Saturday, December 14, 2013


The Casual Vacancy, J K Rowling, Little Brown and Company, 2012, 503pp

I did not find J K Rowling's first novel for adults as impressive as I did her second, The Cuckoo's Calling. But I did like it and appreciate what she addressed in the story.

For My Big Fat Reading Project I read a non-fiction book by Vance Packard entitled The Status Seekers, 1959. One of the points he made about the United States was that we are not a classless society despite our democratic view of ourselves. Neither is Great Britain, though they have a much longer history of class consciousness. Rowling pointed up the wide gap between those with money and those without in her fictional little town of Pagford and she did it well.

I was prepared for the large array of characters from reviews I had read, so I did what I usually do in that case: made a list of characters as I read. It helped a great deal and by about 40 pages in I was tracking with all of them.

Once the story got going I was fully engaged with all those characters and wanted to know what would happen to them. The second half flew by and her narrative climax worked for me. The unfortunate got what you would expect and the rich bad guys got what they deserved.

Maybe because she wrote for kids, has kids, and followed four kids through 10 years of their lives in the Harry Potter series, she has got kids and teen down. The teens were the most interesting people in the story and the most convincing.

Lest any negative or snarky reviews put you off, I hereby declare that the woman can write. I can't imagine what the pressures of fame and fortune must be like for her but those pressures have not diminished her drive to do what she loves. I admire her and will read whatever she creates.

(The Casual Vacancy is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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