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Old 09-28-2012, 06:28 PM   #1
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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Anyone else reading this?

I just started. I couldn't help it, after the first chapter, "Sunday", I thought, "Must be the Avada Kedavra!"
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Old 09-28-2012, 08:24 PM   #2
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Be sure you have the "Corrected" edition!

JK Rowling's adult novel arrives on ebook full of FAIL

Its on my wish list. $19, especially for an ebook, is way past my price point.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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sun surfer, thanks for starting a thread to discuss the book. I bought it and have read the first chapter too. By now, hopefully most people realize that it is a book with adult content (and apparently lots of profanity) and asserts her views on social classes in modern Britain. I am looking forward to finding out how successful she is at bringing the characters & setting to life and weaving the web of relationships amongst them. I am also curious how easily US readers will be able to relate to the storyline.
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:32 PM   #4
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I am reading it as well. I agree that it is a very British book, even though the underlying themes seem to be rather universal to me. I like it so far (I am about 25% in).

Still, I think Rowling is as great with characters as she ever was, which makes the book very readable for me. The setting is very vivid, too.
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:37 PM   #5
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I am reading it too. : )
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Old 09-29-2012, 08:37 PM   #6
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I'm actually nearing the end of a re-read of the Harry Potter series. I've picked up The Casual Vacancy, it's next on my TBR list. I'm really looking forward to it.
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:21 AM   #7
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I'll wait for the price to fall with the paperback release.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:32 PM   #8
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Thanks for the warning, Nyssa!

I'm about 1/4 through now and I can say, this book is not at all what I was expecting! That's partly my fault, as after I decide I want to read something, I then try to read as little about it as possible beforehand to maximise the discovery element while reading. So, somehow months ago I thought I'd heard this would be sort of an eclectic colourful murder mystery set in a small town. Of course, it does involve a death and a small town, and who knows it may end up involving murder, but certainly the tone and point of this book are miles away from what I was expecting!

Instead of a colourful mystery, this is, as Bookworm_Girl said above, a social commentary, and as Marella said above, very British in nature but I think still universal in its humaneness. The characters are complex and the book's tone is often, if not exactly dark, then very grey, very much willing to show the dirty underbelly of many different characters' minds and situations. And while I was expecting a more adult book, this is without a doubt an *Adult* book, filled with profanity, abuse, drug use and thoughts on sex among other things, though used in a naturalistic and realistic way and is not overdone or forced. Oddly though, the book does have a buoyancy to it, a colourful roundedness and energy to it that is reminiscent of Rowling's Potter series, even if the colours here are often much more adult, muted, realistic and dirty.

I must say, while not at all what I was expecting, I'm really liking it! And I'm surprised so far by the quality of Rowling's writing, being a children's author before this. I'm very impressed by her empathy with so many very different characters and her astute observations of the motivations and forces behind many of them.

While I'm only a fourth into it and really have no idea how I'll feel about it by end, I can't help already finding comparisons to it. What I've thought of is that it's a little reminiscent of Dickens and his social commentary, only without a protagonist in this case, and a lot of Eliot's Middlemarch with its focus on the various interwoven lives of very different citizens of a small English town, with a healthy dose of filmmaker Mike Leigh's (Meantime, All or Nothing, Secrets & Lies) gritty realistic humanity thrown in, maybe a pinch of Zadie Smith and her colourful yet realistic style, and perhaps even a tiny dash of Jane Austen thrown in to prettify parts of the town and some of the characters on the surface. To take it one step further, it almost seems that Rowling may have used Middlemarch as a conscious influence for The Casual Vacancy to sculpt it...but those are only first thoughts; I'll need to see if I still feel the same way by end. And I'm not saying that this is as good as all those I've compared it to, only that I can't help being reminded of them in reading.

Anyone expecting anything at all Potter-eque will probably be sorely disappointed (and maybe even shocked) here, so I'd suggest being sure the description interests you before starting (though I think if you're still interested after reading this post, then the book is probably for you). Rowling certainly seems to be ambitious with this and in my opinion she seems to be succeeding so far, so it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the book plays out.

Last edited by sun surfer; 09-30-2012 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:14 PM   #9
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Thanks, sun surfer, for starting this thread and for your well-stated impressions. Most helpful!

I haven't decided yet whether I'll read it, but your quarter-through review has me leaning toward giving it a try.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:07 PM   #10
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Cool J.K. Rowling

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Originally Posted by Filark View Post
Thanks, sun surfer, for starting this thread and for your well-stated impressions. Most helpful!

I haven't decided yet whether I'll read it, but your quarter-through review has me leaning toward giving it a try.
Yeah, I just downloaded the Amazon free sample (the price for the complete book is a bit steep) and I'll give at least that much of it a try when I've finished the current book I'm reading.
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Old 10-01-2012, 01:45 PM   #11
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Glad it helped! Except for this thread, I really have no idea what anyone else is saying about the book yet since I've been staying away from any newspaper articles or reviews about it until after I'm done. Will be interesting to see what others reactions are to it.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:43 PM   #12
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I haven't read any of this novel, only your reviews, and, while being fine about this book being read by anyone over 16ish, I can't help wondering if her reputation as the writer of the Potter novels will lead to children picking up this book with the mistaken idea that this will be the start of another Potter-type series.

I'm by no means a prude, and occasionally read quite raunchy stuff myself. This was just a passing thought I had.
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:20 PM   #13
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I haven't read any of this novel, only your reviews, and, while being fine about this book being read by anyone over 16ish, I can't help wondering if her reputation as the writer of the Potter novels will lead to children picking up this book with the mistaken idea that this will be the start of another Potter-type series.

I'm by no means a prude, and occasionally read quite raunchy stuff myself. This was just a passing thought I had.
I doubt that would happen, accidentally, as it has been heavily advertised as an "adult book"! Its not going to be in school libraries, and will be in the "Adult Fiction" section at public libraries, and in book stores. Now if mom & dad buy it for themselves and leave it "laying around" thats a different story, but puts it in the same category as any other book "laying around", which is how I read a Harold Robins novel when I knew I was too young to be reading it.
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:29 PM   #14
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sun surfer, I am 50% complete. My thoughts are similar to yours. I like your comparison to Zadie Smith. Gritty but colorful is a good way to characterize the book. I can certainly visualize the village from all of the vivid details. JKR's writing style is similar to the HP books just with a more adult content. I like that the story revolves around the adults as well as their teenage children. I also like the shifting points of view. One chapter they are gossiping about a character and the next chapter you are inside that character's head for contrast. The most shocking content is in the beginning of the book. The profanity probably could be cut in half and still be effective. It does seem at times that she has gone a bit OTT to make her adult voice heard, and it's pretty easy to pick out which parts could have been cut by an editor. However, I am enjoying the book and want to keep reading to find out how it ends.
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:58 PM   #15
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I'm pleased that this thread is here. I have the sample of it, but as the e-version is $25 in the Australian Kindle store, I'm going to wait and see if I can't store-stalk for long enough to find it on sale somewhere, at some stage, some day.
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