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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.

NicknameTaken Fri 14-Dec-12 14:10:29

I was thinking about this book in relation to HP, and I started wondering if some of the difficulty people have is that the hope she provides in HP - that a child can be neglected and abused but still protected by early love and can go on to love and be loved - is taken away quite brutally in this book. Early neglect and abuse is seriously damaging, and often it may not be possible to overcome it at all. More realistic in many cases, perhaps, but bleak all the same.

HoneyMurcott Wed 26-Dec-12 18:34:57

I loved this book! I loved how the characters were rounded - they stayed in your head for ages afterwards. Agree that the number of characters got confusing at the start, but as I read on, they crystallized and it became easy to remember who was who. Probably because they were so well drawn. Yes, it deals with real and gritty themes, and has tragic events at the end which acts as a catalyst for positive changes in several characters' lives but I didn't think this was a depressing book. Thought -provoking and at times gritty, yes. And drugs, neglect, abuse, addiction, self-harm, domestic violence, etc are happening everywhere. I would say this is right on the money. I am not a massive fan of HP, but enjoyed this book so much because the characters were so well observed and believable. (Unlike HP.) As the novel goes on, many of the characters, while still possessing many undesirable traits, do become sympathetic/understandable. Several are moved to show compassion and act from the best of intentions, which is why there is hope in this novel, even amidst terrible tragedy. I say this novel proves JK's skill as a writer. She can weave a good story, tell a good tale, provoke us to think about confronting issues in society today. And this time it is character driven. I urge all of you who have given up on it to try again!

mintyminty Thu 27-Dec-12 16:01:37

I read it, enjoyed it (even if it is more a down experience than an up one). Obviously very different to HP, but I like her style of writing.

Cooroo Fri 28-Dec-12 20:45:22

Another fan here. Although the characters were mostly not likeable I enjoyed the way Rowling showed us the way they saw themselves. I thought she had sympathy for human awfulness and also a strong sense of how we could be better.

Mind you, Game of Thrones is a great read too - another one where good and bad are blended.

PenelopeLane Sun 30-Dec-12 08:32:14

I just finished this and really liked it. I loved HP but for different reasons, and wasn't keen on reading Vacancy due to the reviews - only picked it up when my book club chose to read it. I am so glad I did as well, it took a while for me to get into it, but I thought the character development excellent and the key messages in the book to be really powerful

iseenodust Thu 31-Jan-13 18:20:09

Finally read it. Found it all overly bleak. It needed more balance than the deceased Barry. I believe there are pleasant people out there ! <Have worked in NHS so don't live in happy valley.>

Cooroo Fri 01-Feb-13 15:52:57

I'll just pitch in as another one who loved it, to balance things a bit. I enjoyed Harry Potter, but this is very different. I didn't like any of the characters, I think that was the point, but I did feel that I liked Rowling very much.

axure Fri 01-Feb-13 16:02:48

It was OK, yes a bit depressing, and not much of a story, just the boring goings on in a Provincial village/town.

Arcticwaffle Fri 01-Feb-13 21:39:15

I'm 50 pages in. I think I'll stop there, so far it seems boring, full of stereotypes, and utterly ungripping. Luckily it's a library book so I can just return it unread.

I don't think likening it to Middlemarch does it any favours, it just highlights how much it isn't that good.

fromparistoberlin Wed 01-May-13 21:54:29

i really liked it. the characters were very well drawn, and after a slow start I found it unputdownable

I agree vis a vis stereotyping (Krystal remindeds me of how Jilly Copper characterised chavs in that yukky school book she did)

But Terri's childhood, Robbie, Andrew, Fats, Shuv...she did not shy away from showing the darker side

there was one phase that jarred, at the end she said that Robbie was foul mouthed and noone cared

but he could not talk! and surely he went to nursery and had adult contact there?

