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The Casual Vacancy
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Book Discussions > Discussion Questions: The Casual Vacancy

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message 1: by Sammee (last edited Mar 04, 2013 03:39AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sammee (chasing_sammee) | 369 comments Mod
Discussion Questions: The Casual Vacancy By J.K. Rowling

***SPOILER WARNING*** These book club discussion questions reveal important details about The Casual Vacancy By J.K. Rowling. Finish the book before reading on.

1. Before reading, did you have certain expectations for this book based on the Harry Potter series? If so, does The Casual Vacancy meet these expectations?

2. The book has more than 30 main characters. Did you have trouble keeping them and storylines in order?

3. Do you think the profanity, violence and sex is excessive and sensational? Is Rowling trying to prove that she can write for adults or does it enhance the plot?

4. Which storyline with which characters is your favorite and why? Least favorite?

5. Rowling describes the book as a "comic tragedy". What does that mean? Some have talked about the wit, others described the lack of it. Do you find her wit on display in the book?

6. Many reviewers and readers complain that the plot takes is slow to get off the ground and drags in some parts. What do you think? Is The Casual Vacancy too long at 500+ pages?

7. Before the success of Harry Potter, Rowling had experiences with poverty. Does knowing this increase the creditability of the Krystal character?

8. In many interviews, Rowling states that she felt she "had to write" this book and that it's very personal to her. Several characters and experiences can be paralled to her life. For example, Howard Mollinson and Simon Price are her estranged real-life father; Gavin is her first husband; Kay Bawden is a young, single J.K. Do you see any of your own relationships in the book? Does the story cause you to examine any of your relationships?

9. Is the ending satisfying? Does Rowling tie up loose ends or does she leave some things unanswered?

(Questions by Katherine O'Connor of LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)


message 2: by Mia (last edited Mar 10, 2013 06:51AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mia (MiaPea) | 288 comments I think I'll go through these questions for those of you who did finish...

1. Before reading, did you have certain expectations for this book based on the Harry Potter series? If so, does The Casual Vacancy meet these expectations?

Yes - I expected it to be her showboating her ability to write a non-children's book, and it did have a certain sense of sometimes gratuitous "whooo, look at me being gritty and using nasty words!"

2. The book has more than 30 main characters. Did you have trouble keeping them and storylines in order?

At first I did, but the Kindle has a feature that helps you keep the characters in order, so I used that and it helped! I did feel a bit bogged down with all the people, who were written fairly two dimensionally, and were all so unpleasant that I did mix them up a bit at first. Gavin, Miles, Colin/Cubby, Howard - none of them had enough life for me that I could really keep them straight. And Ruth/Shirley kept melding together too at first. Passive wives with icky husbands.

3. Do you think the profanity, violence and sex is excessive and sensational? Is Rowling trying to prove that she can write for adults or does it enhance the plot? I don't think I have a ton of perspective here. I do think that some of it enhances the plot, but some of it is a little excessive.

4. Which storyline with which characters is your favorite and why? Least favorite? For most of the book, I couldn't really answer this, because they were equally fair-to-middlin'. I disliked the Andrew/Ruth/Simon plot because Simon was such a one dimensional "bad guy" and, although it enraged me, I didn't think it had lots of depth. I ended up liking Sukhvinder and Andrew and Gaia's plot line, and the way it all tied up at the end.

5. Rowling describes the book as a "comic tragedy". What does that mean? Some have talked about the wit, others described the lack of it. Do you find her wit on display in the book?

The kind of wit that came up with such apt names for every Harry Potter character was absent. This one came off as more a bunch of cynical comments tossed off by JK Rowling as she was taking drags from a cigarette!

6. Many reviewers and readers complain that the plot takes is slow to get off the ground and drags in some parts. What do you think? Is The Casual Vacancy too long at 500+ pages?

Definitely slow and drags.

7. Before the success of Harry Potter, Rowling had experiences with poverty. Does knowing this increase the creditability of the Krystal character?

