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Synopsis

A big novel about a small town...

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?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

Book Reviews

The Casual Vacancy
Average rating
3.5 / 5
The Casual Vacancy
March 28th, 2015
Stark, flawed, bleak view of life in a villege. No one was a winner. Showed the hidden hierarchy of such sequestered groups.
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1 review
The casual vacancy
March 27th, 2015
Very well written,I could not put it down. The characters are believable, and the story line keeps you wondering what comes next.
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1 review
The Casual Vacancy!
October 29th, 2014
This story starts slow and draws you in! Before you know it, you are at the last chapter of the last page! You are left wanting more of this small village!
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1 review
A Casual Vacancy
April 22nd, 2014
A reasonably well written novel with a storyline which seemed to just touch on the personalities of the characters. I was left with no great knowledge or understanding of who some of these people were. The characters were all a little unsavory. In this lovely little town every family had a grubby little secret. Just too much gloom, underhandedness and sorrow!
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1 review
Casual Vacancy
April 5th, 2014
Small town politics and drama, not my thing.
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1 review
Very impressive!
February 26th, 2014
A truthful and incredibly rich tale of the disparity between comfortable and poor, this story highlights the fact that one can never really know what goes on inside someone else's existence. This book will be going on my list of all-time favorites.
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1 review
Not your usual J.K. Rowlings
February 23rd, 2014
I have just finished this book....I have not read any of her previous books, which would be entirely different then this one. This was a hard book to finish....it did not hold my attention, and I found there were too many characters and very hard to keep the straight.
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1 review
February 13th, 2014
As a big Harry Potter fan I was unsure what to expect from J.K. Rowling in her first adult novel. Although The Casual Vacancy was very different to the adventures at Hogwarts, the vividness of Rowling's writing and the characters she weaves together in the small town of Pagford kept me hooked and still thinking about the novel after I was 100% complete. The story brings to life characters who you may wish you had never met but as the book progresses you begin to see into the thoughts and the reasons behind the many actions that have teens rebelling against their parents and the system. I was transported to a small town in England in a way I had never been before and although there were painful moments, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
January 29th, 2014
This was not the magic stuff of Harry Potter, but I was captivated by her writing nonetheless. Despite the characters being wholly unlikeable, they were so vivid, as JK Rowling seems to excel at. The plot left me feeling often awkward and uncomfortable, however, I was still intrigued to read on all the time and I was satisfied with the ending.
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1 review
The Casual Vacancy
January 26th, 2014
This was a good book but had many upsetting turns and deaths, which isn't my style of book. A nice and welcome change was the non plot base and that it was almost like everyday life.
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1 review
January 26th, 2014
This book was a decent read. JK Rowling is indeed a good writer. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. It was a tale of a small town's people and how they all end up intertwining with each other in some way. Definitely an adult read (40+).
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1 review
January 24th, 2014
Initially the premise of the story sounds a little far fetched - 2 towns that have been fighting over council borders for more than 50 years, however J.K. Rowling weaves her particular magic as the story progresses to draw the reader in. The story is less about the political argument and more a commentary on modern day England and how people can fall through the cracks of a society. Her empathy for the characters and how people can end up in particular circumstances is also insightful. The story continues to gather momentum with an ending that is both expected and unexpected. It also raises the question about the value of local councils and what they actually contribute to the growth and development of communities. A definite recommended read and without a trace of fantasy or make believe in it.
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1 review
1 of 2 people found this helpful
January 23rd, 2014
Very interesting novel. I like the way that J.K. was able to write such a riveting by getting into the lives of regular folks in a small town. Her analysis of human nature is very sophisticated. This book doesn't have spells or wizards and witches, but it's magic is in the complexity of the characters and their tangled lives.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Not an easy read, nor a particularly happy one, but an apt study in selfishness and weakness and its impact on those affected by it, particularly the young.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Rowling writes about real people - people with complicated traits and motives and real desires and aspirations. Her insight into these characters introduces us and asks us to examine our own motivations and take a closer look at interactions with our own friends and acquaintances.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
