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The Casual Vacancy | [J. K. Rowling]

The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early 40s, 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 facade 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for: UK Author of the year - Specsavers National Book Awards 2012

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early 40s, 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 facade 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.

©2012 J.K. Rowling (P)2012 Hachette Digital

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (1024 )
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3.8 (476 )
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4.1 (472 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Ben Chesham, Bucks, United Kingdom 05/10/2012
    Ben Chesham, Bucks, United Kingdom 05/10/2012 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    213
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    54
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    "Stick with it"

    Like some of the longer Harry Potter books, I found this a bit ponderous at first. But the characters, humour and the fantastic way J K Rowling has of drawing things together made for a final 3rd as addicting as any of her previous work. I greatly enjoyed Tom Hollanders reading and accents too. So stick with it if the first downloadable chunk doesn't grab you. I was very glad I did, this is the best book I have listened to this year.

    I was sad to hear that some quarters of the Sikh community have been critical of the portrayal of one of the teenage characters. The same advice applies here too, stick with it - I think the treatment of Sikhism is actually very positive.

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United Kingdom 04/10/2012
    Amazon Customer United Kingdom 04/10/2012 Member Since 2012

    carray

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    "'The book to listen to'."

    A five star book with a 10 star narrator, well done Tom Hollander, you made a great book even better.

    I have read so many reviews and as usual they are very mixed, all I can add as both a parent and a 'foster carer' this book is so true to life it will hopefully open peoples eyes to the reality of life for so many kids whatever class or creed they come from. We neglect our children at our peril, thank you

    for pointing this out to the vast majority that hide their heads in the sand.

    This book will be around for a long time to come.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LUDAKRYSSTALL romford, United Kingdom 03/10/2012
    LUDAKRYSSTALL romford, United Kingdom 03/10/2012 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing! Is this what a muggle town is like then?"

    I was intrigued all the way through by both the writer and the reader. Totally amazing story-line, so believable and precise. Anyone who rejects this book obviously knows nothing about real life. its wonderful to see that Ms Rowling can switch her imagination so far across the border to design a book with so many real life issues too!

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Marks Sheffield, UK 18/10/2012
    Paul Marks Sheffield, UK 18/10/2012 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "It was ok"

    If you read anything by JK, just because she wrote it, then I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I don't regret listening to it, but I wouldn't listen twice. It was ok, but from her, I would have hoped for better.

    (It's most definitely NOT for kids)

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Athula Abingdon, United Kingdom 01/10/2012
    Athula Abingdon, United Kingdom 01/10/2012 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
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    2
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    "Fantastic Read!"

    I don't probably have to comment on the mastery of the undisputed "Queen" of fiction's ability. This is undoubtedly a masterpiece. But, here, my comment is on the narration and the narrator. Tom Hollander is just the icing on the cake crafted by Rowling. His reading is wonderful, a la-carte, music to the ears. I hope all narrators use this as a "classroom" lesson on narration. I am glad Audible has added this to their collection (I am sure they would not have missed). For the first time I felt listening to the book is better! Highly recommend. Although I must say, I did not see the point in so much swearing, was it a necessity or somebody out there was trying to prove a point?

    27 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    judith canary wharf, United Kingdom 07/10/2012
    judith canary wharf, United Kingdom 07/10/2012 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    294
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    "Well obviously it was going to be competent"

    I've just read the review in the Guardian by Theo Talt, who coined the phrase 'Mugglemarch.' I had almost thought of that myself, and boy I wish I had. But George Elliot had kind eyes for some of her players and I could sympathise with Dorothea and Dr Lydgate, and (call me sentimental) I have to be able to love some of the characters in a novel, to find it worthwhile. Who is there to love in Pagford? So is JKR saying we are all selfish beyond redemption, get real? Please give me nobility in the novels I read, even if it does not exist in REAL life. But, to be fair, didn't put it down except to eat.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Athula Abingdon, United Kingdom 01/10/2012
    Athula Abingdon, United Kingdom 01/10/2012 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic Read!"

    I don't probably have to comment on the mastery of the undisputed "Queen" of fiction's ability. This is undoubtedly a masterpiece. But, here, my comment is on the narration and the narrator. Tom Hollander is just the icing on the cake crafted by Rowling. His reading is wonderful, a la-carte, music to the ears. I hope all narrators use this as a "classroom" lesson on narration. I am glad Audible has added this to their collection (I am sure they would not have missed). For the first time I felt listening to the book is better! Highly recommend. Although I must say, I did not see the point in so much swearing, was it a necessity or somebody out there was trying to prove a point?

