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The Casual Vacancy [Hardcover]

J.K. Rowling
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 36.99
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2012
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford 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. Rich at 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. And the 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? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

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The Casual Vacancy + Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy
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Review

Praise for THE CASUAL VACANCY:

"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 deeply."—Lev Grossman, Time

"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."—People

"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."—Washington Post

"A positively propulsive read."—Wall Street Journal

"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."—The Daily Beast

"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."—Parade

"Rowling knows how to write a twisty, involving plot....She is clearly a skilled writer."—The Huffington Post

"The Casual Vacancy is a complete joy to read....a stunning, brilliant, outrageously gripping and entertaining evocation of British society today."—The Mirror (UK)

"Rowling has written a grand novel...a very brave book."—The Bookseller (UK)

"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."—The Guardian (UK)

"The 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."—Telegraph (UK)

About the Author

J.K. Rowling is the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of seven books, published between 1997 and 2007, which have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, are distributed in more than 200 territories, translated into 74 languages, and have been turned into eight blockbuster films. She has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry’s schoolbooks within the novels. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through The Ages were published by Scholastic Bloomsbury Children’s Books in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief. In December 2008, The Tales of Beedle the Bard was published in aid of the Children’s High Level Group, and quickly became the fastest selling book of the year.

As well as an OBE 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 Literature Award, and she has been a Commencement Speaker at Harvard University. She supports a wide number of charitable causes through her charitable trust Volant, and is the founder of Lumos, a charity working to transform the lives of disadvantaged children.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, heart-wrenching and memorable Oct. 14 2012
By VCR
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I can understand why a lot of people either dislike or don't know what to make of this book. Rowling presents a set of deeply flawed, complex, and (in my opinion) all-too-real characters; none of whom are easily or completely likeable, just like people in real life. For me, this has always been the core strength of her writing (granted that the Harry Potter series was slightly and understandably more black-and-white in this regard). It took me two weeks to finish The Casual Vacancy because, for the first hundred or so pages, I also did not know what to make of this book. I felt uncomfortable being confronted with situation after situation where the injustices of life and the unpleasantness of the human condition screamed at me for pages on end. I recognized pieces of myself and the people I've known in these characters. And then as the days pressed on and I read a few more chapters each night, I gradually found myself eager to come home and spend more time getting to know these characters; not because I was expecting some thrilling, suspenseful narrative climax (there is none), but because Rowling is a master of capturing the complexities of what it means to be human in all its many forms.

Is this book fantastic literature? That is debatable. The strength of the prose comes and goes and there were only a few passages so eloquently worded and I stopped to really soak them in. But for me, Rowling has accomplished in this text what I have come to know her for; she has created a set of rounded and complex characters that will continue to linger with me long after I have finished reading the book (which, for me, is rare when I read fiction).
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89 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very dark departure Sept. 29 2012
By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Do you remember when Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe did that play where he was nude and smoked to distance himself from the kid-friendly HP series? Well, this is the literary equivalent for JK Rowling. This book IS NOT HARRY POTTER, or anything like it. It's a dark view of the lives of "ordinary" citizens in a British town. A parish council leader dies suddenly, leaving a "casual vacancy" to be filled. This story is about how that happens, but really, it's more about the people who it happens to. The parents as well as their adolescent children. In that regard, we see some of the old JK Rowling as she spends a lot of time looking at the lives of teenagers.

Only this book is completely R-rated. Violence, abuse, nudity, drugs, crime, and severely adult language are found throughout the book. This is most certainly not something you'd want your child to be reading. So I get the impression that, like so many famous actors or writers, this is Rowling's attempt to show that she can do more than just the series that made her famous.

So does it work? I think so. It's not the best modern fiction that I've read, but it's not the worst. If you know what you're getting, a dark, sometimes satirical look into modern family lives, then yes, the book works. I found the teenagers to be at least as interesting as their parents, if not more so. While it was hard to find a lot of sympathetic characters in this book, at least the characters are generally interesting. The story does tend to drag on a little in the middle parts, but it then whips forward to a satisfying conclusion.

So should you buy it? Well, that depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for anything similar to Harry Potter, take a pass.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book To Live In Oct. 3 2012
By Jamieson Wolf TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Welcome to Pagford.
It is a picture perfect little town: rolling hills, ancient abbey, cobbled streets, charming houses and colourful inhabitants. However, like everything that looks perfect, secrets run rampant through Pagford’s streets, waiting for the moment to be set free.

That moment arrives in the death of Barry Fairbrother. After suffering an aneurism on the night of his wedding anniversary, the town of Pagford becomes torn. With Barry’s death, a Casual Vacancy arises, a seat left vacant on the Parish Council due to death.

There are a few hopefuls vying for the coveted seat: Howard Mollison wants his son Miles to take the seat so that Miles can help Howard rid Pagford of The Fields, a rundown part of town home to a methadone clinic. Howard is thrilled at Barry’s death as Howard may finally rid Pagford of an eyesore. Miles’ wife Samantha, however, is less than thrilled and begins to fantasize about much younger boys.

Collin Wall, Deputy Head minister of the local high school, also wants to run for the vacant seat. As Barry’s former best friend, Collin thinks Barry would have wanted him to carry on his work, bringing The Fields and Pagford together, instead of tearing them apart.

Tessa Wall, who is the school guidance counselor, is more concerned over the antics of their son Stuart “Fats” and his association with Krystal Weedon and the mental state of her husband if he actually wins the seat; Collin hides a secret that could ruin him if exposed.

Simon Price also wants to run, despite having isolated himself from the community. His wife, Ruth, approves of him running because she is used to agreeing. It is the only way to keep him from getting angry.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, well-written (no surprise there! ) but ...
An interesting, well-written (no surprise there!) but surprisingly negative book. J.K. Rowling paints a bleak picture of adolescents and their struggles in their relationships... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Anne
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Enjoyable but rambled a bit.
Published 1 month ago by Brucie Bloomer
1.0 out of 5 stars One star for the last 100 pages...
This book could be reasonable if they weren't the first 400 pages. Nothing happens and you can develop a pretty bad rash reading a communist manifesto from Mrs Rollins. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Customer from Quebec
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Very disappointing... I was too depressed by the story to finish the book. I wish it sould have been better...
Published 2 months ago by Lily
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible
There is not a positive character in the book except the one that is dead at the beginning of the novel
Published 4 months ago by Diane Shea
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, entertaining, good message for all ages
Really enjoyed this book. First time I've read anything from J.K. Rowling, and I was impressed with her humor and realism of characters. Read more
Published 5 months ago by scoobie
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it
Great book very different from what people are used to from her definitely going to recommend it to my friends
Published 6 months ago by Jamie
3.0 out of 5 stars Casual Vacancy
The contents of the book are what determines one's enjoyment of the read. Much more profane language than I expected. Delivery time of the book was excellent.
Published 6 months ago by Ron Harwood
2.0 out of 5 stars Jk Rowling disappointment
Jk Rowling should stick to writing fiction for children. The politics and small town gossip of an English village don't have universal appeal
Published 8 months ago by cheryl wright
5.0 out of 5 stars The prose princess
JK Rowling shows her diversity. I loved this total taking leave of all things Harry Potter - this was an intelligent, intellectual read. Excellent character depiction. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Judes
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