?
Might contain spoilers so proceed with caution!
The princess in question is An Ke Lan. Originally someone from the modern times, she is reincarnated as the Fifth Princess from the olden times with all of her past memories intact. It reminded me so much of They say I was Born the King’s Daughter which I really love. But their similarity only ends in transmigration because Ah-Lan is so darn lazy and sarcastic. She could only get away since she is pretending to be a fool.
Though that makes her more intriguing. So other than being a foolish princess, I was also intrigued by how her past life affects Ah-Lan. Despite her detached and carefree persona, she hinted a lot of pain she carries.
The story started out with her being sold in a wealthy merchant’s household to be a maid. It was fun to read how she stunned everyone with her wit in that expressionless face of hers. Ah-Lan, ah, Ah-Lan. I will follow you in all of your runaway adventures www.
In all of her adventures, she accumulated a bunch of eligible bachelors fawning around her. It was hard to ship any of them at first because they all have their hidden agendas. While each guy has their share of sweet and bittersweet moments, they are all very forceful too. I’m not really fond of those kinds of leads. Thank goodness, Ah-Lan is such an unyielding lass to not bend down from all of their forcefulness.
So let’s talk about the guys.
Yuwen Rui – Ah-Lan’s Eldest Cousin. He’s been with her the longest and has been her number 1 bully since they were kids. Like all the guys around Ah-Lan, I doubted his intentions. I wasn’t sure if I’d wanted him as the male lead
But then since I couldn’t guess the male lead in the first few chapters, I took a peek at the last chapter and spoiled myself. I know, I know. Spoiling yourself is not good. But hey, that spoiler made me want to read more. You see, Ah-Lan was so persistent about being the onlooker. She’s even more persistent about not involving herself with romance due to some circumstances in her past life. On the other hand, Yuwen Rui had a flourishing career at such a young age. He is not somewhat you want to mess with since he has everything in his hand. So when Ah-Lan first disappeared and he came in like a knight-in-shining-armor, I thought he was just being protective of her. Also, I thought he might be messing with her because he’s been tricking her since childhood. So how could they end up together?!
A lot of other guys came in between them but they all have their own goals. At the same time, they swore their undying love for Ah-Lan. But the main difference of Yuwen Rui from them was that there’s just Ah-Lan for him. Screw everything else. Ah-Lan first, everything comes in second place. Yes, even power, fame, and money. And yes, he was that confident that with his skills and brains, he’ll still get all those material things but there’s only one Ah-Lan.
Of course, who wouldn’t love their bickerings? If there is someone whom Ah-Lan can’t win against with, that would be her dear Eldest Cousin.
Oh and let me share you this from the translator:
The title and the final line of the description is basically playing on the original phrase of 执子之手，与子偕老 (zhí zǐ zhī shǒu, yǔ zi xié lǎo) which roughly translates to taking your hand, and together we shall grow old – it speaks of mutual trust in companionship, which can be between friends, family but is most often used as a vow between lovers. Whereas the title and the final line of the description is a playful twist to this original phrase. The entire final line in Chinese is 执子之手，将子拖走。子说不走，很好，关门放狗 (Zhí zǐ zhī shǒu, jiāng zi tuō zǒu. Zi shuō bu zǒu, hěn hǎo, guān mén fàng gǒu) can mean differently depending on the context, but here, it is basically saying – I’m trying to drag you away for your own good yet you wouldn’t, fine, I have no choice but to force you to leave then – both phrases are showing the same affection, just in different ways
The meaning of the original phrase which speaks of mutual trust in companionship very much fits Ah-Lan and Yuwen Rui’s relationship. Ah-Lan had long distrusted relationships so she was unable to accept any romantic feelings the guys give her. For her, the people closest to her were the ones who could hurt her the most. But with Yuwen Rui, after everything they have gone through, he proved to be someone who brings back her trusts in a relationship. He removed everything that could make her doubt him.
