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First published in 1985 by William Morrow, The Cider House Rules is John Irving's sixth novel. Set in rural Maine in the first half of the twentieth century, it tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch—saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St. Cloud's, ether addict and abortionist. It is also the story of Dr. Larch's favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted.

Topics: Maine, Macabre, Abortions, Doctors, Love Triangle, Adoption, Pregnancy, Ethics, Made into a Movie, Family, Friendship, Morality, Social Class, Friends to Lovers, Childhood, Realism, 20th Century, Male Author, American Author, Contemplative, 1950s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, Epic, Dramatic, and Tragic

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062235183
List price: $12.99
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amazing book. almost 1000pgs but it kept my interest the entire time! more
Strong strong characters just like all his stories; very vibrant writing and will make you feel as if you should take a stand on several moral issues one way or the other; but just like most of his books; this is for mature readers so as a parent you get to decide what that meansmore
Years ago, I discovered A Prayer for Owen Meany and loved it. I've read other books by Irving since, always happily but never with the same degree of passion. This novel carried the same passion. Discussing abortion is not easy, but Irving masters the topic: discrete, passionate, convincing, respectful, he does a tremendous job of bringing his point across without dismissing the seriousness of the decision and its implications.The storyline itself is delightful, full of ambiguities and deep emotion, tact and subtlety. It carries, of course, Irving's trademark humour and stamp of tall tales. It's compelling and intrinsically novelistic: there's just no putting the book down. A book that will stay with me for a long time.more
What can I say? This is a classic for a reason. This is my third Irving, after Owen Meany and A Widow For One Year, and by now, I think I pretty much have to read everything the man wrote.

I love Irving's calm, measured narrative voice. He made me laugh out loud several times during the book, but it didn't feel like he was trying too hard. There's just something inviting about his writing, and I love his quiet observations about human nature. Even when describing negative human qualities, it feels like there's a love for people in his writing.

A truly wonderful book.more
This book got into some of my deepest, darkest places.more
I liked this novel. It had some strong characters, an engaging plot, and an absolutely fantastic setting. John Irving is one of the only contemporary realistic novelists that I go out of my way to read.

However, I think I have to take issue with the reviewers whose opinions were pasted on the back cover, insisting that this is "clearly" John Irving's best novel. I am inclined to disagree. What mainly troubled me was the protagonist, Homer Wells. Homer Wells is not an absolutely horrible main character; he has a personality and an interesting life, but he totally fails to jump off the page. When I think of him, the first thing that comes to mind is his favorite response, "Right." I guess John Irving is intentionally writing about someone whose whole schtick is to be as accommodating as possible to those around him, but he doesn't give Homer enough of an inner life to compensate, and what we get is someone who is basically "a receptacle for plot" (to quote, I think, my creative writing prof.) Irving can write memorable characters; there are a couple in Cider House Rules, but Homer Wells isn't one of them. It's like if Homer wrote the Iliad all about Menelaus. Sure, stuff happened to him, but he's not the one you care about.

In contrast, my favorite Irving novel, A Prayer For Owen Meany, also has a main character who is not quite as interesting as, well, Owen Meany himself, but he is still really interesting. He has nuances, he has a thought process, and he has an absolutely crucial friendship with Owen Meany. He is not Holmes, but he's Watson. While Homer is... well, Homer is Frodo. I like Frodo okay, but I am really glad that most of the Mordor bits of Lord of the Rings were narrated by Sam. Okay, I'll stop using weird literary metaphors.

Related to this are my mixed feelings about the ending. I didn't strongly dislike the ending, but it didn't move me the way the ending to such a big story should. I was mostly like, "Oh. Okay." It was clever, but I needed more than clever.

