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The Casual Vacancy | [J. K. Rowling]

The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.... Pagford is not what it at first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.
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Publisher's Summary

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.... Pagford is not what it at first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking, and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults.

©2012 J.K. Rowling (P)2012 Hachette Audio

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  •  
    D. WARD Midlothian, Virginia United States 11-26-12
    D. WARD Midlothian, Virginia United States 11-26-12 Member Since 2009

    Diana bookworm

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A very British flavoured book"
    What did you love best about The Casual Vacancy?

    The realness of the characters and fascinating story of their lives after an event that affected them all in different and unique ways.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I didn't have a favorite character.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Hollander’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't, but I enjoyed his narration very much. I love the British colloquialisms and sense of humor.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It built and built and came to a crescendo that I didn't anticipate.


    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly Hermosa Beach, CA, United States 11-21-12
    Beverly Hermosa Beach, CA, United States 11-21-12

    bella jackson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "JK Rowling knows how to tell a story!"

    If you were looking for Harry Potter, how disappointed you must be. This story could almost be about a town where the Dursleys' live. Small minded arrogant people who must find a way to feel they are better than others to allow them to have some control over their lives. To have a poor project "on the other side of the tracks' creates the tension and tragedy that follows. This woman knows how to draw you into the story even when you despise the characters for their weaknesses and lack of charity. It is a gritty tale but one more purely true in our world than my beloved Harry Potter. Don't give up on this book even if the beginning is a bit raw. In the end you will have at least a beginning understanding of why people hate each other for really no reason at all and the devastation it can bring to the world of everyday people. I commend JK Rowling for the courage it takes to change paths after such a phenomenal success with the Potter Series. This one is definitely not for children. It is definitely a 5 star read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Seattle, WA 11-14-12
    Kyle Seattle, WA 11-14-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Befuddled"

    I read a slew of reviews before launching into this book, so I knew what I was tackling.

    I don't know if I dislike it because it is good or if I dislike it because it is bad or somehow...both.

    While I definitely do not need or want stories to be puppies and unicorns, I am not sure what the point is of writing a story in which everyone is miserable.

    I've been pretty darn miserable during sad lengths of my life, but I still knew plenty of people who were fundamentally happy. I made it through the dark patches and proceeded to be pretty happy. If there are communities out there in which every single person is completely miserable, the citizens should consider moving!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Houston, TX, United States 11-10-12
    Robert Houston, TX, United States 11-10-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great narration, not a great story"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend this book since the story was so unfocused and many of the characters were either unbelievable repulsive or ineffectual sadsacks.


    Would you ever listen to anything by J. K. Rowling again?

    I'd give her another try. the Harry Potter books were very enjoyable.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The coda was very effective and makes you wonder where that magic was throughout the rest of the book.


    Was The Casual Vacancy worth the listening time?

    Marginally. I considered stopping a number of times but plowed through to the end.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina Novato, CA, United States 10-30-12
    Tina Novato, CA, United States 10-30-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Brilliant but unlovable"

    I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's really well-written social satire and dark comedy, and on the other, it's like women who wear unrelieved black all the time. You wish they'd throw a bright scarf over it sometimes, to lighten things up.

    Book clubs would love this one; much to discuss. The very smallness of the concerns of self-satisfied small-town residents, NIMBY, generational gaps in understanding, the way she NAILED teen attitudes and obsessions, and the nuances of marriage and other relationships.

    I didn't love it, but it certainly was a GOOD book. If you know what I mean.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Femke Arnhem, Netherlands 11-29-12
    Femke Arnhem, Netherlands 11-29-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "In defense of swearing..."

    This great story is not going to be to everyone's liking. Unlike the Harry Potter books the author is famous for, this story does not have a set of clearly defined goodies and baddies, nor are there any characters that are particularly likeable. The book does not have a happy ending where good triumphs over evil, nor does it have the "feel good" escapist factor of a fantasy novel. It is not a moral or positive story that shows how the goodness of the human spirit can overcome great adversity.

    By contrast, this book shows an extremely realistic depiction of modern life in Britain. It vividly portrays the interactions between a set of multi-dimensional, colourful yet credible characters in a small town setting. The book explores complex social and political problems in the context of this microcosm in a balanced way without simplifying the issues or portraying people holding one viewpoint in a better light than those holding the opposite viewpoint. To me, the book had the feel of a contemporary Charles Dickens' novel because of its fantastic and richly described characters and its focus a small slice of the world. The book is a real page-turner and whilst dark, it is quite funny in places.

