I was prepared for JK Rowling's new book not to be another Harry Potter installment, in fact I thought it was a good move for her to go a different direction. After the phenomena that was HP what could she possibly do to follow it up? So I gave a Casual Vacancy a chance. I gave it a chance after a slow start that introduced so many characters it was hard to follow. I gave it a chance past all the profanity, drug use and sex; more than most adult crime novels I listen to. I could have even dealt with the rape scene if it had been important to the story. Unfortunately it wasn't worth it. I get That Rowling wanted to dig into the gritty "real world" after years of fantasy, but she seems to only run to all the things she couldn't write about through seven other novels. she spends the entire novel digging into all the dirt of real life without out even glancing at the good parts. There are no redeeming characters, no one to pull for, no innocent people only victims, no villains just slightly corrupt, incompetent abuser and self absorbed people.
You wouldn't think a small town in the English country side would hold such misery. Casual Vacancy starts like many books, introducing different characters of a small town who seem to be completely unconnected. One local councilmen dies of a brain aneurysms and we begin to see how his death effects them all. The story is slow, but has a sense of building so I figured it was going somewhere. None the characters are completely good or bad, but its their flaws Rowling focuses on. The story ends in a senseless tragedy, which seems to come out of no where and leave you completely unsatisfied. You think something good will come out of this entire mess, but it doesn't. One or two of the characters end up slightly better than they started, but anything to be learned from the book are left to the reader to be decided. The story is told from 3rd person omniscient, and I had a hard time believing some of the characters motivations which got a little annoying.
All that said I somewhat enjoyed it. I was drawn in, I wanted to find out where the much to do about nothing was leading. I was hoping for big payoff, and I was prepared to write a good review. But the ending is just kind of empty and sad. It's like Rowling created all of these characters and then didn't know what to do with them. I noticed in the HP books she had a tendency to add unnessicary story lines in some of the later books. I thought she just like those characters too much not to have something for them to do. Now I wonder if she just needs someone to tell her to focus on the main storyline, even if you have to cut a few thing.
I don't know who would enjoy this book. It is confusing and disappointing!
I think if she really wanted to write an adult book and make it in a different genre, she should have published under a different name and seen what would have happened. I feel like she only got published because of who she is.
I am not blaming this story on the narrator. I think he did fine with the material provided.
None that I can think of.
I think that if this book would have been by anyone except J.K. Rowling it would never have seen the light of day!
I REALLY WANT MY CREDIT BACK! ABSOLUTELY WASTED!
It isn't 'Harry Potter' and it isn't magic... but it is a interesting social commentary with a full cast of characters. I enjoyed this book, with all the character flaws and human condition. I will continue reading JK Rowlings because she can tell a story.
I read other reveiws and was worried, but am glad I relied on my gut instinct to trust this story teller to live up to her talent. Another good book by one of my all time favorite authors.
Story and characters
Well built story with excellent characters in real-life circumstances. It has a bittersweet ending that is not foreseen, but is entirely balanced. This has become one of my favorite adult books. Not particularly appealing to teen or young adult audience, but consuming from the start for older readers.
I am a writer and the author of six non-fiction books. I enjoy anything by John Grisham, Ann Rule and Jodi Piccoult. I also love animals.
Yes, I really enjoyed meeting all the people in this small town. There are a lot of dynamics here and I felt I was really a part of it.
I can compare it to Peter Behren's The O'Briens in that the characters are all involved with one another and there are complex relationships among them. Also, the way the story unfolds is similar.
I like the English accent very much. If I were reading it in my own head, with my own voice, I don't think I would "know" the characters as they were written.
I would if I could!
I hope JK Rowling continues to write for adult audiences.
Fantasy geek, literature lover!
Yes, I would. The narrator has done an excellent job in bringing to life the little town of Pagford and all its little and big problems.
My favourite characters are Sukvinder Jawanda and Andrew Price. I think the narrator has succeeded in expressing Sukvinder's solitude and Andrew's interior rage. Also the way he has portrayed Andrew's mother, Ruth, is on par with the overall ability of the narrator to bring the characters to life.
