The Casual Vacancy
  • The Casual Vacancy
  • The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy

3.1 1172
by J. K. Rowling
     
 

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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

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Overview

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?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

Editorial Reviews

People
"A vivid read with great, memorable characters and a truly emotional payoff....Rowling captures the humanity in everyone."
Washington Post
"This book represents a truckload of shrewdness....There were sentences I underlined for the sheer purpose of figuring out how English words could be combined so delightfully....genuinely moving."
Wall Street Journal
"A positively propulsive read."
From the Publisher
Praise for The Casual Vacancy:"

I had come under the spell of a great novel....A big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of contemporary England, rich with literary intelligence....This is a deeply moving book by somebody who understands both human beings and novels very, very deeply."—Lev Grossman, Time"

A vivid read with great, memorable characters and a truly emotional payoff....Rowling captures the humanity in everyone."—People"

This book represents a truckload of shrewdness....There were sentences I underlined for the sheer purpose of figuring out how English words could be combined so delightfully....genuinely moving."—Washington Post"

A positively propulsive read."—Wall Street Journal"

Often entertaining....Rowling does a nice job laying out her 20-plus characters' endless pretensions and weaknesses, which she punctures with gleeful flicks of a surprisingly sharp comic blade."—Entertainment Weekly"

The Casual Vacancy is a complete joy to read....a stunning, brilliant, outrageously gripping and entertaining evocation of British society today."—The Mirror (UK)"

A study of provincial life, with a large cast and multiple, interlocking plots, drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot...The Casual Vacancy immerses the reader in a richly peopled, densely imagined world...intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny."—The Guardian (UK)

Entertainment Weekly
"Often entertaining....Rowling does a nice job laying out her 20-plus characters' endless pretensions and weaknesses, which she punctures with gleeful flicks of a surprisingly sharp comic blade."
Lev Grossman - Time
"I had come under the spell of a great novel....A big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of contemporary England, rich with literary intelligence....This is a deeply moving book by somebody who understands both human beings and novels very, very deeply."
The Mirror (UK)
"The Casual Vacancy is a complete joy to read....a stunning, brilliant, outrageously gripping and entertaining evocation of British society today."
The Guardian (UK)
"A study of provincial life, with a large cast and multiple, interlocking plots, drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot...The Casual Vacancy immerses the reader in a richly peopled, densely imagined world...intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny."
Publishers Weekly
On the face of it, Rowling’s first adult book is very different from the Harry Potter books that made her rich and famous. It’s resolutely unmagical: the closest thing to wizardry is the ability to hack into the amateurish Pagford Parish Council Web site. Instead of a battle for worldwide domination, there’s a fight over a suddenly empty seat on that Council, the vacancy of the title. Yet despite the lack of invisibility cloaks and pensieves, Pagford isn’t so different from Harry’s world. There’s a massive divide between the haves and the have-nots—the residents of the Fields, the council flats that some want to push off onto a neighboring county council. When Councilor Barry Fairbrother—born in Fields but now a middle-class Pagforder—dies suddenly, the fight gets uglier. In tiny Pagford, and at its school, which caters to rich and poor alike, everyone is connected: obstreperous teenager Krystal Weedon, the sole functioning member of her working-class family, hooks up with the middle-class son of her guidance counselor; the social worker watching over Krystal’s drug-addled mother dates the law partner of the son of the dead man’s fiercest Council rival; Krystal’s great-grandmother’s doctor was Fairbrother’s closest ally; the daughters of the doctor and the social worker work together, along with the best friend of Krystal’s hookup; and so on. Rowling is relentlessly competent: all these people and their hatreds and hopes are established and mixed together. Secrets are revealed, relationships twist and break, and the book rolls toward its awful, logical climax with aplomb. As in the Harry Potter books, children make mistakes and join together with a common cause, accompanied here by adults, some malicious, some trying yet failing. Minus the magic, though, good and evil are depressingly human, and while the characters are all well drawn and believable, they aren’t much fun. Agent: The Blair Partnership. (Sept. 27)
The Daily Beast
"An insanely compelling page-turner....The Casual Vacancy is a comedy, but a comedy of the blackest sort, etched with acid and drawn with pitch....Rowling proves ever dexterous at launching multiple plot lines that roar along simultaneously, never entangling them except when she means to. She did not become the world's bestselling author by accident. She knows down in her bones how to make you keep turning the pages."
Parade
"There are plenty of pleasures to be had in The Casual Vacancy....Parts of the story would be tonally of a piece with any Richard Price or Dennis Lehane novel, or an episode of The Wire."
The Huffington Post
"Rowling knows how to write a twisty, involving plot....She is clearly a skilled writer."
Telegraph (UK)
"The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling's first adult novel, is sometimes funny, often startlingly well observed....Jane Austen herself would admire the way [Rowling] shows the news of Barry's death spreading like a virus round Pagford."
Lev Grossman
I had come under the spell of a great novel....A big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of contemporary England, rich with literary intelligence....This is a deeply moving book by somebody who understands both human beings and novels very, very deeply.
Time
The Bookseller (UK)
"Rowling has written a grand novel...a very brave book."
Kirkus Reviews
Harry Potter's mommy has a potty mouth. The wires have been abuzz for months with the news that Rowling was writing a new book--and this one a departure from her Potter franchise, a book for grown-ups. The wait was worth it, and if Rowling's focus remains on tortured adolescents (as if there were any other kind), they're teenagers trapped without any magic whatsoever in a world full of Muggles. There's some clef in this roman, magic or not: The setting is a northerly English town full of council estates and leafy garden suburbs inhabited by people who, almost without exception, are not very happy and really not very likable. While a special election is in the offing, they do the usual things: They smoke and drink and masturbate, and they say and think things along the lines of "Like fuck he does, the cunt," and when they're lucky, they have sex, or at least cop a feel, best when a young woman named Krystal is involved. Ah, Krystal, a piece of work both nasty and beguiling: "She knew no fear, like the boys who came to school with tattoos they had inked themselves, with split lips and cigarettes, and stories of clashes with the police, of taking drugs and easy sex." Sometimes, as with the figure who opens the piece, Rowling's characters die--and, as with the American Henry James' oh-so-English novel The Spoils of Poynton, when they do, they set things in motion. Other times, they close things up but never neatly. The reader will be surprised at some of Rowling's victims and the ways she chooses to dispose of them, but this is less a book about mayhem than about the grimness of most lives. It is skillfully, often even elegantly written, and though its cast of characters is large and its thrills and spills few, Rowling manages to keep the story tied together and moving along nicely. Even so, it's difficult to find much purchase among some of her characters, particularly the tough, poor ones who live on the edge of town, and it often seems that Rowling doesn't like them much either. In all, when they're not sneaking off to Yarvil for relief, the residents of Pagford are Hobbesian through and through: rich hate poor, and poor hate rich; Indians hate Anglos, and Anglos hate Indians; and everyone hates the meddlesome middle-class do-gooders with suggestive names like Fairbrother who try to make things better. A departure and a revelation, though the story is dark and doesn't offer much in the way of redemption (or, for that matter, much in the way of laughs). Still, this Rowling person may have a career as a writer before her.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316228589
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
07/23/2013
Pages:
503
Sales rank:
54,406
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

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