Sunday, July 28, 2013

Portrait Of A Village, Snapshot By Snapshot

"The Casual Vacancy" by J. K. Rowlings   Little, Brown & Company   503 pages   $35

The novel is billed by the publishers as Rowling's first adult book.   After her sensational successes with the Hogswarts series, she doesn't have to write another word, but clearly she is a writer who can't not write and good for her!

I had no idea what "a casual vacancy" could be, but she explains it by quoting from the Local Council Administration which defines a casual vacancy as:   on the occasions that a councillor doesn't respond that he/she will take the job in a timely manner or when he formally resigns or on the day of his/her death.

Rowlings, not one to mess around, promptly dispatches a well-liked and popular councillor with a brain aneurism on page 5.    The ensuing chaos of replacing him takes up the rest of the book.  Jealousies, old hatreds and rivalries all surface in a number of unpleasant ways.

Among the townspeople are advocates for the local drug counseling facility and and equal amount of Not In My Backyard objectors.  There is also a movement afoot to change the town boundaries to exclude a slum known as the Fields. 

Once I got into the book, I was interested and enjoyed this read.  But it took me until page 94 to get any real sense of who was whom among that population.  Rowlings "writes long" as is said in writing circles. 

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