Book Review – The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling





I finished reading this book earlier this month but news of an upcoming TV series in the works based on this book excited me that I thought I should talk about what I felt about this very adult book by J.K. Rowling.

What It’s About – In a suburban town in England called Pagford, a beloved Parish Councillor and an important part of the community dies a sudden death, leaving a seat in the council or what they call as a casual vacancy. This small town of Pagford is divided into two, the pro-Fields and the anti-Fields. The late Barry Fairbrother, leads the group of Fields supporters to keep the property within Pagford jurisdiction, making sure that the Field residents gets the benefits that they desperately cling on to.

Barry’s death sparked a major controversy among the Councillors. The desire to out vote and out maneuver each other has turned the quiet town of Pagford into a political mess. Unbeknownst to the Councillors, they are stepping over the lives of their own families, and soon dirty secrets are being revealed on the Parish website under the pseudonym of Barry Fairbrother’s Ghost.

The book tackles very adult issues such as drugs, prostitution and rape. Certain dialogues includes profanity and amusingly spoken in a West Country accent. There are some sexual content but I think young adults will be able to handle it.

What I Think About It – When I first heard of The Casual Vacancy, it was pitched to be some type of murder mystery. Well it definitely isn’t. It’s a glimpse of how towns in England operates. It’s about small time politics and how people can have megalomaniac tendencies. It’s about living a sad life, forced to pretend to live a happy life. It’s about the big guy getting away with anything.

This book rattled me and angered me and I was uncomfortable with that. The situations felt so real and it makes you realize how little you do for other people. The thing that gets me about this book is the life of Krystal Weedon, which serves to be Barry Fairbrother’s passion project. Krystal is a resident of the Fields. Birthed by a drug addict mother that refuses to quit, Krystal displays violence to her peers to make her forget that her life is in shambles. Under Fairbrother’s mentor-ship, Krystal was able to turn her life around, at least for her, and Barry’s death crashed and burned all her hopes of having a normal life. Yeah, this books makes you feel things.

I would have to be honest that it was a slow read. Nothing much happens in the first quarter of the book, which mostly consists of the descriptions of the characters, and there are a lot of them here. But as soon as you start to associate yourself with the characters – and I promise you, you will – you will find it hard to put this book down.

There were plenty of moments, that while reading the book made me put it down and say, “This should be a TV show!” and BBC heard my plea because a TV series has been ordered and Michael “Dumbledore” Gambon will play one of the leads! Gah! I love Michael Gambon but I felt it would have been better if Richard Griffith’s would play Howard Mollison (anyone else who has read the book, can you give me your feedback on this?).

Read This Book When – You are up for a contemporary adult read. If you’re invested in watching the upcoming TV series and would want to know what it’s about. If you want to read about mortality and humanity.


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