The reviews so far have been mixed, to say the least. The Daily Mail’s Jan Moir asked herself whether the book lived up to hype?
“On balance, I would have to say no. Not unless you want to have more than 500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature crammed down your throat.”
Christopher Brookmyre, writing in the Daily Telegraph, enjoyed it. “One marvels at the skill with which Rowling weaves such vivid characters in and out of each other’s lives, rendering them so complex and viscerally believable that one finds oneself caring for the worst of them.”
The Casual Vacancy will not hit the heights of Harry Potter – more than 450m worldwide sales – but it is likely to go straight to the top of the fiction bestseller chart – the question is: how long for?
Rowling’s hope for Reading Experience? Tears.
The book is unquestionably for adults. Lawson said he had noted the book’s themes when he was reading it: drug addiction, rape, alleged paedophilia.
“It’s a cheery book,” joked Rowling. “Clearly a comedy … good beach read.” …
JK Rowling’s new book has been out less than 24 hours and some who have read it all have admitted tears at the ending.
And that’s how she wants it: “I don’t think I would have much to say to anyone who did not at least tear up a bit,” she told an audience.
“I don’t think I could have any kind of warm feeling towards someone who didn’t feel sad towards the end.”
Generally, though, The Casual Vacancy is a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel. Set in the “pretty little town of Pagford”, it is a study of provincial life, with a large cast and multiple, interlocking plots, drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot. The only obvious parallel with the Potter books is that, like them, it is animated by a strong dislike of mean, unsympathetic, small-minded folk. The inhabitants of Pagford – shopkeepers, window-twitchers, Daily Mail readers – are mostly hateful Muggles, more realistic versions of the Dursleys, the awful family who keep poor Harry stashed in the cupboard under the stairs. The book seems doomed to be known as Mugglemarch.