Fangirling Chinese Novels

One Life, One Incarnation: Beautiful Bones (一生一世美人骨) — Chapter 13.2



One of my favourite chapters. Beautiful imagery, poignant lines, thought-invoking words. (Hence, I’m sure you can guess that I have some “additional comments.” 😉)

Chapter 13.2 – Mysteries that Could Not Be Unraveled (2)

Since her fall overboard into the water, Zhousheng Chen was even more cautious regarding the people he arranged to be with her.

If she wanted to walk about in the old manor, the young girl and Uncle Lin would accompany her. Sometimes, Shi Yi would find it troublesome and would be even more content to stay in her own room, thinking, once Ghost Month was over, things would be fine.

After all, in Shanghai, she still had her own circle of friends, but here, aside from Wenxing, she truly did not have anyone she could really talk to. Then again, this also was a quiet place for her to focus and write her book.

There were times where she would write several thousand words in one day. She would then pick the passages that she felt were good and copy them again onto the actual paper she was using.

Each word, each sentence was carefully chosen.


Zhousheng Chen’s mother’s manner towards her was truly starting to change slowly.

At times, she would even invite her to have tea with her.

She was afraid Zhousheng Chen would worry, so she would only go when he could accompany her. Fortunately, she had the excuse that her “health was not very good.” Otherwise, if her own parents ever found out, they would reprimand her for being disrespectful to an elder.

His mother would always prepare highly nutritious foods or herbal medicines specifically for her alone to eat and would tell her to consume them there before her.

This practice was very odd and was the same as Zhousheng Chen’s, where, if she needed to eat or use something, he needed to personally watch before he could set his mind at ease.

“I heard Wenxing mention that you have read many ancient and classic books?” his mother asked her after waiting for her to set down her spoon.

“I have read some,” she smiled. “I find the writing in classical texts very beautiful.”

“Which ones do you tend to like most?”

“A wide variety. Hmm… I have probably read anything that has been published and is available on the market. And also some books from private collections.”

She did not enjoy having overly complicated interpersonal relationships, and as a result, in the twenty-odd years of this life, most of her time had been spent in reading about the rise and fall of dynasties and the poetry and songs that had followed after that lifetime.

“I am very fond of girls who read.” With a slight smile, his mother looked at her.

In all this time, this was the first form of approval his mother had given her.

She smiled.

“However… I still maintain my stance: you are not suitable for this family of ours.” His mother’s eyes were fixed on her as she continued, “You have a very good family. It is not one of distinguished or influential personages but still is an erudite family. Your mother and father have a harmonious relationship. You do not have any brothers or sisters. The social circle of your adulthood is not complicated. You have fixed routines, fixed activities – a very regular lifestyle – and a career that very much suits your wishes. Correct?”

She pondered this briefly. “Yes. I spend weekends with my parents. On workdays, the morning is spent reading while the afternoon through to midnight or so is spent in the recording studio, where I only need to face the script and the recording engineer.”

Zhousheng Chen’s eyes flicked over toward her.

He seemed as if he wanted to prevent his mother’s questioning, but for some reason, he abandoned the idea.

“Besides your relationships with your classmates, other voice actors, your supervisors, and your neighbours and friends, your social circle has never expanded, yes?”

“Yes.” Her reply was given in a serious manner. “I like to use my time for professional voice acting or reading. For the remaining time, most of it is spent with my parents. Therefore, simple types of relationships are very suitable for me.”

Zhousheng Chen’s mother smiled slightly, “You have organized and arranged your life very well, and it is very stable. Why don’t you return to that once more and continue with your life?”

Shi Yi was taken aback momentarily. She wanted to say something but was stopped.

“Miss Shi Yi, listen to what I have to say.” The bearing she carried in her very expressions was certainly not something that came about overnight. “Let me give you an example. Ten years ago, a ship left a certain coastal port. Its passengers all were involved primarily in underground businesses, which diverge into all sorts of matters including politics, mineral resources, land, gems and jewelry, drugs, and arms trade.”

She remembered, similar words had once been spoken by Zhousheng Chen.

It had been in regards to the death of Xiao Ren’s birth mother.

