The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling


Publication by Little Brown


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?

My comments:

Having not read any of the famous Harry Potter’s volumes, although quite familiar with his wonderful adventures thanks to 2 teenagers at home, I couldn’t wait to dive into J.K. Rowling’s latest book.

As anybody else, I guess, I was eager to find out how the author would cope without magic and whether she would be able to take us along a new story without her famous wizard.

In this book, no brimming imagination but an acute and merciless sense of observation to depict the seemingly peaceful life of a small town. None of the current society evils escape her scrutiny: drug addiction, teenage uneasiness, thirst for power, ethnic minority integration …

Although I found the beginning of the story a bit slow, the plot gradually thickens and gets the reader involved in a village conundrum, deep into the worst individual demeanors.

This after-Potter first novel is cleverly built in a pleasant and easy-reading prose. I appreciated the vivid and skillful painting of the petty minded rivalry between those who only pretend to act for the sake of the community.

JK Rowling definitely seems to revel in her fellow citizens’ real world as much as in the children’s magical one.