Audio Books: Sanity is hearing voices in my head.
About half-way through the book I realized two things: first, the characters populating Rowling’s suburban Pagford were an entirely depressing lot, and that Rowling had no intention of revealing their better selves. After that I realized that probably this microscopic (and yes, often tedious) examination of the complex nuances of their tragic faults was essential, and without it the climax would not resonate. I decided I was willing to give Rowling the benefit of the doubt, and stick it out. I'm glad I did. Rowling is an extraordinarily gifted observer of the human condition – a talent that gave the HP books their edge, and this story its raison d'etre. With deft and unaffected details she peels away layer upon layer of each character's social facade to reveal deep inherent flaws and their painful origins. Those observations are at once brutally unapologetic and dispassionately expository. Without them, the "casual vacancy," (both the literal and metaphorical) at the heart of the story would lose its potency. Like a reverse denouement, the myriad layers of minutia are gradually piled high enough to provide a vantage point necessary for the reader to fully appreciate the tragedies that bookend the story. When the climax is reached, there is nowhere to look except back at that pile of ignobility, and realize that, while the first tragedy was an act of fate, the second could only have been the product of everyone’s worst selves working in concert. It's a point worth making. If you want a happy ending, this is not your story. If you can take your truth in the bare-stripped, relentless, and brilliantly revelatory flavor, and are not uncomfortable contemplating life’s bitter lessons, read on.
Tom Hollander's reading was without flaw. His gave vibrant believability to each character without gratuitous dramatization, or a single narrative misstep. I was astonished when, two-thirds of the way through the book, I realized I had not once “noticed” his narration at all – which is, for me, the highest praise. He moved so seamlessly in and out of characters, that between his narration and the utterly authentic and unfiltered voice that Rowling bestows to each character, I felt a little like a demon, occupying each soul in the scene at will.
Without commentary or editorial, Rowling reveals quotidian, suburban, predictable little Pagford, with all its pain and pathos laid bare, to be a microcosm of the stagnant social unconsciousness in which quiet tragedies are steeped. To view it so vividly and immersively was both unnerving and profound. I won’t soon forget this book.
good character study
the little boy's drowning and his sister jumping in to save him
He did such a good job of changing his voice to indicate different characters.
Kind of shocked by some of the language but it fit the characters.
The characters were so well developed that I felt I might recognize them on the street.
Tom Hollander was Great!. Probably the reason why I made it through the first two hours of the book.
Helps bring out the true feelings in the characters
This was all and all a good book although a bit depressing, but good to read for reality to real life instead of a happily ever after. If you are listening to this the first couple of hours were a bit difficult for me to get through, but after that I just had to know what was going to happen next.
No. Because I already know the story!
Rachael Weiden because of how sad her story was.
When Rachael tried to protect her brother from being taken from their family because of neglect.
Only downside is that there were so many characters that the book gets a bit confusing when you don't listen for a whole weekend - trying to remember who is who...
If you like a tale about people and their lives, you will like this book. If you need more action like a murder mystery, maybe not so much.
Yes, an intriguing story.
Myriad of themes intertwined.
No, I have not.
The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother
You have to "wade thru" the first 8 chapters as your mind is "flooded" with so many characters. Readers will have to work hard at remembering all the characters and which ones belong to what family and how their roles fit into the overall story.
Sprawling social indictment
Some of the critics have been overly harsh, in my opinion; while some of the characters are a bit flat, still this is an engaging book that dissects small town life, class
Reader. Painter. Newspaper columnist. Nurse. Humane Society. Lake life. Walker. Happily remarried - was a widow.
Intricate. Compelling. Powerful.
The Casual Vacancy is a simple, intricate and insightful peek behind closed doors in a small town in England (but it could have been written about any community). Without ripping the scabs from wounds it showed the bottom level of motivation and heart, or lack thereof. In delicate layers it revealed the deeper side of each character. It is hard to put into words but there was something intriguing and beguiling about reading about these characters.
Miles and his wife being able to come together again after estrangement. One expected them to fall apart but they sucked it up and communicated. The teens learning there was a price for revenge. The growth of compassion among the characters.
I bought this because of the stellar review in Time and because I adored the Harry Potter series. She DID it! She transitioned to adult fiction and lost NOTHING. This is not Harry Potter but the optimism for growth and triumph over odds remained. I will not say this well, but I found this book so compelling I listened straight through and it lingered with me for days, even weeks. While portions dealt with serious life issues, disappointment, and dissillusionment, it was a shining example of faith in people, optimism and how she did that is beyond me. I was knocked out by this book. It deserves every single word of pre-publication hype and every excellent review. There is something special about this book, it pulses with life and it glows in your brain long after "the end". It has a gentle flow and progression so don't expect an action adventure. It is very much worth spending your credit on this listen. Brava JK Rowling. You wrote another hell of a good book.
I am not sure who would enjoy this book, it was slow and boring and I don't think JK brought it together very well.
It was a long story with many characters, but none of them really carried the story and she did not make you really care about any of the characters except Crystal, who had a small part.
I dis-like books where the story is read in a basic mono-tone voice with little expression.
Disappointment!!!! I excepted a little more from JK.
Don't buy the book. I listened to it on audio and out of the 18 hours of story, only about 1 hour was interesting and worth my time. If some you know has already read the book, just have them tell you about and save your time and money.
The narrator was great, enjoyed his inflection. Imagined each character.
Complexity of the characters, the need to pay close attention in the beginning to what was going on with whom. The whole story played out to a shocking end really, but ended abruptly.