Look - in my field, I've known a bunch of Krystals and she wasn't written particularly inaccurately. Did JK Rowling need to be impoverished to write the character? Not sure.

8. In many interviews, Rowling states that she felt she "had to write" this book and that it's very personal to her. Several characters and experiences can be paralled to her life. For example, Howard Mollinson and Simon Price are her estranged real-life father; Gavin is her first husband; Kay Bawden is a young, single J.K. Do you see any of your own relationships in the book? Does the story cause you to examine any of your relationships?

Because she writes them in such a two dimensional way (and some of them one dimensional), I think we can all see some of ourselves in there, because she reverts to using archetypes. But, no, I don't think I really got prompted to think about relationships beyond that because they were somewhat cartoonish characters.

9. Is the ending satisfying? Does Rowling tie up loose ends or does she leave some things unanswered?

Yeah - she ties things up almost too well, but I found that satisfying as a reader of a story. I liked the ending and actually felt a sense of human warmth while Sukhvinder was remembering their team. She did neatly tie up each character.

One thing - she absolutely never ever developed the character of Vikram beyond saying he was calm and handsome. It would have been nice to get a sense that the guy had some personality beyond being a handsome doctor.


Okay - those are my comments!


Diane | 9 comments ***SPOILER WARNING*** These book club discussion questions reveal important details about The Casual Vacancy By J.K. Rowling. Finish the book before reading on.

1. Before reading, did you have certain expectations for this book based on the Harry Potter series? If so, does The Casual Vacancy meet these expectations?

No real expectations as I heard interviews prior to reading the book that her goal was to step away from Harry.

2. The book has more than 30 main characters. Did you have trouble keeping them and storylines in order?

Yes and no. I am fairly good at keeping characters straight in my head and with other books I learned just to go with the flow.

3. Do you think the profanity, violence and sex is excessive and sensational? Is Rowling trying to prove that she can write for adults or does it enhance the plot?

excessive and sensational, some of it not necessary. I felt as if she had a checklist of issues/mental afflictions etc and that she needed to include each one of them in the book.

4. Which storyline with which characters is your favorite and why? Least favorite?
Krystal was my favorite because by the end I found myself rooting for her. The least favorite is difficult as there were too many. The abusive father, the meat shop owner.

5. Rowling describes the book as a "comic tragedy". What does that mean? Some have talked about the wit, others described the lack of it. Do you find her wit on display in the book?

lack of wit

6. Many reviewers and readers complain that the plot takes is slow to get off the ground and drags in some parts. What do you think? Is The Casual Vacancy too long at 500+ pages?

very very slow, so tempted to quit at parts but something kept me reading. Maybe it was all of the people that told me "it gets better"

7. Before the success of Harry Potter, Rowling had experiences with poverty. Does knowing this increase the creditability of the Krystal character?
I thought that Krystal was credible without knowing any of Rowling's background

8. In many interviews, Rowling states that she felt she "had to write" this book and that it's very personal to her. Several characters and experiences can be paralled to her life. For example, Howard Mollinson and Simon Price are her estranged real-life father; Gavin is her first husband; Kay Bawden is a young, single J.K. Do you see any of your own relationships in the book? Does the story cause you to examine any of your relationships?

did not really see any of my own relationships in the book, but the different portrayals were fodder for thinking

9. Is the ending satisfying? Does Rowling tie up loose ends or does she leave some things unanswered?

Although I am always found of a happy ending, JK did a good job of completing the questions.

Overall I am content with the fact that I read it but it was a long slog

(Questions by Katherine O'Connor of LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)


Kai (KaiKitten) | 131 comments Diane wrote: "***SPOILER WARNING*** These book club discussion questions reveal important details about The Casual Vacancy By J.K. Rowling. Finish the book before reading on.

1. Before reading, did you have ce..."


That's exactly what it felt like. A long slog!


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