Book number 39: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Thank you Elaine for the ebook! 🙂
What it is: A very social and political story centered on the small town of Pagford, The Casual Vacancy follows the “communal life of citizens that seemed to revolve around the church“; these citizens all pretty much versions of Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia on varying levels. It exposes “a shithole” where “people round here are effing mental.” “mired in hypocrisy and lies and they didn’t like the exposure“.
Basically, the people on the church council are fighting over a seat, the casual vacancy, that has opened up with the death of Barry Fairbrother. These people are divided into two groups, one which wants a sort of slum area in Pagford called the Fields, removed from the supposed to be spick and span town while the other group, who are mostly supporters of Barry, wants to keep the Fields and continue providing the community benefits for the families there who are mostly poor, addicts, delinquents, prostitutes – well, you get the picture.
What I liked about it: I’m very keen on the moral dilemma presented by The Casual Vacancy: will you take the side of the people who wants to cut costs and get rid of the Fields and the people living there who aren’t helping themselves get out of there terrible living situation, or will you take the side of the people fighting for the Fields, seeking to continue the dole outs and benefits given to it by Pagford? The characters are also striking because they are all as annoying as annoying can get in their selfish, hypocritical, self-righteous ways, but they are intended that way so I guess that’s a plus. I loved it when all the shit hits everybody’s face at the latter parts of the book, fabulous time!
What I did not like about it: There are three books that made my eyes bleed so far this year: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, With One Lousy Free Packet of Seed, and Wuthering Heights. I can see glimpses of all three in varying degrees on The Casual Vacancy. The narration’s sluggish, the separation of chapters is quite confusing, gossip’s the primary form of exposition, having an entire town of Uncle Vernon’s and Aunt Petunia’s outrageous, and the ending left me asking WTH is the point of all of it then? There’s no change up to the end and almost everyone’s remained pretty much static. I think I’d stick with the Harry Potter series.
Recommended for: Die-hard J.K. Rowling fans should go for The Casual Vacancy and those who enjoy small town gossip type reads, as well as socio-political stuff, I think.