I enjoyed reading this book. It was quite close to what I was expecting, a decent easy read with a good plot and some humor in spite of the dramatic aspects of the plot. It describes some aspects of life in a fictional small town in South Western England and the events that follow the death of a local parish councillor (the parish council in this context being like what I would think of as a city council). The book was rather long and took me about 21 hours to read (thanks to Kobo for tracking reading time). As I did not expect in depth social analysis, I don’t have the same kind of disappointment that other reviewers have told about.
I would have like to see the resolution of more the plot lines. We are left to wonder about what is going to happen to many of the characters at the end of the book. Mind you that is a good way to leave readers thinking and imagining their own endings, and maybe it leaves room to publish a sequel. So let me speculate about possible sequels.
Sequel Number 1:
The Price family moves to Reading and Simon continues to bully and mistreat all family members. One day, he hits Ruth really hard and she ends up in the hospital brain damaged. Paul, the youngest son, trips his father at the top of the stairs and the fall is fatal. Andrew moves to London to be closer to Gaia and his mother shares a flat with Gaia’s mother, Kay the social worker. Gaia and Andrew have stayed friends with Sukhvinder in Pagford. The Jawanda family is also undergoing some changes. Parminder regains her licence to practice medicine but also volunteers at the drug clinic. Vikram leaves his wife and is being ostracized by the Sikh community. He remarries with a young English nurse who has young children. While spending time with her father’s new family, Sukhvinder discovers that she has a knack for taking care of young children and decides to become a teacher. This new found purpose in life enables her to better cope with her learning disabilities. This sequel will describe the trials of Paul with the youth justice system, Ruth’s challenges with rehabilitation, Vikram’s attempt to be accepted in a conservative English family, and Sukhvinder’s delights at finding fulfillment in her studies and her work.
Sequel Number 2:
Fifteen years later, in Pagford, a council member discovers that some illegal activities of former council members. He decides to research these activities which lead him to interview a number of retire council members, some of which are still living independently, some of which are in retirement homes and some of which are in long-term suffering from various ailments and senility. Lexie and Libby Mollison, granddaughters of Howard Mollison, one of the suspects in this affair, are outraged at the allegations and try their best to derail the investigation. A local tax fraud investigator is involved. Given that he had grown up in the Fields and currently lives in Yarvil, we eventually find out that his family was involved in these illegal activities as well. His young wife is a doctor and a friend of the Jawandas. She is also a cousin of Gavin Hugues, Miles Mollison law partner. These multiple linkages lead to a serious case of conflict of interest and significant turmoil in the small town, which leads us to discover more of its small business owners and the variety of parochial interests they try to defend.
Sequel Number 3:
Fats Wall suffers from chronic depression and struggles to maintain his sanity. His difficulties in life have nevertheless led him to become an acclaimed novelist and he shares his time between Pagford where his adoptive parents remain, the south of France where he has located his birth father and the beaches of Thailand. While in Thailand, he is instrumental in bringing down a network of pimps providing children for the sex tourism trade. This has put his life in danger. He manages to make his way from Phi Phi to Bangkok and to fly back to the UK, where he finds out that his parents have received threats. He contacts the police who organize the protection of his parents in Pagford and takes refuge with Andrew and Gaia who are now married and living in Scotland. The same people who threatened his parents locate him in Scotland and the chase takes us through some of the most picturesque locales in the region. Scotch smugglers ultimately Fats escape, the police catches the bad guys and everyone returns to their quiet life which Fats starts his next book tour.
I could go on because I also wonder about what might happen with the Mollison’s lesbian daughter, Patricia, as well as Gavin, Colin and Tessa Wall, Miles and Samantha Mollison, Terri Weedon, and of course, Mary Fairbrother and her children.
Rowling, J.K. The Casual Vacancy. Little Brown, New York and London: 2012.
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