Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Number of pages: 503
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, 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 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 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?
The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults
I’ll be honest and admit that I bought this book mainly because of who the author is. However I didn’t go into it thinking that it would be anything like Harry Potter, and I was right to think that. The Casual Vacancy is about as far from Harry Potter as she could have gone. I have mixed feelings about this book, I think that it was good but I didn’t like it.
The book centres around the issues of whether or not the nearby estate called The Fields should remain a part of Pagford and whether the drug rehabilitation centre should be shut down, with most of the characters being on opposing sides. It’s very much about politics and class.
J.K Rowling is a very good writer and one the things she is best at is writing characters. The Casual Vacancy has at least 10 of varying ages and the narrative switches between them. Each character from 60 something Howard Mollison to teenager Andrew Price is realistic and well written but not very likeable as each is flawed. The characters in this book are very human.
One of the things I liked the most is that she gives you a good understanding of how characters got to where they are, so that you imagine them more complexly instead of just judging them straight away. A good example of this is the character of Terri Weedon who is a drug-addict and prostitute. When you first meet her you are sort of just like ‘oh she’s a drug addict, it’s probably her own fault that she’s that way’. Then the story switches to her perspective and you learn more about her life & childhood and you understand more why she is the way she is and how she got there.
This is a book which focuses on issues such as addiction, rape, self harm and abuse and for that reason it is a book which is not really suitable for younger readers.