The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling


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?

Review: I must say that I was curious to read this book since its release. How not to be intrigued when the author is none other than J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. I saw many review on blogs that are good and not so good but I think we can only get an opinion by reading it ourselves. After, it is true that the novel really has nothing to do, even only a little, with the books which we were accustomed. This is an adult novel, a satire of society, a rather dark story featuring many very different characters.

We follow here the history of all the inhabitants of the town of Pagford. This is initially a little difficult, it is true, to really understand who is who, but the story unfolds and the easier it is to place each character in their contexts. Thus, each chapter features a different person and we can follow them all throughout the story and we therefore get to know them more and more over the chapters. But back to the context of the novel: A man died, leaving his wife and children behind. Yet this death will also have major consequences on the lives of each person in Pagford. I was quite surprised to see how an event such as this could change so much. I can not really tell the impact, but this man was part of the parish council that separates the city into two groups on all the choices and now that hey have a vacant place, many opportunities are opened. A war will immediately break out between each person, everyone wanting the job for different reasons and all setting their account at the same time.

I admit that I was very surprised by the novel. I did not expect this at all but I found it all very intriguing. I must say that the story has something unique from what we can find. Everything is very interesting and I was curious to read the whole story to find out what was going to happen. All the characters have a story that is fun to explore even if everything is far from rosy. Despite appearances, every family has problems and some more than others. It is sad to see them like that especially when we see the consequences of their actions on others. Things that seem insignificant and that will destroy everything in their path. Of course, we love some characters more than others and the person who has intrigued me the most was Krystal, the girl that everyone hates and who had a terrible life… But the secrets will also be revealed gradually throughout the story, surprising us and touching us.

I do not expect such an end and I admit that I was really heartbroken by such a conclusion… It was certainly a very good novel, a big one too and I was very happy to have the opportunity to discover it. But I understand some of the mixed reviews I’ve read, the whole being is still very different from what we can read and we can love it or hate it.



10 thoughts on “The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

  1. I loved this book. I can totally understand readers who hated it, because it’s dark, depressing and harsh, but I saw it as much more than that. Like you said, it’s a satire of society and it was so realistic and cruel. It really made me think, which is what I look for in books like that. The ending left me heartbroken and I cried so hard 🙂 It’s nothing like Harry Potter, so anyone who expected something like it was disappointed and I understand that. But I love how this author includes philosophy lessons and thoughts into her books. I think this book is genius, like J.K. Rowling is.

  2. Dude! I DNFd this! It was a slow start for me and there are too many characters involved I had a hard time keeping up with it at first. I think my review said that only the deserving people get to read the beauty of the book LOL. I said that because the 100 pages was a challenge for me, I got confused and felt like it was a test or something.

    Everyone who managed to get through the darn book loved it. Maybe I should give it another whirl and dedicate a solid weekend to read it.

  3. I think if people get away from “this is JK Rowling!” then it may have gotten more consistent reviews. I’m only speculating though.

    I enjoyed your review. I’m worried about that ending (I want my HEA) but I do like her writing. Seems like she achieved some good adult writing!

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