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 of time trudging the halls of St Cloud s orphanage with Doctor Larch and the nurses my hands feel almost calloused from the months and years or so it felt, at times picking apples at the Ocean View orchard, with Homer and Angel and the migrants Irving s 1985 release almost totally took me back to the time he writes about the first half of the twentieth century, in rural Maine country The sense of setting perfectly evoked, able to swallow almost any reader.Like every Irving novel, this is not a quick read It unspools slowly and Cider House seems to unspool even slower than this author s other works maybe it s the long chapters and forces the reader to have patience All is worth it in the end I want to reread this book, or at least read about a world similar to this one Maybe I ll pick up another Dickens My heart is left aching, knowing I ve just experienced another modern classic as penned by John IrvingIt s natural to want someone you love to do what you want, or what you think would be good for them, but you have to let everything happen to them You can t interfere with people you love anythan you re supposed to interfere with people you don t even know And that s hard, because you often feel like interfering you want to be the one who makes the plans 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 muchsuitable name for a writer than Green, and has also solidified my belief that Irving is a much better novelist than Green It just struck me that the definition of Irving is so close to Irving s nature as a writer knows how to balance important aspects of life So true John Green, taking nothing away from him, has much to learn from John Irving The hordes of teens crying because of John Green s melodramatic deaths will benefit muchif they try reading John Irving I think I ll feel much better about the collective future of the human race if the crazy teenage obsession towards John Green was given to John Irving instead Moving on, John Irving s The Cider House Rules is a thought provoking novel that s both entertaining and affecting As expected from Irving, the novel is filled with characters to feel for Characters that have the weirdest backgrounds, the funniest thoughts, the craziest names Yet they appearreal than the real characters in our lives, the characters we know It has always been Irving s strength, his characters Homer Wells, the protagonist, is an orphan boy whose search for identity manifests a richness of the human spirit that is unlike any I have ever read His story is a marvel to watch as it unfolds During the first parts of the book, I couldn t help feel that grim aura that enveloped St Cloud s That fog like cloud, that mist that was ever present, that presence of loneliness, of unwantedness, of reckless abandon That feeling that every orphan felt etched inside their bones The feeling that every woman had whether their case was that of an abortion or of the orphan conception I felt it Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show That Homer turned to Dickens and Bronte for guidance was fitting His several experiences with foster homes made him realize that he belonged in St Clouds He learned to be of use So he became the assistant to Dr Larch, the director of the orphanage and also his father figure The relationship between Dr Larch and Homer Wells has got to be one of the most touching examples of a father son relationship in literature albeit not by blood From St Clouds he would move to Ocean View Orchard I m not going to get into specifics, this is not that kind of a review You need to discover that on your own I m just gonna say that his journey towards finding out who he is ultimately ends in a self discovery that touches the heart It s a very special book One of the most important if not the most important point of the book has got to do with abortion Dr Larch did abortions in St Cloud s and wanted Homer to follow in his foot steps Homer, though he thought abortion should be legalized, didn t want to perform it He believed that fetuses have souls Here is the trap you are in And it s not my trap I haven t trapped you Because abortions are illegal, women who need and want them have no choice in the matter, and you because you know how to perform them have no choice, either What has been violated here is your freedom of choice, and every woman s freedom of choice, too If abortion was legal, a woman would have a choice and so would you You could feel free not to do it because someone else would But the way it is, you re trapped Women are trapped Women are victims, and so are you These same people who tell us we must defend the lives of the unborn they are the same people who seem not so interested in defending anyone but themselves after the accident of birth is complete These same people who profess their love of the unborn s soul they don t care to make much of a contribution to the poor, they don t care to offer much assistance to the unwanted or the oppressed How do they justify such a concern for the fetus and such a lack of concern for unwanted and abused children They condemn others for the accident of conception they condemn the poor