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Has anyone read J.K. Rowling's "A Casual Vacancy"?

(59 Posts)
Jacksmania Sat 01-Dec-12 04:21:45

I'm about a sixth of the way through it and it's really bloody depressing sad
I enjoy her writing so much and I want to keep going to see what happens, but f* me, so far it's just grim.

Bin it (well, delete, I paid $2.50 for the eBook so it wouldn't hurt too much), or keep going?

Spoilers welcome, I just have so little time to read these days, that I want to know I'm not wasting my time. I have the entire Game of Thrones series to switch to if this one's a lemon.

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DuchessofMalfi Sat 01-Dec-12 07:04:12

Got my copy from the library and I'm going to start it this weekend.

ninjanurse Sat 01-Dec-12 11:23:01

I thought exactly the same thing. Very bleak and grim. Is middle England really like this? And such dislikeable characters too. Also, TOO many characters - I wanted one of those character lists at the front of the book so I could work out who was related to who.

It was ok book, not brilliant.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Sat 01-Dec-12 11:26:00

I started it but got bored. I am a massive HP fan and I'm very disappointed.

QueenofNightmares Sat 01-Dec-12 14:53:01

I did finish it even though it is incredibly depressing I really didn't like it I'm afraid and I loved HP sad I just wanted more for the charcters who deserved so much more than they got.

I don't feel like the book would have been published if it was by a lesser known author to be honest as a lot of it was just terrible "the pain sliced through his head like a wrecking ball" being a good show of how awful it was in places.

bohoec Sat 01-Dec-12 15:58:54

I finished it, but it was a bit of a drag. No happy ending either (sorry - you did say you didn't mind spoilers, so hope that's ok!).

I just found the overly descriptive style quite claustrophobic - it didn't leave any space to bring your own imagination and interpretation to the characters or relationships. I didn't mind the bleak narrative - that felt quite realistic in parts! I would say these characters are the worst of middle England all in one village - I hope there isn't really a place like that, but I did recognise some of the character traits in people I know / know of!

I personally can't bear not finishing a book, but I know what you mean about wanting to get on and read / watch other things you might enjoy more. I'd say persevere and finish it - it does pick up the pace and the characters start to become more complex rather than just one dimensional descriptions (which really irritated and confused me fir the first third of the book).

I wouldn't rush out to recommend it, and totally agree Queen - it probably wouldn't have been published if it wasn't J K Rowling!

Jacksmania Sat 01-Dec-12 16:20:44

Ugh. I don't have time to read depressing shit.
Bin, I think. Thank goodness it was cheap.

On to Game of Thrones!!

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Jacksmania Sat 01-Dec-12 16:22:18

Actually, this reminds me of A Thousand Splendid Suns. Great writing, but utterly depressing and no happy ending. Well, for Leila but not Miriam. sad

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StickEmWithThePointyEnd Sat 01-Dec-12 16:51:34

I felt like she could have at least have Petunia Dursley turn up somewhere. Surely all that scandal would have been right up her street.

LaCiccolina Sat 01-Dec-12 16:54:21

Nope. I bought 50 shades based on others saying how good it was. It was dire.

I'm avoiding this one.

Babybeargrylls Sat 01-Dec-12 16:59:33

I couldn't finish it and it was upsetting me too much, thought story was drawn out, pointless and awful characters. I never quit a book but this was the exception

Newshoesplease Sat 01-Dec-12 17:00:45

I agree that there's too many characters. I've been stuck on page 50 for weeks, I can't keep up with who's who! I think it's beautifully written but I just don't care enough about any character to plough on!

hackmum Sat 01-Dec-12 19:07:26

We have had a couple of other threads on this - I really enjoyed it, but I appear to be the only one. I thought the ending was really powerful.

GettinTrimmer Sun 02-Dec-12 22:46:57

I agree hackmum I found the ending profound.

It's worth sticking with until the end. Some of the awful Petunia and Vernon Dursley type people were reassessing their attitudes.

Don't want to give anything away but it was sad the extreme circumstances were the only factor that could have changed them.

Did the book remind anyone of Middlemarch? I liked the way JK Rowling navigated her way through recounting conversations taking place in people's houses and laid bare what was going on behind closed doors.

