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The Cider House Rules
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The Cider House Rules

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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  108,961 ratings  ·  2,581 reviews
Raised from birth in the orphanage at St. Cloud's, Maine, Homer Wells has become the protege of Dr. Wilbur Larch, its physician and director. There Dr. Larch cares for the troubled mothers who seek his help, either by delivering and taking in their unwanted babies or by performing illegal abortions. Meticulously trained by Dr. Larch, Homer assists in the former, but draws ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 973 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Thorndike Press (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ben
I shouldn't be throwing semicolons around too often; and yet, after reading Irving, what do I find myself doing? semicolon, semicolon, SEMICOLON ; ; ; ; I'm not winking at you; those are semicolons.. now you know what I mean. Irving affects me in many ways -- the semicolons are just one example. (And yes, I know I'm probably not using them correctly -- you don't have to point that out. You really don't.)

More than a week after finishing, The Cider House Rules, it's still on my mind, still sneakin
...more
Katie Abbott Harris
I just finished reading this novel, and it is so phenominal that I'm almost speechless, and I'm sad that it is over. The story is engrossing, rich, moving, tragic, and satisfying, and the imagery is extraordinarily powerful. The plot takes place during the first half of the 1900's in rural Maine, and tells of Dr. Larch, an obstetrician, founder of an orphanage, abortionist, and ether addict, and his favorite orphan, and heroic figure, Homer Wells. Irving develops the characters superbly, such th ...more
Pamela
Jan 23, 2008 Pamela rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone...
Recommended to Pamela by: Tanja
I was actually really surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I am VERY Pro-Life and was very skeptical before about picking it up...although I love John Irving as an author. He is excellent at character development and his stories are so multifaceted that you are never disappointed. This is certainly true here in this novel. My surprisingly favorite character was Melony. She was hauntingly creepy, pathetically adorable and demanding of your attention although not a primary character. I loved ...more
Dianne
this may be my favourite john irving book. i like his deceivingly lighthearted style, and the deadpan humour he gives his characters. the cider house rules in particular seems more real than the others, the orphanage and apple orchards seem more tangible, the emotions less idiosyncratic and the characters more human.

the direct issue here is abortion. the medical procedures to, the right to, the choice to...it's enough to make me want to cross my legs to prevent any traffic in or out.

the less dir
...more
Jr Bacdayan
In other parts of the world, they love John Green. Here in St. JR's, we love John Irving.

According to my dictionary, Green is of the color of growing foliage, between yellow and blue in the color wheel. While Irving on the other hand, is a genius, hard-working, persevering person who can manage time efficiently; knows how to balance important aspects of life. This has led me to conclude that Irving is a much more suitable name for a writer than Green, and has also solidified my belief that Irvi
...more
Chloe
Aug 31, 2008 Chloe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chloe by: Jeremy
I've always struggled with Irving and Cider House Rules is no exception. It's not that Irving is a poor writer, no one can argue that. His characters are always fully-fleshed and alive on the page and each sentence drips with so much detail that you think you're going to get splinters when Homer and Melony are messing around in the abandoned millworker's dorm. I just think that most of the time when I put the book down I feel like I've read the equivalent of cotton candy: really pretty but not m ...more
Emily
While The Cider House Rules is an undeniably well-written novel, I grew impatient with the lengthy narrative and the idle characters. It was hard for me to feel any sense of connection to the different characters, and I cared very little about Homer's life at Ocean View - I was always anxious to get back to St. Cloud's and the orphanage. For me, the real story was about the relationship between Dr. Larch and Homer Wells, and I lost interest in the story once Larch and Homer ceased to communicate ...more
Cathy DuPont
Fortunately all readers all the time do not like the same book. (Just finished a book of the bestsellers the past century and publishers do not favor that opinion.) Tastes and opinions differ which, of course, is a good thing.

There are a handful of books though which I simply love because of the way the author uses the English language and/or the story itself and how it unfolds. Other times there's just that "indescribable something" which makes me love a book. This book which made the bestsell
...more
Bill
I started the Cider House Rules after giving up on 3 novels that just couldn't hold my attention.
John Irving will certainly make you love reading again. The Cider House Rules is once again a novel rich with characters so real you forget this is fiction and you care about what happens to them.
Why can I only say that about a mere handful of writers?

