Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review : The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy was perhaps the most awaited book of the year 2012.It is by J.K Rowling ,the author of the immensely popular Harry Potter series.I have not read any of the Harry Potter books.This latest book by J.K.Rowling for adults was brought by my teenage daughter as she loved the Harry Potter series.I have told my daughter that she must grow up some more, before she can read & understand this latest offering, from her most loved author.

The story is about a small town Pagford in England.Barry Fairweather ,a council member dies suddenly & this leaves an empty seat at the Parish Council.His wife Mary & four children are orphaned & so are others.There are some like Colin ,the school deputy headmaster ,Simon the petty thief & Miles Mollison & his father Howard Mollison who would just like to step into that empty seat on the Parish Council.They have no idea how the teenagers,Andrew,Fats,Sukhvinder,are going to express their angst through the website .by breaching the almost nil security of the Parish Council website.This leads to a lot of anguish & shock  for the people of Pagford.

There are other characters like Krystal Weedon & her brother Robbie & drug addict mom, Terry .The description by J.K.Rowling of the mess in the home of Krystal really makes one feel as if we are visualizing it in front of us.It is also about Gaia & her mom Kay  ,who is a social worker & her boyfriend who is shy to commit that they have a relationship & would like to call it quits as soon as he can.There is an Indian Sikh family of a doctor husband & wife.The husband Vikram is handsome just like a Bollywood hero, whose wife ,Parminder  is a member of the Parish council.

Husbands & wives are  uncomplimentary as  all the masks are off.All  seem to be just biding their time.They are all looking for a venue /s to vent their anger & frustration.The teenagers are a varied lot. Sukhvinder,the last child of Parminder & Vikram is prone to depression as her mom has too many expectations from her.Andrew & Fats are chums & hang out dreaming about sex .Krystal seems to think that a baby will get her a safe home with basic necessities like a bed,a television etc.Gaia is angry, of having shifted to Pagford from London.

In the end,the teenagers emerge as the victors, as they did what they did just to vent their anger & nothing more.The later death of a teenager & her brother is poignantly described.The guilt of all, who allowed the child to just walk through & fall to death ,as they watched, lost in their own world has a lot of lessons for all of us.Were  they all seeking redemption or they really feel ,they could or should have changed the course ?All attend the sad funeral. Perhaps ,the death means a better world as the dead were scorned by the community while they were alive.This is a reflection of society.We hate those overtly dysfunctional families though all families have their faults & fissures.We will try our best  to drive out the organizations who are trying to repair.Neither shall we repair nor allow others to do so, seems to be our motto.

The story build up slowly as a myriad of characters are introduced.It gets interesting & the tempo builds up.We are engrossed  as we await the next surprise & the shock .Her language is simple & yet contemporary.

J.K.Rowling has penned a lovely tale of small town affairs.She is holding a mirror to what happens everywhere -even in our nation.Her detailed observations make one feel that we are indeed, at that place.She has empathy with each & every character & that trickles down to the reader & we become one with them .


Ritu said...

I did not like it, it is too grim and too British. HP worked as a series because it transcended countries, as do all great books. This is too grounded in U.K.

Vasudha Rao said...

Thank you,Rituji for commenting.It is grim, as you rightly said.

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