The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For me, this book was kind of like when you splurge on a high-end chocolate bar and stash it for later, only to forget about it, and then you stumble on it later and you’re ridiculously happy at the treat you hid from yourself. This was the first non-Harry Potter book that J.K. Rowling published and I hesitated to read it, because I knew it wasn’t Harry Potter, and I adored Harry Potter, and I didn’t want to be disappointed.
(I did, however, read the Cormoran Strike–and you will never convince me that’s not the coolest name ever–whodunits Rowling wrote as Robert Galbraith, and I really enjoyed them.)
So I finally picked this one up, and I am suitably impressed. Many reviewers found it slow-paced, and I suppose it is, but it sucked me in and I tore through it in two (slow) work days. It’s not highly dramatic, no; it’s not chock-full of suspense or horror. It’s not a murder mystery, despite the death in the opening chapter. It is a brilliant character sketch with all the real-life grit of Peyton Place together with dark humor and a smidge of satire, not just of a large cast of widely differing and deeply complex people, but of an entire town. Humans and town both hide secrets and flaws, jealousies and fears, dreams and desires, abuses both inflicted and endured, all of which are stirred into the pot of a suddenly open seat on the parish council, and which come to a boil in a delightfully bittersweet brew of schadenfreude.
Bookshelves: suburbia, satire, grittiest-reality, schadenfreude, alternating-povs, dark humor, brit-lit
Hard as it is to imagine, there is more to life than Hogwarts