One of John Boyne's favourite books.
Following Homer Wells as he grows up in an orphanage and finds himself learning the skills of cider making. Another gem from the pen of one the quirkiest and heartfelt authors of our time.
May 2010 Guest Editor John Boyne on John Irving...
My favourite contemporary novelist. When I read The Cider House Rules at the age of 16, I became absolutely convinced that I wanted to be a writer. Irving combines humour and tragedy with an extraordinary ambition to recreate decades of a character’s life in each of his books.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving
Set among the apple orchards of rural Maine, it is a peverse world in which Homer Wells' odyssey begins. As the oldest unadopted offspring at St Cloud's orphanage, he learns about the skills which, one way or another, help young and not-so-young women, from Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's founder -- a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether.Dr Larch loves all his orphans, especically Homer Wells. It is Homer's story we follow, from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to his adult life running a cider-making factory and his strange relationship with the wife of his closest friend.
The Cider House Rules is difficult to define and impossible not to admire Daily Telegraph John Irving has been compared with Kurt Vonnegut and J. D. Salinger but is arguably more inventive than either. Wry, laconic, he sketches his characters with an economy that springs from a feeling for words and mastery over his craft. This superbly original book is one to be read and remembered The Times Funnier than Garp...it's an irresistibly readable yarn spun by a master's voice Time Out Like the rest of Irving's fiction, it is often disconcerting, but always exciting and provoking Observer
About the Author
John Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942, and he once admitted that he was a 'grim' child. Although he excelled in English at school and knew by the time he graduated that he wanted to write novels, it was not until he met a young Southern novelist named John Yount, at the University of New Hampshire, that he received encouragement. 'It was so simple,' he remembers. 'Yount was the first person to point out that anything I did except writing was going to be vaguely unsatisfying.'
In 1963, Irving enrolled at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, and he later worked as a university lecturer. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, about a plot to release all the animals from the Vienna Zoo, was followed by The Water-Method Man, a comic tale of a man with a urinary complaint, and The 158-Pound Marriage, which exposes the complications of spouse-swapping. Irving achieved international recognition with The World According to Garp, which he hoped would 'cause a few smiles among the tough-minded and break a few softer hearts'.
The Hotel New Hampshire is a startlingly original family saga, and The Cider House Rules is the story of Doctor Wilbur Larch - saint, obstetrician, founder of an orphanage, ether addict and abortionist - and of his favourite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted. A Prayer for Owen Meany features the most unforgettable character Irving has yet created. A Son of the Circus is an extraordinary evocation of modern day India. John Irving's latest and most ambitious novel is A Widow for One Year.
A collection of John Irving’s shorter writing, Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, was published in 1993. Irving has also written the screenplays for The Cider House Rules and A Son of the Circus, and wrote about his experiences in the world of movies in his memoir My Movie Business.
Irving has had a life-long passion for wrestling, and he plays a wrestling referee in the film of The World According to Garp. In his memoir, The Imaginary Girlfriend, John Irving writes about his life as a wrestler, a novelist and as a wrestling coach. He now writes full-time, has three children and lives in Vermont and Toronto.
More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendation