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The Casual Vacancy

J K Rowling

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Little Brown

Published : 2012

Copyright : J K Rowling 2012

ISBN-10 : HB 1-4087-0420-X
ISBN-13 : HB 978-1-4087-0420-2

Publisher's Write-Up

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

'This is a wonderful novel. J K Rowling's skills as a storyteller are on a par with R L Stevenson, Conan Doyle and P D James. Here, they are combined with her ability to create memorable and moving characters to produce a state-of-England novel driven by tenderness and fury.'

Melvyn Bragg, The Observer

'The action bowls along compellingly, most of the characters are vividly drawn and there are some sharp - often very sharp - observations about their social pretensions... a bold and distinctive effort .'

The Sunday Telegraph

'This is a novel of insight and skill, deftly drawn and, at the end, cleverly pulled together. It plays to her strengths as a storyteller.'

The Economist
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (190113) Rating (9/10)

Review by Nigel
Rating 9/10
Having read a fair number of reviews for J K Rowling’s first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, I decided to move it to the top of the reading pile and find out for myself if the author of the wonderful Harry Potter books has had us all fooled. I have to say my initial reaction upon finishing was what a brilliant story; I’m at a loss as to why so many people do not like it. So, I went back to all the reviews and made the not so startling discovery that, quite simply, The Casual Vacancy is not Harry Potter and to some people this is enough to dislike it. If that is true they have somewhat missed the point. Take away the fame of the author and the Harry Potter books and The Casual Vacancy is a clever, well written look at our society.

Everyone probably knows the plot by now so I will be very brief. A local parish councillor dies unexpectedly leaving a casual vacancy and the need for a local election, polarising the current councillors who see the spare vote as decisive in resolving a long standing issue concerning the town boundary. As we are introduced to a cross section of the town’s residents we see behind the public façade of the individuals, families and the wider community.

The Casual Vacancy is a story about human frailty, greed, selfishness and ignorance. In a nutshell we are all individuals with our own agendas, moving from birth to death, trying to maximise our own needs and wants and this is the ugly truth The Casual Vacancy examines.

The style of writing has that flowing quality that made the Harry Potter books so popular and easy to read with imagery conveyed effortlessly from the page; a rare talent that no one does better than J K Rowling. In truth the story may seem somewhat shallow on some of the character development but when you are dealing with so many it is difficult to give them all the attention they require without turning in a huge tome (and at 503 pages it is not short as it is).

All-in-all a very well written piece of social commentary; perhaps more people should take note of what is being said rather than yearn for the happier days of Harry Potter.
Nigel (19th January 2013)

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