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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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  •  
    p1ayswell 10-08-12
    p1ayswell 10-08-12 Member Since 2006
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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
  •  
    kate Bellevue, WA, United States 10-07-12
    kate Bellevue, WA, United States 10-07-12 Member Since 2008
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    "I love this book."
    Would you listen to The Casual Vacancy again? Why?

    I would definitely listen to it again because I like a good story well told -- and that's what this is.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Casual Vacancy?

    There's a funeral scene near the end where one character recalls her lost friend in better times, pushing back against systemic b.s. with sass and humor and guts. That recollection will stay with me.


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

    No, but I intend to. he's very good.


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

    Krystal. Because she's smart and gutsy and full of heart.


    Any additional comments?

    I glanced through the bad reviews before downloading this book and almost skipped it because they were so vehement. I'm so glad I didn't! This has nothing to do with HP; my advice is to think of this writer as someone you've never heard of and take the work on face value. It's a book filled with people most of us can recognize, some of them honorable, some of them wretched, some of them just lost. The prose is fine and the dialogue rings true.

    For those who say it's all just ugliness and vulgarity, I strongly disagree. I love this book.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. D. Cantrell GA 10-06-12
    P. D. Cantrell GA 10-06-12

    mainly mysteries

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    "compelling stories"
    What did you love best about The Casual Vacancy?

    I loved that there were many individual stories (for all the characters) but they were all connected. You could follow each story through the book and they each had their own ending.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Casual Vacancy?

    One thing that stood out to me was what all the teenagers did to get back at their parents (whether they deserved it or not). It felt like a very real teenage action on all their parts.


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

    It's my first book of his. I really enjoyed his narration.


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

    Yes! It was a long book, but I managed to listen while jogging, cleaning, cooking and anywhere else I could sneak it in.


    Any additional comments?

    I would love to have had the Rihanna song played at the appropriate place in the story. I would have been willing to pay an extra amount comparable to the cost of a song download. This would have been a powerful addition to the story. I bought the song on my own and now I want to reread the book so I can mentally insert it in there. Hope there will be an audiobook edition in the future with this feature!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elsbeth Washington, DC, United States 10-04-12
    Elsbeth Washington, DC, United States 10-04-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Better in print"

    I bought this book in print as well as audio.

    I have to say, I am a huge fan of audiobooks, but I just don't think this one was a good candidate for audio. It is much slower in audio and many other reviewers seem to have found it boring. I soon gave up on the audio and went back to reading my print version.

    Overall, however, I loved the story and writing. I am not sure if it is the fault of the narrator or just simply one of those books that is much better in print. I think it was a little bit of both.

    In terms of the story:

    I really like this book a lot. The negative reviews made me sad, but I can understand that this is a very specific type of writing and if you don't like a slow pace, you probably won't really want to trudge through this book.

    Liking Harry Potter does NOT mean you will like this book!

    WARNING: not for children. While teens might want to read this, I doubt many would be very interested in the storyline of local politics in a small British town. A few of the main characters are teens themselves, however I am not sure that will be a big draw to get the teens to read the book.

    To be fair, this is EXACTLY the type of book I like; a book that delves into the lives of the many characters and the mundane ways in which they occupy their time. I think Rowling does an amazing job describing the little hamlet of Pagford with all its pretensions and idiosyncrasies. Like Hogwarts, Pagford is a definite character in this novel. Unlike Hogwarts, Rowling doesn't have the benefit of 7 books in which to bring Pagford to life.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shelly in baton rouge Baton Rouge, LA United States 10-03-12
    shelly in baton rouge Baton Rouge, LA United States 10-03-12 Member Since 2007

    shelly

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    "I don't understand the negative reviews!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Casual Vacancy to be better than the print version?

    I have not read, just listened.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Casual Vacancy?

    Well, not an actual story moment, but the character development and story line(s) were wonderful- complete departure from the Harry Potter series, but certainly, J.K. Rowling is an incredible author!


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

    I think my favorites were Kay and Samantha- also Gavin and the whole of Crystal's family. I didn't really like any of the characters personally, but I really LIKED the characters!!


