Characterization of Tong Xue:
In the novel, Tong Xue is a young college student studying chemistry at a prestigious university, presumably in Beijing. When the novel opens, she's already a junior in college and Yueying is actually one of her dormitory roommates. This means some of the past events also get pushed back even earlier. For instance, Tong Xue's first love actually happened in high school.
The scriptwriter, Guo Baoxian, couldn't keep Tong Xue's student status in the drama because SARFT worried that the character may set a bad example for students and the young audience in China. There is nothing glorifying about a student being a rich man's mistress. So, she made Tong Xue a little older in the drama and changed her profession from a college student into a fresh graduate working at a interior design firm.
Tong Xue's personality sounds much stronger in the novel than depicted in the drama. She has very dark humor and is very sarcastic in her narration. Unlike the drama where Tong Xue rarely responds to Mo Shaoqian's kisses, Tong Xue is much more assertive in dealing with Mo Shaoqian. She uses her sexuality to her advantage to please Mo Shaoqian and try to make him tired of her so he'll let her go.
Tong Xue's "First Time":
It was a total different story in the novel. After Tong Xue was lured to Mo Shaoqian's apartment under the pretense of a tutoring session, Mo Shaoqian pretty much said the same stuff to Tong Xue, as shown in the drama, regarding her uncle's embezzlement. The biggest difference came from Tong Xue getting drugged from drinking some tea. When she woke up, she discovered herself in bed and the fact that she was no longer a virgin.
Some people probably wonder why did Mo Shaoqian even bother to drug Tong Xue? There were many ways to make Tong Xue submit to Mo Shaoqian's revenge plans. Why the drugging? Well...the author did mention on her microblog that Tong Xue was also Mo Shaoqian's first..uh hem...You get the point. He didn't want to embarrass himself and the situation to get too messy, so he decided to drug Tong Xue to make things easier for him. Clean and effective. He got the results he wanted without exerting much force.
Characterization of Mo Shaoqian:
We don't actually get to see a very sympathetic Mo Shaoqian until the very end. There are subtle clues in the beginning to imply that Mo Shaoqian is actually more complicated and kinder than described by Tong Xue. The hidden clues are sometimes too "subtle" for the readers to detect. I'm actually very happy the scriptwriter filled in the gaps about Mo Shaoqian's character.
I forgot to add that in the novel Professor Jiang revealed to Tong Xue that Mo Shaoqian was addicted to drugs for a period of time (Edit: I was mistaken into thinking that Shaoqian got addicted to drugs shortly after his father's death. The novel didn't actually specify when he got addicted. It just said his mother found out about his addiction 2 years ago and left China with him to get treatment for it). What kind of drugs? I'm assuming they were anti-depressants or painkillers. According to his mother, Shaoqian went through hell to get rid of his drug addiction. She gave him a puppy "Loveable" (dog breed in the novel was a Samoyed, not Poodle) to help him emotionally after the rehabilitation ordeal.
There was an incident in the novel where Tong Xue hurt her back and was in seriously pain, so Mo Shaoqian gave her pain medication prescribed to cancer patients in their terminal stage. YIKES! She was extremely shocked that Mo Shaoqian had those pain medication in ready supply. Actually, she was just shocked in general that such a self-controlled and prideful man like Mo Shaoqian would have a drug addiction. Due to his past drug history, less potent drugs have no effect on him. When he hurt his feet in his mad rush to take Tong Xue to the hospital, the doctors gave him the most potent painkillers.
I also heard that Fei Wo Si Cun at first designated Xiao Shan as the male protagonist in the novel. However, either she or the readers became too interested/invested in Mo Shaoqian, so she elevated him to become the #1 male lead over Xiao Shan. When you read the novel, Xiao Shan actually gets more "novel" time than Mo Shaoqian. Xiao Shan is a well-drawn out character while Shaoqian remains mysterious and "villainous"...until the last few chapters.
Tong Xue's Pregnancy:
The drama shows that Tong Xue wanted to keep her baby after dreaming about her, but had a miscarriage later. In the novel, Tong Xue did not want to keep the baby. I think she decided to get an abortion for several reasons:
- Tong Xue was still a young college student. If her school found out about her pregnancy, and she's unmarried, she would get expelled.
- Yongfei went to see Tong Xue and bragged about her "loving" marriage with Shaoqian, pleading to Tong Xue not to wreak her "happy" marriage. Tong Xue was still in the dark about Yongfei/Shaoqian's political marriage.
- Tong Xue already broke up with Shaoqian at the time. The baby would be fatherless, and she probably couldn't afford to raise a baby even if she wanted to keep the baby.
- She still hasn't forgiven Shaoqian for what he did to her, and I also think she found out the truth behind Shaoqian's revenge.
Mo Shaoqian and Mu Yongfei's Marriage:Unlike the drama where the writer set up their marriage as just business contract and legally fake, their marriage in the novel is real and legal. It is still a marriage in name only though, since Shaoqian absolutely refuses to consummate his marriage with Yongfei. I personally feel Shaoqian's hatred for Yongfei runs deeper in the novel than depicted in the drama. They have almost NADA interaction in private during their 10 long years of marriage. Mu Yongfei said in her chapter that her only way to contact Shaoqian was through his personal secretary. She could even count the number of "alone" time they spent together with her fingers. And none seems to have ended amicably, except the last time they met to sign the divorce papers. She is really quite a pitiful character. At first, I thought Tong Xue was the most pitiful character in the novel. After reading Mo Shaoqian and Mu Yongfei's chapters, they are all equally pitiful.
Mo Shaoqian and Tong Xue's Ending:
It's a happy ending for both of them in the novel. The drama left the story open, but the author actually wrote an epilogue that detailed their happy married life together. Read this epilogue here.
Lin Zixian's Ending:
In the novel, Lin Zixian’s ending is actually much more tragic than in the drama. Despite their initial collaborative relationship, she had a nasty fallout with Mu Yongfei. In fury, Mu Yongfei publicized on the internet Lin Zixian’s past sexual promiscuity and the fact that she contracted STDs (possibly HIV/AIDS). To take revenge on Mu Yongfei for destroying her reputation/life, Lin Zixian splashed acid on Mu Yongfei’s face, severely disfiguring her, and then tried to commit suicide by drinking the acid. The acid completely burned her esophagus and she ended up in a coma.