Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

by:  J.K. Rowling
published by:  Little, Brown, & Co.
publish date:  Sept. 27, 2012

When Barry Fairweather dies it opens up a casual vacancy on the city council.  A casual vacancy is defined as a situation in which an unexpected opening occurs on a political board, as in the case of a death or disqualification.  Mr. Fairweather's death throws the town of Pagford into turmoil to say the least.  The town has been divided for many years over the issue of "The Fields" and under which jurisdiction they should reside.  Do the residents of The Fields reside in Pagford and use their resources or do they belong to the neighboring, larger town of Yarvil?  Currently the populace of The Fields is made up of low income, government dependent residence so many in Pagford would like to see them sent to Yarvil, Barry Fairweather is a popular resident of Pagford and he came from The Fields and he has made many good argument about why the people of Pagford need to take care of the people of The Fields.  The death of Barry Fairweather heralds a change in the weather for the anti-Fields clan and they are eager to fill his seat with a candidate sympathetic to their cause.

Initially, I had a problem with keeping all the characters straight and which side of the issue they fell.  Then, I realized it didn't really matter.  The book wasn't really about that.  The book was about all these people struggling to survive in this little town.  There was the married Indian doctor in love with another man and her bullied daughter.   The desperate housewife that finds sexual gratification in much younger men.  There are also the children of the town who do some really crazy things to escape the pressures of their parents.  Plus, all the other characters floundering in the wake of Barry Fairweather's death.

I was somewhat disappointed in this book.  I don't know what I was really expecting, but this wasn't really it.  There were a few times when I felt like putting it down in favor of something more exciting, but I knew if I did I probably wouldn't pick it up again.  So I stuck it out and the ending did make up for the less than thrilling beginning and middle.  I know a lot of us were secretly hoping for a few flashes of the Harry Potter world and there are definitely NONE of those.  This was a very realistic book and it was dark and was sad.  I can't take anything away from JK Rowling's writing talent though.  It was wonderfully written, despite the fact that I didn't particularly care for the story itself.

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