Set in a tiny town in the English countryside, Pagford is populated with the unlikeliest of characters. It's the perfect setting for salt-of-the-earth, kind, community-minded, and compassionate folks. But you won't find such people here. Everyone has a secret; everyone has hidden motivations and desires which they will stop at nothing to satisfy. These are unseemly folks, each with his or her own particular array of distasteful traits. Throw in a newly vacant seat on the town's council, and you have fertile fields for every kind of backstabbing, manipulating, lying, and coercing imaginable. Yes, it's on.
Surprisingly, while racing through The Casual Vacancy (because I could not put it down), I was most often reminded of Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell). Rowling's vision of her characters' emotions is razor sharp, and the clarity with which she understands their inner life is startling. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who could paint a psychological study better than Vine, but Rowling is certainly hard on Vine's heels here. Yes, her characters are unlikable (every single one of them), and yes, this is a tale of ugly people doing awful things, and yes, there is so much going on here that it takes a bit of effort to untangle all the threads. But this is one fantastic read, and it is so completely worth the effort. Rowling is, above all else, an amazing storyteller. Don't miss her gigantic leap into adult fiction; it is a thing of beauty underneath all the darkness. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A big novel about a small town...
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?
A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.
"What secrets lurk in the hearts of the residents of Pagford? This is the central question in Rowling's dark novel that charts the cutthroat competition for an empty seat on the town council. In this audio edition, the challenge for narrator Tom Hollander is the book's varied cast, which features a dozen main characters and many minor ones all requiring unique voices and accents. Additionally challenging is the fact that Rowling's characters often act one way in public and another way a rather horrid way in private. Much to his credit, Hollander handles all of this with great aplomb, whether he's voicing the boozy Samantha, her pompous father-in-law, or Fats, a skinny teenager who very well might be a sociopath. Hollander exhibits particular skill creating a full range of voices for the book's male characters, e.g., the timid squeaks of the commitment-phobic Gavin and the curt, deep grunts of duplicitous Simon Price. Hollander's narration captures the sardonic wit of the novel, animating the author's acerbic observations of human weakness with intelligence and style. Hollander even sings, offering a solid rendition of 'Morning Has Broken' in a pivotal funeral scene. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
is the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of seven books, published between 1997 and 2007, which have sold over 450 million copies worldwide, are distributed in more than 200 territories,
have been translated into 73 languages, and have been turned into eight blockbuster films.
As well as an Order of the British Empire 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 Award, and she has been a commencement speaker at Harvard University. She supports a wide range of causes and is the founder of Lumos, which works to transform the lives of disadvantaged children.