“And the owner of this ship was the Zhou family.” His mother tugged her shawl slightly tighter. She seemed to be pulling up the memories. “That time, nineteen people died aboard the ship, one of whom belonged to the Zhou family – that was Xiao Ren’s mother – while the remaining were all outsiders. The funds and resources that circulated through the casino totaled up to several billion in U.S. dollars. And we, on our own ship, seized the opportunity to enter Iran’s automobile market as an authorized agent. At the same time, we also seized the rights to the only independent tellurium deposit in the world.”

His mother paused slightly, instructing someone to bring a new tea.

It was Bright Moon in the Jade-Colored Mountain Stream Tea[1].

“When you listen to this, does it sound like those movies that you provide the dubbing for?” His mother motioned for her to drink her tea.

Shi Yi gave a slight nod of her head.

Such a concrete example that very easily illustrated the lifestyle in the Zhou family. All that she had once surmised was now confirmed. This was a completely different family that lived “underground” and possessed its own empire.

Indeed, it did sound more like a story.

It was so far-removed from real life that when she heard this, it only seemed like a thing of tales.


“Your ability to accept and adapt is very good. At least, during last time’s incident, your response was very respectably appropriate.” Zhousheng Chen’s mother sighed lightly, and her voice grew gentler. “But, you have not been able to become accumstomed to the Zhou family’s lifestyle, correct?”

Shi Yi simply gave an “mm.”

Unable to become accustomed to it and unable to agree with it.

His mother smiled indifferently, not speaking any further.

To merely touch on what needed to be said, and then to leave it at that. She had already said all that she wanted to say. The politics, the current balance of power, and the various social relationships aside, if this girl had seen the corpse of Zhousheng Ren’s mother at the time, it would have caused her to completely breakdown.

And that was not even mentioning all those family rules and underground exchanges that functioned outside of the law or conventional codes of human conduct.

Shi Yi looked over at Zhousheng Chen, holding a teacup in his hand and wearing a black shirt, white trousers, and black, metal frame glasses. When he drank his tea, when he spoke, when he did anything, there really was nothing special. Just like when she had stood outside the research institute in Xi’an and watched him, wearing his white laboratory coat, stride toward her.

Stern, meticulous, and low key, be it in his lifestyle or his work.

She had once asked him why he had devoted himself to research. His answer had been, so that he could do something that could be beneficial to even more people.

She very clearly remembered these words of his. Every sentence he had spoken to her, she very clearly remembered.

And hence, she was very resolute.

She was capable of staying by his side, to be with him as he did the things he truly wanted to do.


Zhousheng Chen had not participated in the entire discussion between Shi Yi and his mother.

At times, when he was tired, he would merely prop his elbow on the arm of the chair, remove his glasses, and lightly massage the bridge of his nose and the center point between his brows, or occasionally, he would look over at Shi Yi. After his mother had finished saying what she wanted to say, the topic quickly turned back to literature and poetry. When Wenxing arrived with Tong Jiaren and heard their conversation, they also joined in with great interest. This time, it was not only Tong Jiaren. Even Wenxing brought up the painting Shi Yi had once made and the praise that uncle had given her.

“Elder Chen is my old friend.” His mother was smiling as she recalled, “A very haughty and aloof person. Very rarely will he praise anyone.”

“Sister-in –– … “ Wenxing managed to cut herself off in time. “Miss Shi Yi, I honestly really want to see that painting of yours. Too bad it was given to Uncle Chen.”

Tong Jiaren let out a little laugh. “Why don’t you paint another one today so it can be kept here in the Zhou manor?”

“Oh, yes.” Wenxing beamed at Shi Yi. “Is that okay, Shi Yi?”

She did not really mind.

Just as she was about to agree to it, Zhousheng Chen suddenly spoke up. “Painting consumes a great deal of strength and energy. Her body still has not recovered yet.”

“That’s true.” Wenxing was somewhat disappointed.

“But,” he said in a steady voice as he offered another suggestion, “I can try to recreate it.”

His voice was level, as if this was a very simple task.

