The Casual Vacancy – J. K. Rowling

I'm more than a bit behind when it comes to blogging about the books I've been reading. I'm yet to write about what I was reading whilst in labour with Master C and when you bear in mind that he will turn one next month (I know, how on earth did that happen???) it really makes me realise just how rubbish I've been. Ever since I started blogging I've enjoyed writing about the books I've chosen to read, and it's also been lovely to look back at them all and see what I thought of them at the time.

In the early days with Master C reading books fell behind somewhat as sleep took priority, but now he's sleeping reliably at night (I hope that hasn't jinxed it!) I'm getting back into the swing of escaping from reality with a good book.

The Casual Vacancy is one of those books that was published with rather a lot of fanfare. Whilst I really respect J. K. Rowling for everything that she's done to encourage more children to read I actually got a bit bored with the Harry Potter series and gave up after book number 4. I'm pretty sure I'll end up reading them with the kids one day (and that's fine) but I therefore wasn't all that bothered about The Casual Vacancy. Friends read it and said it was worth reading, so when Ruth from dorkymum offered to lend me her copy earlier in the year I happily accepted, then it just ended up sitting on the bookcase for a (long) while. News that Ruth's soon disappearing off to the other side of the world prompted me to actually read it (and return it) and I'm very glad I did.

It's a gentle tale of life in a small English town that all starts to fall apart somewhat when one particular local parish councillor dies (hence the title, as a Casual Vacancy is what was created on the parish council by his death). Life in Pagford isn't as perfect as it appeared on the surface. There are family rifts, crumbling relationships, poverty, crime and humour all in equal measure. It's a story of what life really can be like and life's not always pretty.

I really enjoyed this book and to be honest didn't really think at all about who had written it beyond the title page. I thought the story line strong, the characters realistic and likable (except those that we were supposed to dislike) and it also had a strong moral message in it about not judging everyone based on your first impressions of them. It also made me question just how realistic the tales of perfect lives are that you hear from other people, both in real life and online. Nothing's really perfect is it?

The Casual Vacancy certainly felt a million miles away from Hogwarts! Being someone that loves crime fiction already I'm also now quite interested to try The Cuckoo's Calling which she wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, but to be honest I'll probably just keep an eye open for it in the charity shop.

I'm definitely enjoying being back in the reading swing of things though. There's nothing like escaping into a good book at the end of a long day. So what are you reading at the moment? Despite my "to be read" pile taking over the house I'm always keen to hear other people's recommendations.


  1. says

    Ooh, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Young has just read her crime one published under a pseudonym.
    I’ve read and enjoyed The Night Circus and The Crane Wife recently. Have loads sitting on the shelves too, waiting to be read, but they’re mostly big hardbacks which are not very practical for sticking in your bag and taking on a train or plane, which is where I seem to have spent most of my time recently. I’m a chapter into The Art of Fielding at the mo, and hoping to get some time with it this week :) x

  2. says

    What did Young make of the crime one then? Currently busy reading about life as a 1950s housewife – quite an eye opener. Not sure what is next in the to be read pile, but there are literally hundreds to choose from right now!

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