On a lighter note, the last part might mean something about the ending where… that is something you should be reading www. It makes a lot more sense when you do. But I also think that the line means something about taking Ah-Lan back after she runs away. After every time she disappears, no matter how long and no matter where Yuwen Rui will always come to drag, I mean, take her back.
Next guy will be He Lian Chen – Emperor of the Yun Zhan Kingdom. When Ah-Lan left Yun Zhan, part of me wanted to know what happens to him. I admit, a tiny part of me, hoped that he’ll be good enough to be with An Lan. Perhaps I read the last chapter wrong. I might have seen Yuwen Rui’s name but who knows, the latter part contained He Lian Chen as the last guy standing. But another part of me hesitated to want him as the male lead. Sure, under his domineering and arrogant features lie a softie. His care for An Lan might even be comparable to that of Yuwen Rui.
But like I said above, Eldest Cousin has a big advantage than the rest of the guys. He Lian Chen, while he can be sweet towards Ah-Lan, it felt like she’s more of a trophy for him. Like she’s not a person but an embodiment of achievement that might fill up the hole in his chest. He feels that she could be his anchor because of her wit and personality. Sad to say, all he was thinking was his ambition and how to keep the position. Ah-Lan is just a side character. And seeing him in the last showdown goes to show how he really isn’t someone who can make her open up her heart.
But I still love He Lian Chen and I do miss An Lan’s adventures while in Yun Zhan. If only he isn’t too rash and hot-headed and can be sweet and caring at all times.
The last guy is the first guy I meet in the story, Meng Shao Jue. He is the Young Master at the Meng Household where Ah-Lan worked as a maid. He is flirty and suave, girls falling for him, but with an air of loneliness. Or so what he wants people to think. Because right when I read about him in the first chapters, I know he is up to no good. He is too sly. Too cunning to even have the guts to use Ah-Lan for his goals.
…and I sort of wanted him to have Ah-Lan as well because you know, classic playboy young master.
But like what An Lan thought, despite everyone telling her that Meng Shao Jue was serious about her, he already used her too much for his advantage. He planted seeds of doubts in Ah-Lan’s already distrustful heart. Can you blame our heroine for not taking his love seriously?
Like He Lian Chen, there were more important matters for Meng Shao Jue than Ah-Lan. He was far consumed with his vengeance that he’ll do anything for it. Ah-Lan only comes second. She has to wait for him to settle everything first.
If He Lian Chen and Meng Shao Jue want to have Ah-Lan or an Ah-Lan, maybe they should start seeing and treating her like a human being and not a possession or a pawn for their grand schemes.
Aside from An Lan, whom I love the most, there are 3 more characters I loved in this series.
Meng Ying Lu – the Young Lady from the Meng estate where Ah-Lan worked as the maid for her pet. Also the sister of Meng Shao Jue. She is the first friend Ah-Lan made in this world. The Young Lady acted brashly at first but is actually a sweetheart. I was sad when Ah-Lan returned the first time to the palace because she might not see Ying Lu at all. Apparently, as fate would have it, their paths crossed again in different dire times. All those times, these two ladies proved that no matter what they are bffs.
Xiao Hei – Ying Lu’s pet. This little guy is just adorable and fun to read.
He Xing Yan – He Lian Chen’s brother. Also a fool. But like Ah-Lan, he is only acting like one. He is another fun character to read! One of the reasons why I enjoyed reading Ah-Lan’s adventures while in Yun Zhan is because she meets this prince.
Ah-Lan, Ying Lu, and Xing Yan should have a field day of their own. It’ll be soooo fun.
Super minor character but he has a major part in giving Ah-Lan trauma. Yan You. Well, who would have thought that he’ll also time-travel? This unfortunate lad came to this lifetime a little too late. Perhaps around the time when Ah-Lan recognized her feelings for Yuwen Rui. It’s sad to see that despite his repentance, he’ll never have Ah-Lan.
It was a fun, fun ride. So fun I’d want to give it a go again. Maybe once I stop drowning with my feels, I could do it? Hmm?