I found the book very slow to start but after that I really enjoyed it. Lots of twists and turns - great read.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Often ugly and raw, The Casual Vacancy is not what I expected. Thank goodness. Life in the little town of Pagford and its ugly neighbour, Yarvil, is examined with an uncomfortably close focus. The characters are flawed and generally unlikable, and are presented in an almost documentary style manner. Their interweaving lives are messy and a there is a palpable sense of desperation. A gripping and rewarding read.
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1 review
January 22nd, 2014
An entertaining tale of small town politics , skulduggery and passion; Stereotypical class friction and the angst of adolescence.
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1 review
January 18th, 2014
I was looking forward to reading this book but had a hard time really getting into it because of the many characters and how they related to each other. Once I got through this part of the book, I couldn't put it down.
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1 review
Not impressed
January 1st, 2014
No matter how much I want to like this book it just feels like its dragging on & on...
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1 review
Meh
December 26th, 2013
Slow moving. Wasn't bad but wasn't amazing.
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1 review
The Casual Vacancy
December 25th, 2013
Rather hard to take, such internal emotions expressed that it was hard to finish the book. Seemed rather disjointed to me
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1 review
Worth the read
December 17th, 2013
Hard to get into for the first 120 pages or so. But once into it is an amazing novel. Dark and different.
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1 review
December 14th, 2013
I waited with anticipation for the release of her next book after the Harry Potter series, but was thoroughly disappointed with Casual Vacancy. It might have been a better read had she not thought it necessary to use every bit of foul language there is. Maybe she was trying to depict a certain class of society but I'm sure that could have been accomplished without having to use so much bad language. I did not finish the book and will not buy her next one.
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1 review
November 9th, 2013
I really enjoyed this book. Good writing, interesting characters and an involved story line. At first I had difficulty keeping all the characters straight but got through that. Well worth the tim!
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1 review
November 9th, 2013
I found the story depressing and not what I would expect from J.K. Rowling. I read the shorter version that was on a Kobo reader and have no desire to read the rest of the book.
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1 review
November 9th, 2013
Big novel about a small town written by a big author with results mildly successful. It just does not meet with the expected panache and excitement of previous author's claim to fame. Fans expected too much. Overall, good tale, nice story: disappointing has it does not meet allure of previous writings. Leave it the fans to expect too much.
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1 review
November 9th, 2013
I think she tried too hard to write a book for adults. The story was a bit slow and the use of some of the foul language really was not necessary.
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1 review
November 9th, 2013
I liked this book, there was a lot of characters to get to know but they become unforgettable. In the style of the Harry Potter series the good guys come out on top.
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1 review
November 6th, 2013
Storyline a little too much, long & overwhelmed with details!
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1 review
November 3rd, 2013
I found this book a little slow and somewhat hard to follow. Did not hold my interest.
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1 review
November 3rd, 2013
It's not what I expected from Rowlings. I thought the book was very narrow and not well written or thought out. Many of the characters were two dimensional.
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1 review
November 2nd, 2013
An interesting story after her work with the Harry Potter series. At times I found the story line depressing but overall I enjoyed the book.
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1 review
November 2nd, 2013
I enjoyed her book, but quite a change from the Harry potter books. I found the book a little slow at times but all in all I did enjoy it.
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1 review
2 of 2 people found this helpful
November 2nd, 2013
I was surprised by this book. After hearing the initial reviews that it wasn't anything like Harry potter and it was full of foul language, my expectations were low. However, j.k. Rowling tells a gripping story about life for children from a disadvantaged background and the challenges they face daily. Excellent read!
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1 review
Well layered...
October 28th, 2013