This is a novel about abortion in the 1940s. The dilemmas of abortion are obvious, and this novel does lean towards pro-choice. I think pro-lifers woul
...more
Stephen
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke"

In what many consider John Irving's masterwork, we're asked to consider abortion and the rights of society in imposing laws on its citizens. Even the title, The Cider House Rules is an allusion to this idea of rules and the authority to impose them. The Cider House Rules were posted by well intentioned people who didn't live in the cider house and who didn't really understand what life there was like
...more
Christopher Green
I really can't stand John Irving's style of writing. This was a six hundred page novel that should have been three hundred. Also, I found it to be a little heavy-handed. He admits that it is deliberately didactic, but I think he pushes it the the point that it starts working against him. Any character opposing his ideals is put up as a two-dimensional straw man that he villainizes and knocks down, which doesn't help convince anyone of his views. I was surprised to learn that he wrote the screenp ...more
Suzanne
I love John Irving but stayed away from this work for years because of the "abortion" issue. I didn't want to be preached to, (in principle I am against abortion) and I foolishly underestimated Irving's ability to create a complete work, one in which "abortion" was a small part. This is one of his finest works and I recommend it without reservation. Irving forces the reader to view the world from many angles and does it with his usual excellence in creating characters with depth and a plot that ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 5* of five

My very favorite John Irving book is a $1.99 Kindle Daily Deal today. So very worth the tiny cost.
Leah
Oct 25, 2009 Leah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Leah by: Viluna Jennings
Shelves: favorites
I finally finished The Cider House Rules this morning; I've been working on it since mid-August. Usually if I take that long to read a book it's because the book isn't very good, I've gotten bored with it, or the writing is hard to comprehend. None of those things are true of The Cider House Rules. Instead I found the book to be wonderfully written with rich and complex characters (not to mention a moving and controversial storyline). I think the main reason I took so long to finish it (aside fr ...more
Chris Blocker
Russo. King. Rash. Updike. Doctorow. Irving. I'm beginning to notice a similarity amongst east coast writers (mostly from New England) who are usually male and born in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. They like narratives. They like description. They like slow build up. And all of these likes show how much they love being wordy. I wonder how many of these authors grew up on Dickens? The more I read of these authors, the more I'm convinced that I'm not a fan of the style. The problem for me is that most ...more
Jacob
November 2009
What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us are wrapped up in parentheses.
(The Cider House Rules, p. 429)


In 19__, when abortion was still illegal (when women who did not want their babies were criminals; when pregnancy was a sentence and a fine), there were still ways to avoid the accident of birth: there were medicines and various chemicals to gamble with, or else there were grim back-room doctors, butchers, and other shad
...more
Madeline
What I love about John Irving's novels is how they chronicle ordinary people living mostly ordinary lives, but somehow manage to come off as great, sweeping epics. I don't know how he does it - The Cider House Rules contains no epic journeys, no great battles, no romances for the ages, and no heroes. It's an ordinary story, but Irving's writing makes it seem just as incredible and important as The Odyssey.

Maybe it's the time span - the book covers a period of over 50 years, and centers on two c
...more
Katerina
I think it's probably the best book about kindness I have read. It's about people so truly kind, so very gentle (not to be confused with humble), that you amazingly feel like a better person yourself. It kinda gives you hope in humanity.

The book portrays the world that is definitely not a very good place: it's cruel, it's lonesome, it's messy, bloody, and unjust, and you have no right to choose, and you have very few opportunities, and everyone is either an orphan or a deeply unlucky man, but in
...more
Sarah
Over all a pretty crappy book. There were some good points. There were some very powerful and strong characters, and then some really flat see-through personalities. Ultimately the book had a very good point. Everyone makes rules, and as people we have to pick which ones we follow and which ones we don't. Should we follow rules? Should we make our own rules? How relevant and practical are actual rules in the real world? More specifically, how relevant are ant-abortion laws? As the readers we tak ...more
Rebecca
This is the third of Irving's novels I've read (the other two being The World According to Garp and A Widow for One Year), and I think I'm about done with Irving now. None of those three books were outright bad, but each one started with such promise and ultimately ended up disappointing me.

