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The Casual Vacancy

(13 Posts)
Showmethemhappyfeet Tue 19-Jun-12 17:27:44

Tge new JK Rowling book. Anyone heard much about it/ going to be reading it?

NoraHelmer Tue 19-Jun-12 18:03:58

I'll probably give it a go, just out of curiosity to see whether she really can write for adults smile

fargone Thu 11-Oct-12 08:52:49

I just finished it! I thought it was about twice as long as it needed to be, could have used more twists and turns, but it was an enjoyable (if sometimes depressingly realistic, I suppose) read for the most part!

snapespeare Thu 11-Oct-12 09:07:03

I'm giving it a shot, but by page 22 theer had been 'masturbation', 'penis' & 'vulva'. I'm finding it a little difficult tbh. blush

Chubfuddler Thu 11-Oct-12 09:08:58

Like most of her books it needs a good editor, but I suppose Bloomsbury are too scared of offending her to cut much. It is good - it kind of reminds me of Susan Townsend but not funny.

TheGashlycrumbTinies Thu 11-Oct-12 09:10:04

I have just got it to read for our book club, agree, it will be interesting to see how she writes for an adult reader.

Felicitywascold Thu 11-Oct-12 09:58:22

I'm about 3/4s of the way through. It was bloody confusing to start with- too many characters (although perhaps I'm just a bit thick...). Have got into it now. But it is bloody bleak.

Chubfuddler Thu 11-Oct-12 10:30:29

I think she's almost trying to write a modern Middlemarch, which is quite an ambition, hence the cast of thousands and masses of detail about the geography of the town.

EnidNightshade Sun 14-Oct-12 10:11:50

I immediately thought of Middlemarch, too. But much more depressing. I like Rowling and broadly agree with the political point the novel seems to be making (only halfway through, tho), but I can't say I'm enjoying it. And the weird phonetic rendering of the speech of anyone not middle class is a bit embarrassing...

hugoagogo Sun 14-Oct-12 15:40:42

I am on page 70 and about ready to give up.

If there aren't going to be any characters that I can get to know and care what happens to them, then what is the point?

Felicitywascold Sun 14-Oct-12 16:13:03

Hugo, you are nearly at the point where you can start to care about some of them! she doesn't continually introduce new characters and she does eventually revisit them all several times.

Most of them (particularly the MC ones) are pretty unlikeable, vain individuals though! All of them are pretty seriously flawed individuals. And don't keep reading if you want cheering up there isn't much happiness in there. That said I'm glad I finished it ifyswim!

KittyMcAllister Fri 19-Oct-12 08:32:42

Just wondered if anyone has finished reading it and wanted to discuss it further? I am a big fan of the HP books so I was a bit anxious that this wasn't going to live up to expectations, but I did really enjoy it. I think she's really good at building up a whole, believable world of diverse & interesting characters. I agree that it's v bleak though, with no easy answers and no neat solutions at the end. Anyone else?

hackmum Mon 29-Oct-12 08:39:34

I've just finished it and really really enjoyed it. Middlemarch came to my mind too - obviously she's no George Eliot but the book has that ambition. I counted 16 major characters, whose lives are all intertwined very cleverly.

Thinking about it, I was also put in mind of Dickens - she has that same moral anger about the way the well-off wash their hands of responsibility for the poor. She does manage to make that moral anger more palatable by portraying some of those characters, such as the Mollisons, in broadly comic terms.

I was also interested in the way that there is one good man, Barry Fairbrother, whose goodness continues to highlight the moral failings of the other characters throughout the book. All the good he's done unravels. And there's the irony of the spiteful "ghost of Barry Fairbrother" messages, which are the exact opposite of his own approach, which was one of reconciliation and kindness. The ending is hugely bleak, much more so than I was expecting. (Someone on Amazon pointed out the similarity to the parable of The Good Samaritan, which is true - it's not the churchgoers who do the right thing at the end, but someone from the "wrong" religion.)

It's funny how literary critics always complain that there aren't any novelists writing state-of-the-nation novels, but when one does, they mostly hate it.

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