I bought this book because the movie was beautiful, and I wanted to read a beautiful book. The depression era produced America’s greatest works of literature. Trauma scares and scars and the most sensitive take to the pen to try and understand the changing world around them. The depression era in America was such a wild time; a time of plenty then immediately a time of want. People on the move; immigrants to our great cities and people from the cities out into the vast expanse to seek wellbeing for their families.
It was not an era of big government and lazy people, like today, crying over going in to work. It was a time of tremendous danger with no ‘guardrails’ and no safety valves on our dramatically advancing economy.
Cider House Rules is a tragic story, about a lonely doctor who ran an orphanage but also performed abortions. I know, extremely controversial then and now; but beautiful nevertheless because it was about suffering and movies about difficult decisions of people and the terrible state in which God has left the human condition I find compelling.
The book however was not beautiful, nor compelling. It wasn’t even saved by any particularly beautiful scenes, and when it was supposed to be touching it became obscene, vulgar or off-putting, something the movie largely avoided. When is that the case? It is also too long. I think Irving wanted to pull off a “Grapes of Wrath”.
Short version, and I’ve never said this before, don’t read the book just watch the movie.