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  • The Cider House Rules

  • Written by: John Irving
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 24 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From one of America's most beloved and respected writers comes the classic story of Homer Wells, an orphan, and Wilbur Larch, a doctor without children of his own, who develop an extraordinary bond with one another.
©1985 John Irving (P)1999 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What the critics say

"Witty, tenderhearted, fervent, and scarifying." ( New York Times Book Review)
"Gardner understands and conveys the book's sly humor and comprehension of human foibles." ( Los Angeles Times)
"John Irving's best novel....He is among the very best storytellers." ( Philadelphia Inquirer)

What listeners say about The Cider House Rules

Average Customer Ratings
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Timeless

Captivating story. Timeless. Draws you in to the characters and makes you feel like you are on the journey with them.

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Meh

I didn’t love this book. It was long and the story was dull. The narrator has a nice voice but there’s not a lot of difference between the characters.

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beautiful writing

Grover Gardner is an outstanding narrator. His nearly hypnotic rendering of this novel kept me going when I would have started skimming a print version. Irving's story, characters and prose are top notch but the repitition of phrases and arguments made the last half drag.
Thank you Mr. Gardner.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia B Tripoli
  • 2007-07-02

Wonderful

As often happens in my reading, I am curious of how the title was chosen. Although the Cider House and their rules were significant to this story, the orphanage was much more central to its theme. Regardless, this was wonderful to listen to.

I have not read anything of John Irving's before. And if it weren't for the movie getting such high praise, I probably would not have read this one. But I am glad I did. The characters are wonderful. I did not have trouble following who is who despite the large number of people introduced into the tale.

The subject sounds a bit more controversial, to be sure, than it is. But it is presented powerfully simple. I am pro-life, but I am also a nurse and need to offer all options. Just because I do not agree with abortion doesn't mean I rule over you. I can only hope there is a place like this one for those who need it.

The atrocities presented in this tale are numerous: class differences, prejudices, addictions, harsh realities of life all of them. But they are told in such a way that they are neither repulsive nor shocking.

And I did see the movie after listening to this. I am amazed it was rated so high, as it should be banned for desecrating such a wonderful tale. This selection is well worth your time and money.

159 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Elizabeth
  • 2013-01-28

The Very Best

I first read this book in 1986, when it first came out. I even saw the movie. Blame it on the passage of time or a bad memory, but all I remembered about it was that I knew I loved it. Engrossing, deep, funny, moving, sad but satisying. John Irving is the best. The very best. Man, can he tell a story. The narrator is perfect. He covers controversial topics, so know what you are getting into before you start it. This is a book you will be thinking about long after it is done and you will so want to talk about it! It has held up to the passage of time well, also.

104 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christopher
  • 2005-03-04

As good as it gets

The story "The Cider House Rules" has the potential to go down in history as an all time classic. If my great grandchildren are reading this book along with the works of Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck, I wouldn't be surprised.
John Irving is admittedly one of my favorite writers. His ability to tell epic stories about rich, interesting characters is unrivaled in our time. I will never forget the time I spent with Homer, Melony, Dr. Larch, Fuzzy, Candy, and all the others.
Though other authors can write wonderfully engrossing books with thick plots and unexpected twists, nobody can match John Irving for introducing you to real people and making you a part of their lives.
I've read 5 of J.I.'s works, all of which moved me and made me a fuller person. "The Cider House Rules" was undoubtedly the best.
Grover Gardner does a woderful job with his distinctive voice. He walks a brilliant line between lending credibility to his characters, but not stealing the show. His understated way of narrating/acting was perfect for this book.
For the rest of my life, I'll be on the lookout for the next "The Cider House Rules." Since a work of art like this comes along so rarely, don't you miss it.

50 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Margot
  • 2011-10-21

Great, but not his best

After finishing A Prayer for Owen Meany and enjoying it so immensely, I thought I'd try listening to another book by John Irving. I'd read The World According to Garp several years ago, but was dissuaded after reading so many negative reviews of the audible version. There were many positive reviews for Cider House Rules, so I gave it a go. I remember enjoying the book when I'd first read it and enjoyed the movie as well.

It's a really good book. The story is very unique, with many components that make you think about things you wouldn't normally, i.e. the life of an orphan, people with convictions so strong that their lives are centered around them, the many different types of relationships that exist and some of the not so common ways people express love. I appreciated the technical medical details of obstetrics and also enjoyed one character's perspective of WWII. The topics of pregnancy, abortion and adoption were much more intriguing for me this time, not having been a mother when I first read the book.

It's a great piece of writing, but does not entertain as much as Garp or Owen Meany. I guess I'm forever spoiled! The narration was good, though the narrator sounded a bit like he was speaking in the 1950's or 60's. You may enjoy this book more if you haven't already read (what I consider to be) Irving's best.

49 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michelle
  • 2011-10-22

Wonderful listen

I bought this book based on its strong reviews and was not disappointed. I could hardly wait to go for a daily run, just to hear more of the story. This is the first John Irving book I've read but won't be my last.

The narration is excellent, a little slow paced, but easy to listen to.

I highly recommend this book.

41 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan
  • 2013-01-19

Didn't know what I was buying...

and I wouldn't purchase again. It is much more graphic than I am comfortable reading. However, John Irving is a master story teller and I was hooked before knowing what was coming. I couldn't stop listening to this weaving tale of right and wrong, black and white, rules and the varied why of disobediance caused by the murky middleness of life. Well written, symbolic without being blatent, full of complex and very real people. One of the main themes weaving though the book is the issue of abortion, you see it from many points of view... right down to and including looking though a speculum and seeing chunks of fetal tissue. The main character who believes abortion is killing a living soul, eventually becomes an abortionist. The book goes to very uncomfortable areas including incest, spouse abuse, masterbation, affairs, use of condoms, sex with animals, abandonment, pornography, addiction, lesbians and violence. It is not written in a dirty or foul way, rather the innocence and goodness of Homer et al, makes it feel less intense as if he is the buffer. It is a thought provoking book and I understand why the ratings are so high. Just know that it is intense and I wish I could remove some of it from my mind. It is definately not for a young reader.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dawnrider2054
  • 2005-09-29

An Engrossing Listen

A compelling story of an orphan and an orphanage where the residing doctor(obstetrician)does the "Lord's work" and the "Devil's work", although it's all the "Lord's work" in the Doctor's and others minds. The story is permeated with a wry sense of humor and well defined, colorful and consistent characters, and interwoven with lots of interesting facts about obstetrics, apple growing and 1920s through 1950s Maine.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sara W
  • 2010-07-17

Full range of emotions

A thought provoking listen that covers joy, sorrow, laughter, heartbreak - a full range of emotions. You can't help but fall in love with Homer and all of his short comings. If you have seen the movie, you need to experience the book. Hope you enjoy both as much as I did!

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Katherine
  • 2008-12-27

Excellent

I've read/heard much from John Irving, and this one finally overtook Owen Meany as my favorite. I was unimpressed with the main character at first...stick with him. Rarely have I thought back to a novel as often as I've considered this one. Compassionate to both sides of the abortion debate, it's a good book even if you have already decided on your stance.

Also, the voice of the narrator is lively enough that I didn't find my attention drifting, as it sometimes does...

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christopher
  • 2006-09-01

Captures the magic of Owen Meanie

Ah, does Irving have the power to move me... If you are a militant pro-lifer, you should probably stay away-- although I would love for you to read this to help you understand why there needs to be a separation of church and state. Never predictable, narrated well, characters both flawed and thought-provoking, and a plot that moves right along, this book itself is a "prince of Maine", a "king of New England."

23 people found this helpful