Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

“Was it love when somebody filled a space in your life that yawned inside you, once they had gone?”

― J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

In 2012, J.K. Rowling published the book The Casual Vacancy. On September 27, 2012, the Little Brown Book Group released the book on a global scale. On July 23, 2013, a paperback version was made available. It was Rowling's first work after the Harry Potter books, her first after those books, and her first book intended for adult audiences. Class, politics, and social concerns including rape, prostitution, and drug use are among the book's major topics. The book had the second-best opening week for an adult novel in the UK since Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and the quickest sales in the country in three years. Within a week of publication, it surpassed the top 15 best-selling books of 2012.

Synopsis from Wikipedia... 

The novel is set in a suburban West Country town called Pagford and begins with the death of beloved Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother. Subsequently, a seat on the council is vacant and a conflict ensues before the election for his successor takes place. Factions develop, particularly concerning whether to dissociate with a local council estate, ‘the Fields’, with which Barry supported an alliance. However, those running for a place soon find their darkest secrets revealed on the Parish Council online forum, ruining their campaign and leaving the election in turmoil.

My reaction to this novel...

Like many others, I became a fan of J.K. Rowling's writing due to the Harry Potter series. I was pushed to read more books because of that series, and I really like it. The Casual Vacancy initially caught my attention since I am familiar with the author. Rowling wrote this book, which Little Brown Book Group published and disseminated across the world. It was J.K.'s first book written with adults in mind.

This book is notably different from Rowling's Harry Potter novels. If you're looking for fantasy or magic, look elsewhere. J.K. sincerely ensures that this work of adult literature has a recurrent political issue with a character's hidden or troubling past.

I was engrossed from the moment I began reading the first chapter. I'm interested in knowing what happened to Barry. I read on till I became bored. I have no idea why. I might not enjoy reading books with political undertones. At first, it was surprising how rapidly the news spread around the neighborhood. The fact that they repeatedly brought up the main character's death for three chapters in a row gave the impression that the plot revolved on disseminating news of the character's passing. After a time, I found it challenging to read since one of the main characters had a tragic accident.

I found this narrative to be too serious for me despite reading many favorable reviews, and I felt like I should stop reading in the middle. Maybe I'm just accustomed to Rowling's magical books but this one seemed more like a thriller to me. I don't know why, but this one just doesn't appeal to me.

I would not recommend it to someone searching for fantasy, expecting that because JK wrote it, it must include magic. I assure you that the answer is a resounding NO. This work has nothing to do with the Harry Potter series and contains no magic at all.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐(2/5)

“You must accept the reality of other people. You think that reality is up for negotiation, that we think it's whatever you say it is. You must accept that we are as real as you are; you must accept that you are not God.”

Only God possesses the power within each of us. He is the only one with knowledge of what will transpire for us in the future. It should be recognized as our reality. We can't go on denying ourselves the reality that is right in front of us. In order to move on to the next phase of our lives, we must learn to confront and accept it.

“Choice was dangerous: you had to forgo all other possibilities when you chose.”

This is real. Making decisions may be risky, especially if you have several options available to you. Any alternative options will undoubtedly be out of your reach after you have made a decision. In light of how risky it is to make a mistake, we must carefully consider all of our options before making a choice. It's a decision where everything is at stake. Therefore, it is expected that choosing takes time, and you shouldn't rush as you cannot change your mind after making a decision.

“It frightened people when you were honest; it shocked them.”

People value honesty yet are terrified of confrontation. Many of us want others to be honest with us, but if we are honest with them and tell them things they don't want to hear, even if they are true, they will be stunned and will likely ignore what we said. I believe that learning to accept the confrontation that comes with such realities is preferable as to their complying with honesty.


Disclaimer: Booksreadbyhannel is not a business website. The opinions expressed here are unbiased and based only on my own feelings and reactions while reading the books I featured here in my blog. My reviews reflect my utmost sincerity. I paid for the books I review here out of my own pocket. Books provided by authors and publishers are otherwise specified.