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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
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The Casual Vacancy (original 2012; edition 2012)

by J.K. Rowling

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3,9813331,285 (3.44)2 / 219
Member:Lexicographer
Title:The Casual Vacancy
Authors:J.K. Rowling
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Your library, Read 2012
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

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The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (2012)

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English (305)  Dutch (6)  French (5)  German (4)  Spanish (4)  Finnish (3)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (333)
Showing 1-5 of 305 (next | show all)
Thank goodness Ms Rowling has managed to get rid of her adverb habit. However even without the verbiage this is still a difficult novel to follow. It's hard to keep track of the characters and their relationships. And there's very little to do with the Parish council election. (Ms Rowling does not quite get how local Government works either). Maybe all will become clear but I'm already half way through and the only thing of consequence happened on the second page! It also seems quite derivative: King of the Badgers by Philip Henscher is extraordinarily similar but that book is much tighter. If you read this be prepared for a slog and take notes - ther'ell be a test at the end. ( )
  wrichard | Dec 24, 2014 |
Synopsis: Barry Fairbrother dies on his wedding anniversary leaving his family and friends in shock. However, the major upset comes from folks who want to take over his seat on the town council. The people who vie for this seat have secrets that threaten to upset the delicate balance between the haves and the have-nots. The entire town council is dysfunctional, putting themselves and their families at risk.
Review: This is a cautionary tale about several families that pay more attention to their standing in the community than to their families. While this is as well written as the Harry Potter series, it's not nearly as charming, leaving the reader feeling rather dissatisfied. ( )
1 vote DrLed | Dec 17, 2014 |
So, now the hubbub has died down a bit, I finally got to reading this.

It's quite good, actually. Maybe the introduction of the very large cast of characters gets into the way of the story a bit, especially in the beginning of the book, but you do get a real feel for the town and its inhabitants.

However, there are a few details that seem amateurish. Especially the use of parentheses grated me. Doesn't the writer know that parentheses are meant for short asides only, not for two-page flashbacks? It seems unlikely for someone on her eighth book. Or did she do this on purpose? What purpose then?

So, good but not brilliant. I'd recommend watching her to see how she grows as a writer, but maybe this particular writer needs some space instead. ( )
  wester | Nov 27, 2014 |
Well written book but not a genre I would normally read. I confess if it hadn't been a J.K. Rowling book I would have stopped reading it. It's a depressing topic about a depressing town full of depressing petty people. Normally I escape into a book. This one took me a long time to get through because I had to keep escaping out of it. The tear in my eye at the end of the story is what caused me to give it this rating. Something touched me so I can't be all negative about the book. ( )
  jkgrage | Nov 24, 2014 |
Barry Fairweather is a significant force on Pagford's council, until he suddenly dies of a stroke. As this news spreads we're introduced to a host of other characters: fellow council, their families and acquaintances, business partners and professionals. Like any small town where everybody knows everyone, the interrelationships are a complex tangle but Rowling does a fantastic job of sorting this all out for us without making it overwhelming. To further spare the reader, the political background is a bit later in coming but then is all spelled out, and after that it's full steam ahead as applicants step forward in their desire to claim Barry's vacated chair. It's hardly just a political story, however; this is mere background to give it some structure. Really it's a snapshot that captures every element of life in a typical small town.

If Harry Potter represents the bright centre of escapism, this is the novel furthest from it. Everything bad you can imagine happening behind closed doors in your neighbourhood is present. It can be a little distressing for hitting so close to home and so accurately, but at the same time it's made engaging because the characters win readers' sympathy (often hilariously) through the act of despising one another. Few are blind to one another's faults, but even fewer pause to consider their own. Everyone else is to blame, and Rowling's original working title "Responsibility" - or rather, the lack thereof - speaks loudly as the novel's theme.

I wouldn't have picked it up without her name on the cover, if I'm being honest, but if you admired Rowling's style from her earlier work and not just the fantasy world she created then you'll enjoy it again here in spades. The pages flew past. ( )
  Cecrow | Nov 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 305 (next | show all)
Set in the fictional village of Pagford, The Casual Vacancy at first seems to have all the trappings of the adorable-English-town novel—an updating of Jane Austen viewed through the loving lens of a Merchant Ivory production. But the book’s misanthropy is more indebted to Hardy or Somerset Maugham, both known for their deep distrust of humankind and their sense of the viciousness that can spring up among neighbors.
 
Rowling has spoken of the sense of risk in embarking on this novel. The Harry Potter series must have been a tough act to follow. What she wanted to do here, I guess, was to seize on the world we can all see without going through Platform 9¾. She has done that to stunning effect.
 
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. That will not stop the envious from carping.
added by eereed | editThe Economist (Sep 29, 2012)
 
It is not the sort of book that hordes of people would choose to read if its author had not also written a far more comforting series of stratospheric bestsellers. But perhaps the world will be better for them reading it. Rowling may not be an easy woman, but she uses her powers for good.
added by lampbane | editSalon, Laura Miller (Sep 28, 2012)
 
The Casual Vacancy is a sour novel, one that seems designed to leave Rowling’s biggest, most avid fans feeling as though she sort of hates them. For all its readability—I had no problem tearing through the whole thing today after buying it from a bewildered bookstore clerk at 7:30 in the morning—the book reveals that though she remains a careful observer of human foibles, Rowling the writer isn’t well-served by her enforced isolation.
added by DieFledermaus | editSlate, Dan Kois (Sep 27, 2012)
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rowling, J. K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Demarty, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Metaal, CarolienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mutsaers, SabineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner.
Quotations
He thought that it was all over, finished, done with. Andrew had never yet had reason to observe the first tiny bubble of fermenting yeast, in which was contained an inevitable, alchemical transformation.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little 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 town’s 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?
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When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock and the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.44)
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