Probably Parminder Jawanda, and her secret love for Barry Fairbrother. Another character I liked in Hollander's performance is Nana Cath, with all her swearing and her low class English accent!
Barchester Chronicles meet Peyton Place!
The story of "A Casual Vacancy" is a nice one, penned to remember people where real courage and strength lie. I'd recommend this book, and the audiobook, to anyone who's in a blue moment to remind them that there are values that are beyond our petty lives and the pettiness of others. While I was reading some parts of the novel, my eyes were moist and the same thing happened while I was listening to the audiobook; that's a clear sign for me that Mr. Hollander has done its job correctly. So, I highly recommend the listening of this audiobook!
The writing! You can see the characters. You actually know them, just by different names. And so many insights into human nature and everyman's experiences are detailed in the most interesting way.
His delivery is perfect. The timing, the character voices, the emphasis, the feeling, the accent everything. He is the best narrator EVER!!!!
Not possible, so no. I rather enjoyed making it last as long as possible. I even listened to the first two sections again before going on to the last one.
I enjoy Scandinavian mystery and crime authors like Asa Larsson, Helene Tursten, Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum and Amaaldur Indridason just to name a few.
A great listen with the expected ending from a great storyteller. Rowling's English village is packed full of fun, nasty, politics, sad and just plain life.
I'm not sure if I would listen to the book again, but I would definitely recommend it to others. I had read reviews claiming the book was slow, and relatively uninteresting, but I found it to be the opposite. I think listening to it made all the difference - my husband agrees. It's definitely not a thriller, so don't wait for crazy plot twists or anything like that, and it's a far cry from the theme of Harry Potter. What I like about it was the detail - JK Rowling's writing invests you in the characters and the setting. You're pulling for some and hating others as the story goes on.
It's a lot more interesting that the synopsis reads, so please pick this one out and have a listen! I didn't pick it up off the shelves for that reason, but ended up loving every minute. I didn't want it to end.
I kind of feel bad for J.K. Rowling. She had phenomenal success and garnered millions of fans worldwide with her wonderful Harry Potter series. (And, I might add, she had the courage and willingness to end it after seven books instead of going on and on like some authors and ruining a perfectly good series.) So now, when she dares to write a completely different kind of book (a Muggle book about Muggles doing Muggle stuff), I don’t think she’s getting a fair shake because it is almost impossible to read this book without thinking of the Harry Potter books. As HP fans will quickly realize, this is nothing like the Harry Potter books. (I think my friend said it best when she said “it’s a book about the Dursleys.” If Harold, Shirley and Miles Mollison couldn’t pass for Vernon, Petunia and Dudley Dursley, I’ll eat my hat.) So let’s forget Harry Potter and talk about this book.
The book starts with the death of Barry Fairbrother (which brings about a “casual vacancy” on the parish council). The rest of the book focuses on the fallout from Barry’s death and the maneuverings to fill his vacant seat. Moving from character to character (and there are lots of characters), Rowling takes us into the hearts and minds of the various citizens of Pagford—from its teenagers (Crystal, Fats, Sukhvinder, and Andrew) to its grown-ups (Miles, Samantha, Kay, Gavin, Tessa, Harold, Shirley, Parminder). The plot is relatively simple (how will the vacancy on the parish council be filled?) yet also intricate and complex. Every little thing that happens builds on something else, and, at the end, Rowling weaves all the pieces together masterfully. It isn’t a happy, fun or uplifting book. It is set squarely in a world where things don’t always work out, people fail each other, and relationships aren’t always satisfying. But, for all the misery and anger and cruelty in the book, I saw moments of hope and forgiveness and growth. Personally, I liked the book and was never bored by it. I could see why people who read this book solely because of their love of Harry Potter might be intensely disappointed. It is nothing like the HP books, but it is a good read on its own merits. So, if you can forget everything you already know about J.K. Rowling and go into this book with an open mind, you might find a novel worth reading. I know I did.