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The Casual Vacancy (2012)

by J. K. Rowling

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,299553706 (3.41)2 / 302
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 facade 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?… (more)
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» See also 302 mentions

English (510)  Dutch (10)  German (7)  Italian (5)  French (5)  Spanish (4)  Finnish (2)  Norwegian (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (550)
Showing 1-5 of 510 (next | show all)
I didn't expect Harry Potter but this was a really crappy book. ( )
  ChristineLeusch | Nov 28, 2022 |
3.25 ( )
  jeraccoon | Oct 29, 2022 |
I'm a big fan of J.K. Rowling; even though I'm far from the target audience of her Harry Potter series, I read and enjoyed a couple of them early on, but didn't really feel compelled to continue with the series as it developed. Then came her adult Cormoran Strike series, which I've read and enjoyed a lot. So unlike many reviewers, I never considered getting bored at the beginning - I only felt the anticipation of reading a book I was pretty certain would be good. And it was, if you consider watching a slow-motion train wreck happening to be good.

This town really came to life as I read, and the people began to fill out and become real. There were a lot of them, and I did a lot of rereading for a while to keep up with who was who. There seemed to be almost no good guys, except perhaps the one who died in the first few pages. There was one mother who was new in town, who seemed to be nice enough if not a bit dumb; there were kids that had various degrees of badness, but they were young and didn't really know better, especially considering how bad the parents were. But as bad as most of the people were, I felt I could understand why they were that way, and couldn't really feel anything like hate for them, although one of the teenagers was pretty close to being evil sometimes. But regardless of understanding them, I don't think I would want to be friends with any of them.

The book didn't really have much in the way of happiness or cheerfulness. The ending was mostly unhappy and tragic with a little ray of optimism for some of the people. But I couldn't help but like the book and look forward to more from her in the adult fiction genre. ( )
  MartyFried | Oct 9, 2022 |
I don't know quite how to rate this one. The writing was fabulous, the way each chapter drew you further in was very well executed...but...The beginning is horrible, horrible in that the opening events are heart wrenching and it took me a what felt like a long time to feel anything other than negative emotions towards the characters for the most part. Once I was in though...I felt like this was a regular everyday story, certainly nothing magical, nothing to transport you anywhere other than right into the grit of life and I was hooked. I wanted to argue and agree with the characters, I wanted to walk the streets there in Pagford. The end though...it was worse than heart wrenching...I knew building up that I wasn't going to like it but I fought the urge to walk away...some good wrap ups but just tragedy for who I was rooting for most of all. ( )
  Martialia | Sep 28, 2022 |
A local councilman dies unexpectedly in a mostly upper middle class voting district in England.

There is however, one poorer section within the district. It was included when a developer needed a zoning change, but the result was that this allowed an opportunity for less advantaged kids (read often less desirable) to attend classes with their more upwardly mobile peers. There is also a controversial drug treatment center in this area.

And while this portion of the district becomes the focal point for much of the town’s animosity, the contest for the newly available seat reveals other parts of a glazed-over underbelly. There is racism against an upstanding Indian doctor, quiet larceny by a middle class worker on the fiddle and outright hatred against this man by his sons. There is also a teacher at the local high school who has been the subject of rumors for years over his unstable mental health.

It's an amazing how an election can uncover much more than just who may or may not be the most qualified candidate.

Great characterizations throughout. Not my favorite plot line, but I’ll try more by Ms. Rowling. ( )
  streamsong | Sep 27, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 510 (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 (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rowling, J. K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Demarty, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollander, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurford Brown, DebraPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Metaal, CarolienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mutsaers, SabineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spilling, DuncanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To Neil
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.
It was strange how your brain could know what your heart refused to accept.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

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 facade 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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Book description
The early death of a small town councilman reveals deep-rooted conflicts in the seemingly idyllic community of Pagford, which rapidly deteriorates in the face of cultural disputes, generation clashes, and a volatile election.
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