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.
This book is fantastic. Rowling is an amazing observer and translator of the human condition. Her characters are multidimensional and contradictory giving the story an authentic foundation. Obviously, the end of the Harry Potter series gave everyone who enjoyed them a strong desire for more. However, The Casual Vacancy is does not fill that void for those who crave a protagonist overcoming great obstacles to find within himself that which allows him to triumph. This is a book for listeners who are interested in exploring the interior lives of others, and, consequently, themselves. Each outwardly unpleasant character struggles with their own pain. No one is pure evil, no one is a saint, they are all human and they all bleed. Understanding that even our greatest enemy can be vulnerable enough to evoke in us a genuine empathy is the strongest theme in this book. For those who like Rowling only for her limitless power in creating a new universe, this is not a book for you. It is not about escapism, it is about taking an honest look at your inner self in the safety of your own mind. This story is for those readers who value a book that can make you reflect on your own state of being, on your own judgements and values, a book that can change you for the better.Take a chance on this one, I am truly glad that I did.
It is very hard to have a favorite character, in the same way that it would be hard to like anyone if you knew all their darkest secrets, desires and weaknesses. In the spirit of Fats Wall, I choose Krystal Weedon for her unapologetic authenticity.
I have not heard Tom Hollander's other performances, but this one was great.
The characters are real people. Ms. Rowling has described them in detail, warts and all.
Without spoiling what happens, the last few chapters are like a runaway train the plot elements build and interact, I could not stop listening.
Both the Dinner Party from Hell and the Birthday Celebration were excellent.
I cried at places, however according to Ms. Rowling in the NY Times she did also.
I know that my views are in the minority with so many negative reviews already. It's not Harry Potter and the Pagford Parish Council.; it wasn't meant to be. Give the story a chance, you may be surprised.
I had seen JK Rowling interview on The Daily Show, where I was reminded of her years spent living in a housing project like The Fields.
her characters seem a throwback to Jane Austen's. I suppose I was reminded of Persuasion, only without the happy ending. I cried at the end, just like JK Rowling said that I should.
Based on this story probably not. The story is drawn out, the juicy details are left out. Took me the 1st 6.5 hours to get into it.
I'm not even sure what this genre is . . . . Boring? Pointless story?
I liked the enthusiam in the readers voice. I didn't like the story
the 1st 6.5 hours of it.
DON'T WASTE A CREDIT ON THIS!!!!!
Say something about yourself!
A good friend of mine refuses to read (or listen to) this novel because--as an avid Harry Potter fan--she is afraid that doing so might taint her positive perception of J.K. Rowling's authorial talents. I had the opposite response: being a fan made it impossible for me NOT to find out what The Casual Vacancy was all about. At the outset, I want to say that I very much appreciate the irony of the title. The vacancy of the Pagford parish council seat generates a ripple effect through the "pretty little town" and its citizenry that is anything but casual.
In a recent interview with Cynthia McFadden, Ms. Rowling said that the themes in which she is most interested as a writer are "morality and mortality." Certainly, readers of the Harry Potter series are familiar with her treatment of these themes, and we see them again in The Casual Vacancy--which begins with the latter and resonates throughout with the former. We also witness again Rowling's skill at creating characters that quickly capture and maintain our interest, and we recognize her sometimes subtle, but at other times rather didactic, social commentary.
J.K. Rowling did not need to write this book for the money it might make, and she definitely ran the risk of compromising her authorial reputation in publishing it. I'm sure there will be some readers who do not appreciate a few of her less savory characters and dark, not in the least fantastic, plot twists or the decidedly non-Harry Potterish language. However, given her background as a woman who once lived on the "benefits" that the U.K. provided her, I have to believe that writing this novel was a labor of love, and I, for one, am an even bigger Rowling fan than before.
This is pretty good, although Stephen Fry's reading of Harry Potter can hardly be beaten
The fact that he let the story come to life without annoying accents or acting
The Casual Vacancy is not a great book, but certainly a good one. Although the descriptions of the Field and its inhabitants are lengthy, they bring home the hopelessness and squalor. Then again, the well-off have problems of their own and are caught in their situations as well as the people in the Fields.
