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The Cider House Rules

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  126,371 Ratings  ·  2,982 Reviews
"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-s
Hardcover, 598 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by Turtleback Books (first published 1985)
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Sheila Elizabeth Asha answered beautifully, but let's not forget love. We all know the rules. We instinctively know right from wrong, but you can't help who…moreElizabeth Asha answered beautifully, but let's not forget love. We all know the rules. We instinctively know right from wrong, but you can't help who you love and when we follow our hearts we sometimes break all the rules. The heart knows no rules.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Glenn Sumi
Mar 19, 2016 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey! I just popped my John Irving cherry with The Cider House Rules!

Something strange happened midway through reading The Cider House Rules, my first John Irving book.* I found myself completely immersed in its world.

What’s strange is that for the first couple hundred pages, I didn’t particularly believe in this early 20th century Dickensian fable about orphans, surrogate families, an ether-addicted abortionist and the arbitrariness of some rules. But Irving’s storytelling skills eventually won
Sep 18, 2007 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jr Bacdayan
May 27, 2013 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2008 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone...
Recommended to Pamela by: Tanja
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 03, 2014 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
Feb 01, 2008 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Terri Jacobson
John Irving's novels are like an all-you-can-eat buffet. You can keep going back, time after time, and find words and ideas that will nourish and delight you. The Cider House Rules is Irving's sixth novel; it was published in 1988. More than twenty-five years later, the book still reads like a vibrant and contemporary piece of fiction.

The story revolves around Wilbur Larch, a physician in charge of St. Cloud's orphanage, and Homer Wells, one of the orphans. Homer has had several tries of being a
Aug 31, 2008 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2008 Dianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-my-own-copy
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's enough to make me want to cross my legs to prevent any traffic in or out.

the less dir
Cathy DuPont
Jul 20, 2014 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Christopher Green
Sep 28, 2016 Christopher Green rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 25, 2009 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 08, 2014 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyon over the age of conception
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
Dec 17, 2010 Madeline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list
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
Aug 05, 2015 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was all over the place with this book. I think every star was represented. But all things considered, I think three stars is all it was for me.

The beginning was the worst part. The author seemed to have a pubescent obsession with a certain piece of male anatomy. This word was so overused in the first 20% of the book that I started keeping track and even before I hit the 20% mark, I had lost count. I am not exaggerating. He continued to use this word throughout the whole entire book,(causing m
May 03, 2015 Ints rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Homērs Velss ir bārenis, Dzīvo viņš Svētā Mākoņa bāreņu patversmē. Kā jau katrs patiess bārenis viņš prot būt pacietīgs un viss ko viņš vēlas no dzīves ir būt noderīgam. Ar adopciju viņam nav veicies un beigu beigās viņš vienmēr atgriežas bāreņu namā. Svētā Mākoņa bāreņu patversme ir doktora Vilbera Lārča mūža darbs. Aiz šī nama izkārtnes slēpjas ne tikai bāreņi. Doktors piedāvā savām pacientēm 1920 tajos gados grūti atrodamu pakalpojumu – abortu veikšanu. Homērs vēloties būt noderīgs kļūst par ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Derus
Rating: 5* of five

My very favorite John Irving book is a $1.99 Kindle Daily Deal today. So very worth the tiny cost.
Jun 04, 2015 Negin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really, really wanted to like this book, and I thought it was very good initially, but the more I read, the less I liked it. Unlike many others, the subject matter (abortion) didn’t bother me at all. What bothered me was an overall lack of connection with the characters and the fact that I honestly felt that this more than 600 page book was never going to end! I think that he could have written this in 300 pages or less. I found myself frequently checking to see how much there was left to read ...more
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
Evil Cat
May 25, 2015 Evil Cat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waffling between 3 and 4 stars--kind of like this book wanders randomly through 600+ pages. GoodReads really REALLY needs half stars. Really.
Chris Blocker
Apr 21, 2015 Chris Blocker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 29, 2016 Madara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Šis ir kas Liels.
This is one I had to sit and mull over for a while after I finished it. This book is so full of thought-provoking situations and circumstances that it's hard to sum it all down to a little book review. On the surface, it seems that it's merely a book about abortion, and why it should or shouldn't be legal. But that would be doing a great disservice to the book. It is about family, and what a family is truly made of. Does blood make one family, or is it something deeper than that? It's love betwe ...more
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
Dec 03, 2008 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Jan 24, 2015 Anastasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Jun 10, 2011 Dem rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven.
Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award
More about John Irving...

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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.” 549 likes
“Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.” 228 likes
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