Oct 17, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

About 20 pages in, I got worried that I wasn't going to like this book.  Obviously with her prior series being full of familiar characters and settings, it was never difficult to dive into a book.  But with The Casual Vacancy, it's a completely new world with a mess of new characters.  Really, it's like you're jumping into your first episode of a long-running soap opera, but a soap opera that is well-written and developed.  No offense to soap operas; we all know Passions was one of the greatest things to ever grace daytime television.

Once I hit page 50 though, I was in love. 

This novel examines the divide between the social and economic classes, races, generations and genders.  A friend remarked "so it's like every history textbook ever written?" Well no.  There are no history textbooks out there that have Rowling's knack for creating well-rounded characters and ability to weave storylines together with the tiniest of details. 

There's one scene in particular that had me floored.  A dinner party caught up in political storm shows the perspective of five different characters.  The way Rowling describes the thoughts of each of the characters made me realize that Rowling understands the cryptic ways women's brains work in social situations.  If you were to ever search for a manual on how to understand women, only bother reading it if Rowling is the author.  She also understands how poverty affects people.  While this book very clearly champions the idea that there should be assistance for the lower class, she effectively presents the other opinion through many characters and the reasons behind their views. 

The narration, along with the plethora of characters, might trip readers up.  There are no visual indicators that the narration is following a new character. It just flows seamlessly from one character to the next.  It takes some getting used to, but becomes very powerful by the novel's close.

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