After some trouble with the mail system over here, The Casual Vacancy finally arrived this week and I’m trying to read it between studying breaks. So far (I’m only 50 pages into it) I’m just getting used to the characters and J.K Rowling’s style.
When I purchased it back in June, I read it was a book about a village where a prominent figure dies and leaves a casual vacancy, hence the title. From that little description, I imagined a typical English novel set in a village with the typical (and stereotypical) characters fighting for the job. In my mind, The Casual Vacancy was a modern Cranford, a modern Tamara Drewe. But as I dared to read reviews on the net, I couldn’t believe my eyes: people spoke of strong language and sex. Nothing cozy, nothing like Cranford but more like Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
Now that I’m reading it, I agree with bloggers that The Casual Vacancy is far from the edulcorated little description that came out in June. But I’m not hating it, yet. The book makes quick, easy reading for a sleepy student trying to fit some reading inbetween more books. And it’s OK. I didn’t expect another literary landmark, like Harry Potter was: let’s give Rowling the recognition she deserves for the Harry Potter series and do not expect so much from here, again.
The Casual Vacancy is, so far, a description of a little English village where different social classes clash, meet and interact, where family feuds are still alive and kids, like those everywhere else, smoke, have problems in school and at home and just try to survive while dreaming of a better life. If you’ve read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, you know what I’m talking about. It’s both a realistic description of everyday life, adorned with harsh criticism.
So, The Casual Vacancy a 21st century novel, where people have problems, swear and sexuality is no longer 100% absent from narrative. This is also a 21st century bestseller by an already billionaire author. Let’s keep that in mind.