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Maureen

The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling (Review thread)

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Although everyone in the whole world knows of Rowling, the same number of people must have anticipated her debut in adult fiction as they would a holiday in another continent, with trepidation, curiosity, fear (that they might have wasted their money), and excitement. Before I read the book, I was wondering whether I was going to regret it, reading a book by someone who was to me, up to that moment, a fantastic author, for fear of shattering my admiration and replacing it with regret.

 

I need not have worried. Although this novel is as different as it could be to Rowling’s earlier masterpieces, it is also a very enjoyable story, with Rowling’s trademark well-formed characters. The story is set in rural England, in modern times. One of the council members, (who incidentally is one of few of this book’s likeable characters) drops dead on his way to his anniversary dinner, thus creating a vacancy on the board. The council had been split into two camps about a matter which was coming up for a vote, and this death was a great blow to the ‘for’ camp. The vacancy caused by his death, known as a casual vacancy, needed to be filled sooner rather than later. But the councillor’s death created more than a casual vacancy, it also opened a can of worms, and revealed a multitude of feelings which had been hitherto well hidden.

 

The plot runs very smoothly, and the story is such a simple one, yet a very true portrait of everyday life. Most of the characters are really unlikeable, and a few of them downright horrible but very real - they could be anyone's own neighbours in any village around the world. The ending made me think that this is one of a series of novels about the village of Pagford and its inhabitants, and if that is the case, I will be looking forward to reading the next in the series.

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Great review Maureen. I'm only about 1/3 through, but so far I agree with everything you've said (although I'm not sure whether I want it to be a series). I definitely agree about the unlikeable characters too!

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Thanks Maureen and Kylie, appreciate the info. I guess I will have to put the book on my TBR list.

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Thanks for the review Maureen, much appreciated to hear some thoughts from someone on here (and thus someone I can trust to be honest).

 

I'll probably pick this up soon, I do have some vouchers waiting after all..

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That does sound more interesting than how the critics reviews have made it look. Thanks Maureen you have got my curiosity up now. I have vowed not to buy it till I see it in a charity shop though, just to see how long it takes, for the fun of it. ;)

Edited by vodkafan

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The Casual Vacancy reminds me a little of books like A Spot of Bother and Mr Rosenblum's List.

 

It has a similar writing style that is easy to read (probably a given with Rowling). Like A Spot of Bother, it has 'typical' family problems (I may have called them 'cliched' when I read it) and, for me at least, very unlikeable characters. Like Mr Rosenblum's List, it has that quaint English village feel, but with nastier inhabitants. :)

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For some reason from reviews and synopsis it reminds me of the film Hot Fuzz, but I haven't read yet it so that's probably a bit out there..

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The Casual Vacancy reminds me a little of books like A Spot of Bother and Mr Rosenblum's List.

 

It has a similar writing style that is easy to read (probably a given with Rowling). Like A Spot of Bother, it has 'typical' family problems (I may have called them 'cliched' when I read it) and, for me at least, very unlikeable characters. Like Mr Rosenblum's List, it has that quaint English village feel, but with nastier inhabitants. :)

 

Have to look for Mr Rosenblum's List. Sounds interesting....

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The Casual Vacancy reminds me a little of books like A Spot of Bother and Mr Rosenblum's List.

 

It has a similar writing style that is easy to read (probably a given with Rowling). Like A Spot of Bother, it has 'typical' family problems (I may have called them 'cliched' when I read it) and, for me at least, very unlikeable characters. Like Mr Rosenblum's List, it has that quaint English village feel, but with nastier inhabitants. :)

 

This is good to hear because I loved both A Spot of Bother and Mr Rosenblum's List (and actually liked a lot of the characters, too). :smile2:

 

There's always something nice about a quaint English village set...

 

Have to look for Mr Rosenblum's List. Sounds interesting....

 

Mr Rosenblum's List always reminds me of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, so if you haven't read that, you might want to check that out, too :)

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For some reason this book took me ages to read but that is in no way a reflection on the book itself as I really enjoyed it so I am going to blame my reading mojo for trying to take a break.

