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The Cider House Rules by John Irving
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The Cider House Rules (1985)

by John Irving

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,021130431 (4.08)276
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» See also 276 mentions

English (119)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Lithuanian (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (130)
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
Digital audiobook performed by Grover Gardner

From the book jacket: Irving’s sixth novel is set in rural Maine, in the first half of the 20th century. It tells the story of Dr Wilbur Larch – saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St Cloud’s, ether addict and abortionist. It is also the story of Dr Larch’s favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted.

My reactions
I love Irving’s writing, and don’t know why this one languished on my TBR for so long. I saw the movie back when it first came out (1999), but never read the book. The movie left out a lot and compressed the timeline.

The span of the novel is about 70 years, taking Dr Larch from a young man to his death in his 90s. Much changes in the world, and yet his little corner of the world sees little difference. Pregnant women come to give birth, their children coming into the care of the orphanage, with every effort made to place them in loving families. Other women come seeking an end to their pregnancies, and Dr Larch accommodates them with compassion and skill.

What I really like about the novel is how the characters are portrayed. The reader gets a clear idea of how Dr Larch came to his decision to perform abortions, the social and moral responsibility he felt he owed the women (and girls) who came to him for help. The reader also clearly understands why Homer makes a different decision, how he struggles to love this man who is like a father to him, once he makes that decision. And the reader watches the painful separation that all parents face when they send their offspring out into the world to make their own way. How a parent’s hopes and dreams may not always be embraced by that child.

Grover Gardner does a fine job narrating the audiobook. He sets a good pace and manages to differentiate the many characters. ( )
  BookConcierge | Sep 30, 2018 |
Main thing: storytelling at its best. Feeling like a kid reading an adventure novel.
"...he had a burning desire to learn about bacteria... ...he had gonorrhea..." (58) - I start paying attention to style.
Static construction of the plot, narrative momentum gained in every chapter, stories cling to the aspect worked through in the chapter.
Impression: a well-built detailed setting is going to do the work; characters and events will grow out of it. One wonders whether this is Irving's working method.
After having read the book I look at the contents: the earlier, more salient chapters, in the way they frame and define the narrative of the Cider House, take about a third of the book. It feels natural for a life story.
Instrumental pieces: preview of the next story given as a picture, intertwined with "current" events. I'd call it precipitation. It works on all levels.
Possibly related to momentum-gaining/acceleration mechanism like the gentle information withdrawal - cf. Senior Worthington's story; when a crucial piece of information is finally given, the setting (here meant as location time characters) grows multi-dimensional, while references to perspective are given explicitly: they thought, she assumed, what seemed to him like... etc.
Spoiler: Ending somewhat sappy. Especially Angel becoming a novelist. And everything else that works out. But there is a strong tie to Dickens (and probably to Bronte), which is repetitively insisted upon.
Non-judgemental prose.
Unwilling and subjective comparison to Thornton Wilder. ( )
  alik-fuchs | Apr 27, 2018 |
I had very low hopes for this book as my wife had recommended to me with one of those faces that she was not sure if I would like it. I was very pleasantly surprised as I loved every word. I love Irving's writing style and he develops his characters better than anyone. Some of the ideas are a bit sexual in nature, but they work and he describes them in a way that puts you into the mind of the young people who are working through them. I would recommend this book to all and am looking forward to reading more works by this author. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
Listened on audio; 24 hours! I think it's the longest audiobook I have done so far. I loved it. The subject matter is not always easy. The graphic detail about abortions is cringe-inducing. Irving is such a great storyteller. I got totally absorbed into the setting. It is full of everyday tedium, which I usually hate, but not from Irving. And the narrator is fantastic. Highly recommended. ( )
  Aseleener | Mar 24, 2018 |
This was an excellent read. Once I started it I didn't want to put it down. I am very surprised that it took me so many years to finally read a John Irving novel! ( )
  ChelleBearss | Mar 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
For ''The Cider House Rules'' has greater force and integrity than either of its two immediate predecessors. It's funny and absorbing, and it makes clever use of the plot's seeming predictability.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Irving, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last." ~ charlotte bronte (1847)
"For practical purposes abortion may be defined as the interruption of gestation before viability of the child." ~ h.j. boldt, m.d. (1906)
Dedication
For David Calicchio
First words
In the hospital of the orphanage--the boys' division at St Cloud's, Maine--two nurses were in charge of naming the new babies and checking that their little penises were healing from the obligatory circumcision.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345387651, Mass Market Paperback)

"AN OLD-FASHIONED, BIG-HEARTED NOVEL . . . with its epic yearning caught in the 19th century, somewhere between Trollope and Twain . . . The rich detail makes for vintage Irving."
--The 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. Victims of tragedy, violence, and injustice, their lives seem more interesting and full of thought-provoking dilemmas than the lives of many real people."
--The Houston Post

"John Irving's sixth and best novel . . . He 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."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Entertaining and affecting . . . John Irving is the most relentlessly inventive writer around. He proliferates colorful incidents and crotchets of character. . . . A truly astounding amount of artistry and ingenuity."
--The San Diego Union

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:38 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Set in rural Maine in the first half of this century, it tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch--obstetrician and director of the orphanage in the town of St. Clouds. It is also the story of his favorite orphan, Homer, who is never adopted.

» see all 12 descriptions

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