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The Casual Vacancy Audiobook

The Casual Vacancy

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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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  •  
    Cris Lake Waccamaw, NC, United States 12-19-12
    Cris Lake Waccamaw, NC, United States 12-19-12 Member Since 2016
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    "This Woman Can Write!"

    I don't usually rate books so late, but I had to add my two cents to the reviews about this book. It is not a easy read, but Rowling has great insight into the teenage psyche. That said, this book is for adults. Not an easy or fun read but worth the trauma for the beauty of a story well told.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dbamerrick Waterloo, ON, Canada 10-16-12
    dbamerrick Waterloo, ON, Canada 10-16-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Brilliant"

    I don't often write book reviews. In fact, I think this may be my first. But with everyone writing in about how terrible they thought this book was, I thought I'd chip in my two cents.

    I thought about not reading this book due to the terrible response it was getting from die-hard J.K. Rowling fans. I didn't want this book to change my opinion that Rowling is one of the best writers out there, as it seemed to be doing for so many fans. I thought about it. I'm glad I ignored them all.

    This book will not please everyone because it wasn't meant to. It's like a Tarantino film. It's gruesome, it's hard, and in that way, it is a realistic representation of certain aspects of life as many people experience it in this world. And, like a Tarantino film, this book draws these same hard aspects of life out to such an extreme that it seems to glory in them, making you feel like it's just a little too much -- what? Too much to handle maybe, or too much to believe, or possibly... too much like your own life to really be enjoyable.

    The thing that makes the Harry Potter story so fantastic is that it is, actually, painful to the point of being diffult to bear. My childhood memories are flecked with grief drawn by Rowling's pen. I remember where I was when Sirius died, and Dumbledore, and Snape, and (fleetingly) Harry. I felt real, hard, human grief over a character. I mourned the death of -- what? Dumbledore was never more than a cluster of words on a page. How could I feel real feeling at this fictional loss? Still, I remember my dad explaining my sombre expression at a family function. "She just finished the sixth Harry Potter book," he said, and it was all he needed to say. They understood because they'd felt it themselves.

    That, truly, is Rowling's power. She has the unique ability to make her readers really feel what her characters are feeling. When a character dies in her books, it can feel like a character in our own lives has passed away.

    I would suggest that she has actually honed this power in writing "The Casual Vacancy." Harry Potter was able to escape the post-trauma pain that followed him by throwing himself into school work, solving the mysteries of his world, or exacting revenge.

    Escape is not an option in Pagford. Though many of the characters think about getting out, and some try to, their endeavors are always somehow thwarted. Ultimately they must each turn and face the things that make their lives difficult.

    It is not an easy book, but then, I don't think Rowling has written an easy book since "The Chamber of Secrets." It is an enjoyable read, if you are the kind of person who doesn't mind walking around in the shoes of people who have difficult lives for a while. "The Casual Vacancy" is complex. It constantly encourages its readers to form opinions about characters and organize them into neat little cubby holes. Then, again and again, Rowling throws those opinions into a vortex, leaving us to try and pick up the pieces of our misconceptions.

    Like Zadie Smith's "White Teeth," it's a brilliant reflection of society. You'll like it, if you're the kind of person who isn't interested in an escape.

    24 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 03-22-17
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 03-22-17 Member Since 2014

    I listen to something educational on my way to work to wake myself up, and listen to a page-turner on my way home to stay alert on the road!

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    "Stick With It"

    If you're like me and have tried multiple times to listen to or read this book, only to give up in despair each time because it feels like too painful a slog: TRY AGAIN! If you can just stick with it through all the meanness, misery, trauma, abuse, neglect, and suffering...you'll be rewarded about halfway through when it unexpectedly turns into a page-turner you won't want to turn off! Everything other reviewers have said is true, though. This is a VERY dark portrayal of human nature and the human condition. At about 1/3-1/2 of the way through the book, it will occur to you that there isn't a single likeable character (though I promise that will change by the end). Also: to get to the reward (which is the at-least-partial redemption of at least two of the three surviving teenaged characters, and somewhere between two and four of the adults), you have to endure incredible darkness, backstabbing, and pain...and then even worse suffering and two unspeakable tragedies. But then everything comes together and you will be very glad you hung in there when the going got rough.

    I have a theory that if the works of J.K. Rowling (and civilization itself) endure, The Casual Vacancy will be studied hundreds of years from now by scholars who will view it as her great experimental novel, much in the way students of English literature today view Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. As in that novel (wherein the main character is sort of a blank, and the point is how all the variously flawed and despicable secondary characters view and interact with her, each other, and themselves), the main character (the moral center, as it were) in TCV is a void, since he dies in the first few pages. The other characters--nearly all deeply flawed, and many downright loathesome--are then left to circle that void, see whatever they see when they look at its partially reflective surface, and deal with its aftermath. It's crazy dark--but also beautifully written and crazy brilliant.

    The narration is excellent; this narrator is obviously an amazing actor.

    Grade: A-
    Bechdel test: Pass

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meg 01-30-16
    Meg 01-30-16

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Stellar"

    I wasn't sure what to expect of this book before I started it. From reading the summary it sounded like it might be a fun and entertaining story and it is. However, it is also so much more than that.

