Summer Reading List: The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy
JK Rowling

It's actually been a few weeks since I have read this, but absolutely everyone who comes into the bookstore that I work at asks me what this book is like, and I thought I would put a little review up for all of you out there in the blogosphere.  It is a big book, and it does retail for about $40 Australian, but it was also a best seller before it even hit stores late last month.  The big question becomes, then, is it worth it?

The story documents the lives of several families from the town of Pagford in England, following the death of town councillor Barry Fairbrother.  Prior to his death, Barry's pet project had been triumphing the welfare of people in the neighbouring Fields, a housing estate filled with prostitutes and heroin addicts.  It kinds of goes without saying that it's not for kids and it's CERTAINLY NOT Harry Potter, although the sheer Britishness of both sets of writing is the same.  Rowling has a way of looking at things which, while original, shows them as they really are, and her characters are well drawn without being mythologised.  None of the characters on the page can be seen as a hero, although some will endear themselves to you more than others.  You will sympathise with Andrew, whose father is an abusive Prick, and root for Krystal, who despite being a massive 'chav' (I think of her as looking like Little Britain's Vicky Pollard) is really just trying to get by in a world that doesn't give her a fair go.  This is a book about life either side of the poverty line.  It is a book about tolerance.  It is a book about selfish people, and the tragedies that can come from their lack of compassion.

Have tissues on hand.

4 out of 5 ballot papers.


  1. Ooooo, tissues!!!

    A couple of days ago I wrote I I'd ordered the book because I happened to see it in the bookshop and they only had it in Dutch. (I wanted it in English.) I am very, very, very curious about JK Rowling's skills as an adult writer (I've never read Harry Potter but she's obviously good) and the plot sounded interesting.

    But I feel my impatience creeping up on me again now I hear that I should keep my tissues ready!


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