Shortlisted for: UK Author of the year – Specsavers National Book Awards 2012
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early 40s, the 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 facade 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 first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish 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?
A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.
©2012 J.K. Rowling (P)2012 Hachette Digital
There was nothing magic about this book. It went on and on and on. When it finally finished I wondered whether the time I dedicated to it was well spent. It was boring. My mind went on a casual vacation while listening to this book.
J K Rowling's first novel for adults is a brilliant story that provides readers with a realistic glimpse of the British class system and the huge differences between the classes. The upper class in the small town of Pagford have their secrets revealed by the Ghost of Barry Fairbrother, in the wake of his death. Barry was a town councillor, and upon his death mysterious notices begin appearing on the council website, revealing family secrets that the town would prefer to not have revealed. The Casual Vacancy is an emotional thrill ride and if you live in a small town, you may just wonder what secrets your neighbours would prefer stay buried. A great listen.
Very diverse characters who interacted in odd ways - but so depressing!
Not one real point of happiness anywhere in this book
No - too depressing
It's an excellent audiobook. told so well by the narrator. I enjoyed it immensely.
I found this book hard to take initially. Confronting is probably the right word. But in the end it's this that drags you into the story. You fall in love with all the characters, despite their immense floors. You develop a relationship with them and want the best for them. You really want Krystal Weedon, the central character and loveable rogue, to catch a break.
I loved Krystal Weedon. You can see her in your mind quite clearly giving authority the bird. Very well told by Tom Hollander.
I could, if i had enough time! 83 chapters seemed a lot to begin with but you find yourself listening to this story every chance you get.
I'm gonna miss this story, and their characters. Like in all good books you want the story to go on forever.
I kept waiting for something to actually happen in the story - to no avail. Introduces new characters every 5 minutes to no effect. I couldn't finish it. I went in with open eyes - not expecting anything like HP but still very disappointed.
its probably easier to follow as an audio book
This book was really slow to start & the huge number of characters made it difficult to follow but once I was into it & knew who everyone was I really enjoyed it
I very much enjoyed the characters of the book.
The fact that I felt like I was actually there in the rooms with the characters, Rowling's description was so clear.
Crystal... And I was absolutely astounded at how wonderfully Tom Hollander portrayed all of the characters very convincingly, from a 3 year old boy to a gruff old women! BRILLIANT performance, in fact the first thing I did was check out what other books Tom had narrated, I enjoyed his performance so much!
Don't judge a book by it's cover!
17 hours flew past, not very often a story can keep me till the end with that sort of length. Loved it, more please Ms Rowling!
I actually didn't like the story,it was quite sad,however, I couldn't stop listening ! It was extremely well written and the characters were very well developed. An excellent story but very sad. I think if it were a movie, I would have been crying like a baby at the end.
I have never read a book like this. i only bought it because it was JK Rowling.
Some narrators are awful, Tom did a good job. Voices were good.
Crystal Weedon, I'd like to be her friend and help her get out of the life that is so dreadful.
It's worth buying, but read the synopsis first so you know the story line.
An unashamed Audiophile who has his own studio and business called iZENEARS which brings Australian travel and history to life for locals and visitor's alike.
Sorry Ms Rowling, your Potter series were truly inspired but I have to say this did not work for me on any level. A shame really but as they say you cannot be all things to all people and you deserve all the credit for your past work, stay with the genre is my suggestion.
"Well obviously it was going to be competent"
I've just read the review in the Guardian by Theo Talt, who coined the phrase 'Mugglemarch.' I had almost thought of that myself, and boy I wish I had. But George Elliot had kind eyes for some of her players and I could sympathise with Dorothea and Dr Lydgate, and (call me sentimental) I have to be able to love some of the characters in a novel, to find it worthwhile. Who is there to love in Pagford? So is JKR saying we are all selfish beyond redemption, get real? Please give me nobility in the novels I read, even if it does not exist in REAL life. But, to be fair, didn't put it down except to eat.
"Not what you'd expect from JK Rowling"
Probably not, because the story line was very slow.
The last few chapters were the most interesting because something finally happened. The least interesting part was the beginning, it was quite tedious in parts.
Tom Hollander was the saving grace of The Casual Vacancy. I would have never made it through to the end if I were reading for myself.
Some parts of the ending were tragic, but I wasn't engaged enough in the story to cry.
"Best book to listen to"
The characters and story were engaging right from the beginning and Tom Hollander's excellent narration make this the book I have most enjoyed listening to so far. Some books are better read then listened to and don't work as well as audio books. Some books are enjoyable to listen to but leave me still wanting to read them. This book, coupled with Tom Hollander narration, seems to be the perfect book to listen to.
"Skilfully written - brilliantly read!"
