When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?
Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults.
On the face of it, Rowling's first adult book is very different from the Harry Potter books that made her rich and famous. It's resolutely unmagical: the closest thing to wizardry is the ability to hack into the amateurish Pagford Parish Council Web site. Instead of a battle for worldwide domination, there's a fight over a suddenly empty seat on that Council, the vacancy of the title. Yet despite the lack of invisibility cloaks and pensieves, Pagford isn't so different from Harry's world. There's a massive divide between the haves and the have-nots the residents of the Fields, the council flats that some want to push off onto a neighboring county council. When Councilor Barry Fairbrother born in Fields but now a middle-class Pagforder dies suddenly, the fight gets uglier. In tiny Pagford, and at its school, which caters to rich and poor alike, everyone is connected: obstreperous teenager Krystal Weedon, the sole functioning member of her working-class family, hooks up with the middle-class son of her guidance counselor; the social worker watching over Krystal's drug-addled mother dates the law partner of the son of the dead man's fiercest Council rival; Krystal's great-grandmother's doctor was Fairbrother's closest ally; the daughters of the doctor and the social worker work together, along with the best friend of Krystal's hookup; and so on. Rowling is relentlessly competent: all these people and their hatreds and hopes are established and mixed together. Secrets are revealed, relationships twist and break, and the book rolls toward its awful, logical climax with aplomb. As in the Harry Potter books, children make mistakes and join together with a common cause, accompanied here by adults, some malicious, some trying yet failing. Minus the magic, though, good and evil are depressingly human, and while the characters are all well drawn and believable, they aren't much fun.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Different but very much appreciated
I found this book compelling. It does start a little slowly and some of the swearing and sexual content seems a little gratuitous but it's an excellent foray into the realm of adult literature by JK Rowling. I grew up reading Harry Potter and loved those books dearly, but I'm actually thrilled that JK Rowling tried something completely different. People have been complaining about the characters, that none of them are likeable. That's the point. The characters are all terrible people, but Rowling made me love them anyways, they're real people. What I enjoyed about the book was that it was real. Rowling proves she can write a great novel with this effort and I applaud her for it.
A Casual Vacancy
This book introduces the reader to quaint, British, small town characters of diverse social class. A story formed by struggle and victory; it gives the reader an inside view of petty politics, mismatched love, and deep rooted anger.
Amazing. What else did you expect?