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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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  •  
    M. Williams 10-13-12
    M. Williams 10-13-12

    Army Social Work

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    "It's a small world, after all.."
    If you could sum up The Casual Vacancy in three words, what would they be?

    Topical, shocking in it's frankness


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sukvinda (sic) appeared to be a repository for all the angst the other young characters were feeling. It was as if she represented the thoughtlessness of people's actions,without regard to the effect said actions would have on others around them. Her bloodletting caused a visceral reaction in me. By the end she had grown in the strength of her character...I also was struck how the opposing views of the townspeople so closely correlated with America's current political battles (personal responsibility versus the less fortunate). Guess this crap occurs all over the world...


    What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Clear, concise language. Listened to a book (vampire series, with an English character called "Bones") and couldn't get through the first couple chapters due to harshness of the narrator...taught me to listen FIRST before purchasing.


    If you could take any character from The Casual Vacancy out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Obviously,Crystal. She has options, but she can't see, and has not been taught to choose a less damaging path among those options (I work for Social Work Service)...Or Kay, for not fighting harder for Crystal, or picking up her daughter's life and relocating, following some guy who never gave her the tiniest indication he wanted to be with her outside of a bed...


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary hanover, VA, United States 10-11-12
    mary hanover, VA, United States 10-11-12 Member Since 2011
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    4
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    "Wonderful"
    Where does The Casual Vacancy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    What I liked most about this book is the author had many twist and turns in the book.


    What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The voice was right on point.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacklyn WALNUT CREEK, CA, United States 10-11-12
    Jacklyn WALNUT CREEK, CA, United States 10-11-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Warning: Never Aspire To Be Rowling's Neighbor"
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    Rowling has an amazing ability to distill people's characters in a few crafty sentences. Everyone is flawed and she is unapologetic and quite blunt about it. The most mundane person in your neighborhood gains a kind of power from her intense interest in them and interpretation of them and we the readers see the people around us in sharper detail. We might not be entirely sympathetic to them but I for one feel like minding my p's and q's in case she is observing me.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Rochester, NY, United States 10-11-12
    Connie Rochester, NY, United States 10-11-12
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    4
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    Story
    "A Rough Look at the Reality We Fear"
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    The narrator was able to convey the many characters in a way that one could quickly differeniate them.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The adherance to the realities of life in the 21st century from the raw descriptions of life on the seedy side to the petty prejudices that all humanity can fall prey to.


    Which character – as performed by Tom Hollander – was your favorite?

    Crystal. The only character who seems to accept and wrestle with the realities of her life.


    If you could rename The Casual Vacancy, what would you call it?

    Its Just a Veneer


    Any additional comments?

    This was a difficult book to read. After you have read about half the book, you realize that the author is without hope for the 21st century western 'civilization'.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Centerville, UT, United States 10-11-12
    Marc Centerville, UT, United States 10-11-12 Member Since 2012

    I flip-flop between business and fiction books to keep me grounded in reality while still keeping my childhood love of fantasy firmly intact.

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    "Totally unexpectedly entertaining!"

    Like "Jude the Obscure," by Thomas Hardy, this is NOT a happy story, but unlike that book, which I absolutely HATED, I really enjoyed "The Casual Vacancy." This story of a small town in western England has hardly a hint of romance, but plenty of foul language, death, sex, betrayal, and drug abuse; there's even a bit of incest, just for good measure. Everyone has their problems, but all the people mentioned in this book have serious amounts of disfunction.

    In the end, all the people that come out of the situation relatively unscathed aren't left any better than they started. And, again, this was a GREAT book, because Ms. Rowling tells the tale in a way that makes it a fun listen. It left me thinking, "My life's pretty darn good, comparatively speaking."

    I don't, however, recommend this book for anyone under the age of 30. You need some perspective to be able to read this book and not be effected negatively by it.

    That all being said, I'm hoping for a sequel! There are a lot of characters here that I want to follow to find out how messed up their lives will become as they try to deal with some of the things that were unresolved!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda 10-11-12
    Rhonda 10-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "WOW! WHAT CAN I SAY?"
    If you could sum up The Casual Vacancy in three words, what would they be?

    HEARTBREAKING, DARK, INTRIGUING


    Would you recommend The Casual Vacancy to your friends? Why or why not?

    YES - especially ones with children


    Which character – as performed by Tom Hollander – was your favorite?

    Robbie


    If you could take any character from The Casual Vacancy out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    It would be Kay


    Any additional comments?

