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The Casual Vacancy Review and Analysis

Updated on August 9, 2016


This novel is J.K. Rowling's first step out of the Harry Potter shadow. She also aims this novel toward adults instead of children and young adults. The Casual Vacancy is about the small town of Pagford in the UK. The novel follows a few different families and really gets into the behind the scenes drama with only minor mentions of any characters work life or the children at school. The main plot of the novel is to find a person to fill in the casual vacancy left by a member when he unexpectedly drops dead.


As a whole The Casual Vacancy in pretty entertaining. It has a very engaging intro, but slows down and really starts talking politics. The politics of the town can get a bit boring and repetitive, but when you see the issues with some of the families and the characters flaws when they are not in the public eye entertainment rises. There are a few scenes of domestic violence that really gets the reader's blood pumping and can infuriate some people. There are a few bullies in the book that really antagonize the main characters. The climax really becomes heart wrenching, yet holds some optimisms for the future.

Grade: B

The Casual Vacancy Cover Art


The Casual Vacancy is an interesting read if nothing else. It seems to stick with its readers. The novel has a few major themes. The first and most evident is that every family has something happening in the background that is not their true selves. What is meant by that is that not all people show their authentic self. They all have something dark lying in the past or in their hearts. The authentic people in the novel are the worst behaved with almost no filter when they appear. The most authentic family is actually a family of Meth addicts. They show the most real emotions and do not try to act better in front of certain people. They have a rough home life and everyone knows it, so they never put on a happy face in front of other people. The second major theme is that life will always go on. This theme is shown from the very beginning when the man dies and loses his place on the city council. Immediately following his death, campaigns for his seat begin. Then the fist major scandal occurs and time carries on even after the unfortunate information is leaked. This happens multiple times too. The last major theme is that everyone has the ability to make an impact. In the end when the three year old child dies, the entire town is affected deeply. He still had so much life left to live that it really hurt the entire town to think that this child could have done something great such as cure cancer. Because of his rough home life, he had all the reasons to prove everyone wrong and break out of his rough cycle just like Barry Fairbrother who had overcome the odds and grown out of his horrible home life. He favored the older sister of the child, but she never truly reaches what he had hoped. She did accomplish a cause greater than herself though. When she overdosed to be with her little brother and Mr. Fairbrother, she is escaping the horrid life she was living. The end of the novel takes place at her funeral where there is sadness, but optimism. There is so much that can happen now because of the events that had just occurred and were topped off with the death of two very young and very promising lives.

J.K. Rowling with her first print of the novel.

Film Adaptation

The Casual Vacancy was adapted into a television show on BBC. The DVD is available from most major video sellers.

The Casual Vacancy series trailer from BBC


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