The Casual Vacancy

Rowling, J. K.

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Casual Vacancy
A big novel about a small town... When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the 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 parish 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? A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

ISBN: 9780316228534
Characteristics: 503 pages ;,25 cm.


From Library Staff

Comment by: diesellibrarian Apr 14, 2013

On the surface a commentary on race and class relations in the UK, but more profoundly deep and unflinching look into human society and the many and varied ways we hurt and love and touch each other. Impressively consistent in tone, with a measured and well-paced plot and character development. N... Read More »

Comment by: UniqueSnowflake Jan 08, 2013

An excellent book by an excellent author. It's best read without prior expectations.

From the critics

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Feb 03, 2015
  • ebbalytle rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

I don't usually stop reading a book part way through, but in this case I couldn't drag myself on. The novel is divided into two sort of themes. On the one hand, it is about teens in a small town and their sex-lives, which I am not the least bit interested in. On the other hand it is about nosy neighbours competing for the position of a man who happened to die and leave an open spot on the Council. Pagford wasn't really "in shock" as the description says. It became (more) greedy and grabbing after the poor man died. I guess I'm just not nosy enough to care.

Dec 23, 2014
  • GLNovak rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I did not expect this book to be anything like the Harry Potter series, so was not disappointed. I did enjoy the writing but it was a bit hard keeping track of all the many characters, especially as I was not able to binge read. The plot, if you can call it that as this book is more a description of people and place and motives, revolves around who will replace the deceased Barry Fairbrother on the local parish council amid so much community division over The Fields, a section of Pagford that the somewhat snooty Pagfordians wish would disappear or at least be annexed by the neighbouring more urban Yarvil. Rowling is very good at description and scene-setting and character development, and handles the interactions very well. I met and liked young Krystal Weedon, a prickly adolescent from The Fields, and kept cheering for her and her neighbours. The book is long and you do have to want to read it. I agree it is not to everyone's taste but as a glimpse into small village politics as played by diverse personalities, it appealed to me.

Aug 03, 2014
  • Pastrybabe rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I forced myself to read to around page 150. It had not improved by then, so I gave up. I have enjoyed the Comoran Striker books written under her nome de plume but this was depressing, vulgar and uninteresting. There were also too many characters to keep track of. I don't mind thinking while reading or working through some slow parts (I love Thomas Hardy) but there did not seem to be any reward coming for my effort.

Jul 12, 2014
  • sunnye1988 rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

Reading this book was a waste of my time. J.K. Rowling should stick to children's books like Harry Potter. Those were worth reading and the movies were good. I don't think I will read her new novel under her other name.

Jul 11, 2014
  • Bookworm1992 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

While this book tested J.K Rowling's raunchy unfiltered side of writing I enjoyed the novel.

The book starts off centering around Barry Fairbrother, who is a member of a parish council in Pagford, England. Barry ends up dying, and suddenly the seat for council is up for grabs and the question now is who will take his seat?

Pagford, while a small town in England is divided between the wealthy and poor, and takes a toll on the political side of things. Rowling, attempting to have the readers grasp the big picture of things puts the readers in the different townsfolk's perspectives. From the privileged wealthy adults, to the poor teenagers Rowling covers all bases.I was very impressed how she wrote in the different characters perspectives so well, personifying the different types of people through the reader's eyes. Unfiltered, raw, funny, and very daring - Rowling did a great job.

Jun 19, 2014

she should have kept to children's fantasy.

Jun 16, 2014
  • Liselara rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

I was ready to toss this aside after 50 pages but I lumbered through to the end. When an author uses words like pusillanimous to describe a love style, you just know she's grasping at straws. I have rarely read a book where everyone despises each other like this and there are certainly no lovable characters. I also think Rowling crammed way too many social issues for any one to stand out. Frankly, this novel is depressing and quite forgettable.

May 22, 2014
  • whylime rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a great read. There are quite a few characters but Rowling develops them carefully and gradually. Their lives interweave and their secrets are revealed.

Apr 28, 2014
  • Idontwantausername2 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I was skeptical to read this book at first but decided to jump in. I am so glad I did, even though it can be depressing at times. I feel Ms. Rowling has captured in great detail how the minds of some contrive to change the world they live in. Always seeking something out of their reach. I knew someone would die in this book but did not expect, who did. I loved this book but it is very detailed and therefore a slower read. I give it 4 stars!

Feb 11, 2014
  • brianreynolds rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

** spoiler alert ** I’ve never ticked “spoiler alert” before this nor have I ever read a Harry Potter book. It seems that J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy deserves the former so that readers can discover for themselves the quiet unravelling of that rarest of archetypes: the modern tragedy. Readers of this book also deserve some sort of magic wand capable of un-pigeonholing an author so widely acclaimed as the wizard of romance.

It was no surprise from an author whose voice has mesmerized children world-wide for a decade, to find the most interesting characters in this novel were teens. It was a very pleasant surprise to find the protagonist was an entire town, an ambitious task and a gripping ebb and flow of plot from at least a half dozen disparate families. The interwoven ambitions, weaknesses, and frailties of characters too numerous to count was daunting, but without doubt, worth the effort. Pagford came alive for me. The further I read, the more clearly I saw how sick and how self-deluded this character had become, how desperately it needed a Harry Potter to appear and shake things up, expose the rot, heal the wounds. Of course, Harry Potter wasn’t on the menu. Instead, a scapegoat is chosen, or rather choses herself. The most interesting of the town’s inhabitants, though not one with more copy than the others nor more claim to moral righteousness, Krystal Weedon, through neglect allows her brother to die and then takes her own life. It is this event, as much as the death of Lear or Hamlet, Romeo or Julliette, that shocks and shames the protagonist into a more open, more humane, more productive view of the world.

This was a very good read, a skilfully crafted work of fiction that hit hard and had much more to say to adult readers than who’s going to win an election.

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May 15, 2013

cedarblood thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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Nov 08, 2012
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Feb 04, 2013

How awful it was, though Tessa, remembering Fats the toddler, way tiny ghosts of your living children haunted your heart; they could never know, and would hate it if they did, how their growing was a constant bereavement.


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