Friday, 26 October 2012

The Casual Vacancy By J. K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy
Release Date: 27th September
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 503
Synopsis: 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 façade 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?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
Review: I'm really surprised by how much I loved this book! Let me justify this in more detail before you all shout at me. I am a huge J. K. Rowling fan, Harry Potter will always be one of my favourites but lets just get to the point. When the synopsis was first released, I was actually quite shocked at how boring it sounded, therefore I expected the novel to be a boring novel for adults where it mainly focused on the election. I believed it would be full of political rambling and mostly older folks chatting behind one another's backs. I can happily say I was so so wrong and I enjoyed this book immensely. Yes The Casual Vacancy is what the book revolves around but it isn't just focused on that. We get to see many different people live their lives and how they interact with one another, families, enemies, teachers, addicts, teenagers, the older generation. It is all in here and it is done so well. It is so real, I cannot begin to tell you how good it is with the reality of the situation. All of the characters were real, you could just imagine them in front of you doing whatever their character did best. I have to say I would like to read about these characters again but alas this is a stand alone novel. Also it is wrapped up nicely at the end.
The Casual Vacancy begins with Barry Fairbrother literally dropping dead, leaving his wife a widow and his children fatherless. His death has a bigger affect on the small village of Pagford then anyone could have imagined. The rumour of his death spreads like wildfire through the village and results in many different reactions. Barry was an outsider in Pagford, he grew up in the Fields, an estate that is inconveniently joined with Pagford. The true Pagford born did not like this outsider having a place on their council and were happy to see him go. Others were distraught as he was taking Pagford in a new direction, getting rid of all the remaining prejudice, towards the fields. Barry's death leaves an empty seat on the council and a few of the villagers begin to battle over it. This makes the village even more divided, causing friends to betray each other, families torn apart by secrets, couples challenging each other, teenagers at war with their own feelings. Everyone is affected and Pagford will not be the same. Lives will be changed forever, for better or worse.
There are many, many characters in The Casual Vacancy and at the beginning I was slightly confused by who was who as there were just so many, but by the end I'd  come to tell them all apart and got to know them all. This in itself must be really hard for a writer and even harder for it to be conveyed properly to the reader. J. K. Rowling has done it again by making some incredible characters who are all unique and more importantly very real. I'm still slightly awe struck by how well the whole thing has been done. It is structured brilliantly and the plot was interesting. The multiple narratives kept the pace moving quickly, allowing the reader to see all sides of the story and it was just fantastic! I would go into more depths of the characters but there were so many and they were all great!
Be cautious if you want to read this book as it does contain some dark themes. First of all there is sex, not much but it's there. Drugs play a key part in the book as well as one of the characters is an drug addict. There's abuse from parent to child. There is a lot of swearing, so be aware that it does pop up quite often. There's alcohol and underage drinking and smoking, there's teenagers what do you expect? They all like to break the rules. There's self harm and mental illness, which is heartbreaking to read about, especially as it hits close to home for me. These are a few of the dark subjects in the book but what's done well is that all of these things happen in real life. We may turn a blind eye but behind closed doors this happens, yes it may disgust us and upset us but this stuff happens. J. K. Rowling puts this out there and shows that reality is harsh and some people have to suffer through it.
The Casual Vacancy will not be the right book for everyone, I know a few fellow bloggers didn't like it. It will not be right for everyone. I am very surprised by how much I loved it and the impression it left on me. J. K. Rowling has just proved again that she is a fantastic writer and can write about even the grittiest subjects. The Casual Vacancy is a realistic novel about the harshness of life. J. K. Rowling has proved once again her talent as a writer and I look forward to whatever she produces next, not matter how long I have to wait!


  1. This is one of the better reviews I've read. I loved HP too and I enjoy books in this genre as well. I feel like some people were looking for traces of her HP magic in her new book and were disappointed on how "normal" CV is.

    Glad you enjoyed it, I'm still waiting for my copy.

    Brain e

  2. Good to hear that Rowling can write whatever she wants and still do OK. I certainly wouldn't mind it if she wrote more HP, but I'm sure she's ready to do something new, so more power to her!


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