Well I have a policy not to read a book more than once - life's too short - but I just may listen to this again because the characters are complex and the author has crafted and captured each one so skilfully that it would bear getting to know them all again.
I can't think of one. To me, this is a one off. The story depicts many different families in the same small town and they are all connected in one way or another through the demise of a Parish Councillor as the central pivotal event. JK Rowling seems to have reached into the heads of all the characters, from various walks of life and ages. This is a very clever and enjoyable novel.
Sorry - too hard to answer that one! They were all so clear in my head - that awful scene at the river when everyone was doing something different around the town. Is that a spoiler?
Both. In fact the whole book was emotional on many levels.
Tom Hollander is extraordinary in the way he conveys so many different characters without 'putting on' a voice. You immediately know who is talking - but then that's the beauty of these professionally read audio books.
I had to write down the family trees as it was a bit confusing at first - but that's probably just me!?
John Steinbeck said that the base theme of honest writing is to try and understand people, and that's what is at the heart of this novel. There are no heroes here, only flawed ordinary people going about their lives in a somewhat claustrophobic small English town. The personalities are recognisable but satisfyingly complex; they’re all self-obsessed, but to different degrees, and they’re all fighting the same-old battles of the sexes, generations and classes - just like we all are, everyday. It's a dark and petty world J. K. Rowling has created - with only brief glimpses of the kindly light that is supposed to shine from us all - but it feels remarkably honest: it's a mirror for us to examine ourselves in, and what I took from it was a reminder that to judge someone is to stop trying to understand them. An excellent novel, beautifully written and narrated, and thoroughly recommended. (PS For some reason the style and characterisation reminds me of Ben Elton at his best, so I’d recommend his ‘Two Brothers’ if you liked this.)
"Bitter But Good"
It is quite an extraordinary story. I was hooked and would certainly not discourage anyone who is interested from listening to it. But it is a very bitter novel, about how unhappy and unforgiving one group of people's lives are. Everyone is angry. Everyone is disappointed by their lives. Except the dead man. It certainly strikes resonance but it borders on unremitting and it builds a collage that is disturbingly bleak. And for those that have read hours and hours of Harry Potter out loud to their children, it follows the typical Rowling pattern: long sprawling third person descriptions of what going on in people's minds - which is oddly engaging if somewhat indulgent - with intense action happening in the last 5%. Well read by Tom Hollander - which is HUGELY important for audiobooks.
I wasn't expecting much from this book, but I have to say I totally enjoyed it. JK Rowling managed to create a realistic microcosm filled with memorable characters in a story that is very much in tune with what's happening around the world, as benefits for the poor are cut. This book is never boring and it's so easy to listen to, without ever being superficial. She might have moved away from HP but her mark is still there- that ability to create characters we love to hate and others we hate to love. Highly recommended. Tom Hollander is a fantastic reader- the right tone, the right pace. Such fun.
"I blubbered towards the end..."
A book I would definitely not of picked up if It been by an unknown author. I was surprised and pleased from the departure of that well known wizard. What struck and entertained me were the characters, how very un-pc and how the ugly side of human nature is exposed and laid bare - listening to the inner monologues of everyday people their pettiness, jealousies, weaknesses, lasciviousness, discriminatory views, etc etc . Young, old, rich, poor, bad and good, there is not one perfect character all follies and flaws are there for you to judge and cringe at. I can't say the book is amazing because of the subject matter, I found it sad and depressing but it's more than good hence the four stars. This novel and characters I will remember for a long time to come.
A very real insight into life, people and politics that is slow to build and dares strips away the human mask we hide behind.
As a definite fan of Jk Rowling I am disappointed that I cannot give this a better review. I was tempted to stop listening but am struggling through. After listening to the first two downloads I have not gained an affection for any of the characters, there is an imbalance of selfish and unpleasant people that makes me mentally switch off as I'm listening to it and I have to keep reversing back. It has been widely publicised that this book has bad language in it, but I have come to the conclusion that it is more unpleasant to listen to the bad language than to read it as written word... There is no skimming the foul tirades when it's narrated. The narration is good and there is no question that the characters are brought to life... I just don't particularly appreciate having them in my home!
At first I thought this would be similar to books by Joanna Trollope focusing on the minutiae of village life. However, this book is harsher in its depiction of family-life in all stratas of society. It starts by introducing sets of characters from different social classes that ultimately become embroiled in a contest to fill a vacancy in a council committee after the death of a popular local man. The characters come vividly to life in this engaging story that subtly incorporates questions of morality and social responsibility in a cracking good tale of the rivalries between two factions vying to swing the balance of power on the committee. At times the book reminded me of Danny Boyle's Trainspotting in its depiction of the harsh realities of dis-functional lives, but leavened the gloom with humour at the antics of the protagonists.
Tom Hollander does a great job dramatizing the story.
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