I have been reading this book since January. I had also picked it up and put it down again as early as 2012. And today (or yesterday rather) I sit before you finally victorious! I was a big fan of “World According to Garp” and enjoyed “A Prayer for Own Meany,” but for some reason, this read was just like taking my medicine. I wanted to do it, I knew it was good for me, and I did it, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the process.
Irving takes readers on a long journey where you see a cast of rich characters live out their lives. I think when I started this book I just wasn’t in the mood for such a journey, and was never really able to snap out of it.
Orphans, abortion, love, coming of age, war, a life-long ether addiction, I mean, he really covers a lot of ground. Homer Wells is an orphan, the most beloved orphan really, and under Dr. Larch’s tutelage learns about “god’s work” aka, abortions, which are also performed at said orphanage. Though he tries placements a few times, Homer is essentially the child of the orphanage until the visit of a young couple looking for an abortion changes the course of his life, and introduces him to the Cider House Rules.
It’s a big of a slog, but worthwhile. Just be sure to have a few short reads lined up, so you don’t feel the pressure of your uncompleted half cannonball, pushing you along. I did about half of the book on audio, which I don’t really recommend because that drags out the pacing even slower, but I do think it helped my reading comprehension. Without audio, I probably would have skimmed due to my impatience and missed a lot of Irving’s subtlety and detail.
If you haven’t read any Irving, I highly recommend him, but pace yourself lest you find yourself taking nearly a year to read one of his masterpieces.