    JK Rowling excels at character development. Her capacity to create characters who are so complex and relatable has always amazed me. This book is primarily about relationships. But it is also about identity, about friendship, judgement, hate, loathing, and love. It's about people. It's also an incredibly engaging story that captured me from beginning to end.
    I realize that this sort of book may not appeal to everyone. But if you are the type of reader who is interested in rich character development and the complexity of human relationships in all their forms, you might enjoy this gem.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Kailua, HI, United States 10-14-12
    Christopher Kailua, HI, United States 10-14-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Excellent reader. Dark book"

    I'm sure, (in the way that someone who has never met or spoken with the author can be sure) that J.K. Rowling was trying to write a book that was as far from Harry Potter as she could get. She had to show that she could do something else. She has certainly succeeded. I don't think that this was supposed to be a light hearted romp at all. It is not. This book is dark and brooding. If you are waiting for the uplifting moment, it never comes. The other side of that is that she wrote this book very well. Part of what makes it dark and disturbing is that she is good at description and she is excellent and setting a scene in small towns in England. I didn't really like the book but I was engaged with it to the end.

    The reader knocked this one out of the park! I think that part of what made the book so engaging was that he was reading it. I hope this book lands him a big stack of contracts to perform other books. He needs to do more!

    I didn't like the story but it was well crafted.

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glitter Spirit 09-29-12 Member Since 2016
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    "SNORE - Can't Finish - ONLY Negative Review Ever!"
    Would you try another book from J. K. Rowling and/or Tom Hollander?

    Tom Hollander, yes. J.K. Rowling - NOT LIKE THIS, NO! If they have the same richness and suspense of the Harry Potter novels I enjoyed as I kid, I would.


    What could J. K. Rowling have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Anything!? I listened at work and in the car for 2.5 hours. Then, I read other reviews via Google to see if maybe it has a surprise in store. Apparently not. Apparently, she is saying her royalties from the HP franchise allow her to write what she wants. That doesn't mean it's good.

    This book - the first 2.5 hours anyway - is comprised of character descriptions of average, stereotypical people in a small town. So far, a guy has died, and people have gossiped about it. Looks like their might be a battle over who takes his small-town political spot maybe. Woohoo.

    Language is crude. Rare witty moments.

    My mother would call this in movie-format a "slice of life." I can look out my window or at my coworkers for that. If I was READING without benefit of a narrator, I'd not have the desire to turn the next page.

    I think she's trying to make a political statement in their somewhere. Descriptions of places or a rainy day are excellent. Not a three-part book I can bear to finish.

    I loved her writing. This is like Harry's Aunt and Uncle's daily life along with that of their friends and neighbors. Nothing more. Depressing (social service visit of a drugged out mother etc.).


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

    Narrator was awesome. Not sure how he stayed awake though... Since I'm giving up 2.5 hours into this without an understanding yet of which of the TWENTY characters is which, I can't vote for a favorite performance of one...


    What character would you cut from The Casual Vacancy?

    Just cut the plot... Wait... ADD a plot!


    Any additional comments?

    This is the ONLY negative review I've ever written. I've only returned one other book (and that just wasn't my cup of tea, so I didn't review at all).

    93 of 139 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glenda Sajwaj Tennessee 09-28-12
    Glenda Sajwaj Tennessee 09-28-12 Member Since 2015

    Quiet

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    "Read reviews before you purchase"
    What disappointed you about The Casual Vacancy?

    The story was extremely depressing & slow. I almost fell asleep while driving. The narrator is probably good, but there's not much he could do with this story. I read lots of English novels...not just Harry Potter. I love JK Rowling, but this is just not up to her standards. I tried to plod through, but after starting the 2nd download, I just had to quit.


    What could J. K. Rowling have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It was just a very depressing & slow story overall


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    He was good, it just wasn't good material.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Not really. I wasn't expecting all the bad language.


    Any additional comments?

    I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't.

    101 of 153 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bermudagirl71 Voorhees, NJ, US 10-24-12
    Bermudagirl71 Voorhees, NJ, US 10-24-12 Member Since 2014
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    "very enjoyable"
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    Having never read Harry Potter, since children were already grown,I was interested to hear the author's style and can now see, after listening to just 1/3, how the story just pulls you in. Rowling touches on so many areas of British life, housing projects, drugs, upper class snobbery, Indian immigrants.etc


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

    all of Crystals encounters with social worker


    What about Tom Hollander’s performance did you like?

    ability to differentiate voices


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    no


    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate 33 Riverside, CA United States 10-01-12
    Kate 33 Riverside, CA United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2012
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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...

    41 of 65 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 01-07-17
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 01-07-17 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "Really Enjoyed It!"

    I never read the Harry Potter series, my kids were too old at the time and its not my genre. However, I can see from her adult books that JK Rowling is a gifted author. She develops great characters and interesting storylines, intersecting them all. She has great insight into why people behave the way they do. This is a story about a like little town where everyone has some connection to their neighbors and nothing is what it seems to be to. She describes what goes on "behind closed doors". The narrator was excellent bringing all the characters to life. I did not want this book to end!

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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