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The Cider House Rules [Mass Market Paperback]

John Irving
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 9 1994
"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-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

"John Irving's sixth and best novel . . . He is among the very best storytellers at work today. At the base of Irving's own moral concerns is a rare and lasting regard for human kindness."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Entertaining and affecting . . . John Irving is the most relentlessly inventive writer around. He proliferates colorful incidents and crotchets of character. . . . A truly astounding amount of artistry and ingenuity."
--The San Diego Union

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The Cider House Rules + The World According to Garp + A Prayer for Owen Meany
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Product Description


"Superb in scope and originality, a novel as good as one could hope to find from any author, anywhere, anytime. Engrossing, moving, thoroughly satisfying."
--Joseph Heller

From the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

"The Cider House Rules was the first John Irving book I read.  I had no idea of the subject matter and, in a matter of a few pages I was entranced by the story.  The characters were so human and humane; what a moving argument for the right of a woman to choose.  I recently read Widow for a Year and was loved it as well."

-- Ruth Ross
    Art Director, The Ballantine Publishing Group

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cider House Rules June 26 2004
Format:Audio Cassette
A captivating story about life in the 1920's-1930's told in a powerful and brilliantly written fictional novel about an orphan named Homer Wells and the St. Cloud orphanage. Dr. Wilbur Larch, who is an obstetrician on staff at St. Cloud's, is an ether addict who performs abortions at the orphanage secretly. He is known to say, "women come here to have an orphan or an abortion".
The story, though simple, is thought provoking. It contains many underlying themes about human nature, social injustices and the complexities of life. Written to be shocking and graphic, Irving uses the characters to express each theme as he tells the story. One such theme is "we all break the rules"... Another theme is "the realities of life can influence you to make a practical rather than a moral decision"... and this is what happens to Homer Wells...
A fascinating book! Highly recommend!
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
This review is based on the paperback version 1985

