Friday, February 14, 2014

Wait, this isn't Harry Potter!

This past month, I read The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. This was her first novel for adults after Harry Potter. Of course, being a huge fan of Harry Potter, I needed to read her new stuff! There were so many different reviews about this novel, some very good, some very, very bad, that I needed to see for myself.
Here's the synopsis:
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?

I thought it sounded pretty interesting, even if there weren't any wizards, so I gave it a try and I was really impressed! It's very very very very different from Harry Potter, that's for sure! Rowling wasn't afraid to go all out, with almost too-vivid descriptions of people, using a lot of swears (only when necessary, of course), and just depicting super realistic characters and situations.
In total, there are 34 characters, and we read from each of these characters' point-of-views at least once, and there's quite a range: from a 64 year old delicatessen owner, to a pimple-y teenager, to a 2 year old boy.
Personally, I loved the story because it was just so entertaining! It was like being a fly on the wall, peaking into everyone's lives in this small town where everyone gossips like old women. There are some hard moment in the book, like the scenes when we go to Krystal Weedon's house, which is in the very poor part of the town and her mother is a heroin addict, so the house is a complete mess. Those parts were kind of slap-in-the-face moments, when reality hits hard, though they are usually followed by a hilarious scene, like Ruth, a middle-aged married woman fantasizing about her daughter's favourite boy band.

I think the bad reviews came mostly from people who were expecting another Harry Potter type novel and were disappointed with the lack of magic, because it really was a great novel. Living in a small town type community, this gave me a good laugh because it was so similar to what my life is, while others may look at this and not really think about it too much.

Anyway! They are making a TV show out of it, and I'm sooooo excited about! But definitely read the book! It's really good, entertaining and shows you just how talented J.K. Rowling is: she invented a small town with a whole history, and wrote 34 different point of view characters in one book, all tightly nit together.

Have you read The Casual Vacancy? What did you think of it?


  1. I haven't read this yet, but it's on my to read list for this year! I got it for Christmas :)

  2. That's awesome! It's a really good book. Let me know what you think once you've read it!


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