Book review: The casual vacancy
The start was a bit clunky and I wasn't very impressed by her writing, but by the quarter mark I was hooked and Rowling's story telling skill (which frankly is what has got her through Harry Potter) took over.
The book reminded me of a grittier Maeve Binchy. Set in a small country town in England, Rowling has basically written a social commentary of a town that includes all classes and the tensions that exist between them. It's not a pretty picture that she paints and none of the people are particularly likeable characters (perhaps the character that dies early on is the nicest person in the book). It's also all fairly depressing and there are some confronting aspects to it (teenage s*x, drug use, child neglect).
Rowling does teenagers well and they were some of my favourite characters in the book - she gives good insights into the thinking of adolescents. I guess this skill may be partly what made Harry Potter popular.
I'll be interested to see what others think as more people read it. But I did feel sad when I finished, having enjoyed my little visit into the mad world of Pagford.