    19 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Manchester, United Kingdom 22/10/2012
    Carol Manchester, United Kingdom 22/10/2012 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "she's lost none of her touch"

    You couldn't get further away from Hogwarts if you tried, yet the same strain of storytelling genius runs through-that's about the only similarity I can find. JK could have easily decided to hang up her typewriter forever and rest on her HP laurels-good for us she didn't. This woman can't half tell a yarn.

    Mills and Boon this isn't-I'd be putting at least a 15+ rating on this book.

    Hope she's started the next one.



    btw, really surprised about the number of one star reviews-maybe they're from people who are struggling with the book because they haven't seen the film yet?

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audible London, United Kingdom 13/12/2012
    Audible London, United Kingdom 13/12/2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Mixed feelings for a book with high expectations"

    A Review by the Audible Staff Book Club:
    About the book:

    The Casual Vacancy really got us talking, we were expecting a lot from Rowling, and had mixed opinions about the results. Set in a small town, peopled with a large cast of not-terribly-likeable characters, we thought the world she created was detailed but unforgiving. Unlike Harry Potter, where her world could be fantastical and wonder-ful, Pagford was realistic, almost brutally so. We all agreed that while JK Rowling is a good prose writer, the size of the cast, though interesting individually, made the thread of the story a bit difficult to follow in audio. As she was so detailed about painting the picture of the individual lives in this small town, we felt like the action dragged somewhat, and all felt like it was a long slog. Rowling’s observations were brilliant, we agreed that she can hit the spot with a poignant one-liner, but overall we felt the book itself - if not by Rowling - would be deemed by many more as mid-tier – nothing extra special or out of the ordinary.

    Narrator:

    All of us were initially surprised that the narrator was male, though we discussed whether he was chosen as the voice of Barry Fairbrother… Our general opinion of Tom Hollander was that he did a good job, especially as we felt the characters as written were a little caricatured. He did not fall into the trap of performing stereotypes, especially in regards to female characters - always difficult for the opposite sex to strike the right balance. If we were able to rate separately for narrator, he would have got 4 stars.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    h London, United Kingdom 14/10/2012
    h London, United Kingdom 14/10/2012 Member Since 2011
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    "Brilliant."

    A fantastic story with wonderful characters. I finished it last night and now I miss Pagford.

    I love the multiple perspectives we get from all the interrelated characters. In this respect it reminds me a little bit of Irving Welsh novels, but it is not as brutal.



    Tom Hollander is the very best narrator I've listened to. More from him please!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 203 results PREVIOUS1221NEXT
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  • Michael
    Beverley Hills, California
    01/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't have expectations!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    Rowling excels at providing the reader with complex characters - almost as if you are first looking at the shadow from a cardboard cut-out, a shallow cliche that slowly grows in complexity for good or ill. I came into the story with few pre-conceived ideas as to what I would find - other than there would be no magic.

    Indeed, there was none. There was life, in all its hard brutal reality, starkly painted and unforgiving.

    A book to enjoy for its difference.


    What about Tom Hollander’s performance did you like?

    Tom Hollander provides an even pace and warm tones that do not distract from the story.


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • debra
    rosanna, Australia
    05/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Reality - and exceptional insight"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. I can't wait for more people to read this. It's a very true portrayal of marginalization and the light and shadow of intimate relationships.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Both Crystal and Andrew haunt me. Their circumstances, vulnerability and strength evoke empathy and hope for their happiness. Rowling understands duality in humans where the good and the bad sit alongside each other. She shows the irrefutable reasoning behind life choices we otherwise criticize.


    What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Great reader! He easily moves between the accents to embody the characters.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I can't forget the final scene.


    Any additional comments?

    I wonder if the reason for negative reader reviews is due to their expectation of fantasy based literature. The very realist style of this book is its strength.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Clare
    Doncaster, Australia
    19/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "don't listen in an open car"

    As I said in the opening the language was quite startling and considering I was driving through a car park listening through the speakers in my car with the roof down, I had to quickly turn it off in case I caused offence. Now I am prepared for open spaces.
    JK Rowlings knows how to set a scene and does it just as effectively in this tale. It is quite a dark story and whilst I am only half way though I really wanted to warn people that they may not want to play it aloud in the earshot of others.
    The characters are great and the story is gritty, would I listen again? Probably not but am I enjoying it, yes.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Jenny
    Landsborough, Australia
    31/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Why was there no warning re graphic content?"

    This book was so depressing if I had continued listening to it I would have had to go on medication. No likeable characters, no redeeming features for any of the protagonists. I think Rowling's thought process was "What can I write about that's the complete antithesis of Harry Potter" ?

