“A Casual Vacancy” is J.K. Rowling’s first adult fiction novel. The story is set in the small town of Pagford. It is a beautiful town where many of its residents feel it is their ordained birthright to control and preserve its heavenly beauty. Unfortunately, if you happen to be the less than blessed in this small town, beware, because it is the poor that has the local parish council in an uproar.
The story begins with Barry Fairbrother dying. Barry had held a seat on the parish council and was a champion for the less fortunate. With his death, there is a fear that the council will have the power to pass a vote to separate the town of Pagford from what is known as the Fields. The Fields would be similar to what we would call public assistance housing. Get rid of the responsibility of the residents of the Fields, and the town will be saved from the savages that many on the council believe live there.
But the fighting in this small town doesn’t just revolve around the parish council, no, in this story you become a fly on the wall of all of the varied residents of Pagford. You will find a battle for power festering behind every door, be you rich or poor.
Although the story did start out slow, I was glad I stuck with it to the end. Rowling’s does a beautiful job with character and setting detail. The ending was not what I had expected, which I always enjoy. And Krystal, a teenager who lives in the Fields, will always be one of those characters I will never forget. I felt Rowling’s challenges the reader to question their views on what makes a town beautiful. Is a town beautiful because of its buildings and natural splendor, or is the true beauty found among the diverse residences that live on both sides of the track?