Friday, August 16, 2013

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Disagreeable people often make the most interesting characters in a book. J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy has so many disagreeable characters she has created a real page-turner, despite a mundane sounding plot concerning an election for a village council. Only Barry Fairbrother, who suddenly dies at the very beginning of the book, seemed to be decent and sincere. The others either seethe with anger and resentment or smugly bask in unwarranted self-esteem. Mr. Fairbrother’s sudden death creates a vacancy on the Pagford Village Council. He had grown up poor and worked his way into the middle class without forgetting his roots.  As a member of the council, he was the strongest supporter of the public housing complex called The Fields where the poorest Pagford citizens live. After his death, several people announce their intention to run for the vacant seat but none have his leadership abilities or empathy for the residents of The Fields. Gossip, lies and dirty tricks undermine the campaigns and reputations of several candidates as well as some of the current council members. Hostility to the public housing residents is the single issue driving the election. Many of the residents of The Fields, particularly the Wheedon family, have so many problems they cannot make an effort to even appear to be the “deserving poor.” But in Pagford, all the citizens have faults and weaknesses. Moral superiority and decency does not necessarily come with education, money or class. 

Check out The Casual Vacancy @ the library! (Perhaps while waiting for your hold on The Cuckoo's Calling!)