The Casual Vacancy

By J.K. Rowling
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company, (9/27/2012)

Average Rating:
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3.67 out of 5 (3 Clubie's ratings)

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When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
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Beezy's thoughts on "The Casual Vacancy"
updated on:11/7/2013

This was a great book

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Nick's thoughts on "The Casual Vacancy"
updated on:11/13/2012

I actually read this book on a flight back from London, so I was definitely in the right frame of mind for a story of British small town class drama. Or at very least, the accents were clear in my head. There were some fascinating character studies and overall, this was a very gripping, well-written book. I will say that I found it start slow, but if you can get through the first hundred pages or so, the novel really picks up steam as it gets going. To me, the children characters were better formed than some of the adult characters (could be that young adolescents are Rowling's literary specialty) and some of the stories were flatter than others, but considering the sheer magnitude of characters, stories, motivations and subpolts (and for that matter, pages), Rowling juggles it all very well into an engrossing piece. Yes, it could have been a bit tighter, but you could say that about most books. It's good writing and definitely worth your read. And reading it while on my way out of London, I definitely related to the character of Gaia, who spends most of the book wishing she was back in London. London is pretty darn cool.

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Book Junky's thoughts on "The Casual Vacancy"
updated on:10/29/2012

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!

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"The Casual Vacancy"
By J.K. Rowling

Average Rating:
Unleash it
3.67 out of 5 (3 Clubie's ratings)

The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
1. Before reading, did you have certain expectations for this book based on the Harry Potter series? If so, does The Casual Vacancy meet these expectations?

2. The book has more than 30 main characters. Did you have trouble keeping them and storylines in order?

3. Do you think the profanity, violence and sex is excessive and sensational? Is Rowling trying to prove that she can write for adults or does it enhance the plot?

4. Which storyline with which characters is your favorite and why? Least favorite?

5. Rowling describes the book as a "comic tragedy". What does that mean? Some have talked about the wit, others described the lack of it. Do you find her wit on display in the book?

6. Many reviewers and readers complain that the plot takes is slow to get off the ground and drags in some parts. What do you think? Is The Casual Vacancy too long at 500+ pages?

7. Before the success of Harry Potter, Rowling had experiences with poverty. Does knowing this increase the creditability of the Krystal character?

8. In many interviews, Rowling states that she felt she "had to write" this book and that it's very personal to her. Several characters and experiences can be paralled to her life. For example, Howard Mollinson and Simon Price are her estranged real-life father; Gavin is her first husband; Kay Bawden is a young, single J.K. Do you see any of your own relationships in the book? Does the story cause you to examine any of your relationships?

9. Is the ending satisfying? Does Rowling tie up loose ends or does she leave some things unanswered?

Questions by Katherine O'Connor of LitLovers.
Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was J.K. Rowling's first novel, followed by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as two books written specifically for Comic Relief and based on the Harry Potter novels: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. The Harry Potter novels have now sold over 325 million copies worldwide and been translated into 64 languages. J.K. Rowling has generated huge popular appeal for her books across the generations in an unprecedented fashion: she was the first children's author to be voted the BA Author of the Year, and also to win the British Book Awards Author of the Year. J.K. Rowling lives with her family in Edinburgh.

Other Books by J.K. Rowling include

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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