Sweet Lord I'm glad I wasn't born in pre-revolution China!
I can't really list the passages I loved, because I didn't necessarily love any part of this book. I know it's a classic; I know Oprah loves it; but still, I would rank this just slightly above an "eating my vegetables" book (i.e., one I read because I think it's good for me, even though I'm not necessarily enjoying it at all)... I actually did get wrapped up in the story and the characters, and it provided a window into a place and time I know very little about. But the prose was pretty simple and straightforward, so I wasn't marveling at the beauty of any particular sentence or paragraph. Instead, my 21st century sensibilities just kept dropping my jaw at parts like these:
"When the rich are too rich there are ways, and when the poor are too poor there are ways. Last winter we sold two girls and endured, and this winter, if this one my woman bears is a girl, we will sell again. One slave I have kept--the first. The others it is better to sell than to kill, although there are those who prefer to kill them before they draw breath."
"You are a foolish child to be forever thinking of this. You have grown fond and too fond of your wife and it is not seemly, for a man ought not to care for his wife that his parents gave him above all else in the world. It is not meet for a man to love his wife with a foolish and overweening love, as though she were a harlot."
"And what if it be not a grandson but a girl!"
"Well, and if it is a grandson I will pay for a new red robe for the goddess, but nothing will I do if it is a girl!"
Sheesh. And some people think merely being the middle child is bad...