Monday, March 18, 2013

JK Rowling - The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... 
Pagford is not what it first seems.And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. 
Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Comment: This book was offered to my in the last Christmas. As I have monthly lists I tend to follow, I couldn't get to it right away but since I got it I was very curious to read it, even after seeing not so positive reviews about it out there.

This book is very different from the Harry Potter series, not only in public target but especially in theme.
It's a story about a small city in the UK, where the community lives and defends their interests, even with all the little particularities of their citizens. The action starts when one of the most active people there, part of the board of direction of the community, suddenly dies. After that, people start to reveal their wishes and we get to know their secrets and thoughts and everything is a reason to provoke others when the casual vacancy caused by that death must be replaced and when people start to think they might be suitable, the behavior and attitude among everyone changes.

I liked the book a lot. I understand why so many people didn't, but I didn't feel that way. And it's not because they were expecting something in the lines of Harry Potter, I'm pretty sure most people knew that wouldn't happen, the author has said countless times this wasn't Harry Potter.
I think the main reason most people didn't like it was because this book isn't happy, isn't simple, isn't about what we would expect from someone who created such an heroic story as Harry Potter, with so many emphasis on the good and worthy feelings of people. This new book was more centered on the bad side of people, on those secret thought we all have but never confess.
The story has many players and plots to describe here..I'm sure many reviews out there would explain and show details about what's going on. My personal take on the book is more about the main issues I think the author intended to focus on.
All the characters have their own quirks and little desires. But what I thought was more pertinent were those inner thoughts people sometimes have but never give voice to. Like Samantha and her dissatisfaction with her life or the fact she's getting older and how she idolizes a teen boys band, or about Gavin and his lack of love for someone with him, he ants the unreachable but thinks he has the right to that, or even Parminder and her knowledge of how right she is and others aren't but there's nothing she can do to make others see that...
These and more are the favor of the book. How often, in our real lives, we think this and that, we convince ourselves we're better, that our wishes or our wants are worthier than those of the others around us and no matter how right we are, we can't seem to make others realize we're the ones with reason and not them. Obviously, all the others think like us, it's a cycle..we always want to be right, to know more, to think better. In the end, the way I saw this story, the main issue wasn't the fight in the community over a social neighborhood no one wanted to claim. It wasn't about hate among family was about the little issues we let grow and rot in our conscience and how it leaks outside to our behavior and attitudes. We don't want others to have the upper hand, we don't want them to succeed before we do and we definitely don't want them to best us. But this was how I saw it, I'm sure it can allow many interpretations.

About the story itself, I liked it and I don't agree with those who say the author could have ended the book with a more positive note..I mean, she could if she wanted to, but the way things were "solved" was good enough for me. This book is fiction but is very, very close to real life and we all know real live isn't a fairy tale.
I hope someone else can read it and see for themselves. I could explain and defend my POV on this but it's a bit hard to do it if the other person hasn't read it yet. This isn't a romance, it's pure fiction, but I was quite pleased with the theme and story of this book, and yes, totally opposite and completely different from her other books. Still, in my opinion, a wonderful effort on writing about the human nature.

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