John Irving is a modern day Charles Dickens in many ways. Hist stories are full of details, interesting twists and characteristics of people you actually know. He frequently incorporates recurring elements and - especially for someone who is a great fan of his writing - watching and waiting for those elements is half the fun of the book. If you're a fan of crime, thrillers or car chases, intertwined with plot twists, Irving's books are most likely not for you. But if you're a book lover who appreciate a great story, amazing development and consistent characters, this will most likely be a great experience for you.
Just due to these reasons it's difficult to say anything about the story that will not give away too much. Homer Wells lives in an orphanage and is the most un-adoptable boy who one way or another always comes back to the orphanage in St. Cloud's. The main doctor at the orphanage, dr. Larch, loves him like his own son. He is the one who delivers unwanted babies that stay in the orphanage or aborts the unwanted fetuses, which is at the time illegal. As dr. Larch tries to teach Homer everything he knows and can already imagine them working together as father and son, Homer's opinion surprises him. Despite the promise he gives to another un-adoptable orphan, a girl called Melony, he decides to try something new when a young couple in trouble comes to seek help at the orphanage. And the beauty of the story is that it somehow only starts off there but on the other hand you learn so much by then. Everything has a story, everything has a meaning, even the naming of children, explanation of Melony's name, Larch's attitude to women and sex and the choices which Homer makes. Right until the end of the book. Everything holds. There are no plot holes and no "but what about when...?" questions.
It isn't surprising that this in 1985 first published novel became a very successful movie. Even more so, John Irving, who dissected the lengthy story into a screenplay, won an oscar for his adaptation. Tobey Maguire is extremely convincing as the calm, unnerving Homer Wells, whose zen-ness borders on pushover. Carefree Candy, portrayed by Charlize Theron, who showed her great talent even at the beginning of her career, a little after she dazzled in The Devil's Advocate. Michael Caine, in the medical coat of dr. Larch, impressed even the Academy. The monumental story, although fantastic also in the form of a movie, is much, much more impressive in the book version. The rules which are written or unwritten, obeyed or ignored are mainly pointless. Everyone follows their own instinct. Is it true for this story? You be the judge of that.