Author: J.K. Rowling
Edition: Edizioni Salani (italian translation)
Pages: 553 pages
I've meant to read this one for quite a while and finally put it on my Christmas wishlist. Mom bought me a hardcover copy of it, pretty expensive but with a unique charm if you ask me. Hardcovers win a special place in my bookworm heart. If only they were cheaper...
Anyway, it took me a while to read it all, I've been busy with this story for three weeks and admitt I have been on the verge of giving it up at least a couple times in the first week. That was of course a shock to me who had big expectations on it. But I made it to its end, had to wait a couple more days to reorganize my feelings about it and now I can offer you all my own (very personal) view on "The Casual Vacancy".
Plot: You can't think of writing down a plot of this book, hopeing to fullfill the task without taking the risk to spoil the fun for future readers. And of course I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone. I will keep it general and write down what's on the backcover of the book.
"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 facade 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 bigger war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?"
Of course the story is not only that. Actually, the election is only a background, it's what lies behind that makes the book rather than the mere political war among members of a parish council.
The reader gets involved in as many as 8 families stories. It's not only a matter of generational conflict, there's much more than it: rape, drugs, sex, violence, abuses... It's all but an idyllic place to live in!
My opinion on the book: First adjective I think of when talking about "The Casual Vacancy" is LONG. I've always thought that a book cannot be too good a work when the reader points out about its lenght. In this case I must tell that, even if being long is not a positive attribute to the book, its lenght is what kept me from giving up the reading. I had pages and pages ahead of me and that kept me going, in the hope the story would develop in a less dull and happier way. Then, past its half I was already 250 pages into a story and hooked with each characters' story and just couldn't put it down, even if not completely thrilled with how things were developing. I admitt "The Casual Vacancy" is not one of my favourite books and it won't surely win a favouirte 2013 reading place either. I do love J.K.Rowling style, as always. She would be an amazing writer even if writing instructions of a recipe! I mean, she's THE author who stole my heart with her Harry Potter saga. But this one book has nothing to do with Harry Potter, this is muggle-land and the worst type of muggles are met through the pages: you find old couples who have a facade happy life but decades of betrayal behind their backs, forty-something mothers who daydream on their teenage daughters' favourite boybands to escape an unhappy marital life, abusive fathers who make a hell of their sons' lives, teenagers who cut themselves to feel alive, teenagers who deal with incapable mothers (may it be for their lack of communication skills or because they are under drugs). And I could go on for long.
After 500-and-more pages I thought I was entitled to have a decisive ending, that for some characters I had (and that left me gutted), but for most of the people involved in the story we have no ending. We leave them dealing with their lives and know nothing of how their existences will develop further. We do not bid farewell and that left me with a sense of non-fulfilment.
I loved some parts of the story, though. I loved the way it's painfully real. I loved J.K.Rowling's skill to picture nowadays society so true and so in accordance with what we hear everyday in the worst pages of the news.
I am still critical about her last work. There's no hope for the reader. The story leaves its readers with a heavy heart, with no hopes that the future will hold a better time for human race. I have been with a heavy heart for a couple days and I couldn't make up my mind on this book untill now.
I would still give "The Casual Vacancy" three stars, because in spite of being a sad, dark, harsh, unfinished story, the style of the book is fresh, the plot is well drawn (except for the last chapters through the end that give the reader the impression the author was on a hurry to finish the book!) and each character lives in front of your very eyes. I was so angry with some of said characters that I would have beaten them had they been real! So, this wins J.K. three stars!