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The Cider House Rules Paperback – June 23, 1997
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“[Irving] is among the very best storytellers at work today. At the base of Irving’s own moral concerns is a rare and lasting regard for human kindness.”—Philadelphia Inquirer
“Superb in scope and originality, a novel as good as one could hope to find from any author, anywhere, anytime. Engrossing, moving, thoroughly satisfying.” —Joseph Heller
“An old-fashioned, big-hearted novel . . . with its epic yearning caught in the nineteenth century, somewhere between Trollope and Twain.”—Boston Sunday Globe
“The Cider House Rules is filled with people to love and to feel for. . . . The characters in John Irving’s novel break all the rules, and yet they remain noble and free-spirited.”—Houston Post
From the Publisher
How can anyone not love a book that simultaneously tells a deeply moving and compelling story AND explore the abortion debate with humor and evenhandedness? John Irving is my favorite author and while A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY is my favorite Irving title, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES is right up there. I love how deeply Irving knows these characters and how gradually he reveals their quirks and idiosyncracies. He knows and loves them so much, the reader can't help but love the ether-imbibing Dr. Larch and his surrogate son, the orphan Homer Wells. Irving is a consummate storyteller.
Ballantine Publicity --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I'll skip the plot synopsis because the plot really isn't the best thing about the novel; that would be the writing itself. I often found myself laughing out loud at Irving's delightful pith or frowning at an offhand profound insight. The characters, too, are unforgettable. After the first hundred or so pages of the novel, I was completely invested in the fates of Homer, Dr. Larch and the rest of the crew at the orphanage.
When I told people what I was reading, most of the asked, "Isn't that about abortion?" Yes and no. The Cider House Rules is definitely not subtle in its pro-abortion message, which was fine by me because I happen to feel the same way. At some points, it does kind of feel like Irving is really hitting the reader over the head with his message. He also examines the other side of the argument with Homer's anti-abortion stance, so it's not completely one-sided (just mostly). In addition to abortion, though, Irving explores relationships and makes the reader think about how much one owes to the people he loves.
I should note that I have never seen the movie and probably won't. I just don't see how my favorite parts of the book - small moments, funny phrases - could have translated onto the big screen. However, after finishing The Cider House Rules, I have made it my mission to read all of Irving's books.
But the novel is so much more than that. During the time period of this novel, set between the 1920s and the 1950s, abortion was illegal. Dr. Larch's formative years as a medical student were marked by various experiences with desperate, pregnant women, and the horrors they had to undergo at the hands of back-street abortionists who didn't know what they were doing. And so, unofficially, Dr. Larch is an abortionist, providing safe abortions for those women desperate enough to trek all the way to back-of-beyonds Maine because they have heard about the good doctor. Homer Wells, having seen the "products of conception" as they are being thrown away, and horrified at the thought of killing babies, refuses to go along with this part of his training. And this disagreement is one reason why Homer Wells, aged nineteen, finally leaves St. Clouds to go off into the wide wide world with his new chums Candy and Wally.
So there you have it. By the magic of his story-telling skills, John Irving gives us a balanced portrayal of abortion, in all of its agonies and difficulties.
So what are THE CIDER HOUSE RULES? During Homer's sojourn away from the orphanage he becomes a part of a cider making business, owned by Candy and Wally. It is his responsibility to type up these rules for the apple-pickers who come all the way from South Carolina for the seasonal job. The Cider House Rules becomes a metaphor for rules, your rules, my rules and society's rules, and how this plays out in the abortion debate.
I won't say any more so as not to spoil this story for you. But if you haven't read John Irving's THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, you are in for a treat. Five stars.
The jumping from one scene to another abruptly caught me at times and sent me to a reread.
It was a good, emotional telling about some issues around abortion and the danger we place women in by attempting to let biblical beliefs stay as rule of law.
It focuses on a young orphan and a doctor of obstetrics. It is very political but beautiful. The characters are well drawn.
It always seems presumptuous to review John Irving, since I consider him to be the greatest living author. I don't know why it took me so long to get to this book.
It is a wonderful story and as it moves through Homer Wells life, we stay fascinated with it. Great ending.
The notes after the book are also well worth reading The author explains that his grandfather was an obstetrician in the same era and area as Dr. Larch , the character in the book. Mr Irving also did the screenplay for the movie. There were academy awards for the film.
This is a must read I don't want to say more - since it would be wrong of me to give away the story. Let his wonderful words take you away.