 

Great book. I could easily relate to all the characters (well not Krystal's Mum) and liked most of them too. There are a lot of characters but they are well written so it is easy to differentiate between them. All characters have their own story and their own woes and some are interwoven and its these that make the story what it is.

 

There were a lot of areas where I think some ideas could have been explored a little more but then again that could have made them more tedious there were only two of the characters whose own stories I found were a little pointless but these two helped with the stories of other people/parts of the book and helped carry other areas of the book.

 

I thought the second half of the book was much better than the first and the last section of the book was, for me completely unexpected, I thought I knew how it was going to end but turns out I was wrong. A couple of pages got a bit blurry when my eyes got unexpectedly wet :cry:.

 

I did throughout read the book keep thinking to myself would I have the same opinion if it was by an unknown author and to be honest I don't think I would have been so keen to read it in the earlier half but would have been glad I stuck with it when I got to the end.

 

Also in the interview JK did on the Culture Show before the book was released I remember her saying that she hopes readers like Krystal Wheedon, I have finished the book wondering why on earth anyone wouldn't like her, she was my favourite character by far.

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Thanks for putting your thoughts Easy Reader! Hmm another positive review!

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I have an odd sort of request: My friend works at a bookstore in Helsinki and they have The Casual Vacancy on display there, and as none of the staff members have read the book they had to add a rather random line as a recommendation to (buy and) read the book. My friend's asked me if I or any of my friends who have read the book would like to help the bookstore out by giving a recommendation of the book (one line will do!), it would be placed next to the book at the window display. You could use your own name or come up with something else if you wish to remain anonymous :) I would much appreciate it as would my friend and the bookstore!

 

(This is rather a one-off thing, there's no payment involved. If you'd like to help out, PM me about the details.)

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I have an odd sort of request: My friend works at a bookstore in Helsinki and they have The Casual Vacancy on display there, and as none of the staff members have read the book they had to add a rather random line as a recommendation to (buy and) read the book. My friend's asked me if I or any of my friends who have read the book would like to help the bookstore out by giving a recommendation of the book (one line will do!), it would be placed next to the book at the window display. You could use your own name or come up with something else if you wish to remain anonymous :) I would much appreciate it as would my friend and the bookstore!

 

(This is rather a one-off thing, there's no payment involved. If you'd like to help out, PM me about the details.)

I thought that maureen's review was well done. :)

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I thought that maureen's review was well done. :)

 

I agree ;) But they would only need a one line thing, so she (or anyone else) would have to think it over and come up with something substantially shorter. And I thought I'd post my request here so it's free for all. But I think I shall PM Maureen and share with her a link to my request, just in case. Thanks muggle not :)

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....Sorry, just saw this!

Thanks Muggles :)

 

What would I say in just a sentence - Perhaps 'Her new masterpiece, featuring mudbloods', or 'No wizards involved - except for the author', or else. 'Moving house? Try Pagford, a nice place to live, except for the neighbours', ''No wands or spells, just boring old sex, drugs, and some neighbours from hell' :)

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I like them all! :) (And I'm getting more peeved that the new English titles have a four week loan instead of the two weeks with new Finnish titles)

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I've had to put the book down :( I just can't get into it. I don't know if it's me or the fact the only thing I can thinking is Harry Potter.

 

I'm not going to discard the book totally but right now I can't take it on.

 

Thanks for the review ... I will give it another go lol

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I've had to put the book down :( I just can't get into it.

Possibly. I find it a little jumpy, going from one family to another.

 

Once I've finished The Green Mile I will give it another go

 

I took me a while to get into it too for the same reason but I decided to just read through it rather than try and figure who was who each time it jumped and got on with it much better after that and it wasn't long before I was recognising the characters through their actions rather than names. You should defintely give it another go.

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That sounds like a plan Easy Reader I'll give it a go.

Mum bought me the parody too and I was going to read that but want to read 'proper' book first. I'm half way through Green Mile hoping to finish it today then start Casual Vacancy again ... Hopefully :)

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