The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – Book 21

When I heard that J.K. Rowling was going to be writing an adult fiction novel, my first thoughts were apprehensive.  As the deadline for the novel’s release crept closer, I finally buckled down and decided I would read it (although I’m super annoyed at the ridiculously expensive Kindle price for the book).

Before you even read the book, if you are expecting a happy-go-lucky Rowling, you will be disappointed.  I made the conscious decision that as I read the book, I would not think of my Harry Potter author, but of a new author instead.  I believe that pretending she wasn’t the author seems kind of strange, but it could have been beneficial to my enjoyment as I read.

In “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling, we are just introduced to Barry Fairbrother, when he drops down dead at the golf club restaurant in the small town of Pagford, England. The town erupts into a gossipy mess, struggling amongst themselves to determine who can fill Barry’s position on the Parish Council.  The town is divided in this aspect, between two factions with opposite ideals for The Fields, a neighborhood filled with people on public assistance.

“The Casual Vacancy” is a darker novel, with scenes involving sex, drugs, physical and sexual abuse, self-harm, and gossipy townspeople.

While I enjoyed the novel, I’m not sure if it’s a must-read.  This is a tough review for me to write because I think the book was good, kept me interested, and was an interesting way for Rowling to come out as an adult writer.

Should you read it?  I think you should.  Will you love it and recommend it to everyone you know?  Probably not.  I’m left feeling not crazy excited about it, but not disliking it either.  I’m very much in the middle.

What are your thoughts on J.K. Rowling as an adult author? Are you going to read “The Casual Vacancy”?



30 thoughts on “The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – Book 21

  1. It has got to be hard to break out of the typecast perception and be judged as so. Even harder to exceed expectations when you hit a grand slam home run your first time at bat! I applaud JK Rowling for trying something new.


  2. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts- I didn’t realize it was out yet either. And yes, I admire Ms Rowling for trying something new. I think a lot of popular authors stick to a formula these days, and I tire of reading them.


    • She is very brave for trying to break out of the HP shadow, and I give her credit for that. I had a really hard time reviewing this book because I don’t know if I held J.K. to a higher standard because of my love for HP, or if I was truly honest with my thoughts on the book. I tried as much as possible to be as honest and possible, and to think of the book as written by someone else. I feel like I was as successful with that as I could be!


  3. I’m jealous you’ve already read it! I’m on the list at my local library and agree with Heather that I probably won’t read any more reviews of it until I get a chance to read it. Did you read the piece in the New Yorker interviewing her recently? It was great.


    • I haven’t read that yet, but I will check it out soon!

      I sucked it up and just purchased the book (because I knew I’d be number 4,029 on the library list), and I read ABSOLUTELY nothing about it before I read the book. I didn’t want to have any sort of prejudices or preconceived notions before reading!

      Hopefully you get it soon!


      • I’m not too worried about having prejudices or preconceived notions. I’m pretty good at suspending believe and also forgetting who/what I’m reading because I immerse myself so much in the story.


        • Good then! I wasn’t sure how I would feel, so I honestly threw HP out the window (of my brain) and pretended that the book was written by a brand new author I didn’t know. I think that helped me. Good luck with the book! I can’t wait to hear what you think at some point in the future!


    • I did not see that! But I like it! So, she conquered the young adult, tried her hand at an adult novel, and now wants to write a children’s book? She’s a smart woman! She had such success with Harry Potter that even if her other books are less successful, she’s always going to sell!


  4. Pingback: Book Thought – Immersed in Potter (Orlando Edition) « Love at First Book

  5. Pingback: Book Bites: British Invasion « Love at First Book

    • Have you read all of the Harry Potter books? I’m assuming you have! It’s a long read, and one that takes time, but if you’re a J.K. fan I feel like it’s necessary. Just start reading it with very few expectations, and you might be surprised at the book!


      • Actually, no, I have not read the Harry Potter books. However, I feel like I have because both of my kids did and they told me all about them. I have also seen a few of the movies, and my daughter told me everything I needed to know before the movies, and even during the movies if need be, to be able to fully undertand understand what was going on.


        • They still are well worth reading, even if you’ve seen the movies. It took me 5 years and Devin seeing movies 1-6 before I finally got him to start reading the series, and he felt like he understood the bigger picture that way.

          They are totally different from The Casual Vacancy, and I liked them a lot more than The CV.


  6. I enjoyed The Casual Vacancy. I don’t know that I’d count it among my all-time favorites, but it was really interesting for me to read about the politics and social climate of small-town England. I especially liked that all the characters were a big mess of flaws. I myself am a big mess of flaws- I like to read about broken people. 🙂 Thanks for pointing me toward your review!


  7. I started this one, but never finished it. I was looking at it the other day on my shelf and thinking of picking it up again. If not, I’ll get to it someday. I liked how you were honest about being in between liking it and not liking it – thanks for the honesty!


    • I try to be honest. It’s not a book for everyone but I did find it to be a valuable read. It’s not one you need to rush out and read now, it can wait. I was dying to read it, but it’s a book that sits right in the middle for me: not a love, just a like.


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