Review

The Cider House Rules

by John Irving

Read an Excerpt



Wilbur Larch, MD, operates the St. Cloud orphanage in northern
Maine in the 1920s. The setting is a large apple orchard, in which
the orphans help out in the cider house alongside migrant workers
during the picking season. Dr. Larch, who delivers many
illegitimate babies during his tenure as director of St. Cloud's
comes to the conclusion that perhaps abortion is a better answer
for some of the young women who land on his doorstep --- twelve
year old girls, victims of rape and so on --- so he becomes an
abortionist.

Homer Wells is one of the orphans growing up under his tutelage,
who seems to be unadoptable. Although he is a bright and
enterprising boy, he returns time and again. Dr. Larch realizes
that Homer will probably spend his life at St. Cloud's, so Larch
decides to train him to take over his profession as St. Cloud's
abortionist. Homer is reluctant and refuses to learn the
trade.

As in all Irving novels, the characters are complex and the plot is
multilayered.Homer matures, falls in and out of love, the cider
house workers present a special problem for Dr. Larch and Homer,
and Dr. Larch is a largely flawed man with an addiction to ether.
Perhaps the most political leaning of Irving's books, THE CIDER
HOUSE RULES was written in 1985 after the whimsical HOTEL NEW
HAMPSHIRE.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 21, 2011

The Cider House Rules
by John Irving

  • Publication Date: December 9, 1993
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 598 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345387651
  • ISBN-13: 9780345387653