today I would like to give you my thoughts on J.K. Rowlings current novel "The Casual Vacancy", which is her first book for adults after writing so many Harry Potter related things.
What is it about?
And here starts the difficulty. If you're interested in the book and look online for some content or storyline summaries you know that they're not that easy to find and there's a simple reason for that: It's almost not possible to write about "The Casual Vacancy" without revealing too much. But I will try my best:
The whole story takes place in a very small town in south-west England (am I right, here?) and begins with Barry Fairbrother's sudden death. He is a member of Parish Council and after he dies there are some people, who are quite eager to get his place. There's a voting going on and everything but the main focus lays on the many, many different characters story. There are about 34 characters, who are mostly related to someone else from the town due to family background, friendships or just loose contacts.
The plot goes through all kinds of social origins (mostly English working and middle class) without avoiding the ugly sides of each.
Basically it's about people's behaviour in very stressed situations, I think.
What do I think about it?
Okay, as many people probably I bought the book because I love J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter and her way of writing and creating new worlds through words. Because of my very high image I have of Mrs Rowling in my head starting to read "The Casual Vacancy" was quite hard. I didn't really know what to think about the whole thing until I got to page 150 / 200... so quite a while! I had some problems with remembering all the different characters and their relation to each other and sometimes I struggled with vocabulary because I read in English and those Parish Council vocab is totally new to me and I'm not sure if I got everything right.
What I found extremely difficult is that there are 34 characters but I didn't like one of them very much... I felt more dislike and disrelished most of them (which is far too much real life for me xD There are enough people to dislike in life and this is why I would like to have at least one character in a book that I find super sympathetic) - the only one, who I felt slight sympathy for was Kay Walden maybe but... uhm, not enough actually.
So, after the first 200 pages I got used to it and started to feel some interest in the characters. I especially "enjoyed" reading about Krystal Weedon, who represented the people from very, very difficult social backgrounds (I don't know the exact term for it - in German it is "sozialer Brennpunkt", which would be something like "social hotspot" but with a very negative meaning). I didn't like what I read but I just felt moved by her story and found it incredibly sad to see what's going on there.
While reading I didn't expect the end to be that tragic actually. I don't want to spoiler, so I can't tell you too much only that I didn't expect it and it really left me there being confused and sad and feeling miserable... which I don't consider as bad after reading a book. I like books that make me think a lot afterwards and "The Casual Vacancy" definitely made that but nevertheless it wasn't strong / convincing for the first half. :/
What I really didn't like that much was the language. I know it's supposed to be real but do people really swear this much? I think J.K. Rowling just put that many slang words and curses and raw language in it to clearly distance from Harry Potter - which I don't think is the cleverest thing to do.
Would I recommend it?
Hm... all in all I probably would.
I would recommend it if you're interested in a good, real-life based novel and if you're not struggling with having many characters and a lot to remember (I know my Mom does have huuuge problems with remembering names and stuff and she literally reads one book every other day, so I don't think she would be able to keep a proper view^^) AND if you have strong nerves. There are some very intense moments, whether it is a very harsh (verbal) fight, someone gets battered or is just being a little too vulgar. There are SO many swear words that I sometimes was glad my English isn't perfect and I didn't know their meaning.
The point that lets me recommend it anyway is the thing that happens in the 2nd half. You just feel a tiny connection with the characters and your interest gets aroused. In the end it leaves you speechless, no matter if you think that's fine or bad - I think this is what a book is supposed to do.
Definitely give it a go and read through it because there's no sense in putting it away after a few pages; it gets better!
Okay, this was my review for J.K. Rowlings first adult novel "The Casual Vacancy" - I hope you liked it and are more / less determined to get and read it now.
If you have any suggestions or questions feel free to leave a comment or write me a private message!
I would love to know what you think about it if you have already read it, so please write a comment if you did so! :)
See you next time,
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