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Okay, I know it’s not Fiction Friday, but I just finished reading “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling, and wanted to talk about it here.

First of all, I’m one of those people who read this book for the pure and simple reason that J.K. Rowling wrote it.  It’s not really the kind of book I would have picked up otherwise.  Here’s the basic plot:

When councilman Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in the small town of Pagford, the rest of the town seems to fall apart at the seams a little as others struggle to fill his council seat and his role in the town.  Dirty secrets are revealed, the course of whole lives are changed, and the reader is treated to a real insider’s view of the hidden lives of prominent and not-so-prominent citizens.

My impressions? It was certainly well-written.  The characters were as vivid as any Rowling creation, and I had no trouble at all picturing them or the town.  But…I really, really didn’t like this book.  It’s the kind of book that you put down, and feel immediately like your world is a dark, depressing, horrible place.  True, there were bits of light at the end of it, but my takeaway from this story was how truly self-involved most people are, not thinking about others or the consequences to others of their actions.  There were three characters that I actually liked, and the rest…well.

On the other hand, it does shed light on some very real social issues, and the story is woven together very well, so for people interested in this kind of story, it’s good.  Just be prepared.  Rowling has said it, and I’m going to repeat it – this is not Harry Potter.  It’s nothing like Harry Potter.  In fact, it’s as far from that story as it is possible to get.  I knew that going in, but still failed to grasp the reality until I was halfway through the book.

And then I read this article, which made me very happy.  Especially the bit about possibly writing other stories set in the Potter world…here’s hoping.

How about you? Anyone read or planning to read “The Casual Vacancy”?

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