Irving is really skilled at writing about tragedy, awkwardness, sexual entanglements, and grief, in particular. He has a gift for describing emotions, dialogue, and social interaction extremely realistically.
...more
Anastasia
“How we love to love things for other people; how we love to have other people love things through our eyes.” The Cider House Rules shows life: inpredictable, painful, exciting, and totally worth living. Thank you, John Irving for all the Princes of Maine and Kings of New England, for making a few January nights so memorable. And let us be happy for Wilbur Larch. ...more
Christopher
Certainly a well-written, deftly constructed book, but my heart refused to be connected to any of the characters and I was relieved when I was finally finished with it.
Dem
I had been recommended this book numerouse times by friends and when I read it I realised its actually one of those books that I wish I had not finished and given up halfway. This was the first Irving novel that I have read and it will be the last as I found this novel totally overwritten and boring, I did not like and feel anything for any of the characters and the reason I did finish the book I wanted to find the reason that this book is such a big hit, sadly I didn't and therefore only a 2 st ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Average rating on GR is above 4 stars, and many of my friends rated this one 5 stars. I was glad to finally get to it.

I must have read a different book. I don't know what everyone sees in this. The prose, while not exactly boring, isn't very interesting either. Except for the medical terminology, the vocabulary is rather simple, and the sentence structure leaves much to be desired. I admit that I feel the same for much of contemporary fiction, so my reaction should not be laid completely at the
...more
Scarlett Rains
The Cider House Rules by John Irving provides insight into the painful, politically charged, topic of abortion. Homer, an abandoned orphan, is the champion of life and finds the idea of abortion repugnant. Wilbur, the surgeon Homer considers father and mentor, feels passionately that a woman must have the right to choose. Each man sways us.

The emotional devastation wrought by the abandonment of unwanted children is sensitively told. We imagine the orphans waiting for adoptive parents, listening
...more
Steven
John Irving might just be my favorite contemporary author. No current author can move me with their storytelling quite as capably as he.

I picked up this book to read on a recent trip to New England, specifically Maine and New Hampshire. I had previously seen the movie and I knew that the story was set in the land of lobsters and blueberries. Although I had enjoyed the movie version quite a bit, I enjoyed the book infinitely more. Indeed, the character of Melony, who is absent from the movie, may
...more
Jennifer
Oct 08, 2007 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Most bookworms
Cider House Rules started fairly slow, but I found myself engrossed in it more and more as I waded through. The novel focuses largely on the issue of abortion and often confronts the main points with such bald truth that it can feel a little harsh. The story itself isn't as predictable as many novels in this sort of genre, and I found myself really wondering how everything would turn out in the end. I found the moral dilemmas very intriguing and it actually made me evaluate my own beliefs in the ...more
Amy Neftzger
This is an outstanding book that was thoughtfully put together to examine the role and meaning of rules, including civil and moral law as it applies to abortion. The issues are artfully addressed in the complexity of real life situations of an orphanage and an apple orchard in rural Maine that includes the time period of WWII. Irving creates such great characters that the reader comes to care about them -- even some of the most unlikeable ones.

The author does a wonderful job of showing how easy
...more
Alyssa
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Lindsey
I had a tough time with this book. Irving is a good writer as far as his colorful descriptions go, but there was a strange lack of emotion in his character development and plot that I can't quite put my finger on. The descriptions of highly emotionally-charged topics/events (sex, abortion, a forbidden relationship, etc.) were scientific or removed from reality somehow.
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John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving’s fourth novel and his first international bestseller; it also became a George Roy Hill film. Tony Richardson wrote and directed the adaptation for the screen of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). Irving’s novels are now translated into thirty ...more
More about John Irving...
A Prayer for Owen Meany The World According to Garp The Hotel New Hampshire A Widow for One Year The Fourth Hand

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“What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us wind up in parentheses.” 498 likes
“Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.” 184 likes
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