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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy (original 2012; edition 2012)

by J.K. Rowling

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,907402936 (3.42)2 / 253
Title:The Casual Vacancy
Authors:J.K. Rowling
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

Work details

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

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English (366)  Dutch (7)  French (5)  German (5)  Spanish (4)  Finnish (3)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (396)
Showing 1-5 of 366 (next | show all)
Like many other people, I was curious about JK Rowling’s latest. However, I had reservations. The description of the book didn’t really sound like my ‘thing’ and at this point, Ms. Rowling could vomit onto a sheet of paper, and publishers would eagerly snap it up.

Well, she didn’t do that. Yes, this book might disappoint younger readers or die-hard fantasy fans, but this is a remarkable, even surprisingly excellent novel.

No, an ensemble piece about the venal lives of the denizens of a small British town isn’t really my thing… but I found myself reading it compulsively.

In said small town, a city council member dies, suddenly and unexpectedly. Nearly everyone in the town is somehow affected by his death, which sets off a chain reaction of emotion and power struggles. It’s an ensemble cast, with a great number of PoV characters. I was fully convinced that the mix of people accurately reflects the people one would probably encounter in such a town. One of the main themes of the book is the dirty little secrets that everyone hides – and in this situation, dirty laundry has a tendency to send things crashing down. The people here are overwhelmingly ordinary, stifled by the smallness of their lives - but their dramas unfold as compelling reading. As the book further develops, the conflict between the townspeople and the neighboring council estate (projects) becomes the man focus of the book, with a commentary on class conflicts – embodied by a teenage girl from the projects who goes to school in town. Rowling’s portrayal is sympathetic, but not at all sentimental. It’s a hard-eyed look at a difficult issue, and I thought it worked very well.

The whole book is very well structured, and shows a real gift for accurately drawing characters in bold and deceptively simply lines. The final ‘scene’ - which also brings in another level of class difference – is truly effective. I was impressed.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
It's hard to read books with unlikable characters, and there were very few characters in this book who I didn't just hate most of the time. It was worth all 500 pages, though, and I ended up really liking the book. I could understand or pity most of the characters even if I didn't like them, and I really enjoy the kind of literature that is driven more by character developments and relationships than by plot devices. This one handles some really intense and painful issues, too.

A note on the fact that it's written by J.K. Rowling: Seriously, you have to stop comparing it to Harry Potter. It's not the same world; it's not the same style of writing; it's not the same genre. This book has things in common with Catcher in the Rye, Freedom, even Cold Sassy Tree—but it has nothing in common with Harry Potter. Everyone keeps saying they know that, and then I see them compare it anyway. Just get Harry Potter out of your head, pretend you have no idea who wrote this one. That's the only way to give this book a fair reading, and I think it deserves that much. ( )
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
Read the first four or five chapters and really didn't get pulled into the story. Have it ready to go back to the library. On to the next book! ( )
  pnwbookgirl | Feb 7, 2016 |
Okay, yes, I loved it. I also confess to giving it an extra star to counteract all those people who gave it a low rating because it wasn't Harry Potter for grown ups even though they were told not to expect it to be.

The work is actually much more in keeping with Joanna Trollope, a favorite of mine, although with a lot more graphic sex and swearing.

( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Okay, yes, I loved it. I also confess to giving it an extra star to counteract all those people who gave it a low rating because it wasn't Harry Potter for grown ups even though they were told not to expect it to be.

The work is actually much more in keeping with Joanna Trollope, a favorite of mine, although with a lot more graphic sex and swearing.

( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 366 (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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Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner.
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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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.

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