The Casual Vacancy – The Saga of a Town

You might have seen that I haven’t been posting any views on any books recently. Not because I haven’t read any, but nothing of any importance. Some were the quick reads to take away the day’s stress. But the ones I had wanted to read were so lengthy that I had to put them down the moment I picked them up and wait for the weekend to arrive. Finally, I did complete ‘The Casual Vacancy‘ today. Now I can have another grilling week ahead at work.

I love Harry Potter. Even though I will acknowledge that all the books were not that great, the concept of it (My favorites were the first 3…those were the best), the fantasy, the characters. It was like a whole new world, where I can lose myself and enjoy it with them. I always fancied myself as a witch ;). To let in on a secret, part of my screen name comes from my favorite character in it. Because of my loyalty towards Harry Potter, I sort of postponed reading this book, because I know I will be prejudiced about my expectations about the writer and I had long decided that unless I am sure I will put aside the fact that it is J.K. Rowling’s book and see her as just another author, I will not be reading this. This weekend, I was convinced that I could do that and here I am.

First of all, its a lengthy book, with almost 7 parts to it. You definitely need a lot of patience to read it. Its a drama. A social drama. No fantasy, no happy endings, no romance, nothing. Its like you are put in a town divided between Pagford and other part called as ‘The Fields’. You are there to witness the drama and the life that unfolds in that place starting with the death of a Parish Councillor. What follows is a ripple effect where people loyal and close to Barry Fairbrother try to take on the ones that were against his principles. He was sort of a cushion that held the two different sections of the society in a cordial relationship with each other. With him gone, there evolves a story of everything human; jealousy, revenge, quest for power, drugs, rape, societal prejudices, caste and color based name it and you have it. Its what you and I would see in our own community. I ain’t going to go into the story, because to tell that huge story with all the nitty gritty details would be writing a novel by itself, albeit a short one ;).  The irony of it is, that the whole set of events (<<<Spoiler ahead>>>) that happens in that town bringing out all the nasty side of the people around (and some good sides of it too), starts with the death of a person and guess what, all those events come down to a dramatic sort of settled peace with not one with two deaths at the end. People’s beliefs are shaken up, trusts misplaced, secrets revealed, love lost, family regained, friendship missed and gained and one thing that everyone goes through is pain in one form or the other.

I am not sure what J.K.Rowling’s obsession with death and suffering is, but at least it was well documented in this. We have an Indian Sikh couple along with the religion finding some place in it, which is commendable. It takes some time to get used to all those people around you know. It is like you have to made to shift to a whole new society and you are trying to get to know each of them. There is too much text about each character, which I found a little bit boring at times, but it helps you understand them in a better way. Unless you are ready to read all those you read in newspapers and watch in the news channels to be seen in a story which is shrunk to a single town, you shouldn’t start this. It is definitely a daunting effort, but well worth it at the end, when it all comes down like a stack of cards only to have the scales balanced at the end even though lives are lost in the process.

Definitely a very good effort, and my only complaint is that it was way too lengthy for my comfort.



3 thoughts on “The Casual Vacancy – The Saga of a Town”

  1. I really liked the book. Great observations on society. None of the characters were particularly likeable but it all gelled together. As far as it being too long, most of the last HP books were huge! This was shorter than some of them! 🙂


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