Everyone was rather surprised. After all, the painting had been put away immediately after it was completed. Even if he had seen it before, it had only been that sole instance on that day. To recreate a painting that you had only seen once was something that was easy to say you would do, but to truly put brush to paper would be very difficult.

Shi Yi was also somewhat hesitant until she saw him stand by the writing desk and bring his brush to paper.

Initially, it was reed, a single stem with many leaves.

Layer after layer was painted before he paused, as if he was remembering.

When the base of the reed was finished, the tip of the writing brush paused again. The brush was cleansed in water, then dipped lightly in ink. When the brush was brought back to the paper, it immediately created the lotus flower painted in the “boneless” style she had once painted. He was very focused, and his entire back was perfectly straight. His gaze looked through the lens of his glasses and fell upon the xuan paper in front of him.

A single stem of a lotus flower.

It was similar, yet at the same time, different.

The lotus flower and reed previously created by her brush had used brush strokes that were more light and graceful. It had been like the single lotus flower remaining in the pond at summer’s end. Pure, but somewhat aloof.

But now, the brushwork in this painting was more charming and uninhibited, like the first lotus that blossoms in early summer.

The atmosphere of the scene reflected the atmosphere of the heart.


Zhousheng Chen’s mother smiled and sighed that, although the mood of the painting was different, it already 70 to 80 percent resembled the original. Wenxing and Tong Jiaren were both staring at the painting, entranced, each of them lost in her own thoughts. Tilting his head slightly to the side, Zhousheng Chen looked at Shi Yi. “Does it look like it?”

Shi Yi was unable to speak, and so she smiled lightly. She only knew to gaze at him.

He cared about her. All this time, he had steadfastly abided by his promise made at the very beginning: to sincerely learn how to care about, treasure, and love her.

With only a single, hurried viewing, he was already able to bring a brush to paper and create the painting.

Had he not paid purposeful attention, this would have been very difficult to do.


Zhousheng Chen’s eyes were also on her. Smiling, he changed brushes, and then, on the side of the painting, he wrote some words:

See there the purity of the lotus, and know then that the heart is untainted.[2]

This was Meng Haoran’s[3] line of poetry.

She recognized it and also knew the connotation behind that line:

You can see, the lotus flower grows up out of the mud, yet still remains unsullied. So should you also caution yourself to not allow the world’s views to trap you, but to hold true to your own heart.

Simple words, yet each word in that line struck her heart.

Her gaze shifted from the painting over to him.

“This is a line by Meng Haoran?” Wenxing was thrilled when she realized that she recognized it. “It’s very fitting for this painting.”

Tong Jiaren also smiled and echoed in a soft voice, “Yes, very fitting.”

Within the room, only Zhousheng Chen’s mother and Shi Yi could understand what he was saying through this line of poetry by Meng Haoran.

He had not participated in the discussion earlier.

However, it was not because he was compromising.

What he did, who he chose, from beginning to end, would never change.


See there the purity of the lotus, and know then that the heart is untainted.

The Shi Yi in his heart was this Shi Yi, who was like so. His Shi Yi.


[1] 碧涧明月 “bi jian ming yue.” Green tea. Its existence has been recorded as far back as the Qin- Han dynasties (~2000 years ago) and flourished in the Tang dynasty.

[2] Line from the poem, 《题大禹寺义公禅房》 “Master Yi’s Chamber in Dafu Temple” by Meng Haoran.

[3] 孟浩然 Meng Haoran, also known as Meng Hao-Jan, was a Tang dynasty poet.


Additional Comments:

I told you I really liked the scene when Shi Yi first made that painting, but I absolutely love this re-creation of it. It’s like a mirror image. When Shi Yi first painted it, she had been absorbed in her own memories of him. The painting was, in some ways, an expression of those memories — the man who in her mind was like the pure lotus flower. And now, as Zhousheng Chen stands and makes the same painting, he is remembering her, her every movement, every detail. His painting is an expression of his feelings for her and his promise that he would learn to love her. And so he had. “All this time, he had steadfastly abided by his promise made at the very beginning: to sincerely learn how to care about, treasure, and love her.” This, right here, is what made me fall for Zhousheng Chen. Actions are a reflection of the heart, but sometimes, your actions can influence your heart. Love is not just a feeling. Love requires hard work. But how wonderful it is for Shi Yi to have someone who will work hard to love her because it means he will also work hard to maintain that love, to not fall out of love. This painting is also a demonstration of that.❤

And, ah, how I love how Zhousheng Chen fights back. A single line of poetry shows his stance and also who Shi Yi is to him. Telling his mother that he will not change who he chose and also exhorting Shi Yi to stay true and not allow herself to be influenced by the things around her. And mostly, declaring that his Shi Yi in his heart is pure and untainted.

