The Casual Vacancy

Editorial reviews

The Casual Vacancy

There's no denying that Rowling is an incredibly imaginative and creative author. It's just such a shame that, here, her imagination got away from her.

I'm going to end this review now for fear of rambling on either further. Yes, I liked the book. Would I read it again? Probably not. Was it worth the wait? Hmmm... maybe, I'm still undivided. Will I read whatever she publishes next? Most definitely, and I already cannot wait. I just hope it's nothing like The Casual Vacancy.

Maybe this novel is just a snapshot of a weird thing happening in a small town to a bunch of people. And if that is the case, then I can’t really fault it because, as she does with her other books, J. K. Rowling keeps those pages turning.

"The Casual Vacancy" might be described as a black comedy or a comic tragedy, but either way, it's awfully grim.

In short, if Potter lovers can get past the absence of obvious magic in “The Casual Vacancy,” they’ll find themselves in surprisingly familiar territory in which, perhaps, a subtler form of magic, this of the literary variety, is being practiced.

The Casual Vacancy is admirably ambitious and manages to say a great deal within its extremely narrow focus, showing the sort of deep scars that can result from even the pettiest circumstances.

It’s a big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent novel of contemporary England, rich with literary intelligence and entirely bereft of bullshit, and if it weren’t for Rowling’s stringent security measures it would or at least should have contended for the Booker Prize.

The Casual Vacancy is no masterpiece, but it's not bad at all: intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny.

Ultimately, The Casual Vacancy is a book that understands there are no magic wands.

The real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd that “The Casual Vacancy” is not only disappointing — it’s dull.

The Casual Vacancy will probably be a fundraiser for the cause, but that doesn’t make it a good novel.

In summary, "The Casual Vacancy" is a good, though not great, book about small-town, small-minded England. What else did you expect?

The book is quite punishing to read and the view of human nature it takes is more fundamentally lowering than that of the most cynical French aphorist.

Much of the book I admired, even if I didn’t love.

The Casual Vacancy is also an elegy for Rowling’s ordinary life.

Rather, it is little more than a backdrop, a stage set, its lack of depth an emblem of Rowling's inability to engage us, to invest us sufficiently in her characters, young or otherwise, to reckon with the contrivances of her fictional world.