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Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: The Casual Vacancy + a Giveaway!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Casual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling

Plot Summary:

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the 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 fa├žade 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 parish 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?

Expectations:

I know this is nothing like Harry Potter, so I just tried to look at this book as something new written by an amazing author.

Review:

This is nothing like Harry Potter.  Okay, I knew that, but deep down I was envisioning some of the ... magic in the world of Harry Potter would be evident here - but this is truly an adult book where honesty is more valuable than beauty.  It's real life, and it's harsh.  It was a little difficult to get into because of the vast array of characters who interact against the backdrop of the parish council election.  And J.K. Rowling takes her time masterfully shaping and delineating each character, creating a characteristically intricately plotted story which weaves the lives of at least twenty people into a varied, lively tale of the every day.  This novel is like a soap opera full of drama, petty jealousies, sex, drugs, abuse and adolescent rage.  Every private thought is revealed to the reader through the omniscient narrator making every failing of each character clear.

At the heart of the political debate behind the election is the clashing lifestyles of the middle class and the very poor.  It's a look into where the line is drawn between handouts and civic duty to your fellow man.  How much care we should give to our neighbors, and when must we expect them to take care of themselves.  There is no easy answer and there is not one provided in this book.  This book just looks at the people who suffer under the system and it seems like it's everybody.

This is a challenging and thought-provoking book, heavily dependent on realistically-portrayed characters and real-life issues.  It is tragic and darkly humorous, but not without some hope and charm.  Some of the characters are pompous and self-aggrandizing, wrapped up in their own small world-views, and the hope stems mostly from the younger characters who are not yet completely corrupted.  And yet for some it is too late.  There is so much in this book that makes you think about life at every stage, and though it didn't touch me on a deep emotional level, I admire it very much as a tremendous work of art.

Giveaway

In the interest of saving some space on my bookshelf (what space?)  I would like to give away my copy of The Casual Vacancy to a reader.  Open to U.S. residents only.  Enter through the Rafflecopter form below - Enter your name and email address or enter through Facebook for a free entry.  The giveaway will end on October 7th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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14 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this one so quickly, Char! I was hoping that it would prove a good read and I am really happy to hear it was such a engaging and thought provoking read.

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  2. Yes, I think you would like it! Maybe more than Alisa... not sure though! I hope you guys do an audio review of this one! :)

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    1. I think it probably would resonate with me having grown up in the English countryside (and been elected to a parish council!). I don't think we have an audio of this one planned but I'll definitely suggest it. There'd certainly be a lot to talk about! :)

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    2. Oh I think you guys would have lots to talk about! Especially as you have been on a parish council! I hope you didn't have to deal with the kind of drama that goes on in this book! Did you run for the council or were you just asked to join?

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  3. Thanks so much for this awesome giveaway and review. I watched an interview with her recently about this book and it sparked my interest.

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by! I haven't seen any interviews with her, and I really didn't know what to expect from this book. I think I liked going into it blind though.

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  4. I just saw this book yesterday in the book store for a hefty price. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. It is pretty pricey! I tried to get the best deal, but those publishers know how to get us weak book lovers. :) Thanks for visiting the blog!

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  5. I WISH my reviews were as thought-out and beautifully-written as this! I truly enjoyed reading this :) I've been jonesing to read A Casual Vacancy and I had my fingers crossed it wouldn't disappoint. I'm glad you enjoyed it!!
    First review I'm reading of TCV and the first giveaway too, so thank you early bird! :D

    Ana @ BookSpark
    http://book-spark.blogspot.com/

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    1. Well, I don't know about all that, but thank you, that's so nice of you! I hope you will enjoy TCV when you get a chance to read it. I did think people would like to read a review around the time the book came out, so I planned my weekend around finishing this book. :) Thanks for commenting!

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  6. This is so great!! Thank you so much.
    To be honest I have been on the fence about reading TCV but it definitely helped me make up my mind by reading your review! :]
    *fingers crossed!*

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    1. Oh I'm so glad that my review was helpful! I hope you will enjoy the book if you get a chance to read it! And thanks for commenting!

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  7. Woops woops woops! I entered without looking properly :p I'm not a US resident (too bad :p) so you may delete my entry if that's possible. Thanks for the giveaway anyhow :D

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    1. Aw I'm sorry, I wish I could send it to Belgium, postage is so expensive though. I hope you will get a chance to read this book soon!

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