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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy (original 2012; edition 2012)

by J.K. Rowling

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5,135417870 (3.41)2 / 259
Title:The Casual Vacancy
Authors:J.K. Rowling
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Tags:Small town stories, Contemporary fiction, Family relationships, Adolecent behaviour

Work details

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

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Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)
I have to say that I was tempted to give up as I didn't like any of the characters. All of the adults and most of the children were pretty unpleasant with few redeeming features; the author seems to dislike middle class slightly bourgeois people and lets it show in this book. The climax is unexpected, almost to the extent that it felt disconnected from the rest of the book but the underdogs (who happen to be children) come out as the best. ( )
  jbennett | May 18, 2016 |
It is scary how amazing of a writer this woman is. And it is even scarier to see how perfectly she has mastered the human race. It does not show humans as the strong, all knowing kind. But delves deeper into the desires, weaknesses, selfishness of the mind. You just never know what is coming up next.
The raw quality of the book is gripping and just comes to show that some of the best literature is disturbing. ( )
  hmurya | May 1, 2016 |
Прочетох я заради добрия ПР и хвалбите. Майсторски​ изградени образи, характери, герои... Историята..​. историята отминава и заминава с последната стран​ица. Единствено сложното описание на характерите и​ тяхното развиване остава по-дълго и носи удоволст​вие, докато се чете този роман.​ ( )
  Vassil-Koynarev | Apr 29, 2016 |
Review Originally Posted At: FictionForesight

Barry Fairbrother was a loved community figure in the town of Pagford, which sits adjacent to a smaller borough riddled with low-income families living on welfare and dealing with drug addictions. The town is divided on whether or not they want to throw the Fields out of their jurisdiction, and let the city deal with it. But will the pasts of the candidates for Barry’s seat on the council prevent them from achieving their goal?

I had to take a few days and sit on this book before I wrote a review. I tried to separate the writer from her previous Harry Potter novels and I think that I succeeded, but I also think that she tried too hard to break away from her past. That’s not to say that this was a failure of writing, because it definitely was well written. She just dragged it to extremes and poorly executed it, at least in terms of the plot; especially to be as enjoyable as I hoped it would be.

Rowling plops us into the small town of Pagford, where there is a dispute about a smaller borough known as the Fields. The main issue is that the small town feels they shouldn’t be responsible for it anymore, as it is mainly inhabited by those living on welfare, and many are addicted to drugs with the stereotypical welfare woes. They feel it’s the nearby city that should bear the burden. The man who spearheaded keeping the Fields a part of Pagford dies suddenly, leaving what is known as a casual vacancy on the town council in his wake. We follow many of the board members and a family from the Fields to see how they try to fill the casual vacancy and make their agendas reality.

What strikes me as oddest about the book is how Rowling uses adolescent boys again to tell the majority of her story. This book is sold as being about the casual vacancy, but really it is about the lives of Andrew, Fats, Krystal, Gaia, and Sukhvinder as they try to survive the death of a coach, changes, and their parents running for the council. We do get the adult viewpoints as well, since the character leading the story changes in every chapter, but the focus remains mainly on the children. Many times we switch to the adult perspective just to garner sympathy for the children, as if the adults are all evil and the kids just victims who somehow survive.

The leading plotline is the election for council, once the move to block any election is stopped. Many different characters are moving to be the next head and there are two different factions; those who want to keep the Fields and those who want to get rid of it. Then we break up into many separate plotlines to follow the children, including the Weedons in the Fields, where we see a divide in class and understanding of the situation. What could have been a really great commentary on welfare and how society views those who are addicted, turned into a circus of everyone being horrible examples of human beings.

Part of my distaste for the book was that there was no warning of a suicidal teenager, or that I would be reading through a graphic description of her harming herself. I read mystery and police procedural books, but this was so gritty and raw it made my stomach turn. There was also no warning of having to read a father physically abusing his family, or the fighting and just general discomfort that is associated with that. That was from two different families, and the others were about as disturbing without turning this into a long, rambling rant.

Another downside was the sheer number of characters who were all so similar, that I wished there was a character sheet in the beginning of the book. The adult women all hated each other and loved to make passive aggressive social commentary whenever it was their viewpoint. I can’t even remember a specific adult woman’s name, as they were really all one-note, aside from the woman who started fantasizing about boys the same age as her daughter. The men were equally interchangeable; most being involved in politics and wanting to run for office. Whenever they weren’t talking politics, they were talking about Barry, the man who died. Everyone loved Barry except for his wife, it seems; and then one of his best friends fell in love with said wife.

The writing itself isn’t bad, in that Rowling uses decent grammar, and it doesn’t feel horrible to read. She really failed to impress me with how she presented the issues she decided to cover in the book. She danced around saying something quite a few times, and when she finally gets a good point out, she quickly backs away to talk about a boy falling in love with a girl, or another boy using a girl just to get sex so he could feel authentic. It just gets bogged down in needlessly gritty overtones, which could have easily been avoided or skimmed to get the gist of the novel.

It just read like she was trying to vent all of the gritty writing she wanted to do over the years that she was writing Harry Potter; because you can’t write Holden Caulfield starring as Harry Potter.

I would never not recommend a book, but this is going to have to be for someone who doesn’t mind the grit that some authors throw in to try to make a book feel, for lack of a better word, “authentic”. For some reason many contemporary authors think we won’t believe it’s real life unless something goes wrong in every other paragraph; and that’s just not my style.

(www.FictionForesight.com) ( )
  FictionForesight | Apr 26, 2016 |
I enjoyed engaging with realistic warts-and-all characters in their unmasked situations. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Apr 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 384 (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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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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