The Casual Vacancy
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Price: Kindle – $11.99; Hardcover – $9.99; Paperback – various amounts depends on the seller
This is J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is nothing like the Harry Potter series for children.
The book opens at the home of Barry Fairbrother. It is his anniversary and his wife wants to go out to celebrate. He is fixated on an article for the newspaper about one of his students on the rowing team, but not wanting to totally disappoint his wife, he agrees to go to the Country Club for a dinner. Once outside the Country Club, he drops dead.
Being a member of the local council, Fairbrother’s death leaves a Casual Vacancy.
The book doesn’t have one main character unless you consider dead Barry Fairbrother to be the main character. Instead, the book has several characters whose lives are all intertwined. At first, it is hard to see the connection, but as the story progresses the reader will see how each character touches the lives of the others.
Readers find out fast that the town is actually a division of two areas and is in the midst of war and not just political war for the vacant council position. The war comes from the intertwined lives of each character. Teenagers against parents, couples against each other, teachers against pupils, neighbor against neighbor, rich against poor, and certain individuals are fighting to fill the casual vacancy. Who will prevail?
Rowling does an amazing job of creating distinct characteristic for each character. Readers will be able to sympathize and empathize with these characters as they could be your neighbors: doctors, lawyers, school teachers, shop owners, students, wealthy families, poor families, drug addicts, social workers, hospital volunteers, hospital staff, etc. all trying to cope with the problems and issues of the real world. A few characters you are introduced to is an abusive husband who is involved with crooked dealings and his wife who puts up with the abuse. You meet an educator who lives inside his head and is obsessed with his fear and paranoia of doing something unacceptable to his students. You meet a social worker who left her job in London and uprooted her daughter to follow her boyfriend-lawyer to learn that he really doesn’t want her. You meet Fairbrother’s widow and children. You meet Krystal and Robbie who are children of a drug addict. And so many more characters who lives are connected in one way or another.