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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

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  • 3.6 out of 5.0
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Story

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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

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Fear & Loathing in Oagford

I hated this book. While Rowlings crafted a story, it was shocking to me that the book, overall, had so few redemptive qualities. It seemed to me to be an exercise in displaying & highlighting all the worst traits that we humans are burdened by, with no attempt to balance that very depressing picture with anything that it is worthwhile, decent or good. I feel sullied & encumbered by having read this. I intend to read some decent literature in the hope of recovering

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • A. H.
  • Orlando, FL
  • 03-19-16

Could not get into the story

What disappointed you about The Casual Vacancy?

I love just about everything else she has written and tried to like this but could not get into the story after the first few hours. Very slow start.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't get into it

I made it through five chapters and had to give up. I'm a fan of all her other work, but this one was so...dull.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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excellent for 2nd reading, knowing the characters

Any additional comments?

The whole village is in on the game! Worth the effort to keep up with the characters. Pagford and Peyton Place have many secrets!

Enjoyed the movie just as much. Both book and movie are better the second time through, with more familiarity of the complex setting and all the characters.

Spot-on human behavior, in my opinion!

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mollie
  • United States
  • 06-28-15

Rowling's young characters outshine her adults

Would you consider the audio edition of The Casual Vacancy to be better than the print version?

I did not read the print version. I saw the HBO mini-series, liked it, then decided to listen to the book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I like Arf. His storyline put him in contact with almost all of the other characters in the book. Truly, there is not a main character in this work; it's an ensemble piece, but I like the teens (except Fats) much better than the adults.

Which scene was your favorite?

When Arf decides to get revenge on his father by posting information on the Pagford Parrish Council's webpage as "The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother" was fun scene.

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

I don't want to give away anything, but the ending was very sad.

Any additional comments?

Tom Hollander's performance was really great! If I remember correctly, he was in "Pride and Prejudice" as well as the second and third "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. He has a very good voice, and I would certainly listen to other works with him as the reader.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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It's not a wonderful life.

What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

Rowling is really good at character. There are several characters that should have been cliche, but were instead rendered in shades of grey. A couple of the characters I found utterly vile, but in a three dimensional and interesting way. Rowling's also good at making readers cry.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Krystal, Sukhvinder, and Barry are my favorites. Barry because of his good heart, and Krystal because she's trying to hard with the unfair responsibilities placed on her young shoulders. And Sukhvinder because she steps up and does some good, brave things.

Any additional comments?

People compare this to the Potter books, but I think they're forgetting how dark the Potter books are when they do. The Potter books have murder, child abuse, racism, etc., and she's dealing with similar dark issues in this book. Her admiration of courage, her dislike of pettiness, and her horror at children being mistreated shine through in all Rowling's work.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Ho hum title and performance and lousy story.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

NO. Started out dark and and just declined from there. Horrible

Has The Casual Vacancy turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, because I've read better.

Did Tom Hollander do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Very good

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

Any additional comments?

I would not recommend this to anyone. I know of two book clubs that have rescinded their suggestion to read and review this book and now I know exactly the reason. If this is J.K. Rowling's commentary on the human condition she can just keep it.

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  • Anurag
  • W LAFAYETTE, IN, United States
  • 12-13-12

Lacks an enticing story

Lacks a story!! I was expecting a more gripping novel (like Rowling's previous works) - but in this book she spends pretty much her entire time building up her characters... whatever little story there was, was lost in (what I thought was) a terrible / rushed ending that didn't seem to follow the rest of the book very well...

The only thing that got me through this book was the narration - it required very little effort on my part to keep listening... I kept going in the hopes that the book will "pick up"... wouldn't have finished it if I was reading it myself.

Overall, I'm disappointed... I expected better from Rowling

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Don't Bother

What disappointed you about The Casual Vacancy?

This book is so boring that I put it down and walked away. Vulgar language. Such a disappointment from Rowling