The Casual Vacancy – Jo Rowling

The story of a small town with a big scandal.

To fully express myself in regard to Jo Rowling’s latest literary phenomenon I must take you through a brief story involving how I came to own “The Casual Vacancy”.

I am an avid Jo Rowling fan. I loved the Harry Potter series, I love the charity work she has done with Lumos and with the MS Foundation. She is a perfect example of how to be a role model and an amazing human being. I was eagerly awaiting this novels release like a kid on Christmas; and not for good reasons. The plot (a man dies and someone has to take over his spot on the small town local committee) sounded boring as hell to me to be honest. I thought this was going to be a boring, political expose and I just wanted to suffer through it for the sake of my love for Jo Rowling. I was literally craving this book because I hadn’t read anything new by her in ages (except short snip-its on Pottermore which were admittedly sufficing in my time of withdrawal).

As it turns out I was not able to purchase the book immediately (as I would have loved to). On the Saturday after it’s release I went on an ALS walk to raise funds and awareness for the disease. While I was out my sister informed me I had received an anonymous package. Later that day when I finally returned home, I opened the package to reveal a copy of “The Casual Vacancy” by my Queen Jo Rowling. Jumping up and down and making a right fool of myself I searched hard for a return address but there was no label save for my address. Finally, after an admittedly embarrassingly lengthy amount of time, I realized it was my sister who had bought it for me while I was out and had come up with the ruse of an anonymous donor.

Now during the weekends the house is a flourish of activity and reading in silence is a challenge. So I decided to wait until Monday to begin the book so that I would have long hours of silence to devour Rowling’s words.

And then I got sick. I had a very bizarre cold which came in odd spurts for days until finally just today am I feeling 100%.

But this is not what people care about. What people care about is my opinion of the book.

Well. I was concerned to read it. Rowling had only written The Harry Potter Series (and books related to the Wizard World) so I was interested to see how she pursued a novel intended for an adult audience. I admit, the plot sounded boring as all hell.

The plot (as I understood it) was that a man (Barry Fairbrother) had died leaving a casual vacancy in his position as Councilor and there would be a political war to fill the chair. I literally was falling asleep thinking about how boring this plot sounded. But, in true fan loyalty I plowed on and began reading.

I admit it took me quite a bit of time to get into the book (my illness on top of my judgment of the bore of politics kept me from devouring the words as quickly as I should have normally). Once I did get into the book however I found myself turning page after page, needing to know what was going to happen in the lives of these citizens.

See, the book actually follows many groups of people, all of whom yes relate in some way to Fairbrother – it is a small town – but it’s also about their individuality and the way humans interact with themselves and each other. I found myself wrapped up in all of their stories and their plights. I felt annoyed to the point of wanting to give up on certain characters, and I felt empathy to the point of wanting to cry – and later actually doing so. Rowling’s ability to write characters is. . . phenomenal. I’m trying to think of a stronger word but I’m not sure that I can. I just love the way she creates whole worlds for the people she creates, and she reveals information is such perfect ways that you can feel as though you’re a part of the world and not just observing it from outside.

This novel is definitely adult driven with very mature themes and it was a great way for Rowling to show that she can really achieve more than just the Harry Potter world. If she hadn’t proven it already this book surely will help the world to see she is amazing, and will be more than a one story wonder.

It’s hard to say just what the book is about without giving away a great deal of plot and character development which I therefore now understand why Rowling kept the synopsis simple.

I really enjoyed this book even though it took me a good chunk to get into it, and I hope that it allows people to become fans of Rowling, and I think her older fans will love reading something fresh and different from her.


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