Dark, unexpected, and vivid
In the small English town of Pagford, everyone knows everyone else’s business and privacy is a luxury. When Barry Fairbrother unexpectedly dies, the town is left with much unanticipated circumstances. A casual vacancy, as it is known on the town’s Parish Council. The town has been going through a long term political struggle over who is responsible for the costs of supporting the poverty stricken area, the Fields. Fairbrother was an ally of those who wanted to maintain support for the Fields, and with his death, the two opposing sides square off. The politics of the Parish Council only set the stage for the book. The turmoil is the stage for the real story about the variety of people who call the town home and their daily struggle in life.
When the isolated town’s main source of gossip, the Parish Council message board begins to receive anonymous posting revealing some of the characters deepest and darkest personal secrets, a town already struggling with the death of one of their biggest personalities must reconcile their own places in Pagford. There are a multitude of characters in this book and at times it is hard to follow, but through the course of the book their diverse personalities, personal hardships, familial loyalty, and relationships are explored. What follows is a well told story that reaches the underbelly of society and the dark truth of its residents. Abuse, drugs, rape, teenage hormones, and sexual affairs are some of the few topics explored in the interwoven stories of the characters.
This book was a struggle for me to start and I am still undecided about the end. The book really seems to not have a point to the plot, other than an exploration into the lives of the town’s residents, but I cannot declare that I did or did not enjoy the book. Overall I am still undecided, and I think readers will also be torn. If you are seeking another Harry Potter phenomenon, you will be highly disappointed. This is a book for adults and the topics inappropriate for young adults and children.