Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Casual Vacancy - J K Rowling

With the sudden death of Barry Fairbrother, the Parish Council of Pagford is thrown into turmoil. His unexpected passing frees up a position and this vacancy is very much a coveted one.

The race for who will get the seat heats up; but the divide between those who were born and bred in Pagford and the rundown 'The Fields' (who due to a boundary mix-up should really fall under Yarvil county council's domain) grows deeper. Gossip and malicious postings on the Council page appear deepening the mistrust and resentment. As the adults cajole and mutter, some of their children individually conspire to teach their parents a lesson or just to retaliate against abuse and lack of knowledge of their own problems.

With a tragic end, will the residents of Pagford learn anything as secrets and fears rapidly rise to the service shattering the illusion of a quaint English village.

Rowling's outing in to the adult genre is brave and complex. The myriad characters that abound from page to page create a dysfunctional society that even with best interests at heart, they still tear each other apart leaving a wounded town. There is no main individual as such; each person met has their own problems and worries. Whilst none immediately likable, Rowling has still given them depth and huge helpings of realism. It's almost a book of contrasts. The angry teenager who really means well, with the drug addicted mother, the quiet teenager who cuts herself whose mother is the local GP. Black humor abounds as well as some moments of quintessential Britishness. The author is very expressive in both descriptions and dialogue creating a dramatic and inviting picture. She has created a story that is thought-provoking, poignant and perhaps a little bleak, but so worth the read.

It took me a little while to get into this book simply because of the number of people met. Once I did, I was completely absorbed by the residents of Pagfords. There were moments of laughing out loud as well as deep sadness. I feel Rowling's new novel is such a markedly big step away from her previous books, people may feel uncomfortable or puzzled - it contains swearing, drug abuse, cutting, sex, politics - but it's these subject matters that make it a compelling read. A bold move which some say hasn't paid off, but I couldn't disagree more. An almost rambling account, Rowling's The Causal Vacancy is a rich portrayal of everyday life, which unfortunately isn't always home baked apple pies or sunny days. A highly recommended read. 


  1. I've bee meaning to buy this book and just haven't gotten around to it, but it's definantly at the top of my Christmas list

  2. Hi Brittany, I'd take a chance on it. It bugged me as a lot of people who criticized it seemed to compare it to HP or expected something similar!?! I think you'll like it.

  3. I sadly couldn't finish this book. Maybe it's just not for me. :( I'm really glad that other people enjoy it though! I found you on Book Blogs and I am now your newest follower! I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you'll stop by for a visit sometime when you get the chance. :)
    Leigh Ann
    MaMa's Book Corner

  4. Hello Leigh Ann, thanks for your comment. There are some books people just can't finish - been there, done that! Thanks for following, will check out your site too.