Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cider House Rules” as Want to Read:
The Cider House Rules
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cider House Rules

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  166,454 ratings  ·  4,114 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 May 10th 1985)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cider House Rules, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Elizabeth Asha Even I was waiting for it until it finally appeared in the apple farm... The rules in the cider house were always pinned on the wall but none of the i…moreEven I was waiting for it until it finally appeared in the apple farm... The rules in the cider house were always pinned on the wall but none of the inhabitants understood it since they could not read it. It is the same with the rules Dr. Larch and finally Homer follows. The rules set by life can sometimes never be followed.(less)
Mindylouhoo Definitely not for everyone. The language is harsh and the subject matter is dark. I haven't seen the movie, but they would have had to clean it up fo…moreDefinitely not for everyone. The language is harsh and the subject matter is dark. I haven't seen the movie, but they would have had to clean it up for pg-13.(less)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTwilight by Stephenie Meyer
Best Books Ever
54,980 books — 211,511 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldAnimal Farm by George Orwell
Best Books of the 20th Century
7,557 books — 49,819 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  166,454 ratings  ·  4,114 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Cider House Rules
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 sneaki
Glenn Sumi
Mar 09, 2016 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 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
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
"I have made an orphan; his name is Homer Wells and he will belong to St. Cloud’s forever.”

John Irving knows how to write a story. He knows which words to use to start a movie playing in the reader's mind as soon as their eyes take in the first sentence. 

Perhaps that's why several of his books have been made into movies, because someone read it, saw the movie play out, and thought, Damn, this book is a good movie!

I have not seen "The Cider House Rules" movie, not the one with Charlize Theron and
Well, after two long and somewhat tedious months, I have managed to push myself through to the other side, and I'm ecstatic to say, I have finally finished The Cider House Rules. This was a massive disappointment to say the least, and as always, I'll explain why.

This book has many positive and glowing reviews, but for me on a personal level, it did absolutely nothing for my pleasure as a reader, or, my mental health. ( I wanted to desperately give this book away)

The Cider House Rules could have
Jr Bacdayan
May 20, 2013 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
Edward Lorn
Oof. This is gonna be a tough one to review.

First, it should be known that I was not looking forward to this book. Nothing about it called to me. Nothing about the film adaptation ever made me want to watch the movie, either. (Let it be known that I still have no interest in watching the movie.) And if it weren't for this John Irving Challenge I'm doing, where I'm trying to read all of his novels in a year's time, I likely never would have picked this up. Do I regret reading it? Yes and no. Let
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charlotte May
This is a pretty hefty novel, but so worth it!
It covers an expanse of characters' history - the main one being Homer, a young boy brought up in an orphanage his entire life. The orphanage is connected to a hospital where secret abortions are performed.
Homer becomes assistant to Dr. Larch and learns the trade, before having a moral struggle, and chooses to leave the orphanage to live with a couple who have recently visited.
He moves to their farm, where they grow apples to make cider and Homer's l
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Incredible book. You can watch my review here - ...more
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone...
Recommended to Pamela by: Tanja
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cody | CodysBookshelf
By now, every person I associate with on a regular basis knows how big a John Irving fan I am. It’s no secret that I think he is, arguably, the greatest living writer (with respect to Thomas Pynchon, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, etc), and he has penned a number of modern American classics. I had read all the works from his “classic” period, except for one.

The Cider House Rules.

It was time to get rid of this blindspot.

I spent almost a week within the pages of this long novel. I spent a lot
Sonia Gomes
Sep 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, its too beautiful
Shelves: fantastic
What can I say about this beautiful book?

Only that I wanted to stroke its pages...

Only that it brought a lump in my throat that is always there whenever I think of it.
Christopher Skip 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
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
In our daily live we’re constantly confronted with rules, conventions, and arrangements; a lot of them are formal (laws or coded regulations), but most are informal. It is a very important part of a process of growing up to get to know these rules and learn to cope with them. It is also a never ending job, because the rules constantly change, as there is a lot of contradiction between them, but especially as people tend to disregard the rules and live their own lives. Even more, it is almost imp ...more
Maine 1920's - 1950's.

St. Cloud's Maine is a little burg with a paper mill and an orphanage. The paper mill closes down and the orphanage is all that is left. Dr. Larch runs the orphanage and feels that he is 'of use' because he helps women either bear their child and leave it at the orphanage or give them a safe abortion.

Homer Wells is one of the orphans. 4 attempts are made to adopt him. None work out so he comes back to the orphanage to stay. Larch trains him to be a midwife. Homer can delive
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 0-usa
The book started really very well. I liked the first part, I had also a lot of laugh-out-loud moments and I was curious to see what would happen next. I was totally in the story and also liked the characters, they were all so particular and eccentric. But going on with the reading I get bored by the story and, above all, by the characters. These never changed, they always said the same things and behaved the same way. It is as if they didn't have a development: they were the same from the beginn ...more
Book Concierge
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
May 13, 2007 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
Apr 26, 2014 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
Apr 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 05, 2011 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
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how Irving does it. Again, in this book nothing spectacular happens. We just follow some very human characters in their everyday lives, with all its ups and downs, with its beautiful sides as well as its sad ones. But I just loved to read this, mainly because I cared for the characters. Most of them are so kind and warm, they have so lovable quirks and their passion sometimes leads them to make stupid mistakes. It's easy to connect with them and in my opinion, that is the particular ...more
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading 1001: Cider House Rules by John Irving 8 31 May 25, 2021 03:20PM  
Did Melony commit suicide? 1 6 Nov 18, 2020 09:00AM  
April book club meeting 1 4 Apr 21, 2020 08:12AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please delete this book 6 243 Sep 05, 2019 12:46PM  
The Reading For P...: January-Feburary 2019 Monster Bimonthly Fiction Group Read The Cider House Rules 16 65 Mar 05, 2019 02:57PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Corrections 1 10 Jan 17, 2019 12:16PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Shipping News
  • The Prince of Tides
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis
  • Cold Mountain
  • Snow Falling on Cedars
  • The Joy Luck Club (Oxford Bookworms Library: Stage 6 Reader)
  • The Thorn Birds
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • Empire Falls
  • She's Come Undone
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • Opposite Attraction: The Lives of Erich Maria Remarque and Paulette Goddard
  • The Joy Luck Club
  • The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (Summary & Study Guide)
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children #1)
  • Roots: The Saga of an American Family
  • I Know This Much Is True
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Articles featuring this book

The Great American Novel is something of a moving target. The term, used to describe a work of fiction that accurately shows the...
66 likes · 109 comments
“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.” 609 likes
“Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.” 274 likes
More quotes…