The Casual Vacancy: A Read-Along Part 2 (Sort Of)

Today we you are posting our final thoughts on The Casual Vacancy. 

So, you guys, I'm just going to come out and say it; I did not finish the book. This is not a DNF because it's horrible, it's a momentary DNF because I have been crunched for time. I am a terrible host and I apologize, because it's a total buzz kill to sign up for a read-along and then have a terrible host. I could get into things like the 3-day wedding festivities I partook in over the weekend and the extra hours I've been putting in at work, but I'll just say I feel like an ass and that's that.

Please feel free to link up your final thoughts below. I will post my final thoughts upon completion and come back to the linkup to read yours. Until then, please accept my apologies and know that I feel terrible.


  1. Don't feel terrible! Sometimes real life gets in the way of blog life, and that's how it should be. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book -- I did.

  2. Don't apologise - real life comes before blogging and thank you for running this at all. I hope you do finish the book soon; it definitely isn't a DNF title.

    Also sorry if I spanned the Mr Linky but I've been having trouble with them on my phone lately and wasn't sure if it had worked.

  3. Is it a bad sign a temporary DNF?

  4. It's ok.. I could barely write anything to do because I felt there was so much to discuss. Maybe a little overwhelming. I'm looking forward to your final thoughts. Great choice for a read along title!

  5. No worries. I still haven't finished it either. In fact I've barely made much progress from where I was last week. I just cannot get lost in this book. :(

  6. Real life happens! Looking forward to your final thoughts when you do finish it.

  7. Well, I did it. I finished the book last night. I will say that I finished it in a flurry of page turning, because the third act, as it were, was quite compelling. So I’ll share some thoughts here and will warn of possible SPOILERS below.
    I’ve seen that a lot of you have had hard times getting lost in this book and I can completely empathise. The recurring suggestion of having put in a Pagford family tree truly would have been a great addition to the book, because I still can’t help feeling that I missed out on some character development early in the novel for the basic fact of not knowing who was who and how they related. I can say with some degree of certainty that by the end of the book I know who everyone is and I find myself actually missing this group of losers, wierdos, manipulators, weaklings, abusers, psychopaths, self-aggrandizers, sycophants, survivors; essentially, humans. I think this book was a very courageous work. Knowing the overwhelming expectations and visibility of the Project I am struck by the true darkness and depth with which Rowling unapologetically explores the private lives and interconnectivity of people. The ending of the story is tragic, yet there is happiness to be found. There are some successes and some failures, but up to the very last sentence the author is brutally honest about the lives of people. I don’t think she is necessarily judging the townspeople – there is an awareness of human frailty, willful self-delusion and all of the human machinations that allow us to survive the horrible events one endures in one’s life. There certainly is no vast happiness to be found in this book. I suppose that in the end the most unlikely of characters finds some degree of triumph, but when framed by the tragedy that bears this fruit, it’s hard to celebrate a true moral victory. I can’t decide if Rowling is sympathetic to these characters at all and consequently if I am sympathetic to any of them. It’s a grim view of humanity to be sure; perhaps an honest one and certainly a very contemporary view, however I think I need to have some sympathy for these characters because even in their aloofness … well, I don’t know exactly how to say it other than that life can be hard and everyone finds their own path to happiness. Now of course this doesn’t really apply to Krystal, Robbie, Terri and Obbo. Pure horror there. There’s really nothing good to take from that. They were something of the fulcrum of the story – the embodiment of the societal issues on the table in Pagford and the final failure of this community (or maybe to some Pagfordonians [?], the success).

    I think Vikram could have been a little more fleshed out to give Parminder some context – it would have made her character and her plot line much stronger. I really liked her and she sometimes felt like the most tangible vision in the story – the outsider, enmeshed in the culture, but still separate by profession and race and able to objectively see through the machinations of the town. However, Vikram remained an enigma and did little to really explain Parminder and her relationship with Sukhvinder.

    I don’t want to prattle on too long. Overall, it was a very interesting read. I would say again that the imagery was so strong – I have a very clear sense of place and time. The story was dark – too dark for me to really strongly recommend it as a read. I think also it took too long for the story to find it’s legs – the first third was painful to get through and I considered at various points just bailing out. Were it not for this read along I might have, but in the end I’m glad I made it through. I think we can look forward to the next work by Rowling with the same excitement going into The Casual Vacany, if for no other reason than to see if she works out some of the kinks of this book. She is an amazing story teller and working this many different characters into a viable narrative is incredibly difficult, but she did pull it off. If one has the fortitude to actually make it to the end that is.

  8. Thanks for starting up this read along (Only my second ever) - I don't know if I'd have read the book if you hadn't. I have very mixed views of the book (see my blog - http://read-sew-crochet.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-erratic-reader-strikes-again.html) I read it rapidly and thought that I was enjoying it but ended up with a feeling of dissatisfaction. Hope you finish it soon - have enjoyed reading everyone else's comments. Judy.

  9. I haven't finished this book yet, didn't look at the spoilers here. I am currently reading/reviewing this book on my blog chapter-by-chapter: