The Casual Vacancy – J. K. Rowling

This is yet another time when I have to admit the impossible. I have not read a single Harry Potter book in my life. My knowledge o J.K. Rowling’s writing is limited to  reading, and quite enjoying, The Cuckoo’s Calling.

I bought this book shortly after it was published, tried to read it at some point and gave up around page 50. I just couldn’t get interested in it. This time with my brain rested I had a lot more patience and I must say it paid off. It is a really, really good book!

It describes the exact reason, why I always dreaded living in a small town – everyone knows everything about everyone and everything. Rowling shows us a town populated with people that are really difficult to like. Children waging war on their parents, wives on husbands, grandparents on their children. Life here is a permanent power-play.

There is not much happening and maybe that’s why I abandoned the book the first time round, but we do get to see every situation from different perspectives and its consequences on different households. Rowling’s characters are types, we have a fat shopkeeper, a rebelling teenager, a wife-beater, a gossip queen (more than one) etc. She gives her characters a mean streak here and a nice sentimental memory there, a touch of familiar everyday helplessness, or at least a pinch of tiredness. None of the characters is very likable, but also none is hateful, she manages to make them at least a tiny bit pitiful. Rowling infuses each of her typical characters with deep humanity, which makes them believable and the story even more horrible. There are no dark, evil villains here, just ordinary people making ordinary choices that hurt other people.

It is a book about everyday ordinary evil. The evil of negligence, lack of compassion, involvement and empathy, the evil of indifference that we see and commit everyday. It is not a pleasant read, but a scarily familiar one. Definitely one worth reading!

And I’m not saying it because of Harry Potter – I still haven’t read it 😉


This is book #17 of my 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746books.

P.S. Book #18 will not b reviewed, because it would be waste of words, so next review will be books 19 and 20

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska


6 thoughts on “The Casual Vacancy – J. K. Rowling

    1. I know! I feel a bit like an endagered species 😉 I do want to read Harry Potter at some point, it is now an important part of our culture, on the other hand I’m a bit worried I may be disappointed. I guess I’ll have to manage my expectations 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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