Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Cider House Rules by John Irving

Title: The Cider House Rules

Author: John Irving

Publisher: New York William Morrow and Co.

ASIN: B000P8WU96, 1985, 576 pages

Genre: Fiction

Summary: The secret side of a Maine orphanage intertwines the lives of three residents and two visitors.

The Take-Away: I never would have picked-up this title if it hadn't been for my book club. The blurb on the inside of the front cover really didn't prepare me for what it the story was truly about - a doctor performing illegal abortions and the orphan he picks to continue his work.

The book was very frank on sex and abortion in the early 1900 (1920s to 1960s). In fact, it was so frank that I questioned if it was accurate, instead of a modern view of what life was actually life. Irving added notes to the back of the book also, with supplemental antedotes that were mostly relayed by his grandfather. Some of the story seemed overplayed, especially as I'm used to reading this from writers of the time. Were they censored? (Most likely, I realize, but were private discussion as frank as Irving leads us to believe.)

In my mind, the openness is because of the services performed, and not a realistic portrayal of the what happened in most conversations.

However, Irving has a wide variety of story lines, perspectives and character growth, that touching on all of them would make this an essay instead of a review. So I'm stopping there.

Recommendation: An interesting look at the life of two men involved deeply in the orphanage. It also is a great coming of age story for each of them.

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Bethany K. Warner said...

So does this mean you liked it?
I had the same reaction the first time I read it.

slpenney said...

I did like it, a lot more than I thought I would.

Considering it was originally published in 1985, it was probably very controversial. And explains some of the lack of detail on the inside flap blurb.

It would be interesting to compare blurbs from the various printings, I think.

Daisy said...

I read this a while ago, and enjoyed it very much. I read and appreciate most of John Irving's work. I can't say "like" -- that would almost be too simple a word where Irving is concerned.