If instead of going off to Hogwarts with Harry Potter, we stayed behind with the Dursley’s the result would be this novel. The Casual Vacancy is exactly what it says it is. It’s a big novel about a small town. Rowling seamlessly blends all of the disparate lives in the village of Pagford together, showing you the entire picture of a town on the brink.
So many people have told me they hated this novel. After reading it I’m not sure why. The Casual Vacancy has everything Rowling’s writing has to offer. She narrates a tale that plays like a movie in your head. Never intrusive just laying down the picture of the way things are. There’s no magic in this novel, just the magic humans can create together. I really can relate to this novel, growing up in a small town myself. There’s so much politics in a small town and the good old boys network that wants to keep everything the same while a small minority fight for much needed change.
Pagford is a dueling town. It’s dueling with keeping the status quo or growing in beneficial but difficult ways. After the death of the town’s big fighter for change, Barry, the town is bereft. Barry left a legacy felt by everyone. The town and the people in it just come apart at the seams. They’ve lost the glue and the gusto in Barry and revert back to their petty feuds.
Rowling presents the town as the best realist writers do, faults and all. Every single character has flaws, and by the same token, redeeming qualities. No one is one dimensional. These are people that you probably know from your own life. From high school boys trying so hard to be cool, to overwhelmed parents who don’t know what to do anymore. The novel deals more with the real world than a fairy tale happily ever after. The plot builds until it’s final tragic conclusion. I won’t spill the details but the ending hit me hard.
All in all, I really enjoyed The Casual Vacancy. I liked seeing how Rowling deals with a world bereft of the magic of Harry Potter.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!