By Dakota.Me.UK, Feb 8 2015 12:44PM
After finding out this week the BBC has commissioned a three part series based on J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy', we decided to re-post our review of the book. Already generating a lot of media interest,, the series is set to start on Sunday 15th February 2015, at 9PM, on BBC One. With a week to go, why not refresh your memories by casting your eyes over the novel, before the series starts?
The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling, Little Brown, 2012.
The Casual Vacancy is J.K Rowling’s first adult book after the success of the Harry Potter books, and it is a hefty tome, both in terms of the size of the book, and its subject matter.
The book begins with the death of Barry Fairbrother, a local councilor, creating the ‘casual vacancy’ of the title, in the small town of Pagford. Rowling creates a microcosm of society and there exists in Pagford, as in any small town, people of all ages and from all walks of life – teenagers, husbands, wives, shop workers, teachers, and more.
The main bone of contention is one that Barry was fighting for before his untimely passing; whether The Fields, the council estate, will stay part of Pagford. Some of the more well to do residents want to be well rid of the estate, though this may be because being closer to those who are so different in background and behavior to themselves, poses a threat – rather than just knowing disadvantaged people live near them, they would rather sweep them under the carpet as it were, and not have to look at them on their doorsteps.
From teenage rebels, others being bullied, children who are neglected, to social workers, and the well off, we see the place of Pagford through all their eyes. The main character who stood out for me was Krystal Weedon, resident of the Fields who cares for her neglected small brother Robbie when her mother is under the influence, and I read the mentions of her mother’s ‘works’ with sadness.
Other characters which gripped me were Sukhwinder, the Asian girl, who stands out in a mostly white populated town, Andrew, and social worker Kay. Being from a small town, I could definitely identify with this depiction of small town life, and how living somewhere where everybody knows your business can be completely claustrophobic.
Although the subject matter is harrowing and not for the faint hearted, I truly believe everybody will be able to relate to at least several of the characters in The Casual Vacancy.
Some might say it was a brave move of J.K Rowling to hold up a mirror to the dark side of society and the extreme poverty that sadly still exists, and they’d be right. But, think about it; add some spells, capes, and grand buildings and it’s not really that different from Harry Potter world – it’s just a bit closer to reality.
I was gripped from start to finish and, although I guessed how the ending unfolded, it didn’t make it any less evocative. My heart was in my mouth as I read the final part. I really didn’t know what to expect from The Casual Vacancy, as a big fan of the Harry Potter books, although I have never felt Rowling is the best writer technically, she has the ability to create characters which work their way into your head - and keeps readers turning the pages until the very last word.
I’ll stick my head above the parapet here and say I preferred The Casual Vacancy to the Harry Potter books. J.K Rowling astounded me with her ability to hold up a mirror to the dark side of life and, as a poet, the dark side is what we have to get through, to reach the light.