Review: ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy

OK, I’m sure you’ve read countless reviews of ‘The Casual Vacancy’ but here’s another one.

Barry Fairbrother, a prominent member of the Pagford community, dies in his early 40s and leaves the town in shock. Some members of the local council see Fairbrother’s death as an opportunity to fill the council with like-minded people who will assist in separating The Fields. the problematic council estate, from Pagford. 

There are so many complex relationships in this book between parents and children (no matter how old the offspring are), siblings, spouses and between neighbours. When discussing this book at a book group, I encountered some readers who felt that the amount of conflict in this book was completely unrealistic. Some people that I talked to felt that there simply couldn’t be this amount of pain and misery in so many people’s’ lives in such a small area. I disagreed. When I read ‘The Casual Vacancy’, I was blown away that a woman who wrote about wizards and warlocks could produce such an accurate portrayal of modern-day life.

I truly believe that many people lead these lives of quiet desperation. They may look as though they are gliding through life but beneath the surface lurks fear and deep, dark secrets.

OK, so perhaps she included every kind of sadness and frustration known to man but would anyone read a novel where everyone was happy all the time? Affairs, spineless men, drug addicts, child abuse, bullying, death and the pervasiveness of the internet in people’s’ lives are all in here – as well as out there.

The characters have obviously been well-considered and not one of them is anything less than believable. There are characters that are nothing but despicable but – let’s face it – those people exist. Rowling’s overriding message appears to be that small actions can have massive implications.

Having never read a J.K. Rowling book before, I wasn’t too interested in the hype regarding ‘The Casual Vacancy’ until I saw J.K. talking about it on BBC’s ‘Culture Show’. The plot really interested me and I was surprised that the writer famous for ‘Harry Potter’ had taken such a change in direction. But, despite reviews to the contrary, this change in direction was an absolutely inspired idea. You must read it. 

Vic x

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One response to “Review: ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by J.K. Rowling

  1. I was really impressed too, and that was as someone who wasn’t sure how well she could follow up the Potter books.People who think the level of conflict is unrealistic must be living very sheltered lives!

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