The Cider House Rules

Publisher: Vintage Canada

“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 circumcision.”

First published in 1985, The Cider House Rules is John Irving’s sixth novel. Set in rural Maine in the first half of this century, it tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch—saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St. Cloud’s, ether addict and abortionist. It is also the story of Dr. Larch’s favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted.

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The Boy Who Belonged to St. Cloud's

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 circumcision. In those days (in 192_), all boys born at St....
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READING GUIDE

1. The rules posted on the cider house wall aren't read or understood by anyone living there except Mr. Rose, who makes -- and breaks -- his own set of rules. What point is John Irving making with the unread rules?

2. What rules, both written and unwritten, do other characters follow in the novel? Did most...

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PRAISE FOR

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

"An old-fashioned, big-hearted novel...with its epic yearning caught in the nineteenth century, somewhere between Trollope and Twain." The Boston Sunday Globe

"An example, now rare, of the courage of imaginative ardor." The New York Times Book Review