The movie debut a few years back was great, excellent actors represented the characters, cinematography and technical details were solid.
The book is a lot more involved, with more in-depth events in the story that are left out of the movie.
However, readers are missing out on a lot of John Irving's writing talent if they fail to read the book. A reader grows to know Irving's players in a way not many authors create and allow the reader to absorb each character -- some readers put the book in a negative light by stating that the characters and issues are unrealistic... Whoa! That is definitely NOT the case. The issues existed then as they exist now and are in our sight always.
The setting is State of Maine, an orphanage named St. Cloud's -- Dr. Wilbur Larch, orphan Homer Wells, and the relationship of their bonding. All characters deserve and are allowed compassion enhanced with understanding. Sub-plots are woven gracefully into the story assisting the main essence of the theme. John Irving gives credence to issues in The Cider House Rules: abortion, friendship, family, love, loyalty, humor to laugh to, and tears to cry with. John Irving has ecome one of my top ten favorite authors. John Irving was born in Exeter, NH, resides in NY, and has also authored "Hotel New Hampshire" & "The World According to Garp"... and more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Aug. 25 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I doubt I will ever forget it. (If I find myself forgetting it, I'll probably just read it again!) John Irving does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the lives of the characters, who he describes so well I can see them as if they were in front of me. Throughout the book, I was torn between wanting to know how the story would develop and not wanting the story to progress a single moment into the future, because I was enjoying whatever was happening in the present. At times I found myself surprised, while at other times the story was more predictable, only because of Irving's excellent use of foreshadowing. I found that every time I put the book down, I could not keep my mind off of the characters, the events of their lives, and the themes of the book. I was impressed by how well crafted the novel was, and I can't wait to read the rest of Irving's work.
I would recommend this book for:
- anyone willing to take their time with a great book that slowly (and excellently) advances the story
- anyone who is open-minded about the issue of abortion or at least willing to read about the topic
I would NOT recommend this book for:
- anyone who wants a quick, lite, or formulaic read
- anyone who will be offended or disgusted by abortion or the graphic details of obstetrical procedure
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5.0 out of 5 stars Irving at the Top of His Game June 19 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am a big fan of John Irving and I have read Garp and Owen Meany, among others, but this novel stands head and shoulders above the rest of his works. It is his most well-written and complete novels. The author addresses the difficult subject of abortion brilliantly. The reader is transported into early 20th century New England and kept riveted by a blend of comedy, drama, romance, and vintage Irving storytelling. You will experience a huge range of emotions while reading this book, and when you are finished, you will want to pick it up and read it again. The movie does not do this book justice at all. The characters are all richly developed, from the bullying Melony to the kind-hearted abortionist Dr. Larch to the eternal orphan Homer Wells. The ending is brilliantly conceived and the novel is beautifully written throughout. My only complaint is that for all of his creativity in his storytelling, it seems that he has taken two main themes and a handful of stock characters and tried to write a dozen novels about them. Still this is a five -star effort in my book. If you only read one novel by Irving, this should be the one.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the third book I've read of Irving's after Garp and Owen Meany ... all are excellent books. As always, Irving created a memorable cast of characters and a plot that is both interesting and well-researched. Cider House is not only a great story, but a great commentary on the issue of abortion.
The only thing that keeps me from giving Cider House 5 stars is my disappointment with Homer Wells as an adult. As a child, Homer seems fated to have some kind of terrible destiny (like Owen Meany) but when it comes down to it, Homer never truly made a decision on his own until the end of the book. His life as a youth is orchestrated by the opposing forces of Dr. Larch (my favorite person in the book) and Melony ... his love for Candy controls the next 15 ... and finally it is his decision to help Rose Rose that gets him back to St. Cloud's ... but even then it's under a fake name, and again even this is largely instigated by the guilt that Melony makes him feel. Homer never escapes his destiny as an orphan who seems largely deprived on any free will of his own. He's the "Right" Man ... the guy who agrees with everyone without being committal.
Overall Cider House is a very good book ... but I couldn't help but think that a slightly stronger main character would've made the story more cohesive. Homer struggles with the question of whether he is the hero of his own life ... I would without hesitation say no: it is Dr. Larch. Still, a good book, but probably not Irving's best.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars what have i been missing?
for what ever reason I never before read a John Irving novel. now I am not likely to miss one! there is a lot to catch up on!
Published 7 months ago by J Hugi
4.0 out of 5 stars This book rules!
I revisited 'The Cider House Rules' recently, just before picking up another of John Irving's earlier novels, and I again recalled before I reached page 25 what it was about Irving... Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2005 by J.Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad Apples
Being familiar with three John Irving Novels, I see three common themes: sex, swearing, (and a character with a ) speech impediment. Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by JMack
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels ever!!
Just loved Cider House, savored every word and felt the characters were alive. So, so sad to finish it. Irving is a fabulous storyteller, makes you laugh and cry. Read more
Published on July 9 2004 by Cindy Andrews
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking overall, but unsatisfying ending
The book is great at raising the social issues in a context that makes sense - unwanted pregnancies, ethics of abortion or abandonment of newborns, etc. Read more
Published on June 30 2004 by Karen Abraham
3.0 out of 5 stars I Killed a Baby, Yeeaahhh!
Since the theme of this book is abortion, let's get that out of the way first. Now, I personally have somewhat conflicted opinions on this issue so I'm not a fanatic on either... Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by B. M. White
5.0 out of 5 stars MAGICAL READING
Re-released to coincide with the Miramax film version of Irving's popular book, The Cider House Rules has lost none of its power to haunt. Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2004 by Gail Cooke
5.0 out of 5 stars Irving Rules
Once again, John Irving has scored with an intriguing and heartfelt tale of love and family.
The Cider House Rules brings together the notion that family is borne of those who... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004 by L. D. Widmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I just loved this big long book. I couldn't wait to return to it. He presents both sides of very difficult topics like abortion. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2003 by Barry J. Coe
5.0 out of 5 stars John Irving�s Finest Literary Achievement
I have a Love/Hate relationship with John Irving's body of work. The Cider House Rules is scores on so many different levels-premise, plot, character development, dialog, and... Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2003 by jimnypivo
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