    The writing must be good as I always was feeling the need for a hot shower to scrub clean. I may one day get hold of a paper copy to make sure all the horrible people get their just desserts, but I can no longer listen to it in the car when I cannot fast forward and have to listen to the foul, depressing distasteful things described in this book.

    If I never read another word about adolescent sexual 'awakenings', particularly those of spotty masturbating boys, it will be way too soon. A tired subject that bores me no end and was never worthy of any literary merit.

    Horrible, horrible book. It will be a long time before I spend my money on a JK Rowling book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    03/12/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ordinary Story - exceptionally written!"
    Would you try another book from J. K. Rowling and/or Tom Hollander?

    Yes, very well written, just a very trivial average story


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Completely.... It was just so detailed about average life!


    What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Vey well narrated


    Do you think The Casual Vacancy needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jo
    Holland Park West, Australia
    03/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow - but Wonderful Characters"
    If you could sum up The Casual Vacancy in three words, what would they be?

    Different, individual, sad


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I must admit, it was slow to begin with and hard for me to get into - but that is only because it is a style I'm not used to reading, NOT a reflection of the writing.

    The ending was heartbreaking, and I expected to be left with something more - but there wasn't and that was a little disappointing, but the story was just that, a story. It had no message or hidden agenda, just a story about ordinary people in a hard situation.


    Which character – as performed by Tom Hollander – was your favorite?

    I think he did them all very well.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me laugh and cry and angry and lots of emotions. A good emotional roller coaster.


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone expecting or hoping for something similar to HP should look elsewhere. It's sophisticated and mature. Not for someone who is squeamish of swearing or sexual reference or abuse. Anyone who feels offended by the harsh brutalities of life should stay away.

    For myself, I loved the brutal honesty. I loved that she didn't shy away from the horrible aspects of life. I loved the nature of this book and how she purposefully lays bare those things about life that scare people and the way she shows how those things affect us. There is no sugar coating, and she tackles it all beautifully.

    I was heartbroken by the ending, but I was also a little disappointed - it took me a long time to get into the story, but once I was into it, I was committed and frankly I expected a bit more from the ending. However, I now believe there was no specific purpose to this story, it was just a story. And it was a heartbreaking, yet beautiful one at that.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jan
    HORNSBY NSW, Australia
    24/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If she had used a non-de-plume..."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    ...Maybe it would have been read on its merit rather than its author's achievements.And who may enjoy it more? Not my friends.
    I have to admit that I could not finish this book.


    Would you recommend The Casual Vacancy to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. If I do not like it, I do not reccommend.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • matthew
    PerthAustralia
    20/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "no no no crude rude and I hate the C word."
    What would have made The Casual Vacancy better?

    could not believe it expected exciting adult fun and its boring town council with crude words and teenage sex and drug taking.. did not expect it .. I am in my 50's so no child ...


    Would you ever listen to anything by J. K. Rowling again?

    give it a go


    What didn’t you like about Tom Hollander’s performance?

    dull and he even sounded bored with the telling.. but good voices


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Casual Vacancy?

    the amount of the swearing it was toooooo much. I do not care that it is the way of the world now but tooooo much for me. good luck to all that like it....


    Any additional comments?

    got warned sorry I paid to hear this and I have 1000's of audio books from a great variety of authors... including of course Harry Potter.. I did not want another Harry but wanted an experience of sensual adult excitement with no magic written.. I got mmmmmmmm.. new school kids that are rude and crude.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Sandra
    Auckland, New Zealand
    17/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sadly disappointing"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If this book had been written without every sentence containing negative sexual content, and instead kept to a story base, it would have been an OK read, a book like many others. I do not think it lived up to her previous writings at all.


    What could J. K. Rowling have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    J K Rowling has a supreme gift of word use which comes through at times. However, this is so overlayered by the negatives that her gifts unfortunately do not shine.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    As above, I did not enjoy much about this book. My least favourite from Audible.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Not much


    Any additional comments?

    Having seen a book written by J K Rowling was at last available on Audible I was delighted. Unfortunately, this did not measure up to my expectations. I found the book unpleasant and not worth the credit nor the time I spent listening to it. Out of the 19 hours this book takes to read, I listened to two and three quarter hours, waiting to see if it would improve. It didn't. In my opinion it was a sad waste of talent.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Dee
    McLaren Vale, Australia
    05/10/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Love it"
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    The writing style was great and I found that I was immersed in the story.


    Any additional comments?

    As good as HP

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
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