Review: The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling

October 8, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: The Casual Vacancy, J.K. RowlingThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Published by Little Brown & Company on 27 September 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 505
Format: Hardcover
Source: My copy
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the 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 parish 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?


(Goodreads Choice 2012 Winner)

Pagford is a seemingly idyllic town nestled in the picturesque English countryside. It has cobbled streets; a beautiful Victorian church; a glimmering river and is the kind of place where everybody knows your name. But underneath this pleasant façade is the ugly truth: Pagford is a town at war!

The main cause of this disharmony is the contentious area of the Fields, a low cost housing estate that ‘mistakenly’ fell within the Pagford boundary. When pro-Fields Parish Councilor, Barry Fairbrother, suddenly dies, he leaves his council seat vacant and the anti-Fielders’ see this as a golden opportunity to rid themselves of this blight upon their perfect town.

But Pagford is far from perfect. As we get to know the characters we find that they are deeply flawed and have waged personal wars against each other. Husbands against wives; children sabotaging their parents; friends turned to foes. The only thing we know for certain is that war has its casualties.

This is J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel, but if you were expecting the magic and mystery of Harry Potter you will be disappointed. This is a character driven novel, rather than plot driven. However, the characters are wonderfully portrayed and totally believable. At first it is difficult to keep track of the many names and relationships Rowling introduces, but after part one they seamlessly become old friends (and enemies).

Rowling’s writing style is effortless; she really is a wonderful storyteller. And like Harry Potter, the story and characters remain with you long after you have turned the last page.


Natasha lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and son. She is a self confessed bibliophile who enjoys literature and adult fiction. She also loves travelling and aims to visit 40 countries by the time she is 40 (current count 36).

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