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Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of
Pagford is left in shock.
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.
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.
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?
comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual
Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults.
On the face of it, Rowling’s first adult book is very different from the
Harry Potter books that made her rich and famous. It’s resolutely unmagical:
the closest thing to wizardry is the ability to hack into the amateurish
Pagford Parish Council Web site. Instead of a battle for worldwide domination,
there’s a fight over a suddenly empty seat on that Council, the vacancy of the
title. Yet despite the lack of invisibility cloaks and pensieves, Pagford isn’t
so different from Harry’s world. There’s a massive divide between the haves and
the have-nots—the residents of the Fields, the council flats that some want to
push off onto a neighboring county council. When Councilor Barry
Fairbrother—born in Fields but now a middle-class Pagforder—dies suddenly, the
fight gets uglier. In tiny Pagford, and at its school, which caters to rich and
poor alike, everyone is connected: obstreperous teenager Krystal Weedon, the
sole functioning member of her working-class family, hooks up with the
middle-class son of her guidance counselor; the social worker watching over
Krystal’s drug-addled mother dates the law partner of the son of the dead man’s
fiercest Council rival; Krystal’s great-grandmother’s doctor was Fairbrother’s
closest ally; the daughters of the doctor and the social worker work together,
along with the best friend of Krystal’s hookup; and so on. Rowling is
relentlessly competent: all these people and their hatreds and hopes are
established and mixed together. Secrets are revealed, relationships twist and
break, and the book rolls toward its awful, logical climax with aplomb. As in
the Harry Potter books, children make mistakes and join together with a common
cause, accompanied here by adults, some malicious, some trying yet failing.
Minus the magic, though, good and evil are depressingly human, and while the
characters are all well drawn and believable, they aren’t much fun. Agent: The
Blair Partnership. (Sept. 27)
I had come under the spell of a great novel....A big, ambitious, brilliant,
profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of
contemporary England, rich with literary intelligence....This is a deeply
moving book by somebody who understands both human beings and novels very, very
There are plenty of pleasures to be had in The
Casual Vacancy....Parts of the story would be tonally of a piece
with any Richard Price or Dennis Lehane novel, or an episode of The Wire.
A vivid read with great, memorable characters and a truly emotional
payoff....Rowling captures the humanity in everyone, even if that humanity is
not always a pretty sight.
Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling's first adult novel, is sometimes funny, often
startlingly well observed....Jane Austen herself would admire the way [Rowling]
shows the news of Barry's death spreading like a virus round Pagford.
Rowling has written a grand novel...a very brave book.
An insanely compelling page-turner....The Casual Vacancy is
a comedy, but a comedy of the blackest sort, etched with acid and drawn with
pitch....Rowling proves ever dexterous at launching multiple plot lines that
roar along simultaneously, never entangling them except when she means to. She
did not become the world's bestselling author by accident. She knows down in
her bones how to make you keep turning the pages.
A study of provincial life, with a large cast and multiple, interlocking
plots, drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot...The Casual Vacancy immerses the reader in a richly
peopled, densely imagined world...intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny.
Rowling knows how to write a twisty, involving plot....She is clearly a
Casual Vacancy is a complete joy to read....a stunning, brilliant,
outrageously gripping and entertaining evocation of British society today.
A positively propulsive read.
This book represents a truckload of shrewdness.... There were sentences I
underlined for the sheer purpose of figuring out how English words could be
combined so delightfully....genuinely moving.
Publisher: Little, Brown &
dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.80 (d)
J.K. Rowling is the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of seven books,
published between 1997 and 2007, which have sold over 450 million copies
worldwide, are distributed in more than 200 territories, have been translated into 73
languages, and have been turned into eight blockbuster films.
As well as an Order of the British Empire for services to children's
literature, J.K. Rowling is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary
degrees, including the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, France's Légion
d'honneur, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and she has been a
commencement speaker at Harvard University. She supports a wide range of causes
and is the founder of Lumos, which works to transform the lives of
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