Emma's Reviews > The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2015-read, mystery, contemporary, realistic-fiction

Once again J.K. Rowling demonstrates that her writing strength (as seen in the Harry Potter series) lies in constructing a complex and diverse multitude of characters and families whose lives become entwined in ways you could never predict at the outset of her novel.

In The Casual Vacancy there's a hint of the Midsomer about it all - a seemingly idyllic quaint little village with its deli and its church and community where everybody knows everybody else's business - and yet the perceived threat of the Fields with its lower class cast of characters spoiling the good ol' Pagford stock adds a class-based element to Rowling's book that made me both amused and horrified. It hit a little too close to home to be comfortable, especially in the scenes surrounding the potential closure of the rehabilitation centre - the contentious attitude that 'users will always use' still reigns today in the media, and the public at large, and is certainly not confined to, or unnecessarily emphasised, in Rowling's tale. Scenes of Howard Mollinson buoyantly gossiping about the latest piece of scandal behind his deli counter are swiftly juxtaposed against gritty and wholly uncomfortable scenes of verbal and physical abuse inside the Wheedon household, a contrast through which neither party comes out particularly well, an element which I was concerned about initially but Rowling delivered in a way that did not disappoint.

There's definitely a good 200-pages of build-up to The Casual Vacancy and it's a slow burner of a story in which the thread is cleverly teased until it all unravels dramatically in the last 150 pages or so. In my opinion, it's thoroughly readable and worth sticking with, but if you prefer plot-driven stories and aren't fond of a cast of characters perhaps steer clear.

[3.5 out of 5 stars]
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Quotes Emma Liked

J.K. Rowling
“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were; lying about it, trying to be somebody else.”
J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

J.K. Rowling
“It was so good to be held. If only their relationship could be distilled into simple, wordless gestures of comfort. Why had humans ever learned to talk?”
J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

Reading Progress

March 6, 2015 – Started Reading
March 6, 2015 – Shelved
March 6, 2015 –
page 19
March 6, 2015 –
page 40
March 7, 2015 –
page 102
March 7, 2015 –
page 150
March 8, 2015 –
page 229
March 10, 2015 –
page 259
March 10, 2015 –
page 331
March 12, 2015 –
page 405
March 12, 2015 –
page 455
March 12, 2015 –
page 455
March 12, 2015 – Finished Reading
October 12, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-read
October 12, 2015 – Shelved as: mystery
October 12, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary
October 12, 2015 – Shelved as: realistic-fiction

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