It was still a very good novel, prettily written (occasionally the omniscient narration was a little distancing, but generally it was pulled off), and worth reading just for the rich setting. But I still like both Owen Meany and the World According to Garp more. (And the Goodreads ratings agree with me!)more
I can't imagine how John Irving was able to weave such a engrossing tale single handedly. There are so many well developed stories within the story and then it all comes full circle in the end. Amazing...more
With a recommendation from a friend (thank you, Butterbean!) I picked this up. I had never read anything by John Irving and didn't know what to expect. I surely didn't expect to fall in love with the book, but I did!more
An orphanage in 1940's America where the doctor either delivers orphans (ie unwanted children) or perform abortions which at that point is still against the law. We follow the path of one particular orphan, Homer Wells who is destined to be the oldest orphan in the orphanage having rejected attempts at fostering. He eventually moves to live with a family who grow apples but not before he is taught the techniques necessary to perform either form of deliverence. The book has the warm narrative voice that you might associate with Garrison Keillor and even though it is of some considerable length it is easy to become entwined in the characters developing in front of you. The pros and cons of abortion are developed within the scheme of the book but it is certainly not simply a vehicle to perform that function.more
This book is heavy handed in its message, but since that would be the mindset of the lead characters (third person omniscient POV) I didn't mind. I thought the characters were all well rounded, and each had a distinctive voice. The story was entertaining to read, and I enjoyed seeing the character arc with Homer. It was interesting to see Homer start off very grounded in his moral opinion, and then as he wandered through the harshness of the world outside the orphanage he learned that maybe things weren't as simple as before, that there were gray areas. It was thought provoking.So, the heavy handed message may turn some readers off, but whether you are pro-choice or pro-life I feel it's an interesting read, especially for the unique characters presented in the story.more
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 vulnerableYou 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 mistakesmore
This book was a sure thinker. I enjoyed it to the end!!more
A wonderful novel. It has a light playful touch on the one hand , and on the other, deals with serious issues on many level.more
The Cider House Rules by John Irving is the story of an orphanage and it's inhabitants. Focusing mostly on the aging Dr. Larch and the orphan Homer Wells. Dr. Larch is the only doctor at the St. Cloud's orphanage in Maine which has a small secret. They don't just deliver babies at St. Clouds, they help prevent them too. The story takes place from the early 1900's to the 1950's, a time when abortions are very much illegal no matter the circumstances. Dr. Larch is haunted by a memory from his past which drives him to the help the women that no one else will do.Homer Wells is an orphan, born at St. Cloud's, who repeatedly proves that he belongs there. The Dr. and nurse of the orphanage keep trying to find him a new home but Homer always finds a way back until they just quit trying. Dr. Larch decides then that Homer would make a good doctor and sets about training a teenage Homer in the ways of the orphanage. Mainly, ensuring each woman who comes gets an "orphan or an abortion". The more Homer sees of the daily operations of St. Cloud's the more disillusioned with becoming a doctor he becomes. When a young couple comes to St. Cloud's and offers a means of escape, Homer readily takes it.Over the next several years both Homer and Dr. Larch struggle with Homer's absence. Homer struggles to find his place in this new world while the Dr. struggles with his absence. Even at a distance the two fall into a father-son type relationship with the 'son' wanting to go his own way and the 'father' wanting him to follow in his footsteps.I really enjoyed the book. I was afraid, going in, that the main theme of abortion and a woman's right to choose would be hard to read 500+ pages over. However, while abortion may be prevalent in the book, I didn't feel that the issues was beat over your head. By the middle, it's just an underlying theme while the characters interactions and personal growth take center stage. Each character is clearly developed and you get a good sense of each one. I could easily picture each and every person mentioned and their personality is clearly defined. When someone talks you don't even need a clarifying "Homer said" or anything like that because their 'voice' is so easily distinguishable.Overall, it was a compelling story, an interesting read and I would recommend it. A word of caution though. I am not a big fan of abortions, though I try not to judge anyone who may choose to get one for their own reasons, and the subject matter didn't really bother me. However, if you have very strong feelings on the matter, this book may be a bit harder for you to read. You have been warned.more
Second best book by Irving, I would say. It follows the unlikely life of an orphan, going from an orphanage to an orchard, and back to the orphanage. Great story, you just want to read it all at once.more
Is it better to have an orphan or have an abortion?More than a story about an orphanage, orphans and a doctor who preforms abortions, this has a great mix of adventure, horror, humor and love. Homer Wells is an orphan who grows up in St. Clouds orphanage. This book follows Homer's life as a child, growing up, training with Dr. Larch in obstetrics, moving away from the orphanage, falling in love, having a child, and coming back to St. Clouds.more
Long, boring at times, couldn't figure out where Irving was going at first - probably made a good movie when they cut it down to the main story line. Finished it, but struggled.more
