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The Casual Vacancy Paperback – July 23, 2013
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"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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"The Casual Vacancy is a complete joy to read....a stunning, brilliant, outrageously gripping and entertaining evocation of British society today."―The Mirror (UK)
"A study of provincial life, with a large cast and multiple, interlocking plots, drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot...The Casual Vacancy immerses the reader in a richly peopled, densely imagined world...intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny."―The Guardian (UK)
About the Author
As well as an Order of the British Empire for services to children's literature, J.K. Rowling is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, France's Légion d'honneur, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and she has been a commencement speaker at Harvard University. She supports a wide range of causes and is the founder of Lumos, which works to transform the lives of disadvantaged children.
- Lexile Measure : 960L
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Paperback : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316228583
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316228589
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.25 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Back Bay Books; 1st Edition (July 23, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #50,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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21 years later, Rowling has risen to #1 in my list of modern authors—ahead of my erstwhile fave, Stephen King!
Her eloquent and elegant depiction of modern sociopolitical life in a small English township stole my literary heart! She channels my favorite author of all time — Catherine Ann Porter. Hmmmm— Porter . . . Potter . . . perhaps there IS a psychic connection here!
I’ll now consume all of Rowling’s post-Potter repertoire and maybe—just maybe—revisit Hogwarts Station. Thank you, JKR, for making my Kindle a better refuge than ever!
The characters are annoying. Ok, they’re supposed to be, but the development of them is so sparse you don’t care about any of them enough to like or or hate them, just be annoyed by them and the whole dang town. I usually find English towns charming. This time, J. K. didn’t tell us enough about it to arouse my interest. Sigh...
Speaking of arousal, there were some attempts at romance or sexual interludes. They were clumsy and totally unnecessary. Maybe too many teen books 🤔? Same deal with the language. Rowling has a much better command of the King’s English and just cheapened herself and any chance this book had for respectability by resorting to foul language. One redeeming point - no violence to speak of.
Don’t waste your $$$ on this book. Find a copy of one of the many HP books a have yourself a magical time. The CV is a trick gone wrong, for sure.
Rowling's genius is that she is able to intricately interweave the lives of so many characters, that she can create so many incredibly full portraits, and that we desperately care about what happens to them, despite not liking many of them very much. One wonders if her own experiences before she became "J K Rowling, Author", and the work she's done with the disadvantaged, colored her bleak but ultimately forgiving and redemptive philosophy towards class, society and moral responsibility at its most basic level in this novel.
Top reviews from other countries
, I thoroughly enjoyed The Casual Vacancy mainly because of the vivid characters and their great variety. They were presented in vividly contrasting ways, whether between married couples or teenagers and from a gamut of contrasting social backgrounds. In fact I think variety is the key idea that unifies the novel. But the characters grip strongly. One probably develops keen feelings for most, if not all of them – great sympathy for Krystal Weedon , for example, struggling against the odds to care for her three-year-old brother, Robbie; powerful distaste for Simon Price, a bully to his wife and sons, Andrew and Paul, and a corrupt employee of a printing company; hopeful admiration for Kay Bowden who begins to show understanding and make progress towards rehabilitating Terri Weldon whom one might see as a victim of circumstances as a drug addict and part time prostitute; and feelings of sympathy for Sukvinder Jawanda, bullied at school to the point of self-harming, by Stuart “Fats” Wall and with a self-centred mother, Parminder.
There is also variety in the themes and issues that the novel touches on: class, marital relations, drugs, teenage attitudes, social problems and local politics, the latter being at the root of the conflicts the novel is concerned with. Variety is also part of the setting of the story: the “Field” is the working class and deprived area of the small town of Pagford compared with its more affluent area with its cobbled streets and chocolate box appearance; and Yarvil is the nearby town where some of the characters work and attend – at the comprehensive school and the St Anne’s private school and the hospital. There is also the cave where Andrew (“Arf”) and “Fats” meet to smoke and shoot up; and the river where Krystal and Stuart have sex and where three-year-old Robbie drowns despite Sukvinder’s efforts to save him.
Critics have made much of the observation that there are connections between this novel and Rowling’s Harry Potter books, pointing out that the teenagers in The Casual Vacancy have in common with those in the HPs that there is conflict between them and the adults. In the case of this adult novel, however, we encounter behaviours among both adults and teenagers that lead to terrible tragedy in the deaths of the only two characters who perhaps have the strongest appeal to our sympathies, Krystal and Robbie. A bleak ending.
I liked the book because it’s character-driven; it’s about life in a little provincial town called Pagford, and the interactions between its various inhabitants, from deep friendships to lifelong jealousies and rivalries, from teenage infatuations to adults wanting someone they’re not allowed to want. A lot of the characters are not very likeable, but this makes the novel realistic; in ‘real life’ we don’t like everyone we meet!
I liked this novel also because, although written for the most part in a light-hearted, frequently humorous, way, it has moral content and contains probably more than its fair share of very heavy, topical issues; domestic violence, child neglect and abuse, self-harm, rape, drug abuse, troubled families, I could go on…
I didn’t particularly like the manner of speaking which the author gives to Terry and Krystal Weedon. I don’t know whether it is an accurate portrayal of how people like Terry and Krystal do speak, but it just seemed a bit patronising possibly? Although encouraging sympathy and support for needy groups within the community, I did feel that ‘The Casual Vacancy’ maybe panders to the worst possible stereotypes of a certain section of the population: a large number of the Fields’ population we are told live on benefits (well, at least if Miles and his ilk are to be believed), drug abuse is a problem on the estate, the only Fields family, and arguably the only working-class family, which plays a large role in the book is the extremely troubled Weedon one. Not that the middle-classes are let off lightly either, but at least more than one type of middle-class person is depicted.
That said, I very much enjoyed reading this book; J K Rowling is a great storyteller and I look forward to checking out her crime fiction in the near future.