'The Casual Vacancy' by J.K. Rowling

Staff PicksSoutheast Library

'The Casual Vacancy' by J.K. Rowling

The Casual VacancyWhen a children’s librarian is looking forward to an adult fiction title, it means only one thing: everyone is looking forward to this title too. And as the author of one of the most popular children’s fiction series of all time, J.K. Rowling had her work cut out for her.

The most important thing to remember about The Casual Vacancy is that this is character driven story, NOT a plot driven story. In other words, you have to be introduced to everyone, and that takes time. But stick with it, because the characters are richly written. It's very British so there are some phrases that take some getting used to. The development of the relationships between the town and its inhabitants and the intricate nature of the stories involved, make this a compelling read.

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly, the quaint little town of Pagford is shocked. But that shock quickly subsides and a bitter battle begins for his council seat. This novel is full of conflict: the wealthy at war with the poor; teenagers at war with their parents; wives at war with their husbands; teachers at war with their students; neighbor against neighbor. The election slowly becomes a metaphor for all of the other issues at hand. Deeply topical and timely, the highlights of the story are the lives of the children of Pagford, as Rowling again demonstrates her ability to write in the voice of children and teens.

This title is still quite popular, so look for The Light Between Oceans by M.L Steadman or Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk as alternatives.