Una vacante imprevista has ratings and reviews. I returned it to the library and my kids asked about the author (they recognized JK Rowling). They call it “denial marketing”: the process whereby the contents of JK Rowling’s books are guarded like the crown jewels until publication day. Una Vacante Imprevista = A Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling at – ISBN X – ISBN – Salamandra –

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They call it “denial marketing”: It made sense with Harry Potter, when the world and his dog wanted to know what had happened to the boy wizard and his dastardly foes.

But it creates a slight anti-climax in the case imrevista The Casual Vacancy, a novel concerning a parish council election in a small West Country town.

There are some superficial excitements here, in that the younger characters get up to things that Harry probably never dreamed of: The new book contains regular outbursts of four-letter words, along with the memorable phrase “that miraculously unguarded vagina” — which, leaked in a pre-publication profile, has caused a flurry of jokes on Twitter about Harry Potter and the Miraculously Unguarded Vagina.

Generally, though, The Casual Vacancy is a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel. Set in the “pretty little town of Pagford”, it is a study of provincial life, with a large cast and multiple, interlocking plots, drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot.

The only obvious parallel with the Potter books is that, like them, it is animated by a strong dislike of mean, unsympathetic, small-minded folk. The inhabitants of Pagford — shopkeepers, window-twitchers, Daily Mail readers — are mostly hateful Muggles, more realistic versions of the Row,ing, the awful family who keep poor Harry stashed in the cupboard under the stairs.


The book seems doomed to be known as Mugglemarch. The plot is set in motion when, on page five, its hero, Barry Fairbrother, falls down dead in the car park of the “smug little golf club”.

His death creates a “casual vacancy” on the parish council, and the forces of darkness, led by Howard Mollison, the obese delicatessen owner, see their chance to parachute in one of their own. Barry, a man of “boundless generosity vacant spirit”, had been the main opponent of their plan to reassign the Fields, a run-down sink estate, to the district council of the nearby city, Yarvil — thereby off-loading responsibility rwoling its drug-addled inhabitants, and driving them out of the catchment area for Pagford’s nice primary school.

The election heats up when scurrilous but accurate accusations, posted by “the Ghost of Barry Fairbrother”, start appearing on the council website. The Casual Vacancy rowping all the satisfactions and frustrations of this kind of novel. It immerses the reader in a richly peopled, densely imagined world. Rowling has reportedly drawn on her own mildly unhappy West Country childhood, in a village outside Bristol and then later outside Chepstow.

JK Rowling: The Casual Vacancy – review | Books | The Guardian

The claustrophobic horror is nicely done: Rowling is good at teenagers, particularly boys, and unhappy couples. The book has a righteous social message, about responsibility for others, and a great big plot that runs like clockwork; like the Potter novels, it is efficiently organised beneath its busy surface. On the other hand, the novel is very much the prisoner of its conventions.

Rowling’s underclass characters are not bad, considering they were put together by the richest novelist in history, but it’s a pity that they all use a kind imprevistq generalised, Dickensian lower-order-speak, that belongs more to literary custom than anything impdevista ever says: The plot is often predictable; it requires a large helping of artificial contrivance; and it lurches into melodrama in the final act.


The rules probably require this, and it all rattles along nicely enough, but it leaves a slight sense of disappointment.

Una vacante imprevista

No one, I suspect, reads Ijprevista for the beauty of her sentences but there is often a sense here that the language is not quite doing what she wants it to do. One character, we are told, “hated sudden death”. The metaphors regularly run away with her. One character’s sexual performance was “as predictable as a Masonic handshake”.

What’s predictable about that?

The Casual Vacancy is no masterpiece, but it’s not bad at all: I could imagine it doing well without any association to the Rowling brand, perhaps creeping into the Richard and Judy Book Club, or being made into a three-part TV ijprevista. The fanbase may find it a bit sour, as it lacks the Harry Potter books’ warmth and charm; all the characters are fairly horrible or suicidally miserable or dead. But the worst you could say about it, really, is that it doesn’t deserve the media frenzy surrounding it.

And who nowadays thinks that merit and publicity have anything do with each other? Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading?