Friday, September 28, 2012

The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling is an extremely strong writer, and is brilliant at crafting and peopling her tales. First off, you need to set aside aside Harry Potter and read this book as if it were the only work of hers you’ve ever read.  If you go into this expecting Hogwarts and all the gang reinvented, you will be disappointed. You'll love or hate this book on the strength of her work, not because it is part of a mega-phenomenom. This tale is about ordinary people, living rather mundane lives. Their politics are mundane, their motives are the usual trifling things which motivate petty people. These are not always nice people.  That said, I would recommend this book to those who read literary fiction. This is an adult book, for adult readers.

Councilman Barry Fairbane dies unexpectedly, and this leaves a vacancy on the town council, leaving the little town of Pagford in shock.

Pagford is, on the surface, a postcard English village, complete with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but beneath the surface, the citizens cope with poverty, drug abuse, child abuse, rape, and mental illness along with all the social illnesses which lie hidden under the mask of civility in most communities. Rowling explores this underbelly with sharp wit, cutting, sarcastic humor and sly social commentary.

The empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the focus of an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations. The characters are well drawn and in true Rowling style, you see them fully before you, warts and all.  They curse, they commit terrible crimes and they are violent toward each other in ways that are both heinous and reprehensible. The youth curse, commit crimes and everything else real youth regrettably do. There are raw, violent scenes  depicted in this tale, and each scene is believable and drew me in. 

The reason I can only give this book four out of five stars is there are some places where it is a bit slow; but I stuck with it through those few places and I’m glad I did.

Over all this is a good effort, and shows Rowling’s understanding of human nature. HOWEVER -  I was unimpressed with the price of the Kindle download, and feel that for most people it would be a better investment to wait and buy the book as a paperback when it comes out, because at $17.99 per download it is most definitely overpriced.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic review, and so many other reviewers wrote about the book in terms of HP. However, I think I will take your advice and buy this when it goes on sale!


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