I watched the movie version of The Cinder House Rules a few years ago when it first came out. The story was really good. I decided to read the book. I love the book for the extra details that Irving gives. He weaves a story that is long and full of rich characters. While the movie was good, there were extra characters who made the book a real joy to read. It explained the story more completely. Reality is not always pretty and Irving has no problem showing it.
Not sure if I love this book more, or "Prayer for Owen Meany". These books are like 10 course dinner feasts, full of characters, ideas, places, thoughts, yet everything ties together in the end. I love how the most insignificant sentence in an early chapter turns out to be the most important thing later in the book. Irving does that alot, I find myself going back and re-reading paragraphs from chapters ago and marveling how they tie in. I imagine these books would have been great Radio Serial Shows, where you would get to hear one chapter a week and you couldn't wait to hear the next. I can't really say what the book is about, it is so much more than a straight plot line, but I will tell you that the title, "Cider House Rules", refers to the Cider House on an apple farm. The apple pickers stay in the Cider House while they are working to pick apples. The Cider House Rules are a list of Rules that are to be followed by those living in the Cider House. But the book also is about an orphanage, and an orphan who grows up with a doctor as a mentor and then he ends up at the apple farm where the Cider House is and then he falls for this girl...well, just read it.
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. It's also unclear just exactly what gives them the authority to impose and/or enforce them. One of the nurses working with "Saint Larch" sums it up rather well at one point..."It's because even a good man can't always be right, that we need ... rules.
Even if it were not for these important themes, this is a worthwhile read. The characters are charming, and even the villains are understandable, and for the most part forgivable. The storytelling is first rate, engaging and entertaining. There are even some comedic moments that are overwhelmingly ironic and at the same time laugh out loud funny.
And as to the movie version... Irving did the screen adaptation himself. He made it gentler and more endearing, and though he eliminated several interesting characters to make a simpler, movie friendly plot, I've seen the movie before and after reading the book and it's still eminently watchable. It doesn't feel like it's missing anything too critical. I'm sure that the cameo by Irving as the stationmaster is a salute to one of the characters who was cut though I felt sorrier to see no hint of Melony. However, a book can be more detailed and darker than a movie without losing its audience, and given that the film won Irving an Oscar for best screenplay, apparently the movie community agrees that this adaptation was well done.
John Irving has been called the American Dickens and it's probably because of that that so many Dickens titles were featured in this story but they worked quite well and the quotes that were pulled added to the overall effect quite well.
No matter what your stand on abortion, whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, I'm sure that if you read "the Cider House Rules" you'll be pro-Irving.
I may be one of the few dissenting voices about this book. I have enjoyed other works by John Irving, but about 3/4 of he way through, I put the book down. I just stopped caring about the characters. Do you know the feeling of wanting to "yell at the movie screen" at people for what they are/are not doing/don't realize?
I have NOT seen the film and maybe I would have liked the book if I had already created an affinity for the characters because of the characterizations of the actors which might have carried me through.
Loved this book! A wonderful story that loops back on itself and takes the reader in all kinds of fascinating directions. The quirky, lovable characters are typically Irving and the plot has that touch of "magical realism" that Irving so often weaves into the wonderful worlds that he creates. Imaginative and compassionate, provocative and compelling.
The book was by far better than the movie and I did enjoy the movie. The book has so much more detail and the path it takes is more interesting as well. I recommend this book even if this is not an author you regularly read.
A mature,old-fashioned, big-hearted novel, filled with people to love and to feel for. I think one of the characters, an obstetrician, was based on the authors own grandfather, who was also a doctor. The novel is a "much bigger" story than the movie by the same title.
In the hospital of the orphanage-the boy's 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.
the cider house rules is an old fashion,big hearted novel...with its epiccaughtin thje 19th century.it is filled with to love and to feel for. somee break rulesand yet they remain nobel and free spirited. they may be tragic,violent and yet their lives seem more interesting.
It is much much better than the movie. They left out half the book. If you start reading this you will be up late at night reading and disappointed when you finish.