I loved this book about Homer Wells an Orphan born at St Clouds orphanage in Maine. Everyone loves his sweet disposition yet all the adoptions set up for Homer Wells are unsuccessful! Wilbur Larch the patriarch of St Clouds, loves Homer like a son and is secretly glad!Wilbur Is addicted to ether from his younger days when he contracted Gonorrhoea from a prostitute that his father organised as a right of passage. He sees 2 women die in terrible pain because of botched abortions and decides he will do all he can to stop it happening to other women, so he performs abortions,( always safely but always in secret) or delivers a live baby to women that want their babies adopted, but he always wants to make things easy for these poor women.He has plans for Homer Wells, but has to let him have a life of his own, to make sure they come to fruition! We see Homer trying to find happiness, but always feel that there is something missing for him. He falls into an unpassionate relationship with Melony another lonely orphan at St Clouds, but it was never going to last as Melony was angry MOST of the time and frightened Homer ALL of the time! the relationship fizzles out naturally and Meloney spends the rest of her adult life searching for the hero she thought Homer was going to be.The story is complex and very very touching, I so wanted happiness for Homer but it never fully arrived and I was a little disappointed in how we see Melony at the end.I loved this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly.more
I enjoyed this story, serious and funny all at the same time. John Irving is a great story teller.more
One of the Great American Novels of the 20th centurty.more
I *think* I like John Irving; A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favorite books of all time, and I remember liking The World According to Garp when I read it (as a teenager). But it took me several tries over a couple of years to really read this one. I liked a lot of aspects of it, but I have to say that overall I think the book was at least 100 pages too long. I understand the reasons for everything that made it too long, but I can't help but think it would have been better if it had been a little tighter.more
Dr. Wilbur Leach becomes a physician in the early 20th century. He sees two women die from illegal, botched abortions and decides to provide medical abortions for the women who seek them. He also sets out to inform women of the dangers of having an abortion from an untrained person.When he becomes associated with St. Cloud's Orphanage in Maine, his reputation spreads and women wanting abortions or just to give birth and leave their children to be adopted, come to St. Cloud's.Homer Wells is born at that facility. He's loved by the entire staff for his sweet disposition and helpfulness.He is placed into a number of adoptions but none of them take. Each time, he returns to St. Cloud's, the place where he really considers that he belongs. He remains there as he grows up and becomes Dr. Leach's assistant.This detailed story, tells of life in Maine in the early 20th century. It tells of the life of the people after the mills closed, the water pollution, and the sad way of life of so many of the poor people dwelling there.One of the author's themes is for the protagonist to give back to society and they seem to be congradulated for it. However, this novel also describes the painful moments such as, the adoptions that are done for the wrong reasons. We also see the continuous stream of women taking the train to the orphanage to seek an abortion. There is never counseling for these women or an attempt to give them an alternative to taking the life of the child within them. Where Dr. Leach is viewed as a kindly, angelic man, he really is taking lives of the children in their mother's wombs and nothing is said of that or that he is an ether addict. He became addicted to ether as a result of the gonorrhea he contracted after his father took him to a prostitute as a right of passage into adulthood.The story is a classic. Homer Wells is one of the most empathatic character is literature and will be remembered rondly, long after the book is finished.more
One of my favorite's by Irving. And actually, the movie wasn't too bad!more
Irving is a storyteller of the first order. He has intriguing characters, interesting plots, and what I think is a unique way of looking at the world. There is a lot of depth to his stories, and I wonder whether all his books can possibly be as good as this one, or the few others that I have read. He's such a prolific writer, I'm almost afraid to read all of them I don't want to ruin my own image of him!more
Not as good as other books I have read by John Irving - started off well, but petered out a bit towards the middle/end bit. Also in the first bit there was a great deal of detailed life etc, but then later suddenly 15 years had passed - so this book was somewhat inconsistent. Enjoyable nonetheless.more
While this one started off a little slow for me, it was only a matter of time before Irving drew me into the world of Homer Wells. This was truly a large story into a world that is unknown to many. The obvious point of interest in this book is "abortion" and whether or not it is or isn't "God's work." He does a great service to the huge conversation of a controversial topic but allowing us to get so immersed into these characters rather than a generalization. While this is generally what is responded to in reviews, much can be said of a wonderful development of characters and really feeling an understanding of a setting, whether it be St. Cloud's or Ocean View. It's hard to think about moving on after spending so much time in these places, yet there is always another great story awaiting!more
Wonderful book, wonderful picturemore
This is an emotional story, a great read. Really hated that the story ended. Movie does not do the book justice.more
Quite simply, the greatest book ever written... period. If you haven't read this book, you are missing out on a truly exceptional book in all respects. Read it now.more
Read all 50 reviews

