0128 | The Cider House Rules – John Irving

Context: Finished this (first edition) off the day we made a massive £7 at a car boot sale.

REVIEW
I really liked this but had a really hard time trying to pin down exactly why. I’ve read Garp and didn’t really enjoy that at all. What I think got me here was the way the whole story was tinged with a kind of melancholy.

That melancholy made the whole range of characters appeal to me like very few novels have. There are usually characters in a novel you side with, you relate to, you feel for. Then there are those you want to see hanged. But in Cider, Irving manages to help you sympathise with all of them. Even the one you really don’t want to you still feel something for – it’s a kind of respect.

And to me, to create characters that you fear hating because you fear not respecting them as people is a triumph of fiction. It’s all to easy to hate Uriah Heep, for example. He’s way too stereotyped. But Irving has created with Cider a range of characters, all of whom you respect as people.

I think, actually, that is quite profound. After all, the novel does revolve around an issue which divides whole communities and nations. Even so, it is so well crafted and seen through the intimacies of those involved that you manage to see both sides of it all the way through.

It truly is a remarkable book, much better than The World According to Garp, in my opinion, and, I’ve heard, not as good as A Prayer for Owen Meany. Looking forward to that one day.

FIRST LINE
In the hospital of the orphanage – the boys’ division at St. Cloud’s, Maine – two nurses were in charge of naming the new babies and checking that their little penises were healing from the obligatory cicumcision.

CLOSING LINE
To Nurse Edna, who was in love, and to Nurse Angela, who wasn’t (but who had in her wisdom named both Homer Wells and Fuzzy Stone), there was no fault to be found in the hearts of either Dr. Stone or Dr. Larch, who were – if there ever were – Princes of Maine, Kings of New England.

RATING
rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb

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  • Cipriano November 23, 2008, 6:50 pm

    This is one of the Irving’s I have NOT read yet, and will probably be the last one of his I ever read simply because I saw the movie, and I hate when that happens, you know? As in, one should always read the book first, THEN see the movie if there is a movie of the book. That’s just my opinion, I guess.
    At any rate, Irving is [for sure] one of my top five living authors. I have really enjoyed every one of the four books I have read, but the best one so far is Owen Meany, for sure. And so I really encourage you to pick that one up in your travels.
    I love the photo of the book. Superb angle and lighting.

    Reply

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