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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last posted. Life is full of craziness. One thing that helps me relax when I’m feeling the craziness is reading. It’s been this way since I was a kid: Reading = Relaxation. Although, when I think about how mad I was at a fictional character recently, maybe it’s not always about relaxation.

I found J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy” at the library and checked it out because I’ve wanted to read it since first hearing about it. How would Rowling tackle a topic other than wizards at Hogwarts? I was not disappointed. Here’s the review I wrote on Goodreads:

“Loved this book. Rowling is a master of letting the reader inside the heads of multiple characters. She’s also nailed small town politics and the general mean-spiritedness that some people carry around. I can’t stop thinking about this book.”

Yes, it’s a short review. Mine tend to be on the short side because I prefer to think more about books than talk about them.

The mean-spiritedness I mention shows up in a number of characters in the book, but is most openly exemplified by Simon Price, an abusive jerk of a guy who beats on his wife and kids and is no stranger to illegal activity. Whenever the book focused on Simon, I became so tense I wanted to pop the guy a good one. Interesting how a fictional character can provoke a physical reaction in real life.

Having observed plenty of small town politics, I was impressed with how Rowling tackled the competing interests of those trying to run for an open seat on the Pagford parish council and how the casual vacancy, caused by the sudden death of parish councilman Barry Fairbrother, put everyone in a tizzy. The other striking thing about the novel is how Barry dies in the very first chapter (no real spoiler there) but actually grows as a character through the book because we see him through the eyes of everyone else.

While there are mixed reviews of the book on GoodReads, I adored it.