A First Look At Casual Vacancy

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to grab a copy of J K Rowling’s new book The Casual Vacancy from the city library.  It is definitely not Harry Potter. No dragons, wizards, or Quidditch, it is an adult novel with swear words and other mature content. The publisher calls it a black comedy while Rowling in one interview called it a comic tragedy. It’s about a man who dies and the aftermath that ensues.

While it’s still early to say that this is a good book or a major disappointment, I would like to share some of the sentences that amazed me.

From the first line:

Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner. He had endured a thumping headache for most of the weekend and was struggling to make a deadline for the local newspaper. (pg. 3)

To this:

At four in the morning, he had realized that his wife was awake too, and they had talked quietly for a while in the darkness. Even as they discussed what they had been forced to witness, each trying to drive our vague feelings of fright and shock, feathery little ripples of excitement had tickled Miles’ insides at the thought of delivering the news to his father.

To this:

Evertree Crescent was a sickle moon of 1930’s bungalows, which lay two minutes from Pagfords main square. In number thirty-six, a house tenanted longer than any other in the street, Shirley Millison sat, propped up against her pillows, sipping the tea her husband had brought her. The reflection facing her in the mirrored doors of the built-in wardrobe had  Misty quality, due partly to the fact that she was not wearing glasses, and partly to the soft glow cast over the room by her rose-patterned curtains. In this flattering, hazy light, the dimpled pink and white face beneath the short silver hair was cherubic.

To this:

Andrew Price closed the front door of the small white house and followed his younger brother down the steep path, crunchy with frost, that led to the icy metal gate in the hedge and the lane beyond. Neither boy spared a glance for the familiar view spread out below them: the tiny town of Pagford cupped in a hollow between three hills, one of which was crested with the remains of the twelfth-century abbey. A thin river snaked around the edge of the hill and through the town, straddled by a toy stone bridge.

Rowling is still a deft, crafty, compelling author. I am excited to read this, yet I know this book will either a very good read or a true bummer that I put down very disappointed. I am hoping that it will be good read. I hope that this book, at least for Rowling will answer with an emphatic yes that there is life after Harry Potter.

I will post a fuller review once I have finished it.

Until then keep reading.



  1. She’s so good at the craft of writing, I’m just scared the plot of this novel will be a let down for me. I’ll have to come back and see your full review 🙂

    • So far, so good. I am only about 50 pages into it, but it is good. There are things that remind me of the Potter books, but it is different. Have you got a copy of the book, yet?

  2. Looking forward to the review 🙂

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