Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Casual Vacancy

J. K. Rowling's big novel about a small town 

Once more Rowling’s keen insights and well-explored characters produce a stirring and absorbing read. But first, you are wondering, what the heck is a "casual vacancy?" Glad you asked. A direct quote, printed at the start of Part One:

6.11 A casual vacancy is deemed to have occurred:
             (a)  when a local councillor fails to make his declaration of
                  acceptance of office within the proper time; or
             (b)  when his notice of resignation is received; or
             (c)   on the day of his death…
(Charles Arnold-Baker, Local Council Administration, Seventh Edition)

And by the by, People, the “councillor” to which Spell-Check objects is the fault of Mr. Arnold-Baker, not me!
J. K. Rowling

So now you know, and we’re all on the same page.

Pagford is a small, picturesque town with proper, traditional values. But as we all know, proper, traditional folk are rarely as they seem. So when Councilman Barry Fairbrother (yes, Rowling still has her penchant for descriptive names) dies unexpectedly, his vacant seat triggers an immediate polarization of the community. Rich are at war with the poor. Wildly profane teenagers are at war with their parents. Wives vs. husbands; teachers vs. students, and on and on. It’s clear it will all culminate in tragedy, but it happens horribly and in a most unexpected way. It’s also clear that while kids run rampant through its pages, this is a novel for adults. Just so you know.

The blurb on the back cover says: “blackly comic, thought-provoking, and constantly surprising.” It is that.

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