I really appreciate how the author throws in this one little line: “The atmosphere of the scene reflects the atmosphere of the heart.” What do the two seemingly similar paintings reflect about the hearts of our leads? Shi Yi, pure and aloof, like the single lotus flower at the end of summer. This girl had spent this lifetime removed from almost everything else, for her heart was still caught in a time of the past, and now, all had faded away and her memories were the sole thing leftover from that era. But yet, her heart was pure, set only upon her goal of reuniting with him, untainted by the allure of power, wealth, etc. Zhousheng Chen, uninhibited and charming, like the first lotus blossom of summer. The Chinese words used to describe the feeling in the painting were 风流, two characters that I always bang my head against the wall trying to translate because the feeling it is supposed to give is quite complex. A bearing that is distinguished, a demonstration of talent, a sense the person is not constrained to conventional ways, a demeanour that draws people. He leads the charge, the first person to do it, acting against the constraints his family is trying to put on him. And his hard work will bring hope to the nation’s economy, like the first lotus blossom is the indication of summer.❤


1 of 1 Prologue
41 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues

51 thoughts on “One Life, One Incarnation: Beautiful Bones (一生一世美人骨) — Chapter 13.2

  1. Thank you for the chapter.

    • I’m first, again! I feel like I can barely understand all of the couples actions and feelings. There is much more to them than just simple writing.

      • You’ve caught on to my posting time, too?😉

        This story really makes you ponder. The characters all have their own stories, and while MBFB may not explicitly tell us all their feelings, we can sense that there is something going on. Hopefully, when you read further along, you’ll get some Ah-ha!” moments and be able to interpret them.🙂 Definitely not simple writing in this novel!

  2. Thank you.

    After every chapter, I’m left almost lost for words. The writing and translation leave me with an indescribable feeling of peace, calmness, introspection. It’s like a calm lake with a myriad of things going on under the surface. I used to wish I had the whole book to read in one go, but now I feel that this chapter breakdown is really allowing me to experience the magic of the story and really think about every word.

    • Indeed. I got to experience the effect of continuous reading, which is awesome, but now, translating, I get to experience not just chapter by chapter but individual word by word and line by line. I feel like every detail has been carefully chosen and placed. They can be looked over very easily, like that calm lake surface you mentioned. I have done lots of thinking about this story, as you can probably tell. :p

  3. Where can I find a guy like this? D:

  4. Such a perfect guy. I love how he indirectly gave an answer to his mother by way of a poem. Lucky Shi Yi. Now if only his mother approves of her. I would be a nervous wreck in front of that lady and would be so scared to eat anything offered by her.

    • Isn’t he? Ever the gentleman, but never a pushover.
      Me, too. Regardless of whether she liked me or not, I can just imagine her cold, commanding bearing and that is not the type of person I’d want to be around.

  5. Omg this is definitely my favorite line in the novel!!!! Love love love.❤

  6. I love your comments…’s very insightful. Thank you!

  7. ZSC he so sweet. Thank you so much!! 😘😘😘😘

  8. Wow your comments are as deep and lyrical as the chapter!

    • Thank you for the compliment.🙂 I don’t think I can even come close to MBFB’s beautiful use of imagery and poetry, but she does make me reflect a lot on what she has written.

  9. Love it… Thank you

  10. Thank you…..your translation is superb as usual…..letting us feel what the author wants the chinese literate readers to feel… this story very much….

    • Thank you. I really hope I can communicate the atmosphere the author tried to create, so thank you for your feedback.🙂 Glad you love it.❤

  11. This definitely is beautiful. Compared to erotic fifty shades of grey, I’d rather read this and be drunk with the poems and underlying feelings.

