Thursday, 4 July 2013

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy was JK Rowling’s hugely-anticipated first book for adults, and I finally got my hands on a copy in the Oxfam bookshop in Bath. I finished it about a week ago, and I’m still not entirely sure what I felt about it.


My overriding feeling about the novel when I finished it was positive. I had liked what I read, but I’m not sure if that was to do with the fact that it was written by Rowling, who has had such a huge impact on my life (in fact, I wrote my GCSE English Language exam essay about her). It was undoubtedly lovely to have something of hers that I hadn’t yet read to read – that hadn’t been the case since 21st July 2007!

I did find that the book had a very strong message, in favour of public services, and to that end the hero character for me was Kay, the social worker who never gave up.  There were some moments in Kay’s story arc when I wondered about any parallels with JKR’s time as a single mother, especially when themes of female independence came up – I’ve written ‘man flu p189’ on my notes, for those of you who have the book and want to look into this.

I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about Fats’ character, especially with his treatment of and curiosity about Krystal – it reminded me a little of the first-class travellers going to stare at those in steerage on the Titanic. Samantha Mollison’s story arc, too, was disquieting, and I felt that in some way JK may have been making a point about the middle-aged Team Edward twihards. Maybe I’m projecting?

Overall, I enjoyed the book  - but I kind of wish I could have read it without knowing it was by JK Rowling. I also wish they’d included a kind of relationship map, perhaps inside the back cover, because I found it difficult to keep track of the numerous characters. 

You can find my Goodreads page about this book here

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