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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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4,4193651,108 (3.44)2 / 235
Member:ST0MPY
Title:The Casual Vacancy
Authors:J.K. Rowling
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Read - finished, Your Library - eBook
Rating:***
Tags:BG, fiction

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

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English (334)  Dutch (7)  French (5)  German (5)  Spanish (4)  Finnish (3)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (364)
Showing 1-5 of 334 (next | show all)
When Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly a seat on the town council of Pagford is left vacant. Quickly the town realizes that his death left more than that vacany, it left a void in the fabric that holds the town together. As various residents vie for his council seat, personal lives in Pagford are exposed (thanks to a prank allowing “the ghost of Barry Fairbrother” to reveal town secrets) and those same lives begin to unravel in sometimes humorous and more often devastating ways.
Ms. Rowling’s first entry into “grown up” reading was a pleasant surprise. When I first started this book I was not sure I was going to enjoy it (I even rolled my eyes at the name of the lead character … Barry … Harry??) but I soon found myself drawn into life in Pagford.

If you have ever enjoyed an a stroll around the neighbourhood on a pleasant night … you know the time in the evening, when the lights are on in people’s homes but the curtains have not yet been drawn …and you glance in the windows and imagine lives for the people who live there. That’s what reading this book was like for me. I got the stories behind the glass.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
I wanted to love J.K. Rowling's first post-Harry Potter novel, and I was certain I would, not because of any fangirl loyalty to Ms. Rowling. Rather, I was annoyed by the negative reviews from disappointed Harry Potter fans. I wanted to affirm with my praise Ms. Rowling's right to write whatever she wants. I was also intrigued by the notion that this book was somewhat personal to Ms. Rowling, who struggled on government benefits before her publishing success.

Indeed, the novel reads like the author has an axe to grind, but I'm sympathetic to this particular axe, which seems to be a desire to castigate those who heap scorn upon the poor from the safety of their comfortable homes. I know the species, and its members deserve every dig the famous author can send their way.

Ms. Rowling's prose is not elegant, but she is competent in her crafting of characters, settings and plots. I have no quibble with her technique or subject matter. The novel fell flat for me because, like some of her teen characters, I wanted to see the fictional town of Pagford disappearing in my rearview mirror as I sped away.

The only truly likeable adult character in the novel is the guy who drops dead on page three. A few others are tolerable, some are pathetic, and a couple are detestable. They are all far too real and I doubt I'm the only reader who wondered if Ms. Rowling had visited his or her hometown and modeled Mr. or Ms. So-and-So on that guy who always complains at city council meetings or that woman who gossips at the coffee shop check-out.

This is the problem: the gritty realism of The Casual Vacancy is too familiar, too much like the world many of us want to escape when we open a book. I don't require wizards and magic, but I do want someone or something in the story to triumph, or at least improve. If I wanted to mire myself in negativity and mean-spiritedness, I could walk three blocks down the street on Monday nights and listen to some of my neighbors complain at city commission meetings about the threats to their comfort posed by the handful of destitute members of our community. ( )
  Sharon.Flesher | Jul 13, 2015 |
Couldnt finish it. Didnt really get that far into it at all before I just gave up. I just found the whole thing dull. Boring people with boring lives and boring stories, and even though it starts with something quite interesting, the characters were still (as far as I got) plain boring.
I might give this another go at some point and see if I can get more into the story, as so many people seemed to love it there must be something wrong with me. I'll update my review if I ever do come back to The Casual Vacancy. ( )
  chimocho | Jul 7, 2015 |
Wow, what a good job it is that JK Rowling didn't decide to retire from writing after the Harry Potter series. There is clearly so much more in the tank, starting with all the swear words that weren't allowed in a children's novel. This is gloriously sweary; like a potty-mouthed Maeve Binchy dishing up the gossip. A slice of British life at its ugliest, whilst allowing that nobody is beyond help. Brilliant book, shame there won't be another six in this series. ( )
  jayne_charles | Jul 1, 2015 |
Brit twit lit. ( )
1 vote | johnclaydon | May 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 334 (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.
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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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