    • No question, “Beautiful Bones” is beautifully conceived and beautifully written. It flows almost like a poem, that’s how atmospheric it is and how many metaphors it contains. Still, maybe the comparison to “Fifty Shades” is unfair? Even though both novels are romances, their focus and theme and the intent of their respective writers are poles apart. And “Fifty Shades” was never intended to be great literature… just a piece of fluffy, romantic (as in: girl saves boy from himself with her love) escapism. In that capacity–as light, escapist entertainment–“Fifty Shades” has obviously hit the spot for many people. And that’s okay.🙂

    • LOL. I’ll stay away from the discussion about 50 Shades of Grey because I haven’t read the novel. I’ll just say that, we all have our personal preferences, and I’m so glad you guys love Beautiful Bones and the beautiful atmosphere the author created. Thanks for reading!

  12. Is it possible to clone a fictional character? I see why you love this book and thank you for sharing it with us!

    • Don’t we all wish we could have a Zhousheng Chen? LOL (Well, minus his crazy family!)

      I’m so glad to find people who share my love, and that’s why I share.❤ Thank you for easing!

  13. Wow. I am now basically addicted to the story and am dying of curiosity to see how it all develops further. Also, I am in awe at the wonderful writing that manages to draw out so many emotions from me (what a talented writer!), and I am very grateful to you for translating this story so painstakingly, with so much obvious care and affection. The writing flows as smoothly as in any professionally published novel I’ve seen (and I know and shudder at how hard you must work to prepare such wonderful text), and the footnotes with all that additional background info are like cherries on top of the cake. I love cherries.
    So again, thank you for your effort, for sharing this story, and for giving me a chance to appreciate a different kind of hero—and a different kind of love story. I never would have guessed I’d end up liking “Beautiful Bones” as much as I do. I mean, I love romance, but my mileage has always veered toward the alpha-type, possessive, cocky heroes. So to see myself first being intrigued by the geeky, anal, aloof professor ZSC, then liking him, then *gasp* actually falling for him deeper and deeper as Shi Yi rediscovers him in this life… it was the best surprise for me.🙂

    • The connection I feel has always been a been a standout point of MBFB’s writing for me. Even something as fluffy as RRMY, I can sense the fun that she is trying to communicate from her personal experiences in the 2D world. Here, I feel immersed in an atmosphere that causes me to reflect.

      Thank you.🙂 I rely on reader feedback to see how well I’m translating that feel I get from the original into English, considering not just the author’s beautiful writing but also the historical, poetry, and cultural references, so your comments are very encouraging to me.🙂 I love cherries, too! LOL

      Oh yay! Zhousheng Chen is MBFB’s favorite male lead that she created to date. He is actually very intriguing, if you reflect on his background and you can’t help wondering how he turned out so different from his family. How can an aloof, gentlemanly man command such presence?

  14. like always, your comment made me speechless. …. sigh
    thank you hoju

  15. hahah wah.. this is so different from the usual books i am used to. It is definitely much better than 50 shades of grey. The author of 50 shades has the writing skills of a upper primary kid. If you notice, she only uses one or two simple sentence structure. This book on the other hand is a great piece of literature =DDDD Thank you for translating the book in such a beautiful and poetic manner which brought out the lyrical beauty of this masterpiece.

    I did not realise that the painting was a response to his mother until you commented on it. Then it hit me. Thank you so much for your handwork Hoju. I really love your explanatory notes and comments. This is one of the reasons why i would rather read your translation than read the original text.

    • I love the beautiful writing of this novel, too.🙂 Thank you. That’s a wonderful compliment coming from a fellow translator.🙂

      Tehe, novels I like are usually novels that fill me with thoughts. You guys, (un)fortunately, get to be my sounding board. That is one of my favourite parts about translating. :p Of course, if you think I’m crazy, you are free to disagree with what I write, too. Just go easy on me.😉

  16. Hoju, this chapter was so beautifully written and you did an awesome job in translating it to convey the message in between the lines (so to speak). ZSC took my breath away from his indirect response to the conversation between SY & his mom. Here the guy that didn’t say anything when his mom was sort of “bullying” his official though not yet accepted wife but then his response to this “bullying” really hit the bull’s eye. Awwwww… 😍 I have no choice but to write my comment on this chapter. Where can I find this guy in the real world??????