Reviews

amazing book. almost 1000pgs but it kept my interest the entire time! more
Strong strong characters just like all his stories; very vibrant writing and will make you feel as if you should take a stand on several moral issues one way or the other; but just like most of his books; this is for mature readers so as a parent you get to decide what that meansmore
Years ago, I discovered A Prayer for Owen Meany and loved it. I've read other books by Irving since, always happily but never with the same degree of passion. This novel carried the same passion. Discussing abortion is not easy, but Irving masters the topic: discrete, passionate, convincing, respectful, he does a tremendous job of bringing his point across without dismissing the seriousness of the decision and its implications.The storyline itself is delightful, full of ambiguities and deep emotion, tact and subtlety. It carries, of course, Irving's trademark humour and stamp of tall tales. It's compelling and intrinsically novelistic: there's just no putting the book down. A book that will stay with me for a long time.more
What can I say? This is a classic for a reason. This is my third Irving, after Owen Meany and A Widow For One Year, and by now, I think I pretty much have to read everything the man wrote.

I love Irving's calm, measured narrative voice. He made me laugh out loud several times during the book, but it didn't feel like he was trying too hard. There's just something inviting about his writing, and I love his quiet observations about human nature. Even when describing negative human qualities, it feels like there's a love for people in his writing.

A truly wonderful book.more
This book got into some of my deepest, darkest places.more
I liked this novel. It had some strong characters, an engaging plot, and an absolutely fantastic setting. John Irving is one of the only contemporary realistic novelists that I go out of my way to read.

However, I think I have to take issue with the reviewers whose opinions were pasted on the back cover, insisting that this is "clearly" John Irving's best novel. I am inclined to disagree. What mainly troubled me was the protagonist, Homer Wells. Homer Wells is not an absolutely horrible main character; he has a personality and an interesting life, but he totally fails to jump off the page. When I think of him, the first thing that comes to mind is his favorite response, "Right." I guess John Irving is intentionally writing about someone whose whole schtick is to be as accommodating as possible to those around him, but he doesn't give Homer enough of an inner life to compensate, and what we get is someone who is basically "a receptacle for plot" (to quote, I think, my creative writing prof.) Irving can write memorable characters; there are a couple in Cider House Rules, but Homer Wells isn't one of them. It's like if Homer wrote the Iliad all about Menelaus. Sure, stuff happened to him, but he's not the one you care about.

In contrast, my favorite Irving novel, A Prayer For Owen Meany, also has a main character who is not quite as interesting as, well, Owen Meany himself, but he is still really interesting. He has nuances, he has a thought process, and he has an absolutely crucial friendship with Owen Meany. He is not Holmes, but he's Watson. While Homer is... well, Homer is Frodo. I like Frodo okay, but I am really glad that most of the Mordor bits of Lord of the Rings were narrated by Sam. Okay, I'll stop using weird literary metaphors.

Related to this are my mixed feelings about the ending. I didn't strongly dislike the ending, but it didn't move me the way the ending to such a big story should. I was mostly like, "Oh. Okay." It was clever, but I needed more than clever.

