The Casual Vacancy

The lives of the townsfolk of the small West Country town of Padford as they prepare for the local parish council elections, may not seem a particularly racy setting for book, but behind closed doors…

A tale of debauchery, drug taking, casual teenage sex, domestic violence and political intrigue is possibly not what you would expect from the author of arguably the most successful series of children’s novels ever written. While Harry Potter is still enjoyed by readers young and old, The Casual Vacancy should be kept away from those no older than Harry himself.

Set in the UK, the language is colloquial and some readers may struggle to keep up with certain dialect. For those who have no problem with the dialect, then the large array of characters introduced in the first third of the book may be a problem. I spent so long flicking back and forward to try and work out how Howard and Shirley were related and whether Gavin was really Barry’s friend that I lost the thread of the story a little. Also, at odds with the local West Country dialect was the American spelling of words such as ‘realize’, which jarred with me quite a bit.

That aside, the storyline is amusing which, given some of the topics explored, may not quite have been what Ms Rowling was aiming for. With so many characters it’s difficult for the reader to develop a relationship with any of them and this becomes a problem, especially at the climax of the tale. The lack of emotional involvement with those in the book made The Casual Vacancy little more than a holiday read and not the literary masterpiece for which many of JK Rowling’s older fans were hoping.

Worth borrowing from a friend, but don’t buy it at full RRP.

JK Rowling
Little, Brown Book Group Ltd
RRP: $39.99

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