Thoughtful Thursday: The Casual Vacancy

Posted 26 September, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Thoughtful Thursday: The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
Published by Little, Brown on September 27th 2012
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 512
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A big novel about a small town...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?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.


I started off classifying this book as a ‘beach read’ after I completed it I reclassified it as ‘contemporary literature’, because it’s extraordinarily well written and, well… literary.

I didn’t anticipate Rowling being able to so fully develop the inner lives of her characters and weave the events in their lives together so seamlessly. The characters in The Casual Vacancy are close to approaching characters in a weaker John Irving novel and that man does characters like nobody’s business. 

Some don’t’s. DON’T pick up this book just because it has Rowling’s name on it. DON’T pick up this book anticipating a murder/mystery – more than anything it’s an extraordinary character study. DON’T pick this up as a kids book.

This novel is thoroughly enjoyable and definitely shows that Rowling has the chops to write stories for adults that are just as compelling as the Harry Potter novels were for kids (and adults).  There has been some criticism that Rowling threw in gratuitous sex scenes and language just to make the novel more ‘adult’. I disagree. The sex and the language are all necessary to fully flesh out the characters in all their faults and realness. 

Greatgreatgreat segue novel away from the land of magic and into real life.

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

2 Comments/ : , ,

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  • I’ve read lots of mixed reviews on this one. I’ve actually never read Rowling at all (I KNOW!).
    But gosh, it has got to be difficult to move to a different genre (as far as the public’s reception of it goes) when your previous books were as huge a force as Harry Potter. I’m glad to hear you liked this one so much.

    • Seriously Monika. You need to pause your life for two weeks and just hard read all seven Harry Potters. (I actually have just done this :>) So let it be written. 🙂