Graceparkhill Sun 02-Dec-12 22:55:22

I got stuck about 25% into the book and then later decided to persevere . I thought the characters were well drawn and some of them had happy endings and some didn't so realistic I suppose..

The last part was so grim I almost stopped caring( not expressing myself well)and that protected me from being too upset. I think she could have covered the same ground but allowed for more optimism.

I have never read HP so had no expectations of JKR. I wil read her next one( v generous of me to give UK's most successful author a second chance)

hackmum Mon 03-Dec-12 09:20:14

GettinTrimmer - yes, I suspect she had Middlemarch in mind when she wrote it. I think one of the achievements of the novel is to include so many characters and to show how their lives interweave - not many novelists can handle more than four or five central characters, ime. She also has a very Dickensian moral focus, with a real anger about how poor people are treated by the better off. Then there's that very Christian ending, which mirrors the parable of the good Samaritan and people being forced to confront their attitudes. I also think it's very clever that she has the influence of Barry Fairbrother hanging over the book - the one unequivocally morally good person who inspires other people to behave better, but who fall apart when he's no longer there. All in all, I think it's a pretty impressive achievement and it's a shame so many people don't like it.

valiumredhead Mon 03-Dec-12 12:29:55

I'm a couple of chapters in - it's better than HP wink

GettinTrimmer Tue 04-Dec-12 20:25:04

In a strange sort of way the way she wrote the ending offered hope of the good being brought out in people albeit they were shamed into it sad

Hackmum I read Middlemarch years ago for A Level and I remember reading George Eliot's profound analysis of the motivations and inner life of the characters; JK's novel isn't as long as Middlemarch but I agree she does develop many of the Character's inner lives.

She got some humour in at the end (I really don't want to give anything away!) which was a lovely tribute.

Emphaticmaybe Tue 04-Dec-12 22:57:47

I liked it.

I bought it really wanting to like it because she seems like an all round, decent sort and I agreed with her politics so I was pleased when I did. However I only read the first Harry potter and wasn't a massive fan - it all seemed a bit derivative to me (although the kids enjoyed them) so there was nothing to be disappointed about with her taking a different path with this book IYSWIM.

I agree with Hackmum - it was quite Dickensian which I liked and the multiple characters were surprisingly well-rounded. Also I went to school with a girl very much like Krystal and grew up in an area that bordered a sink estate very much like the Fields and for me the 'them and us' divisions in the book rang true.

DontForgetTheSproutsLawrence Tue 04-Dec-12 23:00:19

My mum (a non-HP reader) has recommended it a lot. Depends on your outlook, I think?

NicknameTaken Wed 05-Dec-12 11:20:07

I wouldn't exactly use the word enjoyable, and I won't re-read it, but that said, I find that it has lingered on in my mind more than most books. For me, it was surprisingly powerful.

fedupwithdeployment Wed 05-Dec-12 11:23:16

I think I will give it a go...

lauraellajane Mon 10-Dec-12 13:32:49

I've tried it but had to give up, I just can't find a thread to keep me hooked at all.

Did anyone see JKR's interview about it? There was a BBC programme devoted to it. I found the interview really interesting - her vision for the book and her reasons for writing it coming out of her background, and her sense of unfairness about society. She did say that the only likable character is supposed to be the one who leaves the Casual Vacancy, and of course he's dead so I didn't start the book expecting to bond with any characters but I agree - it is pretty depressing!

I'll pick it up again in a few months I think, sounds like it's worth sticking out to the end.

DuchessofMalfi Mon 10-Dec-12 14:12:22

I've got about 125 pages to go. It's been good, but has needed a lot of concentration to keep track of who's who.

I keep misreading Yarvil as Yeovil. It's supposed to be set in the West Country, so wondered if that was the town JKR had in mind. And, of course, I now see Sherborne as Pagford. Where did everyone else think of for these two places?

DuchessofMalfi Wed 12-Dec-12 14:23:29

I finished reading it last night. I liked it, but what a depressing, upsetting ending. Don't want to plot spoil, but my DS is virtually the same age as Robbie Weedon, and I was sobbing.

I wonder whether JKR will want to revisit Yarvil and Pagford in the future. I'm sure she could find more to say about these often grotesque characters.

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