as if the poor can help being poor One way the poor could help themselves would be to be in control of the size of their families I thought that freedom of choice was obviously democratic was obviously American If pride is a sin moral pride is the greatest sin I have come out of this book muchaware of my position towards abortion Before I read this book, I would have said that I was against abortion I didn t like the thought of killing babies, but I hadn t really reflected on the gravity of the situation With the insights I ve gotten from the book, and after my struggle with my thoughts I have finally decided that I am against anti abortion laws It actually doesn t matter if you believe that it is wrong or not What matters is that people who think otherwise should have the choice to avail it If I have learned anything in my short life, it is never to impose my will upon others And I believe that anti abortion laws, is just that Imposition of self righteousness I m not forcing my belief upon you, I m not starting a debate I m just stating my opinion Nothing else This book opened my eyes, if not removed that veil of ignorance around it It s just saddening that abortion is still illegal in my country Here s to hoping that it ll change soon.Another important point of the book has to do with rules The name of the novel, The Cider House Rules, concurs to the idea that rules play a very important role in this novel Actually, it hasto do with breaking the rules We got our own rules The words of Mr Rose, the boss of the apple picking crew, when Homer asks him why the men don t follow the rules posted in the cider house Mr Rose s words underscore a major theme of the novel when the rules don t make sense, people have to make their own rules Homer learns this lesson when he begins to perform abortions Although the procedure is illegal, he feels he must break the rules to do what is right In the end, he chose to be the Hero of his own life He chose to make his own rules As I end, let me leave you with an excerpt that I think greatly encapsulates the message of the book It s natural to want someone you love to do what you want, or what you think would be good for them, but you have to let everything happen to them You can t interfere with people you love anythan you re supposed to interfere with people you don t even know And that s hard because you often feel like interfering you want to be the one who makes the plans. 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 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.Though Homer is the protagonist of the story, he remained inscrutable throughout the book Except for his propensity to interject right into any conversation, and his longing for a family, I would not be able to describe any of Homer s other characteristics, his personality, or aspirations Wally and Candy Worthington, the perfect golden gods, were so flat and dull that I usually couldn t wait for the story to shift away from them The triangle between Wally, Candy, and Homer could have been interesting, but it is written without any tension between the characters In fact, Irving completely skips over fifteen years of the trio s life together I wish the story had skipped completely over Homer s life in Ocean View Relationships were never explored to their potentials Even Olive Worthington is so sensible that she never blames or stigmatizes Homer and Candy for their actions Ray Kendall, who might have had an interesting paternal relationship with Homer especially since parents are so scarce in this story , dies without confronting either Homer or Candy In short, a love triangle which could have been an immense source of drama to characters who actually reacted to events around them became boring It was so boring that fifteen years of potential strain was glossed over.The one truly interesting character in the book besides Dr Larch turned out to be the illustrious Melony, whom I hugely enjoyed reading Melony may have been ridiculous, but she was a well fleshed out, interesting character, whose life followed a reasonable yet interesting route I was equally interested in the two nurses at the orphanage, who were only described briefly in the beginning of the novel Yet these two characters who have such strong presences in the lives of Dr Larch and Homer never have any face time of their own I couldn t separate Angela from Edna, nor understand why Homer chose Angela as the namesake for his child Even a few pages on either of the nurses would have been useful and illuminating.Instead, Irving segues into long descriptions of characters such as the stationmaster While the stationmaster is undoubtedly amusing, I wondered why I cared And yet I liked the stationmaster passage better than the scenes at Ocean View It s unfortunate that the 5 pages introducing the stationmaster wereinteresting than Homer, Candy, and Wally combined In the end, finishing The Cider House Rules became a chore I fail to see the brilliance apparently displayed in this novel Perhaps it only appears on a second reading however, I don t think I ll ever pick this up again Oh, and can I express my distaste for reading pages and pages about characters named Candy and Angel One would have been enough. 