REVIEW: The Casual Vacancy, J.K Rowling

Photo credit: Me
Photo credit: Me

Seven successful books and billions of dollars later I thought we had heard the last of JK Rowling. I mean they say a writer is only as good their last work – well after harry potter she was a legend. The first billionaire author among other accolades. To me, J.K. Rowling is the rock star of the literary world.

I came across a book she had written, the first after the harry potter series, and I was not sure how exactly I felt. Deep down, I was afraid, afraid that she might disappoint and not live up to her own standards. Then came admiration, not of her writing prowess, but her bravery. Most writers would cower after such immense success. But not J.K she wrote another book.

I bought the book without as much as batting an eyelid, the lady at books first didn’t seem too sure of my choice. She suggested a safer bet, John Grisham, but I was adamant. I somehow knew that Rowling would not disappoint, plus I hated the suspense of never knowing. So I picked up the book from the shelf after a hearty chat with the attendant – God bless her soul – and set off into a literary world. A world created by Rowling a world eons away from Hogwarts.

The casual vacancy is an intricate web of love, loyalty, laughter, tears and whole other plethora of emotions.

The Casual Vacancy is about a counselor who unexpectedly dies and leaves a seat vacant. The whole story is set around the happenings after his death. Set in a quaint little town in Britain called Pagford. Barry Fairbrother (the counselor) suffers an aneurysm and lives behind a family and community distraught by his death. Soon after his death, wrangles emerge within the council as those with opposing political views eye his seat. His perfect family life as was portrayed was a mirror – one his wife is quick to shatter.

The bone of contention is a patch of land they refer to as “the fields”. Residents, born and bred in Pagford have a self-entitlement to the city and its facilities. The fields had been allocated to their jurisdiction and with that the ‘scum’ that came with it. The fields was a clear contrast of the Victorian houses in Pagford, their’s were run down houses with boarded windows and unruly residents constituting of drug addicts, peddlers, prostitutes and hooligans.

There is a clear social stratification in the town and J.K brings it out perfectly. She goes ahead to highlight the interaction of families, friends and individuals in the little town. She brings out deceit, hypocrisy and backstabbing in the town. She shatters the image of a perfect little town in a beautiful way. She lets you inside the personal lives of each character carefully outlining their flaws and characteristics. You read the book and feel like you belong, the plot is palpable and you eat up every bit of information she feeds you.

The book, needless to say, is hard to put down. The imagery is serene and crisp. The read is easy and her choice of words succinct. The twists in the plot are tumultuous and she has a way of reconciling the oddest of characters that lives you literally mind blown.

J.K Rowling, in this book shows the reader that she has grown as a writer. You feel the maturity in her tone as she eases you away from a magical world of fiction into the real world. . I have the knack to write about how the plot develops to the end but that’s one thing you have to find out for yourself. This is one read you can’t put off.

In case you are wondering – no you can’t have my copy.

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