It all starts when Barry Fairbrother drops dead in the middle of his prime and in the middle of the golf course’s parking lot. The death of the charismatic council member catches the small town Pagford unprepared. Very large shoes await whoever will come by to replace him, especially now, when the winds are hotter than ever and so many conflicting interests are at stake.
After this opening, you would probably expect “The Casual Vacancy” to focus on the different intrigues that accompany the tempestuous election campaign over the open seat in the town’s council. You couldn’t be farther from the truth. The story here, in its own unique way, is the story of the town members – of their small desires, of their secrets, of their loves and of their lies.
Many have waited for this book and for a good reason. After making millions by writing a children’s book series, there were some that doubted J. K. Rowling’s ability to leave the boundaries of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and write a book for grown-ups. Boy, how wrong they were.
If there is one thing this book proves beyond reasonable doubt, is that J. K. Rowling is a gifted writer. No matter how you look at it, you can be certain that there is life after Harry Potter. And what a life it is. Only when she leaves the world of wizards and witches and dragons and comes back to our mundane world, does Rowling finally find the real darkness, hiding between the streets and alleys of suburban England. The darkness lies within each and every one of us, waiting to be dragged into the open. This is most definitely not a book for kids, if only because it shows the world as it is, without any beautifying filters of a sort, ones that could help them cope with the harsh world that is lurking out there.
Though it is not a thriller of any kind, and some would say that not much happens in it, this is one of the most fascinating books I have come across in a while. Something in the screwed up characters that fills it to the edges of its banks drew me to the last pages of the book, hoping everything will work out for the best, though it was clear that this is not a possibility. But still, Rowling might not be as cruel as the world we live in, because eventually, the book ends with a little thread of hope.
In short – an excellent book.
Five chairs covered in gold
The Casual Vacancy / J. K. Rowling / Little, Brown and Company Publishing