October 08, 2011
The Cider House Rules by John Irving
The book revolves mainly around two men. These men are Wilbur Larch, an abortionist doctor who runs an orphanage and does his best to help the women that come to him. The other man is Homer Wells, one of the orphans that is under Larch's care. At first, Larch uses Homer as a kind of apprentice, teaching him the business, but Homer doesn't think that's what he wants to do with his life. When he gets an opportunity to leave, he does and stays away for the majority of his life at the home of some friends who had come to the orphanage for an abortion, and who also happen to be quite rich with an orchard farm. Dr. Larch continues to hope that Homer will change his mind and come back, but recognizes his need to get away and learn of the outside world. Years pass through this book and a lot of events happen in both their lives. Larch grows old and his need becomes more pressing for Homer to come back, but with love on the outside and tons of questions in his head, Homer doesn't know that he'll ever want to.
The characters are extremely thoroughly developed in this book. A lot of time and care was spent on them and even the side characters have enough background and personality that they feel like real people. Homer, while he doesn't say a lot ("Right"), has his views clearly expressed and goes through a lot of turmoil and decision making in the book. Larch, I actually liked a lot. He had enough flaws to make him real but was still a very good person. The other characters were all well thought out as well.
The plot however, moved slow. It bored me to no end in some parts and it took me forever to get through this book because of it. While I appreciate how Irving gave opposing views fairly on the abortion issue in this book, I thought that perhaps having his characters express these feelings so much, he forgot about the rest of the story and making it move along and interesting. It was just so slow at parts. I do have to warn the meeker readers out there. This is not a nice light story. It is gruesome, bloody, racy, and shocking in some aspects. There were many times that I couldn't believe what I was reading it was so different from the majority of books out there. Just be prepared for this.
While I'll probably move on to other of his books, I don't think it will be for awhile. This book which having decent characters, just didn't entertain me. It isn't one I'd recommend to most people.
The Cider House Rules