I prefer books to be alternatingly silly, depressing and weird, much like myself! Favorite authors: Douglas Coupland, Meg Cabot, Neil Gaiman
People have been way too hard on this book. I admit for the first three hours I was not enjoying myself and I found the amount of characters hard to follow, especially since it was told primarily in third person. I had no idea how much I depend upon the narrator using different voices to tell characters apart!
Once you get used to the style and get to know the characters this is an engrossing book exploring how people can so easily hurt each other, especially their children, without ever realizing it. Each character was rich in detail and emotion and I loved how by seeing so many points of view you could see every angle of every situation and understand all the reasons people make the horrible choices that hurt the ones they love.
I am recommending this book to fans of literature and wonderful characters, but not to fans of happy endings and whimsy. That will not be in this story. But if you want to read something thought provoking and detailed, this is an amazing book. I feel that if this had been Rowling's first book it would be getting critical praise instead of the lukewarm reception it has received because of people's pre-conceived notions of who she is and her writing style.
I loved Tom Hollander's performance because after a while it was nearly invisible- his voice so embodied the characters- young and old- that I was listening to *them* not a man reading a story aloud.
This is not a book like her previous ones, and I would never, ever recommend it as such.
What it is, though, is a beautifully wrought character piece about the people in a town. It made me think a lot about George Elliot's Middlemarch. The characters you like, and the ones you don't and watching them revolve around each other- it is funny, sad, shocking, kind and all of the things that people really are. The book lost my boyfriend almost instantly, but slowly drew me in, bit by bit, till now that I am at the end of it I feel like I know those people and what they would be like now that the story is over. Ever feel at the end of a long classic that you miss the characters? This is one of those for me. These are not pretty people, this isn't a fantasy. I loved it!
Highly recommended to the right reader- be sure you are clear about the book you are getting!
Near the top
None of the characters could be described as favorites because they all have the faults that we can too easily recognise in ourselves
I had not but I will seek them out in future.
This is a really amazing book. I had never read any of JK Rowling's children's books so I had no particular expectations. I certainly did not expect to come across one of the best books I have ever encountered.I can imagine that this book could be a bit of a battle to read, as it depends heavily on detail to bring out the grittiness of the stories. However as an audiobook it works wonderfully.
Great writers like Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald et al really give you the viewpoint of the main character or characters and you see the world through other eyes, with their motivations and feelings and reactions. Here Rowling does the incredible feat of totally getting into the heads of at least a dozen characters and weaves a fascinating tapestry. It's like The Great Gatsby and Crime and Punishment and Catcher in the Rye put together, "on steroids." Of course, that takes a certain deliberate pacing to accomplish that but that's cool - this is literature, not an adventure story, and I savored every moment.
I'm actually glad that she made such a radical departure from the Harry Potter genre here (though I was a big fan of them too) - like an actor shedding type casting, she is free to go just anywhere now with her next one, and with her prodigious talent, I am looking forward to that even more than before.
The narration, too, is spot-on.
The book is excellent and the reading was enjoyable. It was perfectly tailored to the mood of the novel and the listening experience was delightful.
In the middle
Horrible - Definitely wanted a different ending or more to the story.
Fats because he thought he was all that but really isn't.
This story is tied for first place for all the audio books I've listen to so far. The other book is "the Help".
He really brought all of the characters alive for the reader. And in this book, it was all about the characters.
While the story was gritty at times it was impossible to put down. It was a lot like going past a bad car accident... Impossible to look away from.
took a long time to get into the story. about midway it picked up, and was worth the read
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.