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  • The Casual Vacancy

  • By: J.K. Rowling
  • Narrated by: Tom Hollander
  • Length: 17 hrs and 50 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (294 ratings)

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The Casual Vacancy  By  cover art

The Casual Vacancy

By: J.K. Rowling
Narrated by: Tom Hollander
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Publisher's summary

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

What listeners say about The Casual Vacancy

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Slow - but Wonderful Characters

If you could sum up The Casual Vacancy in three words, what would they be?

Different, individual, sad

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I must admit, it was slow to begin with and hard for me to get into - but that is only because it is a style I'm not used to reading, NOT a reflection of the writing.

The ending was heartbreaking, and I expected to be left with something more - but there wasn't and that was a little disappointing, but the story was just that, a story. It had no message or hidden agenda, just a story about ordinary people in a hard situation.

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

I think he did them all very well.

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

It made me laugh and cry and angry and lots of emotions. A good emotional roller coaster.

Any additional comments?

Anyone expecting or hoping for something similar to HP should look elsewhere. It's sophisticated and mature. Not for someone who is squeamish of swearing or sexual reference or abuse. Anyone who feels offended by the harsh brutalities of life should stay away.

For myself, I loved the brutal honesty. I loved that she didn't shy away from the horrible aspects of life. I loved the nature of this book and how she purposefully lays bare those things about life that scare people and the way she shows how those things affect us. There is no sugar coating, and she tackles it all beautifully.

I was heartbroken by the ending, but I was also a little disappointed - it took me a long time to get into the story, but once I was into it, I was committed and frankly I expected a bit more from the ending. However, I now believe there was no specific purpose to this story, it was just a story. And it was a heartbreaking, yet beautiful one at that.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Definately not harry potter

What did you like best about The Casual Vacancy? What did you like least?

Very diverse characters who interacted in odd ways - but so depressing!
Not one real point of happiness anywhere in this book

Would you ever listen to anything by J. K. Rowling again?

Yes

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

No

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

No - too depressing

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Tough at 1st but you fall in love with this story

Where does The Casual Vacancy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's an excellent audiobook. told so well by the narrator. I enjoyed it immensely.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

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

I loved Krystal Weedon. You can see her in your mind quite clearly giving authority the bird. Very well told by Tom Hollander.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.

Any additional comments?

I'm gonna miss this story, and their characters. Like in all good books you want the story to go on forever.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book - highly recommended

What did you love best about The Casual Vacancy?

The story was believable and the characters, although not all likeable, were very real.

What did you like best about this story?

Lots of interesting characters - flawed and real - and described so well by the author.

What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He is an excellent narrator - he brought each character to life.

Who was the most memorable character of The Casual Vacancy and why?

Crystal Weaden - she was so believable - everything she did I could imagine I may have done under similar circumstances.

Any additional comments?

I have never read any of JK Rowlings Harry Potter books - and probably won't, as I don't like fantasy style books...I wish she would write more of this style now...if she can do that I will be a happy reader!

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Like watching a car crash

What did you love best about The Casual Vacancy?

I loved Crystal and I felt so upset for her and that the other characters let her down.

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

Not in the same genre. Cannot compare really. Lots of characters to follow as for other JK tales.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Been female!

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

Crystal's undoing! My heart broke!

Any additional comments?

I felt JK had a pretty harsh view of the middle class members of the fictional town. I know she has had lean times in her past but I felt this was an unduly harsh critique of middle class England. Easy to be so critical when you are so wealthy!

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

a fascinating study of small town life

If you could sum up The Casual Vacancy in three words, what would they be?

kept me interested

What did you like best about this story?

The characters

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

Krystal

If you could rename The Casual Vacancy, what would you call it?

life in a small town

Any additional comments?

The study of the connections between the different social claseses and the insight into the characters' lives seemed to come from inside knowledge about life in a small town

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Rowling's Dark Side

If you could sum up The Casual Vacancy in three words, what would they be?

Character, compulsive, insightful.

What other book might you compare The Casual Vacancy to and why?

Rowling is like Isabel Allende. She gets to the dark heart of people through compelling story telling, beautiful language and gut wrenching insights.

What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

This is my first long audio book. I expected to get bored by Tom's voice but his interpretation of the script and the characters had me agreeing and disagreeing with him. I really enjoyed what he brought to the story.

If you could take any character from The Casual Vacancy out to dinner, who would it be and why?

I would take Crystal of course.

Any additional comments?

I now have to go and read all of the Harry Potter books just to get more of this woman's writing style.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting with many layers

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

The various interwoven stories of the lives of the numerous characters.

What other book might you compare The Casual Vacancy to and why?

Nothing I can think of to compare.

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

The character of Terry was very good.

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

Yes, towards the end. The unnecessary loss.

Any additional comments?

The story starts out a little slow and I wasn't sure about the standard of writing, but it builds into great reading.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very Enjoyable!

What did you love best about The Casual Vacancy?

I very much enjoyed the characters of the book.

What did you like best about this story?

The fact that I felt like I was actually there in the rooms with the characters, Rowling's description was so clear.

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

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!

If you could rename The Casual Vacancy, what would you call it?

Don't judge a book by it's cover!

Any additional comments?

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!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Deep characters coming full circle

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

The reader really draws you in, doing voices without sounding silly. It took my a while to get to know all the characters but I loved the story and found it so brutally confronting. I couldn't wait to listen to more and was happy to be stuck in traffic jams! Well done JK on a novel so different to HP but equally detailed and a demonstration of your adaptability as an author.

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