The author of one of the most famous children series in the world, Harry Potter, has proven that she can write for the captive adult audience as well.
J.K. Rowling wrote and published her first adult novel, “The Casual Vacancy,” in 2012 and it is now a No. 1 National Bestseller. The stage is also being set for this tragic and poetic novel to become a television show on BBC (British Broadcasting Company) in 2014.
The story is a classic and timeless one of corruption among the wealthy and suffering amongst the poor. There are instances of scandalous behavior, tragedy within families, profane language and gut wrenching situations.
Though it takes place in the rural town of Pagford, England, the central themes are understood world wide. The start of this novel is pretty slow, but once the reader gets through initially meeting each character the rest falls into place.
The story centers around the death of a city council member, Barry Fairbrother, who ultimately ties all the characters together.
There is a variety of characters in this novel that range from rich to poor and cover virtually every inch of the political spectrum. There is no real main character, as the story jumps from the point of view of one character to the next, but there are a few characters that stand out above the rest.
Krystal Weedon is the most troubled 16-year-old girl in the Fields, the housing development between the cities Pagford and Yarvil. She deals with tremendous struggles throughout the book, including dealing with her heroin addict mother and trying to support and care for her three-year-old brother.
Another greatly developed character is Samantha, the wife and daughter-in-law of two of the richest and most hated politicians in Pagford. She gets caught up in trying to be 19 again, so much so that she dreams of boy-band crushes and doesn’t like the direction her life has taken. Every day she drowns her mind in wine.
The words and imagery Rowling uses to bring the situations of the novel to life are breathtaking. She ties these characters, who really have nothing in common with each other, together in a revealingly artistic way. She creates a world that contains people you like, people you hate and situations that make you feel sorry for the characters in tough spots.
Although this is a captivating and inspiring read, there is a lot of British slang that is sometimes difficult to understand. There is also a great deal of politics in this novel, so it helps to be familiar with the general workings of a city council. Don’t put it down after the first few pages, because while the pace of the story takes a bit to pick up, it will make you laugh and break your heart.
This novel is only similar to the Potter books because it takes place in England and was written by Rowling. The storyline is incredibly advanced, not so straightforward and magical as the world of Harry Potter. This is definitely an adult novel. There is nothing resembling the childlike wonder of the wizarding world, even the children are forced to act as adults.
“The Casual Vacancy” is great for reading during spare time. It will keep you thinking about the characters throughout your day while you wait for the moment you can return to the pages to see what happens next.