Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

On the outside, Pagford is everything an English country town should be, but when Barry Fairbrother dies, and a seat becomes vacant on the parish council, what follows is a heavily contested election, one that has far reaching consequences for a great many people.  Pagford should be the perfect country town, but it is far from it.

I did in fact read this book last year but I have only just got around to reviewing it.  That is by no means a reflection on the book itself, but rather on my scatter-brain and poor time management 🙂  And so to my review…

This isn’t the sort of book I usually read, but a few weeks after watching the TV adaptation last year, I found a copy by chance in a charity bookshop and decided to give it a go.

I found this book to be a challenging and yet compelling read, although I can’t put my finger on why.  Perhaps it has something to do with the way JK Rowling manages to portray such vivid characters?  I’m not sure.  What I do know is that I did not like a great many of them.  Perhaps they were just too real, too human, too vivid, and it is hard to read in such stark terms of some of the difficulties / frustrations / limitations some people face.

One character that stood out amongst the rest was of course, Krystal, but a number of the other younger characters also made an impression.

It is a dark story but one that is extremely well-written.  The social commentary of the book was very interesting, and reminded me in a way of Charles Dickens.  The gulf between the have’s and the have not’s is vast, and each and every character has their own problems; some of their own making, but more often than not they are the product of other people and their personal agendas (or that is how they are perceived).

I can’t imagine that this is a book that I will read again, and yet the stories of the characters tend to linger with you long after the book has been finished.  I can’t say that I enjoyed reading The Casual Vacancy, but I do wonder if that’s the point.  It’s supposed to make you think…

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