    I love your additional comment about love is not only a feeling & it requires work. It’s so true. I had this conversation with my friends a while back that I’m the kind of person that doesn’t believe in passionate love per se. There’s no such thing of being out of love because love is a work in progress. You’re awesome, Hoju!!!

    Now, reading this chapter also made me change the way I think about his mom. I can understand more why she doesn’t agree that SY shall be together with ZSC. His mom knows that SY’s family is definitely not compatible with ZSC’s family as SY has a normal family as opposed to this “mafia” family that seems to stuck in the min guo period. Hehehe… Everything that his family does is pretty much borderline unlawful. If I were SY, I would have run away when I found out about his family business. Hahaha… I would have told him to choose me or the family business. 😜 However, what his mom doesn’t know is that SY may have a normal family, job, etc but she’s definitely not “normal” because she remembers her past life & also seems to live in the past. If his mom ever knows about SY’s remembering her past life, I would say that she would approve their relationship right away. This makes me wonder if she’ll ever tell ZSC about their past life together in the coming chapters.

    As always, thank you for this awesome translation!!!

    • Woooh! Zhousheng Chen definitely did something amazing if he officially pulled you out of hiding.😉 Seriously, one of my absolute favourite scenes. There’s so much involved in this scene. It’s not just a single, sweet act. It shows his inner strength, unwilling to give in to what he believes is unreasonable from his mother; his care and attentiveness; his gentlemanly demeanour, with not a single yell or even arguing word, just a line of poetry; his scholarliness. It’s poetic, it’s impactful, it’s thought-provoking.❤ Haha, like I told Ritsuru, MBFB has these types of guys up her sleeve, but unfortunately, I don't think we can have them.😉

      Oh yay, a kindred spirit. It's a personal conviction of mine that love is a commitment to not give up, to always keep working on the relationship. Continue to discover or re-discover why you love the person, everyday. That's why I was so drawn to the relationship in this novel because, while everything about the underground family seems so fantastical, a love like this is one that I believe will work in the real world.

      Borderline unlawful is putting it so kindly.😉 I think most of the stuff is downright unlawful. I don't think she is exactly thinking this is for Shi Yi's own good, but rather, Shi Yi doesn't fit in with the family and can't help in what they do. I don't think the mother is an outright evil person, but she definitely puts her own self-interest first. If she learns about Shi Yi's memories, she may realize that Shi Yi would never leave Zhousheng Chen, but I don't know if that would set her mind at ease that Shi Yi could run a family like theirs.

  17. Hoju, thank you for this chapter and your additional comments!

  18. Wow…. Absolutely gobsmacked! 😯 that was awesome! Thanks.

    • I think it was even more impactful because it was done in silence! He doesn’t even need to open his mouth. Ah… So awesome, indeed!

  19. I love the poem ZSC attached with the painting. Thanks Hoju for doing a great work.

  20. I think, his mom slowly accept her.. His shi yi!! Daebak.. The lines are sooooo beautiful! I wonder what the writer thought when she wrote this novel?!

    Shi yi’s attitude toward her mother in law is something i can learn haha she’s so calm and cool! But i dont think i will marry someone from this ‘kind’ of family lols..

    As always.. Thank youuuu hoju!

    • I don’t know if she is accepting Shi Yi, but this time, at least it was more civil. Shi Yi does have such poise. Even if Zhousheng Chen’s mother never commented, she must be impressed that Shi Yi does not so much as flinch in her presence.

      Never. That’s why Shi Yi is uniquely suited for Zhousheng Chen. No ordinary girl, one not brought up in this type of environment, could handle this.

  21. What an interesting way ZSC used to tell his mum his piece of mind lol!

  22. I totally agree with your comments, hoju. Shi YI is really lucky to have someone like Zhousheng Chen, who works hard to love her and will definitely also work hard to maintain that love. Also, the way Zhousheng Chen showed his stance is really admirable ❤
    Thanks a lot for the translation, hoju~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s