Book Review Sunday: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I was lucky enough to get this book as a birthday gift from my husband. To say I was excited to read Rowling's first foray into "adult" literature is an understatement. I was thrilled to hear she was writing again and immediately wanted to read this book. The book is about a town, called Pagford (in Great Britain) that is a charming, lovely little place. This book is about ordinary people and ordinary lives, yet is an extraordinary story, if that makes any sense. In Pagford, a man by the name of Barry Fairweather has died suddenly, and he left a big hole in many peoples lives. Many people who do not know each other, who do not interact, and who are quite surprising when you think about it. Essentially, the book follows these people as they try to cope with Barry's absence. Barry was a member of the Pagford Council, so some of this book deals with politics, so I felt it quite fitting to read right after the election. However, it's small time, small town politics, not the big flashy kind we've been bombarded with lately. It also deals with families, parents and children, mothers and fathers. Rowling's ability to develop characters and make even the most despicable person seem interesting is such an amazing ability. Some marriages are falling apart, some are stronger that they have ever been. Some kids are growing up, some kids need to grow up. There is not one protagonist in the whole book (except perhaps Barry himself, who is a largely benevolent presence), every character is quite complex and neither good nor bad. All the characters have flaws, which makes the book quite interesting. It's all very vague, I know, but it was a book I couldn't put down. The characters have stuck in my head, and I was so interested to see what was going on in their lives. I'm actually a little bit sad that the book is done, now! The basic plot is centered around who will fill Barry's spot on the Pagford Council, but, honestly, when you reach the point in the book where the election takes place, you are no longer that interested in who wins or loses. I was much more interested in what was going on with the characters themselves. Altogether, this book is wonderful. Rowling's book is not violent, but it's gritty and a little more "real" than the Harry Potter series. There are some scenes in the book that are quite disturbing, but many that are quite charming. In Rowling's classic way, she has developed a group of people I am more interested in than many of the books I read. And, as far as I can tell, they are quite ordinary and not much "happens". But, the book itself, is quite extraordinary. Read it. You won't regret it.