J.K. Rowlings debut novel for adults worth a read
“The Casual Vacancy” (Little, Brown and Company), by J.K. Rowling.
So look, here’s the thing: This. Is. Not. A. Children’s. Book. If you’re looking for what made Harry Potter magical — Wizards! Spells! Flying Broomsticks! — you’re not going to find it.
If you’re looking for what makes J.K. Rowling magical — emotion, heart — you will.
“The Casual Vacancy” is the first novel written for adults from Rowling, the successful-beyond-belief author behind the “Harry Potter” series.
“The Casual Vacancy” is scheduled to come out today and has been held under tight control, with media outlets required to sign non-disclosure agreements before being permitted to see the book. The Associated Press declined to sign such an agreement and instead purchased a copy early.
It’s gotten early buzz from references to sex and drugs that might be a tad mature for the youngest “Potter” fans.
It’s set in the small British village of Pagford, and tells the story of what happens after the unexpected death of a town official leaves a vacancy on the town’s governing body. A long-simmering conflict over what the solidly middle-class village should do about the residents of a poverty-stricken, drug- and crime-infested housing project on the edge of town gets heated, interwoven with the personal lives and problems of Rowling’s characters.
The ability to bring her characters to their emotional life was a hallmark of the Harry Potter series — it didn’t become a global phenomenon just because it was an exciting adventure, but because there was a real heart to it, characters who had both strengths and weaknesses, who struggled with their choices.
That’s what makes this book worth it, despite a slow start and sometimes too much of the descriptions and adjectives that added life to Harry Potter but at times tend to bog Rowling down here. That’s what makes the book’s ending scenes so heartbreaking — turning the page seems unbearable, but not as much as putting down the book would be.