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The Cider House Rules by John Irving
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really liked it

This was my first John Irving book. I decided to read this book because I had a vague notion from the '90s movie adaptation that this was a historical romance, and I was thinking that if I read and liked it, I could get some students to graduate up from Sarah Dessen and Nicholas Sparks to something with a little more substance. I was not at all prepared for the book to be about abortion rights. Nor was I prepared for a book that used the phrases "pubic hair", "speculum", or "vulval pads" as often as it did. And I was also not expecting the book to feel like modern day Dickens.

The book felt Dickensian to me because of its slyly named characters who sometimes felt like caricatures, its tight setting but wide story scope, and the fact that it is set in an orphanage. Unlike Dickens, however, Irving makes his protagonists flawed. So we have Dr. Larch, the guy in charge of the orphanage be loving, but not exactly warm; moral in his own way, but also flawed and slightly deranged.

Beyond the stuff about abortion, the book gave me a lot to think about around the meaning of the title: The Cider House Rules. The title refers to a list of rules tacked inside a cider house on an apple orchard. Irving makes these Rules the book's Most Important Symbol: what happens when there are unwritten rules? or if different people have opposing rules? or if the rules are there but not even noticed? Even though Irving's symbolism was far from subtle, I really enjoyed the book and will definitely get around to Garp and Owen Meaney.
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Reading Progress

September 15, 2013 – Started Reading
September 15, 2013 – Shelved
September 16, 2013 –
page 135
September 19, 2013 –
page 230
September 21, 2013 –
page 305
September 22, 2013 –
page 424
September 22, 2013 –
page 973
September 22, 2013 – Finished Reading

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