Review of The Casual Vacancy
JK Rowlings New Book
JK Rowling's eagerly awaited first novel for adults is out at last, and The Casual Vacancy is worth the wait. A complex story with many characters, it takes a while to sort them out as the book dissects the detailed psychology of a small town adjusting to accommodate the unexpected loss of a courageous, respected citizen who has quietly transformed the lives of nearly everyone who knows him.
Barry Fairbrother's sudden death of brain aneurism in the golf course parking lot on the day of his wedding anniversary leaves a vacancy on the Parish Council where he has been spearheading support to keep the impoverished housing estate of Fields, a breeding ground for drugs, prostitution and vice, within the boundaries of the village of Pagford. The issue has deeply divided the community.
From the Author of Harry Potter
Did you read the Harry Potter books?
Parallel Universes like Muggle and Magical
As the novel explores the parallel universes of denizens of a small town, who cross paths daily yet rarely see the truth of each other nor understand, readers will be reminded of the parallel worlds of Muggle and Magic from the Harry Potter universe, where the physical manifestations can be the same yet the experience differs depending on which platform one stands on and which train one catches.
Just as it takes an act of the heart to run through an apparently solid brick wall and break through to Platform 9 and 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express, so Barry Fairbrother's death touches everyone, but instigates a different chain of incidents with varying shades of meaning. For Colin Wall it is a chance to face inner fears of mental illness and live out his own ideals by completing Barry's goal. For Simon Price it is a way to benefit from opportunities for graft through a position of public trust. For 16-year old Krystal Weedon, growing up in Fields as primary caregiver to her baby brother Robbie, and virtually abandoned by their mother who spirals into heroin addiction, Barry's death means the loss of her friend and mentor, and a pillar of hope for her way out of Fields.
The Casual Vacancy
What Did You Think of The Casual Vacancy?
JK Rowlings dry sardonic tone, social irony, and understated compassion light her characters from within. The lively, carefully rounded teens explore sex, drugs, and burgeoning independence through first jobs, conflict with parents and life-shattering guilty acts, while the middle aged characters grapple mid-life spread, lost zest in marriage, business failure, and their own approaching death.
Along the way she touches on themes of corruption, racism, class conflict, addiction, cyber bullying, obssessive-compulsive disorder, depression, self-mutilation and how the experience of our own guilt makes forgiveness possible when those we love err.
Don't miss this one.
It had me crying on the last page, where tragedy and triumph intersect.
JK Rowling Biography
- J.K. Rowling was born on July 31, 1965, in Chipping Sodbury, England
- graduated from Exeter Universtiy, then moved to Portugal in 1990, where she taught English.
- married Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes, and their daughter was born in 1993.
- Returning to England after her marriage ended, she struggled in poverty to raise her daughter as a single parent and continue to write her book about the boy wizard with the lightning-shaped scar.
- In 1996 she published Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone after it had been rejected by several publishers.
- The first three Harry Potter Books became best sellers, and took the first three spots in the New York Times List of Bestsellers in 2000. Over 35 million books were in print in 35 languages.
- By 2007, when the seventh and final Harry Potter Book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released, JK Rowlings had become one of the richest people in England, richer even that the Queen.
- While touring to promote each of the novels and the movies that were made from them, Rowling continued to write.
- In September 2012 she published her first book for adults, The Casual Vacancy.
- JK Rowling has received many awards, including the Carnegie Medal in 1998 for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal again in 2000 for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- She received the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2001 for her service to children's literature.