The Cider House Rules is an engrossing saga that slowly draws the reader into the lives of Dr. Wilbur Larch and the young orphan, Homer Wells. Not only does it follow their unusual relationship over many years but woven into the story is a series of sub-plots, involving secondary characters, which build the book into a true drama. Often quirky, but quintessentially human, the characters are given colour by compelling descriptions of their, often odd, attitudes, beliefs and interactions with others - the historical and geographical details are all effortlessly woven into this beautifully crafted story. In the context of a novel, social commentary abounds in the story without ever voyaging into the realms of a historical novel or descriptive narrative - the book stays constantly loyal to the journey through life of Dr. Larch and Homer. The true strength of this book is how it subtly draws you in, at first the behaviour of the characters seems completely alien and they appear to be a product of a bygone time. However, as the book progresses you pick-up poignant insights into their motives. For me, the true genius of this book is the empathy you feel with the characters, especially those that are not immediately appealing. This is a very human book which deals with the subject of abortion, often a taboo subject, particularly in American society, with human feeling and without passing judgement.