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
What I liked most about this book is the author had many twist and turns in the book.
The voice was right on point.
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.
The narrator was able to convey the many characters in a way that one could quickly differeniate them.
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.
Crystal. The only character who seems to accept and wrestle with the realities of her life.
Its Just a Veneer
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'.
I flip-flop between business and fiction books to keep me grounded in reality while still keeping my childhood love of fantasy firmly intact.
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!
HEARTBREAKING, DARK, INTRIGUING
YES - especially ones with children
It would be Kay
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!
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.
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.
wish the ending had more redeeming qualities
he was very good
no, because we know what happens to the most interesting characters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Common is Dangerous.
Well done J.K. well done!
I would definitely listen to it again because I like a good story well told -- and that's what this is.
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.
No, but I intend to. he's very good.
Krystal. Because she's smart and gutsy and full of heart.
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.
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