There was no way to avoid the hype for The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling’s first venture into adult literature. It seemed like everyone was curious to see if she could write something worthy of following Harry Potter. And so was I. I don’t think that she is a tremendous writer, I mean, she’s no Steinbeck, but then again who is? But I loved the storytelling in Harry Potter and became infatuated with the world that she created in those books, much like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, I think. So I was expecting a good story but thankfully, did not think, or wish, it would be anything like Harry Potter.
The Casual Vacancy did not disappoint me. It even made it in my top 5 favourite books of 2012. I thought it was a great story. Not a happy one, and definitely not particularly pleasant to read, mind. There were times when I was furious or disgusted and even more times when I didn’t want to turn the page as I suspected what unpleasantness would come. The first part of the book is significantly slower as Rowling is setting the scene and introducing all the characters, but the second part had me hooked. And I thought the end was incredible.
I read in a few reviews that people were bothered by the swearing in the book. I wasn’t. I thought it was used in a way that made sense, it was fitting with the character’s mood and background. Surely no one is surprised that a teenager who lives in a dilapidated house in an estate and deals with drugs and abuse on a daily basis has bad manners?
So if you’ve not read it yet I suggest you give The Casual Vacancy a chance. But perhaps, try to not think of it as a book by Harry Potter’s writer. And be prepared for some very uncomfortable subjects. Might I suggest you chase it with a bit of P.G.Wodehouse? Because if you are looking for something to lift the spirits, that’s just the thing.