    Many reviewers have commented on the amount of swearing in the book. I disagree with the opinion of some that the use of swear words is gratuitous and is just there to make the novel appear "adult". On the contrary, I believe that every word - including the swear words - the characters in this novel utter are there to reflect and express those characters' particular identity and circumstances. I believe that it is extremely realistic for teenage girl growing up in a very deprived area to frequently swear at her heroin addicted mother - and everybody else. It would not be credible to me if this girl spoke in any other way. "Gosh mother I am terribly sorry to bother you but I would appreciate it if you would reflect upon the fact that your continued heroin use constitutes a blight on my life...".

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Circle K Riverside, CA United States 10-01-12
    Circle K Riverside, CA United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring"

    I cannot remember how many times I restarted this book! But I do remember falling asleep every time I restarted this book.
    The narrator was excellent, I would listen to him again anytime.
    Rowlings needs to stay in imaginary worlds where she is so much more entertaining and the reader develops a bond with the characters--and knows who is who and cares about them.
    This book was a train wreck to listen to, no offense to Hogwarts...

    39 of 61 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela J United States 10-01-12
    Pamela J United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2014

    Sure, I'd love to hear your story....

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A book for adults from a tried and true writer"

    We are always wanting our authors to write something "different" - - and J.K. Rowling really did. For my fellow Potter fans, remember that only 3 of the seven books ended on a positive note; most ended with the dread that was hanging over Harry's head and/or with major characters that we had grown to love dead. Why are we so surprised she writes characters that are flawed and not always easy to like? It's in keeping with her pattern and I quite like that. That's why I'm so surprised at the harsh criticism that is being leveled at this book.

    With that as the backdrop, this is a book with a lot of well developed characters each living their lives of, "quiet desperation." I really liked how well the author blended the people and their miserable lives together by drawing patterns and cross purposes through what might be considered normal lives.

    Yes, there's rough language, sexuality, and crime. And yes, this is a book for adults. Having made that the premise, it much less graphic than most crime novels, has tamer sexual encounters than most romances, and is much more complex than a young adult book.

    The story did struggle in parts - - sometimes in the effort to define the characters it was easy to lose where we were in the plot. I think as she continues to write single books rather than series, the need to so well define someone who only has a tangential role in the plot will be abandoned. But, even with that criticism, I liked it, and I really look forward to her next book for adults.

    16 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aimz SALT LAKE CITY, UT, United States 10-12-12
    Aimz SALT LAKE CITY, UT, United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2006

    Audible rawks! My taste is beyond eclectic and Audible always has plenty to choose from, no matter what mood I'm in!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Back to Reality"

    Haters gonna hate, and yes, there is a good deal of Peyton Place in Pagford; but, being from the David Lynch School of Small Town Distrust, I think Ms. Rowling nails the pettiness of most people's lives in her bunch of roundly unlikable characters, few of whom find any hope of redemption by story's end. The horrors of middle class morality, abuse and poverty (of the wallet and the spirit) are examined along with warnings of the dangers inherent in obesity, facebook bullying and shoddy website security.

    Not a tale for the squeamish or those who require uplifting tales of the chicken soup variety. Possibly best for those who, like the author, have seen society from its lower rungs and know that luck (and a bit of ruthlessness and avarice) has more to do with whether one gets to move on up than most care to think.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Basehor, KS, United States 09-30-12
    Ron Basehor, KS, United States 09-30-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Rowling Proving Point NOT to be like Harry Potter"

    This story was very tedious will lots of foul language thrown in for good measure. I don't mind foul langue but it seemed to be thrown in just to be thrown in. Also the character development in this story was Painfully SLOW! There was none of the richness of and depth of characters we have come to expect from her. If she wasn't J.K. Rowling I don't know if this book would have been published. The brightest written parts of this book were when she was dealing with the high schoolers. Now for the bright side Tom Hollander did a fantastic job narrating and I would have no problems listening to any of his narration in the future. Hopefully now that J.K. Rowling has wrote this drivel she will write enriching full immersive worlds in the future.


    32 of 51 people found this review helpful

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