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The Cider House Rules by John Irving

The Cider House Rules (1985)

by John Irving

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9,868127420 (4.08)271
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» See also 271 mentions

English (117)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Lithuanian (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (127)
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
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 |
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 |
This book is pretty heavily loaded. You want to talk about your controversial material? Your sad, real life stuff? In these pages, John Irving discusses:

- abortion
- prostitution
- addiction
- war
- Alzheimer's Disease
- child abuse
- rape
- homosexuality
- infidelity
- racism
- Communism

The list goes on an on. I'm not complaining about the addressing of these topics, but man, I did not know what I was getting into. It's a fairly long book, so there's a lot of ground to cover. I'll be as brief as possible, but holy moly was this a lot.

1. This book is not about any one person, but a community of connected people. There are multiple POVs. Some people, you don't meet until halfway through the novel. They all contribute to the social issues, but the parts they play in the actual plot differs in importance.

2. There are no real heroes in this book. It's a break from normal convention, where you'll get one "good" person or one "bad" person. Everyone in this book seems well intentioned, but troubled. Except maybe Nurse Angela - she seems okay.

3. While I do agree that the social topics mentioned in this book all need to be discussed, I'm not sure I agree with putting them all into the same book. It makes it really, really heavy. In addition to that, not all of them are well represented. They're not the worst, but when you tie something like incest and racism together in the same few characters, it sort of nullifies the point you were trying to make about racism by promoting a terrible racial presumption.

4. While Homer was always pretty humdrum, I expected more of the other characters. Wally and Candy, for example, were fabulous in the beginning, but fell really flat. And Melony? She was terrible, then interesting, then more or less faded out. It was a bit disappointing to see how Melony in particular was wrapped up.

5. As if the hammering of social injustices weren't enough, this book was really preachy about abortion. Regardless of whether you are pro-life or pro-abortion, I think anyone would find the constant philosophical discussion about it exhausting.

6. The detailed descriptions of medical procedures made me squirm. If I ever doubted my career and thought about going into the medical field, The Cider House Rules proved that I am not up to the task. The description of a dilation and curettage, in particular, made me uncomfortable. I had one of this after my first miscarriage and it is way too easy to imagine how the "grinding and scraping" must have felt in my uterus. No, no, nope!

7. When I borrowed this book from Overdrive, I was a bit worried that my lending term would be up before I could finish it. Pointless concern! Despite its length and apparent lack of direction most times (I was a bit bitter about the Homer and Dr. Larch resolution), The Cider House Rules is a compelling and gripping novel. I was sucked into it.

8. I've noticed on Goodreads that a lot of people see uncertain what the title has to do with the story? The Cider House (where the migrant workers stay in the fall) has a typed list of rules in on its wall (that nobody follows). There's a scene a little more than halfway through the book in which Homer and Mr. Rose discuss the Cider House Rules, and Mr. Rose's own rules. From that point on, it become fairly clear what this book is truly about - it's about societal rules, personal rules, and the consequences of breaking and bending them.

9. I was relieved when this book was over. Like I said earlier, it was interesting and filled with well detailed scenes, but it was exhausting. There's a lot of betrayal and lying and lost hope that wears and tears on the heart. And then there was some stuff (like the picture of the girl with the pony) that I was 100% no about, and I spent a good deal of time worrying, "Oh brother, what next?"

10. Of all the characters, I didn't like Dr. Larch. It's not that I disagreed with his ideals, but more that he seemed like a pompous ass who would be insufferable to be around. I don't understand Nurse Edna's infatuation, I really don't.

Overall, I wouldn't say I liked this book. I thought it was interesting. I'm glad I read it, but it's not really something I would re-read. I think it's a great and interesting book if you want to read something by John Irving, if you want to read about a lot of social issues still embarrassingly prevalent thirty years later, or if you're interested in medical procedure or apple farming. As a classic, it's worth picking up, but brace yourself for a lot of moral and social discussion and don't get too attached to any character. ( )
  Morteana | Jan 24, 2018 |
I have very much enjoyed my introduction to John Irving over the last year or two. Slightly bizarre tales with fascinating characters spread throughout. Found Homer's journey from orphanage to orphanage with a long stop-over in the middle enthralling. ( )
  brakketh | Dec 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (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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"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)
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.
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(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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