January 3, 1986

The Cider House Rules

Author Affiliations

Morris Fishbein Fellow, AMA


by John Irving, 560 pp, New York, William Morrow & Co Inc, 1985.

JAMA. 1986;255(1):97-98. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370010107035

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Abortion is a problem of enormous proportions for which there is no universally correct solution. Such is the grist for novelist John Irving's powerful mill—his six books are not for the fainthearted.

In The World According to Garp, Irving explored the relationship between a writer and his iconoclastic mother; homosexuality and radical feminism were also at issue. The Hotel New Hampshire looked at family tragedy, terrorism, and incest. Now he takes on abortion in The Cider House Rules.

Irving chose early 20th-century New England as the setting for his new book. Not coincidentally, his grandfather, Dr Frederick C. Irving, practiced obstetrics in Boston during that time. As explained in an extensive appendix, the elder Irving produced such works as A Textbook of Obstetrics and The Expectant Mother's Handbook and was professor of obstetrics at Harvard (as well as chief of staff of the Boston Lying-in Hospital).

The Cider House Rules