My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There was a fair bit of sneering among some book critics in regards to J.K. Rowling’s first effort at adult fiction. One reviewer for the Star claimed the ending was “predictable,” a criticism I’ve always disliked because I’d like to see when any reviewer actually predicts an ending. But then again, when I read murder mysteries I never, ever guess the ending.
Like her later Harry Potter novels, The Casual Vacancy tends to go on a bit long and could have benefited from some editing but then, I don’t really mind length.
The characters themselves are almost uniformly awful and, as with the Potter books, Rowling targets the small-minded and prejudiced for her harshest treatment. The novel makes a fairly obvious case for compassion and empathy.
It reads like Anthony Trollope meets Irvine Welsh and despite the shortcomings in her writing, I loved it. I do think that Rowling has a brilliant book in her even if this wasn’t it.