The Casual Vacancy Paperback – 18 Jul 2013
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This is a wonderful novel. JK Rowling's skills as a storyteller are on a par with RL Stevenson, Conan Doyle and PD James. Here, they are combined with her ability to create memorable and moving characters to produce a state-of-England novel driven by tenderness and fury (Melvyn Bragg, The Observer)
A needle-sharp and darkly comic expose of today's class-ridden society . . . A highly readable morality tale for our times (Emma Lee-Potter, Daily Express)
The Casual Vacancy is a stunning, brilliant, outrageously gripping and entertaining evocation of British society today. [J.K. Rowling] has done a rather brave thing and pulled it off magnificently (Henry Sutton, The Mirror)
One marvels at the skill with which Rowling weaves such vivid characters in and out of each other's lives (Christopher Brookmyre, The Daily Telegraph)
Heartbreaking - turning the page seems unbearable, but not as much as putting down the book would be (Deepti Hajela, Associated Press)
An exquisite and occasionally moving black comedy . . . The acid test - I suspect it would do well even if its author's name weren't J.K. Rowling (David Robinson, Scotsman)
A big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of contemporary England . . . This is a deeply moving book by somebody who understands both human beings and novels very, very deeply (Lev Grossman, Time Magazine)
Insightful, meaningful, daring and resolutely challenging to tabloid assumptions regarding the moral worth of individuals (Scotland on Sunday)
The action bowls along compellingly, most of the characters are vividly drawn and there are some sharp - often very sharp - observations about their social pretensions . . . a bold and distinctive effort (The Sunday Telegraph)
This is a novel of insight and skill, deftly drawn and, at the end, cleverly pulled together. It plays to her strengths as a storyteller (The Economist)
The first adult novel by J.K. RowlingSee all Product description
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I liked the book because it’s character-driven; it’s about life in a little provincial town called Pagford, and the interactions between its various inhabitants, from deep friendships to lifelong jealousies and rivalries, from teenage infatuations to adults wanting someone they’re not allowed to want. A lot of the characters are not very likeable, but this makes the novel realistic; in ‘real life’ we don’t like everyone we meet!
I liked this novel also because, although written for the most part in a light-hearted, frequently humorous, way, it has moral content and contains probably more than its fair share of very heavy, topical issues; domestic violence, child neglect and abuse, self-harm, rape, drug abuse, troubled families, I could go on…
I didn’t particularly like the manner of speaking which the author gives to Terry and Krystal Weedon. I don’t know whether it is an accurate portrayal of how people like Terry and Krystal do speak, but it just seemed a bit patronising possibly? Although encouraging sympathy and support for needy groups within the community, I did feel that ‘The Casual Vacancy’ maybe panders to the worst possible stereotypes of a certain section of the population: a large number of the Fields’ population we are told live on benefits (well, at least if Miles and his ilk are to be believed), drug abuse is a problem on the estate, the only Fields family, and arguably the only working-class family, which plays a large role in the book is the extremely troubled Weedon one. Not that the middle-classes are let off lightly either, but at least more than one type of middle-class person is depicted.
That said, I very much enjoyed reading this book; J K Rowling is a great storyteller and I look forward to checking out her crime fiction in the near future.
, I thoroughly enjoyed The Casual Vacancy mainly because of the vivid characters and their great variety. They were presented in vividly contrasting ways, whether between married couples or teenagers and from a gamut of contrasting social backgrounds. In fact I think variety is the key idea that unifies the novel. But the characters grip strongly. One probably develops keen feelings for most, if not all of them – great sympathy for Krystal Weedon , for example, struggling against the odds to care for her three-year-old brother, Robbie; powerful distaste for Simon Price, a bully to his wife and sons, Andrew and Paul, and a corrupt employee of a printing company; hopeful admiration for Kay Bowden who begins to show understanding and make progress towards rehabilitating Terri Weldon whom one might see as a victim of circumstances as a drug addict and part time prostitute; and feelings of sympathy for Sukvinder Jawanda, bullied at school to the point of self-harming, by Stuart “Fats” Wall and with a self-centred mother, Parminder.
There is also variety in the themes and issues that the novel touches on: class, marital relations, drugs, teenage attitudes, social problems and local politics, the latter being at the root of the conflicts the novel is concerned with. Variety is also part of the setting of the story: the “Field” is the working class and deprived area of the small town of Pagford compared with its more affluent area with its cobbled streets and chocolate box appearance; and Yarvil is the nearby town where some of the characters work and attend – at the comprehensive school and the St Anne’s private school and the hospital. There is also the cave where Andrew (“Arf”) and “Fats” meet to smoke and shoot up; and the river where Krystal and Stuart have sex and where three-year-old Robbie drowns despite Sukvinder’s efforts to save him.
Critics have made much of the observation that there are connections between this novel and Rowling’s Harry Potter books, pointing out that the teenagers in The Casual Vacancy have in common with those in the HPs that there is conflict between them and the adults. In the case of this adult novel, however, we encounter behaviours among both adults and teenagers that lead to terrible tragedy in the deaths of the only two characters who perhaps have the strongest appeal to our sympathies, Krystal and Robbie. A bleak ending.