The main character is Homer Wells who grows up without socialization and family. His family per se is an orphanage. He is a lonely character and very passive, but very good hearted. While I don't like the abortions in here, it just shows a darker view of unwanted babies and maybe some insight into orphans and how they feel.
The ending was excellent. This book is very deep. It really gets you into their character, and I really did not want it to end. Melony was a very intriguing character. I wonder why the movie was so different. The book was much better. I like the love triangle also. It was a very complex story.
I read this book over several weeks. While it was easy to put down it was also easy to pick up again. It does differ from the movie a good deal. I will try not to reveal any particular difference. The book is written in the view of many characters all throughout the book. As an "afterwords" to the movie, I enjoyed the author's attention to detail and the insight he gave to the characters. I loved the characters and felt as if I might read about myself at anytime.
Many people will find this book difficult to read. The characters are very deep and thought provoking. Even if you disagree with some of the situations presented in this book (abortion, incest, premarital sex), it is still an excellent story, very well told. This is very typical John Irving -- and I loved every page of it! If you choose to read it, don't give up -- it's a very good read!
I was first introduced to The Cider House Rules through the movie of the same name, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Now that I have the book in my hands, I'm finding those little details that never make it to the big screen, and they make the story even better. John Irving approaches moral matters with a dry, if not witty voice, and it makes for an entertaining read. If you liked the movie, you will LOVE the book.
Although it might lose some because of its intensely political theme of abortion, The Cider House Rules is a masterful sweeping tale. John Irving starts at the beginning, with the desolate town of St. Cloud's, where young Wilbur Larch came to open an orphanage and "perform the Lord's work" — delivering babies and performing abortions. Homer Wells, who could not stay adopted, eventually becomes Larch's protégé but has moral qualms about performing abortions. However, he finds escape to a costal apple orchard as a young couple calls on St. Cloud's for Dr. Larch's services, thus beginning a love triangle against the backdrop of World War II. I felt as if I understood each of the characters, whom I grew to love despite their flaws, as I followed along their life stories. I also enjoyed learning about how the orchard business works. In addition to abortion, the story also touches on morality, fatherhood, friendship, and family. It was great to start the year off with such a great book from the list of 1001 books you must read before you die.
I spent hours in a coffee shop reading the last 200 pages of this book because I couldn't put it down long enough to drive home! It takes several chapters for Irving to introduce all the characters and start the plot, but it is worth the wait.
"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."
From the Houston Post
"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 Bost 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
I first read this book in high school and it changed my life!! This might be Irvings finest novel. The details and character are stunning. Will make you think long after you put the book down. The movie really doesnt do the novel justice.
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 the line at the latter. Then a young man brings his beautiful fiancee to Dr. Larch for an abortion, and everything about the couple beckons Homer to the wide world outside the orphanage....
John Irving's tale still stands the test of time---it tells the story of human nature at its best and worst. Extremely well written, but dealing with highly controversial subject matter, I recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in the motivations of why people do what they do.
How can anyone not love a book that simultaneously tells a deeply moving and compelling story AND explore the abortion debate with humor and evenhandedness? John Irving is my favorite author and while A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY is my favorite Irving title, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES is right up there. I love how deeply Irving knows these characters and how gradually he reveals their quirks and idiosyncracies. He knows and loves them so much, the reader can't help but love the ether-imbibing Dr. Larch and his surrogate son, the orphan Homer Wells. Irving is a consummate storyteller.
Ballantine Publicity --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
First published in 1985, The Cider House Rules is John Irving's sixth novel. Set in rural Maine in the first half of this 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.
"Superb in scope and originality, a novel as good as one could hope to find from any author, anywhere, anytime. Engrossing, moving, thoroughly satisfying."
About the Author
John Irving published his first novel at the age of twenty-six. He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation; he has won an O. Henry Award, a National Book Award, and an Academy Award. Mr. Irving lives with his family in Toronto and Vermont.