It was still a very good novel, prettily written (occasionally the omniscient narration was a little distancing, but generally it was pulled off), and worth reading just for the rich setting. But I still like both Owen Meany and the World According to Garp more. (And the Goodreads ratings agree with me!)more
I can't imagine how John Irving was able to weave such a engrossing tale single handedly. There are so many well developed stories within the story and then it all comes full circle in the end. Amazing...more
With a recommendation from a friend (thank you, Butterbean!) I picked this up. I had never read anything by John Irving and didn't know what to expect. I surely didn't expect to fall in love with the book, but I did!more
An orphanage in 1940's America where the doctor either delivers orphans (ie unwanted children) or perform abortions which at that point is still against the law. We follow the path of one particular orphan, Homer Wells who is destined to be the oldest orphan in the orphanage having rejected attempts at fostering. He eventually moves to live with a family who grow apples but not before he is taught the techniques necessary to perform either form of deliverence. The book has the warm narrative voice that you might associate with Garrison Keillor and even though it is of some considerable length it is easy to become entwined in the characters developing in front of you. The pros and cons of abortion are developed within the scheme of the book but it is certainly not simply a vehicle to perform that function.more
This book is heavy handed in its message, but since that would be the mindset of the lead characters (third person omniscient POV) I didn't mind. I thought the characters were all well rounded, and each had a distinctive voice. The story was entertaining to read, and I enjoyed seeing the character arc with Homer. It was interesting to see Homer start off very grounded in his moral opinion, and then as he wandered through the harshness of the world outside the orphanage he learned that maybe things weren't as simple as before, that there were gray areas. It was thought provoking.So, the heavy handed message may turn some readers off, but whether you are pro-choice or pro-life I feel it's an interesting read, especially for the unique characters presented in the story.more
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 vulnerableYou 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 mistakesmore
This book was a sure thinker. I enjoyed it to the end!!more
A wonderful novel. It has a light playful touch on the one hand , and on the other, deals with serious issues on many level.more
The Cider House Rules by John Irving is the story of an orphanage and it's inhabitants. Focusing mostly on the aging Dr. Larch and the orphan Homer Wells. Dr. Larch is the only doctor at the St. Cloud's orphanage in Maine which has a small secret. They don't just deliver babies at St. Clouds, they help prevent them too. The story takes place from the early 1900's to the 1950's, a time when abortions are very much illegal no matter the circumstances. Dr. Larch is haunted by a memory from his past which drives him to the help the women that no one else will do.Homer Wells is an orphan, born at St. Cloud's, who repeatedly proves that he belongs there. The Dr. and nurse of the orphanage keep trying to find him a new home but Homer always finds a way back until they just quit trying. Dr. Larch decides then that Homer would make a good doctor and sets about training a teenage Homer in the ways of the orphanage. Mainly, ensuring each woman who comes gets an "orphan or an abortion". The more Homer sees of the daily operations of St. Cloud's the more disillusioned with becoming a doctor he becomes. When a young couple comes to St. Cloud's and offers a means of escape, Homer readily takes it.Over the next several years both Homer and Dr. Larch struggle with Homer's absence. Homer struggles to find his place in this new world while the Dr. struggles with his absence. Even at a distance the two fall into a father-son type relationship with the 'son' wanting to go his own way and the 'father' wanting him to follow in his footsteps.I really enjoyed the book. I was afraid, going in, that the main theme of abortion and a woman's right to choose would be hard to read 500+ pages over. However, while abortion may be prevalent in the book, I didn't feel that the issues was beat over your head. By the middle, it's just an underlying theme while the characters interactions and personal growth take center stage. Each character is clearly developed and you get a good sense of each one. I could easily picture each and every person mentioned and their personality is clearly defined. When someone talks you don't even need a clarifying "Homer said" or anything like that because their 'voice' is so easily distinguishable.Overall, it was a compelling story, an interesting read and I would recommend it. A word of caution though. I am not a big fan of abortions, though I try not to judge anyone who may choose to get one for their own reasons, and the subject matter didn't really bother me. However, if you have very strong feelings on the matter, this book may be a bit harder for you to read. You have been warned.more
Second best book by Irving, I would say. It follows the unlikely life of an orphan, going from an orphanage to an orchard, and back to the orphanage. Great story, you just want to read it all at once.more
Is it better to have an orphan or have an abortion?More than a story about an orphanage, orphans and a doctor who preforms abortions, this has a great mix of adventure, horror, humor and love. Homer Wells is an orphan who grows up in St. Clouds orphanage. This book follows Homer's life as a child, growing up, training with Dr. Larch in obstetrics, moving away from the orphanage, falling in love, having a child, and coming back to St. Clouds.more
Long, boring at times, couldn't figure out where Irving was going at first - probably made a good movie when they cut it down to the main story line. Finished it, but struggled.more