I found the atmosphere thoroughly depressing. That goes to show that this book involves its readers.
Read to perfection by Tom Hollander, narrating in an understated way to allow the listener to feel the full impact of the words and deeds of the characters in this small town.
As has been said before this is very different in many ways from Harry Potter. However, the later HP books were darker and dealt with people's prejudices, festering emotional baggage, jealousies, abuse etc and all the novels share JKRs extreme attention to details so that I could really see the characters and the town so clearly as she cleverly describes through the eyes of the other characters. The themes in this novel can be seen in Harry Potter, depression, dominance, betrayal, homosexuality, anarchy, they simply are not so much at the fore.
This is a further iteration of the English village novel, however, it is not the usual bustling celebration but more the cracks that lay ugly and seeping below the beautiful chocolate box like veneer. The complacency, hypocrisy , selfishness, narrow-mindedness, ignorance, prejudice, abuse, double standards, ignorance and sheer unpleasantness of the great majority of the inhabitants of Pagford,nr Bristol, is a constant challenge to your senses. I found the story to be somewhat of a large heavy boulder slowly rolling down the hill. It starts off with the death of Councillor Barry Fairbrother and we are shown how his death impacts on certain members of the town in less than flattering ways. It takes quite a long time to get into all the characters and what they are about but suddenly, about 100 pages in, you begin to see what is going on and the boulder moves along swiftly.
JKR brings forward some characters who are rarely encountered, and insists we notice them standing blinking in the spot light. Most notable is Krystal, school age daughter of a drug addict, resident of a 'sink estate' as other people in the village would term it, foul mouthed, sexually promiscuous, and the carer of her 3 year old brother. She is both brave and desperately in need of affection. She is so very vulnerable and sadly misjudged by most of the village. Her expectations and dreams are so small and basic hey alone shout at the reader to care and open their eyes to what goes on around them. Krystal is one of a range of teenage characters who JKR is able to present persuasively, as if from the inside. Others include Sukhinder, a self-harming Sikh girl, from the only Asian family in the village; Andrew whose crush on Gaia is brought to life with complete conviction and who brings back vivid memories for the non-teenage reader; Gaia herself, exiled from London by her single parent mother's move from Hackney, privileged by good looks and sense of coolness is enraged by her mother's unpleasant boyfriend and uprooting her at the age of 16; and 'Fats', whose lacerating wit covers his unhappy home and hatred of his father. The families that these young people live in are mercilessly exposed by JKR as nests of mutual dislike, infidelity, abuse, rape, backstabbing and cruelty. Spattered amongst these parents are more likeable and emphatic characters who help cement you there.
JKR shows through the characters treatment of each other both sympathy and often contempt. Rowling's authorial presence dominates the narrative, imposing moral judgement, left and right. The narrative deliver's punishment to the wicked and then to the innocent as is JKR's way... she does not shy from gritty subjects. Most of the characters descriptions come from other peoples' minds and can be rather unflattering at times but extremely vivid. These descriptions become layered throughout the book as more people describe the character.
By the end of the book I really did care, especially about the children for whom JKR has a special insight and for the 'Fields' folk, who are so completely p******d on by the comfortably off. Judged and abandoned they were getting by as best as they could, surviving being victims of victims. No one walks out of this novel unscathed but there are some surprises in there. As we saw people's malice spring up from jealousy, avarice, anger and fear of what others might think, I had to pull back and just observe ... letting all judgements go was necessary. The last chapters of the book were especially real to me as they were told through the eyes of one of the teenagers, we were led away from the facade of an adult ritual and into the truth of who Krystal really was, her essence and more importantly what she could have been if more Barry Fairbrothers were out there championing and believing in people. Krystal's expectations and dreams are so small and basic they alone shout at the reader to open their eyes.
There is a wellspring of compassion in this author that is welcome in the world of contemporary fiction. While JKR has joined the higher echelons of wealth, her attitude appears to have not been altered. She no longer has to write, a nd is brave to set out after Harry Potter to stake a new claim, although I felt this is a cathartic process for her at some level. I hope she does so again, as she has something to tell us and hopefully if even the smallest part of these adults resides within us we will recognise them and ask the to leave the building..