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The Truth And Nothing But The Truth – J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy
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The Truth And Nothing But the Truth – J K Rowling\'s The Casual Vacancy

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” - starts Leo Tolstoy his best-known novel revolving around the life, passions and disappointments of Anna Karenina.

This quote could be the motto of The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling's first book after the mega-seller Harry Potter-series, from which she kept the dark, complex narrative, but left out the magical world of the child wizard.

The Casual Vacancy Is Adults Only

Aimed this time to a grownup audience, the book presents an intricate, but realistic portrayal of a British town, digging deep into its neighborly, working and family relations, where the thin crust of polite coexistence hides a thick layer of egoism, exploitation and contempt. The story starts with the death of a local councilor which provides a perfect opportunity to present the players and motivations of the town's political games, opening our eyes to the narrow-mindedness and selfishness of the people involved.

The book continues to exhibit various social issues which would seem so distant from the usual idyllic depiction of the traditional picturesque English town. Instead it shows us the true problems and personalities behind the pleasant facades of seemingly well-oiled family relations. If unhappy families are all different from one another, then a book about such matters could be an inexhaustible account of exciting intrigues.

The gap between appearance and reality is interesting enough by its own, but it's the brutal, yet reviving honesty of the prose that makes it even more exciting and unexpected, every page full of real drama, untamed feelings, raw responses. Remember the orphan Harry, who couldn't just conjure himself a less hostile world even with this magic wand, or couldn't bring back his dead parents with any spells or potion?

It's this kind of realism which made J. K. Rowling's previous books great, and keeps you spellbound to The Casual Vacancy as well.

On top of the quick-paced stories which make it impossible to put down the book, the point-of-view narrative is presented by an eloquent, yet somehow detached narrator. She conveys the feelings and thoughts of her characters as accurately as to understand the heat behind their motivations. But the distance from which she exhibits her character's faults and weaknesses, results in a surprisingly funny text, a tragicomedy of human errors.

Exciting story, dark intrigues whirling around in the background of a picture perfect town's life, family dramas ready to erupt and a narrative voice full of ironic understanding. Can we ask more from a good book?

There might be readers who would regret the lack of supernatural beings, but The Casual Vacancy makes up for that with a very natural portrayal of how people really are. This is an adult book in all the positive and negative sense of the word, an adult view on life with irony, honesty and intricate relations lacking the cliches and quick answers of an easy holiday read, but rewarding the persistent audience with so much more.


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