I could also understand why SS left him where he was, sadly

OneHolyCow Fri 03-May-13 19:18:00

Totally agree with Bohoec.. the characters were so totally written out, everything described and it left no space.. for anything real to happen?
Horrible book and also think would not have been published as is if it wass written by another less know writer.
Love HP, hated this.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Sat 11-May-13 15:25:10

I am not familiar with HP and listened to this on audibook.
I thought it was brilliantly written and sad when it ended.
I found the different characters to be so real and her insight into human nature so spot on.
I shall definitely be looking out for anything she brings out in the future based on this book alone!

SkaterGrrrrl Tue 14-May-13 03:14:54

I liked it. I thought it was brave of her to take such a strong stand re her politics

zebedeethezebra Tue 14-May-13 14:34:31

Bin it. I only made the first 150 pages and that was only because it was a present. It found it a load of rubbish. Couldn't see where the story was going. Way too many characters, I couldn't keep up with who was who as they were all so superficial and, most importantly, there was nothing to like about the characters, so I didn't care what happened to them.

twirlyagogo Thu 16-May-13 11:21:37

It is overwritten and dated I think - very Ben Elton-ish in stereotypes I think, but I still sort of enjoyed it. I don't care if I don't like characters in books, so that didn't matter; but, the way it was so padded was a bit tiresome, as was the pontificating. I can forgive her anything though for the joy she's brought to kids through HP smile.

TwoFourSixOhOne Thu 16-May-13 11:23:30

I got half way through it, thought I could see where it was headed, googled it to make sure and then stopped reading.

FAR too depressing for me.

Southeastdweller Wed 24-Jul-13 21:05:59

Out in paperback now and bought a copy to read soon. Has anyone else read it?

EweHaveGoatToBeKiddin Wed 24-Jul-13 21:08:15

I found it incredibly boring but persevered.

And I'm glad i did.

I found the end really powerful, but it wouldn't have had that effect if not for the huge build up at the start.

JoyceDivision Wed 24-Jul-13 21:13:00

Atfirst I wasn't bothered but persevered and I loved it, really drew me in. Some of the characters are grim and depresssing but they were eerily accurate descriptions, sadly.

There is a sentance at the end of one of last chapters that I found so sad and heart wrenching. Don't wantto give any spoilers so can't really say what it is but it was the final sentance in a chapter and I was heartbroken when I read it.

Please don't compare to HP or think characters should pop in... its utterly different to that

mayaswell Wed 07-Aug-13 18:49:29

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this book. Give it a go if you've considered it but something has stopped you.

KettleCHips Wed 28-Aug-13 22:38:39

Latecomer me - but just read the book and really liked it. Couldn't put it down - thought very real to life and a big reminder of where we are in Britain. However, don't read it if you want escapism and cheering up!!

Foosyerdoos Thu 29-Aug-13 19:43:33

I have just finished this book and I thought it was brilliant. I could not put it down and read it in a couple of days. It is quite bleak and a number of the characters are vile but they seemed so real. It is the first book I have been able to finish in a long time and I would definitely recommend it.
There is an element of redemption for some the characters but no nice tidy happy endings. I think this book will stay with me for a while.
If you liked this book I would recommend 'The King of the Badgers' by Philip Hensher
If anyone could recommend something similar I would be grateful, I have been finding it difficult to find any books that capture my interest

LemonMousse Fri 30-Aug-13 13:14:17

I'm another who loved it. Yes, it's sad, yes it's bleak but it's the fact that it's real that made it enjoyable for me.

I've just passed it on to my friend to read - I suspect she will hate it but I didn't give her any pointers, just said I'd enjoyed it and that there were no wizards in it.

char1981 Sat 14-Sep-13 21:49:05

Hmmm, know it's a hard going read, but I found the end strangely rewarding (and did cry my eyes out)

FreyaKItty Thu 26-Sep-13 08:12:09

I love crime thrillers but this didn't do anything for me. Detectives to

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