The new drama adaptation of Eileen Chang’s melo novel, Affair of Half a Lifetime, has been ongoing for two years already and it has finally kicked off filming today! There are two other adaptations: a movie version (Eighteen Springs) with Leon Lai, Anita Mui and Jacklyn Wu, and a drama version in 2003 with Ruby Lin, Patrick Tang, and Jiang Qin Qin. I’m iffy about the novel because of the story line but hopefully, they will edit out a huge chunk of the crapshow the female lead goes through? Because how could you put a person through that much, right?
Synopsis from the 2003 version: (Get ready for dog blood storyline!) The story is set in Shanghai, China, during the 1930s and 1940s. It centers around two sisters from a struggling family, Gu Manzhen (Ruby Lin) and her older sister, Gu Manlu (Jiang Qin Qin). A college graduate, Manzhen finds true love with one of her colleagues, Shen Shijun (Patrick Tam). Meanwhile, Manlu, the oldest of four children, supports the entire family. At the age of seventeen, Manlu sacrificed her pride and reputation to become a nightclub hostess. The job helps support Manlu’s family, but others find her work disgraceful and look down on Manlu. Even her own grandmother does not her job. Originally, before she takes up her work as a nightclub hostess, Manlu was to marry a respected doctor named Zhang Yujing. However, they are forced to part and Manlu eventually marries a comparator (Zhu Hong Ca) instead.
Manlu realizes that she is barren, and fearful for her marriage arranges her sister to be raped by her husband after finding out that Zhu is attracted to her sister. Manlu also lies to Shijun, saying Manzhen has rejected his love because of the disparity between their statuses, thus forcing them to be apart. Manzhen eventually escapes from her abusive family after she gives birth to her son with Zhu, but afraid to contact Shijun in fear of the consequences if he finds out, marries his maternal cousin Shi Cuizhi. Having failed to maintain her chastity for Shijun, Manzhen hopes for the best of his marriage with Shi, and settles somewhere as a recluse and becomes a schoolteacher.
Eventually, both Manlu and Zhu feel remorse of their misdeeds toward Manzhen, and Manlu begs her sister to come back to raise her nephew/stepson with her husband after they locate her, asking for forgiveness before she dies. Despite still hating them for the rape, Manzhen stays with Zhu for the sake of their son.
By chance, Manzhen and Shijun reunite in Shanghai, and both talk of each other’s lives years after their separation. Knowing that they still love each other, but due to the restrictions of their respective obligations, both Manzhen and Shijun realize that they cannot be together. (Really now….)
Booting Ceremony 10/6:
Directed by Zhong Shu Jia (Fighter of the Destiny), the new adaptation plans to have 40 episodes.