I am jumping on The Casual Vacancy bandwagon. I liked it.
Here is the blurb ..
When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little 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 town’s 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?
Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
However, it is very dark and I would think twice before recommending this book – you don’t want to be feeling a bit fragile while reading this novel. There is abuse of all sorts – I even wondered if J K Rowling had a list and checked them off as she wrote the novel (rape, incest, wife and children beating, drug abuse, neglect, etc.) The characters are a bit unsubtle and a some editing might have made for a tighter novel. The novel does have important things to say about community and how we look after the vulnerable. As with all of the Harry Potter novels, the creation of this imaginary world is magnificent. I had a real sense of Pagford – the hills and the houses and the fields – in all their grubby squalor.
This is a novel without an obvious hero or really any particularly sympathetic characters and the world wasn’t a better place by the end. Would I have read it if it had been written by someone else? Probably not, but I am glad that I have read it.
There was a great interview with Rowling here.
More reviews …