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 s discuss, shall we I hated the first chapter and a half of The Cider House Rules I ve come to expect that I m gonna be pretty confused for the first fifty to a hundred pages of an Irving novel Usually the stuff at the beginning doesn t pay off until halfway through the book, and sometimes he makes you wait until the very end before he returns to why the opening chapter was needed Here, I never felt like that opening chapter was needed, not to mention the chapter is just fuckin boring to read We could ve easily opened with Chapter Two Larch s history and then summarized the info from Chapter One into the beginning of Chapter Three That s how I would ve done it, anyway.I only really liked one of the characters, and it wasn t until Homer started learning from Larch that I really started to care for her I never once cared about Homer, period For a main character, dude was surprisingly weak And him constantly answering everything with Right got on my nerves as much as it got on Wally s nerves I was thrilled when Wally finally decked him in his cocksucker Which brings me to Authorial Intent Did Irving mean for Homer to be an annoyingly weak character I believe he did Doesn t mean I have to like it, though It only means Irving possibly accomplished what he set out to do Bravo, or, you know, whatever.My favorite character throughout the entire mess was Melony She rocked I dig a multi layered strongly developed female character and Melony checked all of those boxes Lorna and her love story was beautiful and heartbreaking, and I m glad Irving took the time to follow Melony s storyline all the way to the end I was worried that there for a moment the book would end on Homer, and I thought, Fuck everything about this book Then Irving brought it all home and I was graciously satisfied.Oddly enough, despite the exclusion of wrestling and bears, this was Irving s most repetitive work I ve read about all of these characters before, somethan once, and I think that s why I didn t give a fuck for any of them They all felt like carbon copies of better drawn characters from earlier novels Irving just changed their names and put them in a different story Some other aspects of Irving s work has become predictable, too mainly who will live and die by the end of the book He sets up character s deaths the same way each and every time, and the formula has become irritatingly obvious A major character s death was ruined for me in this book because of Irving s signature phoning in of plot points This isn t a thriller, the book does not depend on surprises, but I d still appreciate not being able to see certain things coming.As with all of Irving s novels, this one relies heavily on a strong ending The middle of the book is a padded mess, detailing long stretches of time I didn t give a single shit about These lengthy chapters are further rendered pointless when, later in the book, Irving skips ahead in time fifteen years If he could skip fifteen years of a child s life and still make us care for the kid, why couldn t he find a better way of telling of Wally s time in Burma succinctly What a clusterfuck of odd details that chapter was And if Irving s able to skip fifteen years in the life, why drone on and on about the day to day life of orchard workers when, by the end of the book, none of it really matters Why Because Irving cares about what Irving cares about These are, first and foremost, his books, and he will write them how he sees fit He also know that, again by the end of the book, you won t give a shit about the bloated middle By the time you flip that final page, you will be basking in the glow of an ending so well told that you will let slide all the times you were bored, even if that time was less than a hundred pages ago Yes, the ending is that strong Irving s endings always are In summation Nowhere near his best work, but much better than his debut novel, Setting Free the Bears So far in my challenge, I ve thought, I will reread this book at some point in my life, but I will never reread this one It was a chore just finishing it the first time Recommended for Irving completionists and fans of apples and abortions.Final Judgment Show up for the coming of age aspects that Irving does so well, and stay for Melony and Lorna s story. Incredible book You can watch my review here I was actually really surprised at how much I enjoyed this book I am VERY Pro Life and was very skeptical before about picking it upalthough I love John Irving as an author He is excellent at character development and his stories are so multifaceted that you are never disappointed This is certainly true here in this novel My surprisingly favorite character was Melony She was hauntingly creepy, pathetically adorable and demanding of your attention although not a primary character I loved how Irving intertwined her story into the theme of the book There was a parallel running between Dr Larch and Homer that Irving carved brilliantly Although somewhat expected, the ending was tragic and sad I found myself torn with my own personal feelings about the love triangle of Wally, Candy and