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

    Small minds in small towns!!


    Any additional comments?

    I loved it.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shay haifa, Israel 10-03-12
    shay haifa, Israel 10-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "standing ovation to j.k"

    I enjoyed this book so much, I didnt want it to end. The way J.K knows to describe all the thoughts that go through all of us and at the same time does not stop us from judging others..she is an amazing writer. A lot of small sentences are so condense with so much of the human truth. i loved the book, i really did. bravo!

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine United States 10-06-12
    Christine United States 10-06-12 Member Since 2011
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    "More, please"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Casual Vacancy to be better than the print version?

    I really enjoyed the narration and preferred it over the print version.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Casual Vacancy?

    Most memorable moment for me was when all the different life stories linked.


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

    British Accent.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Casual Vacancy and why?

    Crystal, because she could have been a success story and it was sad that she committed suicide. The system failed her and her brother.


    Any additional comments?

    Harry Potter never captured my interest. I purchased this book because of the narrator sample and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a well written story. I read the other comments and I do believe, you have to have lived in the UK and be familiar with their current social struggles to get into this story. Not to be disrespectful, but most Americans are very unfamiliar with other countries, their customs, politics and social issues.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Garden Grove, CA, United States 10-06-12
    Lee Garden Grove, CA, United States 10-06-12 Member Since 2009
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    "NOT Harry Potter...but a very good story"

    Those of you who are expecting Harry Potter will be very disappointed. That said, I found it to be a very good story about prejudices, life patterns and expectations.

    I will say that is can be difficult to keep all the characters straight at first, but stay with it. About a quarter of the way through, I found myself dying to see what each of the characters would do next! This book is about warfare. Class warfare, economic warfare, generational warfare and - of course - the war between the sexes!

    It's easy to pigeon-hole the characters early on into the good, the bad and the ugly. As the story progresses, however, each character develops in unexpected ways. I won't give away the ending, but if you have any kind of social conscience at all, you will be rocked.

    This story was wonderfully narrated by Tom Hollander. He gave a very nuanced performance that caught the characters perfectly. I will look for more books read by this talented actor!

    While this book was certainly not written for youngsters, Rowling definitely understands how teenagers and young adults view and deal with the world. If I could offer any constructive criticism, it would be to round out the adult characters a little more.

    Overall, this is a very engaging story. Well worth the investment of time & money.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dj harriman, TN, United States 10-03-12
    dj harriman, TN, United States 10-03-12 Member Since 2010
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    "All about the muggles"
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    Mr. Hollander's narration was wonderful


    Any additional comments?

    I was always going to get this title. As silly as it sounds I felt that I owed that to Mrs. Rowling for all the joy she gave me through the Harry Potter series. I knew it was going to be different and I went into it with an open mind. Midway through the book I had already forgotten who the author was and was just sucked into the story. There is no likeable character( think of a town full of Dursleys) yet the story was so well written that I didn't care.So if you can accept this book on it's own merits ( no Magic , plenty of Muggles) then I suggest you try it out.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clare Vancouver, BC, Canada 09-28-12
    Clare Vancouver, BC, Canada 09-28-12

    Historical & SciFi Book Lover, especially Georgette Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis (& New Who). Also books for the kids.

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    "Gritty British Class Drama."

    I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I am keen on local politics and thought that would be the hook for me, but I was totally caught up with the characters. Never before have I found myself listening to a book at 3:30 in the morning, unable to “put it down”.

    This is not a Harry Potter grows up book. It is more like a modern Thomas Hardy book. Set in a bucolic English scene, with a harsh underbelly (a picturesque village with an adjoining, socially deprived, housing estate). And in keeping with some of the characters be warned there is lots of strong language (f*** is used frequently as a noun, adjective, verb, etc.)

    This book can be bleak, depressing and gritty. There are times I was desperate for a lift to the unrelenting misery. There are some comedic touches, but of a very dark humour. The descriptive passages (and there are lots of them) vary from deft, to heavy, to thought provoking.

    The narration was extremely good. I think I would have struggled reading this, especially with some of the colloquial argot, which with Tom Hollander had no problem smoothly narrating.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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