Book Review – “The Casual Vacancy” by J. K. Rowling

casualvacancy  Title:  The Casual Vacancy

Author:  J. K. Rowling





Synopsis (from When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little 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 town’s 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?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults


My thoughts:  My book club chose this book for our February book.  I immediately went to get it from my library and then found it sitting on my floor for quite some time before I picked it up.  For some reason I can’t exactly explain, I was hesitant to pick it up.  From the description and synopsis, I knew it was outside of the type of books I normally read and it just didn’t seem as if it would catch my interest.

Thankfully, I was very wrong about this.  Once I picked it up, I surprisingly found I couldn’t put it down.  I was hooked.   I had read quite a few reviews from various sources about this book and now that I have read it I have absolutely no idea why there are so many negative reviews of this work.

In reading multiple reviews, I found that most centered on two themes:

1.  People gave it negative reviews because the book was nothing like the Harry Potter series.  To this I simply say, DUH!  It was very clear from the marketing and publicity of this book that it was not meant to be a children’s book and in fact it is not a children’s or young adult book.  Get over it people!  It is not Harry Potter!

2.  People also seemed to give the book negative reviews because of the profanity and adult themes in the book.  To this I again say, DUH!  Again, I must say it is an adult book that is meant   . . . for adults.  I did not find the profanity to be at all over the top, but rather simply fitting in with the lifestyles of certain characters that she was trying to portray very realistically.  Yes, there are adult themes in the book, but again I did not feel they were over the top in any way.

If you choose to embark on this book, I will say there are many, many characters to keep track of.  I found that I actually had to jot down some notes about the characters in life a family tree method just so I could keep track of who was who and how everyone mingled with everyone else in the book.

I found the book almost Jodi Picoult-like in the sheer number of adult themes that were addressed in the book – drug abuse, class warfare, self-harm, sex abuse, dishonesty, cheating, scandal, . . . you name it, this book has it.  The book is rather dark and one really has to look far and wide for any sense of hope or redemption as the book comes to an end.

My book club agreed that we didn’t like how the book ended at all . . . however it did very much fit with the overall theme of the book being dealing with reality, which isn’t always pretty, but rather has its ups/downs, disappointments, and isn’t always the happy, sunshiny ending!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would highly suggest people give it a try.  Please disregard all negative reviews you read and make up your own mind about this one!

And remember,

Books Are Life,





Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction

2 responses to “Book Review – “The Casual Vacancy” by J. K. Rowling

  1. wanasai

    So maybe I will give it a try now I have read your review 😀

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