Five words from the blurb: English, town, Council, revelations, duplicity
I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but wasn’t interested in reading Rowling’s books for adults as I didn’t think her writing quality would stand up to the transition. I was convinced that the hype surrounding this book was due to who she was, rather than the book itself. Then my book group selected The Casual Vacancy for its September read and I had no choice but to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised and think this book deserves the attention it received.
The Casual Vacancy is set in a small English town where Barry, a respected member of the community, dies suddenly. This leaves a “casual vacancy” on the Parish Council which warring members of the committee are keen to fill with their own supporters. The book investigates the dynamics of a small community and shows the divides between working and middle class people.
The writing was better than expected, but all inadequacies were more than made up for by the emotion. I was gripped throughout and felt deep sympathy for most of the characters. The book contains many different social problems including divorce, drug use, neglected children and bullying, but all were handled without bias or judgement. I loved this realism and felt that Rowling highlighted many of the problems within British society today.
The Casual Vacancy isn’t a short read. The massive cast was initially hard to grasp, but by the end I felt I knew and understood the motivations of the everyone involved. The 500+ pages were a considerable investment of time and I felt that the book could have benefited from being slightly shorter and with fewer characters – I’d have preferred the entire book to concentrate on the story of Krystal and her three-year-old brother as this family, living a troubled life on a council estate, were by far the most interesting in the book.
Overall this was an entertaining read that revealed many uncomfortable truths about English society. Recommended.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
I absolutely loved this book! Leeswammes’ Blog
Rowling seems to have squeezed too many “issues” into the book. Katie’s Book Blog
A few days after finishing the novel I can see the points where I can criticize, but while I was reading it I was spellbound. Keep Going You Fool