Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Casual Vacancy - J. K. Rowling | Spoiler Free

*All Book Reviews on this blog are spoiler free.*

"But who could bear to know which stars were already dead... Could anybody stand to know that they all were?" - J. K.Rowling, The Casual Vacancy.

Reading ‘The Casual Vacancy’ was a reminder of why I have drafts of letters addressing J. K. Rowling as my favourite author. Set in the small but proud town of Pagford, this political drama follows the lives of multiple characters during an election, which is triggered by the death of Parish Counsellor Barry Fairbrother. The town and election candidates are divided by the proposed merger of Pagford and the fields, a rough neighbourhood adjacent to Pagford as the more conservative members of Pagford rally against this. 

It is the characters, more so than the events, that pulls the book together. The characters are startlingly different and stand in a morally grey area, making it impossible to like them or hate them. They belong to a wide range of age group, social class and each come from different backgrounds. With intricate detail and delicacy, Rowling has weaved together a complex narrative as the lives of different characters intertwine, each providing a different perspective to the situation. 

The background and environment of each character allows the book to delve into a range of social issues from class and societal status to child abuse to drugs to rape to depression. The book was released as a book for mature audiences and quite likely so because it doesn’t shy away from the harshness of the themes it tackles. So fair warning, if you prefer your fiction rated U, this may not be your book. However, cleverly so, Rowling doesn’t stray from the plot to make a point making it a compact book with an enjoyable pace.

It is a bit difficult to keep track of the various characters and their relationships at first but you can get the hang of it soon enough. About halfway through the book, the plot starts to unravel and the storylines start to come together. 

It is tense, gripping and if you are looking for something outside of the neat bubble where everything is cheerful, it is definitely worth reading. 

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