    This book was not great, it was sad, once I got two thirds into it, I had to find out what was going to happen. I found the book hard to follow so I purchased the audio book which was MUCH better. The narrator was great! The voice of Howard sounded just like Hagrid! I think JK did an EXCELLENT job on her first book after Harry. Nothing could have come close and to expect it too was pure fantasy!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 10-10-12
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 10-10-12 Member Since 2010

    audiobookaholic

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    "Rowling Conjures a Tale for Adults"

    No one can say that J.K. Rowling cannot conjure up a good story, and the Casual Vacancy is most certainly a good story. The plot is every bit as intricate and twisted as any of the Harry Potter books, the characters are fully drawn and believable, and the action keeps you in suspense, waiting for the multiple threads of narrative that Rowling lays out to align and spontaneously combust. You can feel that explosion coming early in the book, as layer after layer of the peaceful veneer of small-town life in the English countryside is peeled away to reveal the simmering cauldron of anxieties, neuroses, overblown egos, class and racial tensions, and suppressed rage that lies beneath.

    This is most definitely a novel for adults, with sex, drug abuse, profanity, rape, suicide, and difficult adult situations replacing the wands, brooms, creatures, and spells of the Potter series, but I suspect that there is much here for the 18 to 20-somethings who grew up on Potter to dig into. Much of the action revolves around and is driven by several teenagers coming to terms with adult feelings and adult responsibilities while struggling to deal with adults in their lives who are at their mildest somewhat whacky and at their worst very dangerous. Guess who turns out to be the heroes?

    This was an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable listen, made all the more so by the skillful and sensitive narration of Tom Hollander.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alison Dallas, TX, United States 10-10-12
    alison Dallas, TX, United States 10-10-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Darkly beautiful...but not for everyone"

    I didn't want to read any reviews before reading this book. I wanted only to have my own impressions first. During the first third of the book, I wondered where Rowling was going with this story. But like a train, the book picked up speed as it went along. When I reached the end, I went back to the beginning and read it again--just in case I had missed something.

    This is certainly not a book for those who thought that HP Book 4 was too dark. This one is often dark, grim and gritty. Most of the characters are not really likeable--at least not at first. Then you get to know the back story...or you see a flash of tremendous courage in a person who seemed weak and useless. And slowly, you begin to see these people in a different light. It is as Sirius Black said, "The world isn't divided into good people and Deatheaters." (Or something like that.) The world Rowling created is complex and difficult and many people are not what they seem.

    We don't get to know Barry Fairweather very well in the first few pages of the book. He dies right at the beginning of the story. (This is not a spoiler--his death creates the "casual vacancy" in the book.) It is only after the fact that you really get to know this man--through his friendships with the people who survive him.

    There are not enough books which reveal real, 3 dimensional characters--people who come to life and remain like old friends in your head. Maybe for all your life. Rowling has incredible insight into teenage angst, marriage, addiction and love. The book is beautifully written. As you can see from the widely different reviews, it isn't for everyone. But I am among those who feel it is extraordinary.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori United States 10-10-12
    Lori United States 10-10-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "hmm...not as bad as others thought it to be"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    decently spent


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    wish the ending had more redeeming qualities


    What about Tom Hollander’s performance did you like?

    he was very good


    Do you think The Casual Vacancy needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    no, because we know what happens to the most interesting characters.


    Any additional comments?

    I neither loved nor hated this book. I had not read Rowling before so I had no expectations. Was A decent story-slightly depressing. I found myself hoping agaist hope that some of the characters would overcome the odds. I do not feel that I wasted my credit.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    p1ayswell 10-08-12
    p1ayswell 10-08-12 Member Since 2014
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    "The Casual Vacancy...Gritty and painful life!"
    Would you listen to The Casual Vacancy again? Why?

    This book its narration and above all its character development stands among one of the most gritty and painful examinations of life. Of lives really, of many intersecting and diverging lives the pettiness of rivalry, perplexing social situations of a youth and the dark turmoil of living and repeating poorly though out life decisions based on false hope and misinformation. Few authors these days try to expose life, J.K. Rowling has left her previous works with children, this story composes what a mature author and reader seeks and is afraid of. Yet it sucks you in with all the promise of one night stand but actually fulfills your appetite for self destruction and groundless hate and general lust for what you cannot have. Bravo, even as an American reader I was able to quickly relate to the scenes well crafted they blur the line of what is real and what is real enough it could be what has happened to you or friend you know.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The savage use of common everyday language and the depiction of life unvarnished and painful to relive as the helpless by-standing reader is what drew me into the story and kept me there.


    What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    Tom evoked the crass nature of these characters and the common kind of beautiful that is dangerous to listen to. Tom was able to balance the mechanics of the writing into the portrayal of humanized characters.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Common is Dangerous.


    Any additional comments?

    Well done J.K. well done!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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