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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly trouching yet controversial tale
Although I consider myself fairly well-read, I had never picked up a John Irving book in the past. I actually bought this book because I'd heard about the movie. (sidebar: DO NOT see the movie after reading this book-it is surfacy, american pap with the depth and passion removed.)
I found this book completely engrossing. It was so touching and passionate while...
Published on 7 Jan 2001

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Half way and not certain to finish...
Well written but bitsy and slow moving...going nowhere feel to it...couldn't really empathise with the characters who were a weak bunch...for me this novel by John Irving lacks punch and passion and its almost scripted academically at times..the reader can easily assume that the novelist is a clever buckoo....not really working for me...but as I say well crafted by an...
Published 4 months ago by Mr. John Sweeney


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly trouching yet controversial tale, 7 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Although I consider myself fairly well-read, I had never picked up a John Irving book in the past. I actually bought this book because I'd heard about the movie. (sidebar: DO NOT see the movie after reading this book-it is surfacy, american pap with the depth and passion removed.)
I found this book completely engrossing. It was so touching and passionate while telling a tale largely involving the difficult, delicate subject of abortion. The characters are well-written and, even though most would be considered misfits, the reader gets under their skin and roots for them, even the defiant Melony.
This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a novel which tugs at the heartstrings while being thought-provoking.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never read Irving ? Got some time ?, 20 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cider House Rules (Paperback)
Most people come across Irving via "A Prayer for Owen Meany", which has a startling fanatical following. "Cider House" is a better story: ok, its hardly concise, ok, he lulls you almost to boredom before dropping the gore on you, or better yet, making you laugh out loud - ever wondered what goes through a toddler's mind sliding down a hill in a cardboard box and having his forward progress halted by a corpse ? - but sometimes, as in this book, his prose becomes poetic. Let it roll over you, if you've never read Irving, this is the one to try.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 11 Feb 2002
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Princes of Maine, Kings of New England., 18 Oct 1999
John Irving is an outstanding and extraordinary writer. He can write about quite secular events with such an injection of magic and beauty that no scene is anything but fascinating. His development of characters and the authors relationship with them leaves one constantly devastated to have to finish the book and consequently their relationship with the characters.
The Cider House Rules is an epic book that never disappoints. The glowing honesty of the two main characters Dr Wilbur Larch and Homer wells his protege is the key to the success of this book. They are bright shining knights or as John Irving suggests, Princes of Maine and Kings of New England. Read it, read them all!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tiredness at work, 1 Feb 2007
By 
K. Adams "Jimmythemod" (Stoke, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm just sat on my dinner break and I'm feeling very tired.

The blame rest's solely on John Irvings shoulders, I just couldnt put this book down last night.

The story line is fantastic and the futher I read it just seemed to bring me closer to maine and the characters.

I will be reading more by Irving because of this book although I know I will return to this book again and again.

I would reccomend this book to anyone that enjoys reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, 19 July 2006
By 
Mr. S. Moulster (Southampton, Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cider House Rules (Paperback)
One of my favourite books. If you haven't read Irving before, I'd recommend starting with this or "The World According to Garp". If you like those, go to "The Hotel New Hampshire", "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and then the rest.

I'm not good at long books, but don't baulk at an Irving; though I often feel they could be a bit shorter really. Nevertheless, always a fantastic read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars if you loved the film, 12 Oct 2002
By A Customer
I loved this book. I thought the film was moving, a bit of a girlie film.Both film and book cover the subjects of abortion and child abuse and should be quite heavy going. The book is compelling and memorable, once you have read it I guarantee you will remember it. It's beautifully crafted, and yet quite a light hearted book. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good novel, 24 April 2008
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The Cider House Rules is a good example of John Irving at his best - it's a long, rich, complex and always fulfilling novel. Those who are familiar with Irving's other books will recognise the basic premise - it follows the life of an American man in unconventional circumstances - but his books are too complex and quirky to be formulaic.

Homer Wells, the protagonist, is a well developed central character, and he is supported by a cast of vivid and eccentric supporting acts. Irving describes all of his characters, however minor, in great detail - occasionally almost too much. As in all Irving books (that I have read) an important role is played by a dominating, overpoweringly strong female character who influences Homer in his early life. This character is present in everything I have read by him thus far. At least this incarnation is more likeable than some of the others I have encountered.

Wells grows up in an orphanage run by the saintly Dr Larch. An important theme of the story is abortion - Larch performs them illegally but safely, after seeing the horrific consequences of 'back street' abortions. Irving clearly conducted a great deal of gynaecological research, and the process of abortion is described in graphic detail. Therefore anyone who finds this topic upsetting should steer clear of the novel.

One of the best things about this novel - as with all Irving's work - is that it's never clear what is going to happen. Like real life, it is a journey and a surprise. There is no clear end point for the reader to reach, therefore it remains surprising and fresh throughout.

My only real criticisms would be the very long chapters - which make it hard to pick up and put down - and a tendancy towards a little too much detail at times, especially with regards to non-central characters.

Overall though it's a very well written story and has more humour than a lot of Irving's books. Not as good as 'A Prayer for Owen Meany', but probably the best of the rest.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars entertains - and instructs - on many levels - strongly recommended!, 31 Jan 2011
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This novel entertains - and indeed instructs - on many levels.

This is a story about a doctor, Wilbur Larch, who runs an orphanage but who also gives illegal abortions in early 20th century USA, one of his orphans, Homer Wells, whom he wishes to take over the trade (both trades), and Wilbur's back story, plus Homer's "forward" story through to his mid-40s. It also covers the life of Melony, a fellow orphan, the Worthingtons who run an orchard and develop the cider house rules, and the black apple pickers who visit the Worthingtons each year and live in the cider house. The plot is all that this might suggest and more: rambling, episodic, but never less interesting and surprising through all the novel's 700 pages. It is in part, indeed, compelling.

The story is also "about" transgression: the giving of abortions; sexual morality more generally - adultery and deceit - committed by very likeable characters; the rules of the cider house developed by the Worthington family, but also the "real" rules of the migrant workers; and the migrant workers' transgressions of those rules. At this level too, the novel is never less than interesting and surprising - in fact mostly it's deeply thought-provoking.

There are continuous references to two novels of Dickens - Great Expectations and David Copperfield, and to Jane Eyre. Irving is also asking us: is this what a "Victorian" novel would look like today? This too could prompt a lot of reflection - and a lot of admiration for what Irving has achieved in purely literary terms.

So: strongly recommended. The only thing you will have read that is like this, is perhaps, other novels of Irving. A very remarkable - and enjoyable - book. (Though A Prayer for Owen Meany is even more strongly recommendable...)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, enthralling, challenging..., 10 May 2007
By 
S. Gilmore (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I loved this book; the 'cast' contains a number of memorable characters who are well-drawn and likeable. The book deals with love, morality and culture and is a fascinating and challenging read. The author includes notes which suggest he has done a reasonable amount of research into the medical and apple-growing procedures which are discussed.

This book challenged my own sense of morality and ethics, particularly around the area of abortion.

It is also very funny! Definitely a must-read.

I guess any Irving book will always be compared with Owen Meaney and Garp; to my mind, this is the best I've read.
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