I wanted to post something short about The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling because of a few reviews I saw, including one in the NYT. And based on these reviews, if I were an average reader who was thinking of purchasing TCV, I might be a little confused. I’m not disagreeing with the reviews. I’m just offering another opinion in case anyone is confused. And take into consideration that I’ve never read “Harry Potter,” nor do I ever intend to read HP. So I’m reading J.K. Rowling for the first time with TCV, and I have nothing to which to compare it.
But I know how to vet reviews when I’m shopping for books, and I know how to read between the lines of these reviews to know if I’ll like the book or not. I don’t always pay attention to the glowing reviews either. Of course it’s always a gamble with something new, but I decided to buy TCV based on the negative reviews because most of what I read in those reviews that other people didn’t like sounded like things I might like.
And I was right on target this time. I bought the Kindle version late last night and read well into the early hours of Saturday morning. First, the e-book is fine. I read somewhere there were issues with formatting; I didn’t find a single issue so far. I did not see any mistakes at all in formatting, nor have I seen any other problems so far. If I do, I will post more about that. But as it stands, the quality of the e-book is just as good as any other I’ve read before. And I tend to be very particular about formatting based on my own experiences with my own e-books.
So this is a “so far” review, in case anyone is thinking about buying the book but isn’t sure. I’ve only read the first third of the book and these are my opinions…so far. I like the characters and don’t think they are dark and gloomy. I think they are real, and they remind me of a cross between the characters in an Anne Tyler novel, in a Jonathan Franzen novel, and in a Grace Metalious novel. If you don’t know who Grace Metalious is, look her up. It’s worth the effort.
The storyline begins with something shocking…our worst nightmare…and takes off from there by getting into the lives of people who live in a small town in England, Pagford. Try not to read the Amazon blurb because it gives out a spoiler right away. I didn’t read it and I’m glad I didn’t. It would have ruined the first two chapters for me. Aside from this, it seems to be about family, about the interaction between couples, and about small town relationships with friends. For those who live in small towns or are familiar with small towns, you’ll find yourself relating to more than a few things.
It’s also well written and moves quickly. Nothing offensive like so many things I see nowadays in fiction with respect to said bookisms and bad dialouge tags overloaded with adverbs. This writing is tight and concise. There’s nothing that will take you out of the storyline. I tend to be particular about these things as well. And when someone like J.K. Rowling writes a novel like this I’m expecting her to live up to her reputation. And so far she has. I don’t have one single complaint.
That’s about all I can say for now. I will post a full review when I’m finished reading. I hope this might help someone who is thinking about buying TCV but isn’t sure because of the reviews they’ve read so far. It didn’t take long for the author to pull me into the story and that doesn’t always happen. And I don’t have that “I’ll keep reading and hope it gets better” feeling. This time I can’t wait to pick up my e-reader and get back into it.