The mid 1980s was a fertile writing time for author John Irving, who published his sixth novel The Cider House Rules.
Set in the 1930s and 1940s America, the story centers around Homer and his relationship with Wilbur.
Homer is a young orphan who becomes close to the orphanage’s director Wilbur. He eventually becomes like a son to Wilbur, and trains to become a doctor, and discovering Wilbur’s secret – that he does abortions.
As a young man Homer becomes friends with Candy and Wally, when Candy has come to the orphanage to have an abortion. He returns with them to their home in Maine, and secretly falls in love with Candy, and becomes her lover after Wally is missing and presumed dead during the war.
Candy become pregnant and gives birth to their son Angel, and Wally returns, assuming the task as Angel’s Father while Candy and Homer continue a secret affair, with Homer returning to the orphanage to become director after the death of Wilbur.
Irving’s story of a unusual families and the societal pressures of the time period show the vulnerability of women as well as the compassion that comes from those who decide to protect the weak.
Published in April 1985 by William Morrow, Irving’s novel was a success, hailed by critics and landed on the New York Times bestseller list, dominating the number one spot in June 1985.
In the next decade Irving adapted the novel for the screen for a movie directed by Lasse Hallestrom, earning him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay..