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The Cider House Rules Mass Market Paperback – January 9, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
I've only read one other book by John Irving ("The Hotel New Hampshire"), but it seems to be the case that his novels are so incredibly character-driven. As you read the books, you get the sense that he is so attuned to the people who populate his world that he could write novels centered on any of them.
Now, you are probably aware that the book is somewhat about abortion. Indeed, Irving clearly has a point to make about the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate, and it's pretty clear which side he's on. But at the same time, to say that the book is "about" abortion is like saying that "Casablanca" is about World War 2. Clearly, abortion is inextricably intertwined with the plot and the characters, but the novel is not about abortion; rather, it's about characters who have to make life decisions, including about abortion.
One final note: for better or worse, I tend not to have much patience for "literature." I've read some Dickens, but would never do so for fun. My idea of great literature is "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson. But . . . I absolutely loved reading "The Cider House Rules" and I was never bored.
I've never gotten to know the characters in a book the way that Irving allows the reader to know them. I read some reviews on Amazon.com that claimed that the book was not good because the characters were unrealistic-- I whole-heartedly disagree. Even characters that Irving could have gotten away with making one-dimensional were anything but. I think of the stationmaster who lived near St. Clouds and, without giving anything away, I will say that he had some quirks and fears that did seem a little extreme to me in the beginning. However, Irving adds background to ALL of the characters, and invites the reader to understand their traits as they would a friend. In this way, there are no bad guys or good guys in the novel-- everyone is allowed compassion and understanding. Beyond creating an interesting story, this shows that everyone that one encounters in their life has an important story behind who they are.
John Irving also weaves different issues into The Cider House Rules: abortion, friendship, family, love (especially the importance of love to a child and to a partner). And, in addition to weaving these themes and issues into the story, Irving always has different sub plots going on in different settings.Read more ›
The Cider House Rules falls beneath sublime but well above mediocre. The characters are engaging (it would be a mean reader indeed who did not root for the protagonist, Homer Wells) and the plot meanders about pleasantly. Sometimes the tearful moments seem too easy-- nobody can stay dry-eyed when a cute little orphan keels over-- but the book bravely explores the complexities of love and abortion without preaching for any particular side.
It's a good book but if you're looking for vintage Irving, head for the classics: The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire. Or track down my personal favorite, The Water-Method Man, which remains to this day the funniest book I've ever read (with the possible exception of J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed the movie and have been meaning to read the book for years but never got around to it. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Wilson Morcom
I felt like I knew the characters.after.reading. Mr Irving was a very talented writer.Published 21 days ago by jennifer j noland
I didn't realize the book would go so much into detail about abortion. I did not like that part of the storyline. Otherwise the book was goodPublished 24 days ago by Holly Adams
Well, this is one book where the movie has the overall them of the book but takes some leeway in interpretation. Read morePublished 27 days ago by ~Amazon Customer~
This book is, in my opinion, one of the great novels of the 20th century. It is readable in the way that Charles Dickens' best work is readable; full of funny, unique, lovable, and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pattio
This is the first John Irving book I've read, and I loved it. There's some descriptive passages about the mechanics of performing abortions that made me grit my teeth, but those... Read morePublished 1 month ago by RunnerGirl1970
Interesting story and surprised to see how it ended. Agree with Homer Wells that a baby in the womb has a soul and deserves to be born. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sherry R.