The Cider House Rules by John Irving
"The Cider House Rules" is a timeless masterpiece that tells the story of Homer Wells, an orphan raised by Dr. Wilbur Larch at the St. Cloud's orphanage in Maine. This epic novel is divided into three parts, each covering significant periods in Homer's life, from his formative years at the orphanage to his travels outside of it, and finally, his return to the place he called home.
In the first part of the novel, we witness the unfolding of Homer's life at the orphanage, where he develops a deep bond with Dr. Larch, who becomes a father figure to him. Dr. Larch is a highly skilled physician who is also an abortionist, performing illegal abortions for women who cannot afford to go to a hospital. The tension between Dr. Larch's medical practice and his moral beliefs is a recurring theme throughout the novel. Homer, having grown up under his tutelage, is torn between his loyalty to Dr. Larch and his own moral compass.
The second part of the novel sees Homer leaving the orphanage and traveling to the coast of Maine with Wally and Candy, a couple who run an apple orchard. While working at the orchard, Homer falls in love with Candy, but she is already in a relationship with Wally. The novel explores the complexities of love, desire, and loyalty through their relationship. Moreover, the novel delves into the issue of abortion, a topic that is still relevant today. Homer grapples with his beliefs about abortion and the role he should play in the lives of the women he encounters.
The third and final part of the novel takes place back at the orphanage. Dr. Larch has died, and Homer is faced with the choice of taking over as the new director of the orphanage or continuing his life with Candy. The novel reaches its climax with Homer's decision, which has far-reaching consequences for himself and those around him. The tension between the two paths he can take, both leading to drastically different futures, is palpable, and readers will find themselves on the edge of their seats as they wait to see which path Homer chooses.
At its core, "The Cider House Rules" is a novel about the human experience. It explores the complexities of human relationships, the moral dilemmas we face, and the struggle to define our own identities. The novel touches on themes such as family, sexuality, and the search for identity, weaving them all together seamlessly into a tapestry of life. John Irving's masterful storytelling takes readers on a journey through the lives of the people of St. Cloud's, Maine, where the story is set, and leaves them with a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
In conclusion, "The Cider House Rules" is a book that every lover of literature should read at least once. It is a timeless classic that speaks to the human experience in a way that few other novels can. Through the eyes of Homer Wells and the other memorable characters in the book, readers will find themselves grappling with the same issues that they face in their own lives. This novel is not just a story, but a journey that will stay with readers long after they have turned the final page.