Book Review: The Cider House Rules by John Irving
Preview… “The Cider House Rules” is one of my top three favorite books (along with “Jane Eyre” and “Love in the Time of Cholera”).
Irving tells a fascinating story that spans three generations of characters. The eldest primary character is Dr. Wilbur Larch, the director of an orphanage, who both delivers and aborts unwanted children. For the bulk of the story, we follow Homer Wells, an orphan who was never adopted and ended up becoming Dr. Larch’s protégé in the obstetric business. Homer decides that it is morally wrong to perform abortions and eventually leaves the orphanage (and his apprenticeship) in the company of a young couple, who he meets when they come in for an abortion. Homer secretly falls in love with the girl, Candy, while her boyfriend, Wally, is off to war.
The third primary character that we follow is Angel, Homer’s son. Angel grows up and falls in love with a migrant African-American orchard worker, who is pregnant with her father’s child. Homer must decide whether abortion can be correct and proper in some instances, all the while his heart keeps pulling him back towards the orphanage and Dr. Larch.
You may like this book if… You like reading stories that are both entertaining and informative, you enjoy following multiple main characters, you are interested in learning more about abortion and back-alley abortion against the back drop of WW2, you like dramatic storytelling, you like to ponder several moral and social questions, you like reading about characters who are flawed and vulnerable
You may not like this book if…you do not want to read about issues that you think are wrong, you don’t want to get into your characters’ heads too much, you don’t like reading about uncomfortable circumstances, like accountings of back-alley abortion, rape, assault or racial discrimination, you prefer the film adaptation to closely follow the story in the book and don’t like things to be cut out of the plot line, you do not like characters who are flawed and sometimes make very obvious mistakes