Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy is the first book for adults written by the popular children's author, J K Rowling. The story is set in the small English town of Pagford with the main plot revolving around the consequences of the death of Barry Fairbrother, a member of the Parish Council, particularly the need for an election to fill the casual vacancy caused by his death. Gradually we meet members of a number of families living in the town as well as in the neighbouring community of The Fields. The adults are mainly unpleasant people with secrets that are gradually revealed. Their offspring are also a troubled group trying to survive in this dysfunctional community. Barry's death provides the opportunity for the Council to attempt to enforce the closure of the Bellchapel Clinic, a service assisting drug addicts. Barry Fairweather had been a great supporter of the Fields community and some of his friends initially attempt to carry on his work adding to the tensions among community members. This is a book about the disintegration of relationships and trust leading ultimately to disaster. It is hard to like many of the characters though some, such as the social worker, are trying to understand what is happening and try to improve what appears to be an impossible situation. It is only after tragedy that there is a glimmer of hope. Although few of the characters are likeable, I enjoyed reading this account of life and conflict in a small town.