I loved this book about Homer Wells an Orphan born at St Clouds orphanage in Maine. Everyone loves his sweet disposition yet all the adoptions set up for Homer Wells are unsuccessful! Wilbur Larch the patriarch of St Clouds, loves Homer like a son and is secretly glad!Wilbur Is addicted to ether from his younger days when he contracted Gonorrhoea from a prostitute that his father organised as a right of passage. He sees 2 women die in terrible pain because of botched abortions and decides he will do all he can to stop it happening to other women, so he performs abortions,( always safely but always in secret) or delivers a live baby to women that want their babies adopted, but he always wants to make things easy for these poor women.He has plans for Homer Wells, but has to let him have a life of his own, to make sure they come to fruition! We see Homer trying to find happiness, but always feel that there is something missing for him. He falls into an unpassionate relationship with Melony another lonely orphan at St Clouds, but it was never going to last as Melony was angry MOST of the time and frightened Homer ALL of the time! the relationship fizzles out naturally and Meloney spends the rest of her adult life searching for the hero she thought Homer was going to be.The story is complex and very very touching, I so wanted happiness for Homer but it never fully arrived and I was a little disappointed in how we see Melony at the end.I loved this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly.more
I enjoyed this story, serious and funny all at the same time. John Irving is a great story teller.more
One of the Great American Novels of the 20th centurty.more
I *think* I like John Irving; A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favorite books of all time, and I remember liking The World According to Garp when I read it (as a teenager). But it took me several tries over a couple of years to really read this one. I liked a lot of aspects of it, but I have to say that overall I think the book was at least 100 pages too long. I understand the reasons for everything that made it too long, but I can't help but think it would have been better if it had been a little tighter.more
Dr. Wilbur Leach becomes a physician in the early 20th century. He sees two women die from illegal, botched abortions and decides to provide medical abortions for the women who seek them. He also sets out to inform women of the dangers of having an abortion from an untrained person.When he becomes associated with St. Cloud's Orphanage in Maine, his reputation spreads and women wanting abortions or just to give birth and leave their children to be adopted, come to St. Cloud's.Homer Wells is born at that facility. He's loved by the entire staff for his sweet disposition and helpfulness.He is placed into a number of adoptions but none of them take. Each time, he returns to St. Cloud's, the place where he really considers that he belongs. He remains there as he grows up and becomes Dr. Leach's assistant.This detailed story, tells of life in Maine in the early 20th century. It tells of the life of the people after the mills closed, the water pollution, and the sad way of life of so many of the poor people dwelling there.One of the author's themes is for the protagonist to give back to society and they seem to be congradulated for it. However, this novel also describes the painful moments such as, the adoptions that are done for the wrong reasons. We also see the continuous stream of women taking the train to the orphanage to seek an abortion. There is never counseling for these women or an attempt to give them an alternative to taking the life of the child within them. Where Dr. Leach is viewed as a kindly, angelic man, he really is taking lives of the children in their mother's wombs and nothing is said of that or that he is an ether addict. He became addicted to ether as a result of the gonorrhea he contracted after his father took him to a prostitute as a right of passage into adulthood.The story is a classic. Homer Wells is one of the most empathatic character is literature and will be remembered rondly, long after the book is finished.more
One of my favorite's by Irving. And actually, the movie wasn't too bad!more
Irving is a storyteller of the first order. He has intriguing characters, interesting plots, and what I think is a unique way of looking at the world. There is a lot of depth to his stories, and I wonder whether all his books can possibly be as good as this one, or the few others that I have read. He's such a prolific writer, I'm almost afraid to read all of them I don't want to ruin my own image of him!more
Not as good as other books I have read by John Irving - started off well, but petered out a bit towards the middle/end bit. Also in the first bit there was a great deal of detailed life etc, but then later suddenly 15 years had passed - so this book was somewhat inconsistent. Enjoyable nonetheless.more
While this one started off a little slow for me, it was only a matter of time before Irving drew me into the world of Homer Wells. This was truly a large story into a world that is unknown to many. The obvious point of interest in this book is "abortion" and whether or not it is or isn't "God's work." He does a great service to the huge conversation of a controversial topic but allowing us to get so immersed into these characters rather than a generalization. While this is generally what is responded to in reviews, much can be said of a wonderful development of characters and really feeling an understanding of a setting, whether it be St. Cloud's or Ocean View. It's hard to think about moving on after spending so much time in these places, yet there is always another great story awaiting!more
Wonderful book, wonderful picturemore
This is an emotional story, a great read. Really hated that the story ended. Movie does not do the book justice.more
Quite simply, the greatest book ever written... period. If you haven't read this book, you are missing out on a truly exceptional book in all respects. Read it now.more
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