Monday, 16 September 2013

Aren't human beings interesting?

I have just finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and I was practically in tears while reading the end. I thought that such a good read was worth sharing and I wrote a post to that effect on my Facebook page.

Reactions quickly followed but they were not what I had expected... Two of my friends declared they had never read anything so dull.


Now for those who haven't read the book, the title refers to the death - and concurrently a vacant space - of one of the members of the local parish council. This event reveals a division between the inhabitants of Pagford, division caused by a council housing estate, the Fields, attached to the parish and thus making Pagford's primary school the catchment area school for the children living on the estate.
Follows a battle to fill the empty space, causing fears, resentments and animosities to surface.
True, the story is slow paced. True, none of the characters is at first particularly likeable. But all the characters are profoundly human and intricate, and very well described. I couldn't help feeling repulsion, irritation, or pity for them.


Several of the key characters are teenagers, all struggling with one thing or another but none quite as much a Sukhvinder, bullied  and entertaining suicidal thoughts, and Krystal, daughter of a mother too far gone into drug dependency to ever get out of it, Krystal, living a squalid life, trying her utmost to protect and keep close to her her three year old brother.

The story culminates in the election to the parish council and some tragic events that will cast a completely different light on the characters, especially again, I felt, Sukhvinder and Krystal. In these last events the character of Krystal reminded me of Snape in Harry Potter, both shrouded in darkness and yet shining, unknown to most, of indomitable courage and love, both also irremediably subjected to human weaknesses and failings.

I just don't understand how could anyone with the least interest in human beings could not be moved by that ending.

Dull? I don't think so.


  1. That does sound really interesting. I wonder if those that found it dull were expecting a Harry Potter paced book or similar?

  2. Possibly yes. I know fairly well the reading tastes of one of them and she's definitely more into thrillers kind of books and stories with a bit more 'sensational' in them! But I just loved the real and credible aspects of this one.

  3. I've read it and I absolutely LOVED it. I was in bits at the end. Like you say, very few of the characters are likeable, but there was nothing dull about it. It was a completely riveting read.

  4. Thank you Sarah! That reassures me :)
    I found it riveting too. I know that people have different tastes but I was really shocked by these judgements!

  5. I am a few chapters in and while I am able to put it down, I am really enjoying it.