Homer One always wants the orphan to find his her riches or personal happiness This novel reminds us that sometimes even the underdog doesn t win although he plays a damn good game All in all, this was a wonderful read Hats off to Irving once again for a rich and delectable story 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 would be well advised to save themselves the ordeal, butthat really is too bad since they would miss out on a wonderful read John Irving is a master writing about the human condition, and given the setting of an orphanage, unwanted children, an elderly ether addicted doctor, this is every bit as great as you would expect it to be.If you find yourself in the same place I was, where you just can t seem find interest in reading any, pick this one up and get to know some wonderful and not so wonderful people. 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 me over His prose is persuasive.Homer Wells is raised in an orphanage in the isolated town of St Cloud s, Maine Although he s been placed with families four separate times, something has always gone wrong with his adoptions, and so he continually ends up back at the orphanage, where he eventually assists Dr Wilbur Larch in his unusual obi gyn practice Women come to St Cloud s to either give their children up for adoption or have the doctor terminate their pregnancies When Homer is old enough to understand the latter, he decides to stop helping with those procedures And when Wally Worthington and Candy Kendall, a glamorous young couple who ve come to terminate their own unexpected pregnancy, tell Homer about the apple orchards back home near the ocean, he leaves with them, planning to stay just for a week or so to learn about orchards for the orphanage.The book essentially recounts Homer s coming of age Out in the big bad world, he realizes that evil and temptation exist, and that moral choices aren t so black and white Having grown up in an old fashioned world, presided over by Larch and Nurses Edna who s secretly in love with Larch and Angela, he s been insulated Choices seem so much easier in the books that he used to read to the orphans Dickens s Great Expectations and David Copperfield for the boys , and Jane Eyre for the girls.In a sense, Homer sets out to realize his own great expectations, working in the orchards that Wally s mother runs, falling in love with Candy and forging a lasting friendship with Wally Meanwhile, Dr Larch, who s addicted to inhaling ether, is getting older the board of the orphanage is looking to replace him Will Homer eventually return Anyone who s only seen the film version will be surprised by a plotline about another major character, Melony, an orphan who initiates Homer into sex and feels betrayed by his departure She s determined to track him down, but her motivations remain vague Revenge Jealousy Again because Irving is such a smooth and skilled writer, the Melony sections are always readable and provide a bit of tension in a plot that can sometimes feel loose.A few other quibbles Homer s decision to leave with Candy and Wally feels odd, especially since he just meets them Often the book s humour works, but just as often it feels contrived And I felt cheated at the end when some big secrets are revealed things we ve anticipated for half the book and we don t get to see the characters responses But I came to love Irving s people I loved seeing them interact with each other, pick up experience, get older, reflect on their earlier selves They ll teach you about the female reproductive system or how many bushels of apples it takes to create a vat of cider They ll make you consider how something as simple as a Ferris Wheel might seem mysterious and magical, or how it might feel to ride a bicycle if you ve never ridden one before I also liked the book s central allegory about blindly following rules At times the theme felt a bit didactic, but at others times it felt beautifully integrated into the story The author has great empathy for his characters And he knows how to create an entire fictional world The details might not seem true in today s busy, cynical world, but they do in the world of the book And that s enough for me.I m looking forward to entering another one of Irving s fictional worlds soon I almost finished Irving s In One Person for a book club, but still had 60 pages to go before the group met I should go back and finish it. 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 that the reader comes to know and love all of them, even those with significant flaws The abortion issue is handled perfectly while it becomes obvious what Irving s opinion is, he presents both sides of the issue objectively and refrains from preaching on the subject or becoming overtly political Normally I recommend reading a book before seeing the movie adaptation, but in this case, the movie is excellent, so by reading the book first, one may not appreciate the film as much as one should Irving is a storyteller on par with Dickens, and I m going to add his other works to my future reading list.
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
- 973 pages
- The Cider House Rules
- John Irving
- 13 June 2018 John Irving