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The Casual Vacancy
Talk about diving into small town politics - wowza! She nailed that! But more than that, I think J.K. Rowley proves her writing brilliance by picking such a simple and relatable backdrop to tell so many good messages through. There were a ton of good messages and thoughts, but what I love about this book most is how it demonstrates how so many lives can affect one and how one can also affect so many around them. Sometimes directly, and sometimes by degrees of separation.
This is well worth the read and filled with tons of talking points for your book club. It is long - and my guess is if it was any other writer the publishers would have insisted it be cut by 200 pages - luckily for us J.K. has enough clout to create a long book that can get past the publishers and we can savor. (There are maybe only 2 characters I would have edited down a bit.) I will suggest that as soon as you start reading you create a cheat sheet of the characters on a book mark. I'll admit it, I did this and was happy I did. So many characters! But the quantity of characters really does help make the point of the book (or at least the main point I got) and shows how our interweaving of our lives and the causes and effects of our actions spread out into the world.
This is one of those books that as you are reading it will seem like, "ah, this is a good book. Not great, but good." Then, the more you think about it, the more you will appreciate it. The tangling and intersecting of the story lines was brilliantly executed, and the writing is excellent - sure to be a book club hit!
By Forrest Leo