Like a good lasagne, with layers, multiple favors, lots of body, and rich texture, this was a wonderfully complex tale of small town lives, public and private, that go crashing headlong into one another. Riveting.
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1 review
October 12th, 2013
Another finely crafted story by one of the best.
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1 review
October 4th, 2013
Reading The Casual Vacancy convinces you that the author has spent decades listening to all sorts of people, noting their use of language, and reading their unspoken motivations - competition, envy, malice, fear, and rarely, love. In literature, as in life, we hope for better things for children. We want to believe that they can shake off the injustices and nastiness that they cannot avoid, and have happier lives. In Rowling's novel, we can believe that a few can suffer a little less; others live or die in the influence of their abuse by parents, neighbors, or peers. This is a tough read, but very well-written. Its great strength is each character's union of appearance, speech, and action. You could meet them (not that you'd much want to) any day and recognize them.
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1 review
Different is just as good.
September 7th, 2013
I love all of J.K.'s work!
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1 review
The Casual Vacancy
September 4th, 2013
A very bleak read. Rowling seemed determined to make this book the antihesis of her fantasy series. She succeeds but the book is populated by stereotypical characters with few redeeming qualities. The writing was done well enough to keep me reading but at the end I had a sense of relief that it was over rather than the satisfaction of enjoying a good read.
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1 review
Not worth it
September 4th, 2013
The beginning was promising, but then it just kept getting worse and worse. I felt like I had to finish the whole thing to really give it a chance, but would not recommend this book to anyone.
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1 review
August 31st, 2013
so boring...was not expecting a harry potter....but was expecting a story worth reading at the very least.
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1 review
Unexpectedly Good
August 25th, 2013
Not what I was expecting. A little difficult to get into. I'm a Maeve Binchy lover, and this had a similar feel to it.
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1 review
The Casual Vacancy
August 24th, 2013
Excellent. Loved it
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2 reviews
The Casual Vacancy
August 24th, 2013
Excellent. Loved it P
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2 reviews
Casual vacancy
July 29th, 2013
Slow to grab my attention but hard to put down once all the characters were established
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1 review
Casual vacancy
July 23rd, 2013
Another wonderful write!
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1 review
Ugh
April 19th, 2013
I've tried at least 4 times to slog through this book, it's boring, and tedious. Save your money, don't buy this book. I only gave it one star because I can't rate it a zero.
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1 review
Done!
April 1st, 2013
A little slow to get started but in the end I am glad I read it. Wasn't at all what I was expecting though.
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1 review
Great book
March 6th, 2013
This was a great departure from Harry Potter for Rowling - interesting, well developed characters shine here. it would not be fair to call the novel plotless, but its plot plays second fiddle to the quirks and endearments of the people Rowling created to explore the moral, social, ethical and political issues of our age. Highly recommend.
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1 review
Not Harry Potter
March 3rd, 2013
A long read. Took awhile to get into it, but ended up bring pretty good.
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1 review
An easy read...
February 18th, 2013
This book takes a little while to get into, but after the first few chapters it gives you a good sense of how a community works from the inside out. This book can easily relate to most of our own lives in some way or another. Overall, a good read.
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1 review
God read
February 10th, 2013
It starts a little slow but if you enjoy stories of people from all walks of life and the challenges that make us who we are. You will enjoy this intense read.
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1 review
Very English
February 6th, 2013
Rowlings first adult book is a long worded soap opera. It is very English dealing with an absent position in local politics. Lots of characters so it is hard to keep track of them. A lot on class differences and the problems of lower socio economic population. Not a happy ending. Took me along time to read as I didn't really like or indentify with anyone.
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1 review
Intriguing...
January 31st, 2013
A great look into the going ons behind closed doors.
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1 review
Great Read
January 30th, 2013
Very detailed character building and a story that pulls you in.
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1 review
Terrible!
January 1st, 2013
Not a very good book. Took me forever to finish it. I haven't read Harry Potter but I suspect with all the fervor it was better written than this one!
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1 review

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