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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 3.5 out of 5.0
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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

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Struggled

I think Ms. Rowling is a master wordsmith however, I struggled with this story. A bit slow and confusing at the beginning. I look forward to her next book though. The narrator Tom Hollander is superb!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ron
  • Basehor, KS, United States
  • 09-30-12

Rowling Proving Point NOT to be like Harry Potter

This story was very tedious will lots of foul language thrown in for good measure. I don't mind foul langue but it seemed to be thrown in just to be thrown in. Also the character development in this story was Painfully SLOW! There was none of the richness of and depth of characters we have come to expect from her. If she wasn't J.K. Rowling I don't know if this book would have been published. The brightest written parts of this book were when she was dealing with the high schoolers. Now for the bright side Tom Hollander did a fantastic job narrating and I would have no problems listening to any of his narration in the future. Hopefully now that J.K. Rowling has wrote this drivel she will write enriching full immersive worlds in the future.


35 of 59 people found this review helpful

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IF I COULD GO BACK.... I WOULDN/T HAVE DONE IT!

Would you try another book from J. K. Rowling and/or Tom Hollander?

Not under these conditions....... the arrogant billionaire. This has more value as a paperwieght in print!!!!!!!!!! The talent for creating a real picture of the world you are reading or hearing is there, but who wants to read this especially from the lady who created Potter. If it had been anyone else, I wouldn't have even bothered to listen much to the story at all and wouldn't do it the first time if I knew what I knew now. WOW... The words foul, repulsive, and tragic (on many levels) come to mind. Yeah she's out of the Potter box but I think she's Pandoras sister. God save us from such.

If you’ve listened to books by J. K. Rowling before, how does this one compare?

Comparatively, her other books were absorbing and made one want to hear the story again and again. Not so at all with this. The language was in the words of Dumbledore "disgusting"..Scarred and heartbroken is my reaction.

What about Tom Hollander’s performance did you like?

He did quite well......... it was the words he had to perform that was my problem.

Any additional comments?

If you like tragic drama with filthy language and lewd and shocking content and you don't care who writes it, this may be your thing. I literally felt like I was wrestling a poisonous snake trying to keep it from poisoning me.

45 of 78 people found this review helpful

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  • Femke
  • Arnhem, Netherlands
  • 11-29-12

In defense of swearing...

This great story is not going to be to everyone's liking. Unlike the Harry Potter books the author is famous for, this story does not have a set of clearly defined goodies and baddies, nor are there any characters that are particularly likeable. The book does not have a happy ending where good triumphs over evil, nor does it have the "feel good" escapist factor of a fantasy novel. It is not a moral or positive story that shows how the goodness of the human spirit can overcome great adversity.

By contrast, this book shows an extremely realistic depiction of modern life in Britain. It vividly portrays the interactions between a set of multi-dimensional, colourful yet credible characters in a small town setting. The book explores complex social and political problems in the context of this microcosm in a balanced way without simplifying the issues or portraying people holding one viewpoint in a better light than those holding the opposite viewpoint. To me, the book had the feel of a contemporary Charles Dickens' novel because of its fantastic and richly described characters and its focus a small slice of the world. The book is a real page-turner and whilst dark, it is quite funny in places.

Many reviewers have commented on the amount of swearing in the book. I disagree with the opinion of some that the use of swear words is gratuitous and is just there to make the novel appear "adult". On the contrary, I believe that every word - including the swear words - the characters in this novel utter are there to reflect and express those characters' particular identity and circumstances. I believe that it is extremely realistic for teenage girl growing up in a very deprived area to frequently swear at her heroin addicted mother - and everybody else. It would not be credible to me if this girl spoke in any other way. "Gosh mother I am terribly sorry to bother you but I would appreciate it if you would reflect upon the fact that your continued heroin use constitutes a blight on my life...".

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

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A book for adults from a tried and true writer

We are always wanting our authors to write something "different" - - and J.K. Rowling really did. For my fellow Potter fans, remember that only 3 of the seven books ended on a positive note; most ended with the dread that was hanging over Harry's head and/or with major characters that we had grown to love dead. Why are we so surprised she writes characters that are flawed and not always easy to like? It's in keeping with her pattern and I quite like that. That's why I'm so surprised at the harsh criticism that is being leveled at this book.

With that as the backdrop, this is a book with a lot of well developed characters each living their lives of, "quiet desperation." I really liked how well the author blended the people and their miserable lives together by drawing patterns and cross purposes through what might be considered normal lives.

Yes, there's rough language, sexuality, and crime. And yes, this is a book for adults. Having made that the premise, it much less graphic than most crime novels, has tamer sexual encounters than most romances, and is much more complex than a young adult book.

The story did struggle in parts - - sometimes in the effort to define the characters it was easy to lose where we were in the plot. I think as she continues to write single books rather than series, the need to so well define someone who only has a tangential role in the plot will be abandoned. But, even with that criticism, I liked it, and I really look forward to her next book for adults.

16 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • D. WARD
  • Midlothian, Virginia United States
  • 11-26-12

A very British flavoured book

What did you love best about The Casual Vacancy?

The realness of the characters and fascinating story of their lives after an event that affected them all in different and unique ways.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I didn't have a favorite character.

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

No I haven't, but I enjoyed his narration very much. I love the British colloquialisms and sense of humor.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It built and built and came to a crescendo that I didn't anticipate.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Save Your Money/Credit

I tired of the tedious characters and plot line early on. I cannot understand how an author can go from the highly entertaining Harry Potters series to this lame book. Save your money. I bought the book before reviews were out.

16 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Love the Narrator

I bought this book because Tom Hollander narrated it. I have read a couple of Rowling's books under her pseudonym and enjoyed them. And the ratings for it were so high, I thought it would work for me.

Was I wrong. First, the nicest, most upstanding and morally uncompromised person in the village dies at the beginning. The rest of the characters in the book were so awful, I just thought there would at sometime be an awakening, and people would become their better selves. Nope. Well, maybe after a (spoiler alert) child dies, people might take a look at themselves. But generally not. The character flaws run deep, child abuse is commonplace. I was generally rooting for suicides or deaths for some of these people.

I didn't hate the book just because I enjoy Hollander's narration. But I'm returning it. I just found no redeeming value in these people. I think I need at least one character in a book to like.

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  • Mark
  • Bettendorf, IA, United States
  • 02-01-17

Pagford- a zillion light years away from Hogwarts

I love and admire JK Rowling, & she is an incredibly talented writer with a vast range. Even before our son was born, my wife & I read the Potter books, and loved the movies. I'd finished the second Robert Galbraith novel before realizing it was a pseudonymous way to publish a new series for Rowling. And I've been jonesing for the next novel of that series.

I'm not sure why I've waited so long to tackle The Casual Vacancy. It is undoubtedly a superior piece of writing with deep, deeeeeep characters and storylines. Quality is top tier.

But I'd be lying if I didn't say it was a difficult read, at many junctures. I had to walk away a couple of times due to its deepest darkest - but it's very, very real ("Fats" would say "authentic")- subject matter.

Still, it manages to lay bare many of the festering facts that bubble up in every community, without ever preaching or presenting anyone as unscathed or truly innocent. It's a powerful, often painful, book. I see Wikipedia has labeled it as a "tragicomedy", which goes to show how foolish labels often are. There's not much comedy here. Prepare yourself for a whole heaping of reality, though. And do not doubt JK...she has serious mojo in those writing chops, and she can tackle anything. But "feel good" this is not. Excellent. But not heart warming.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful