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The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby burlingtonbertram » 03 Mar 2015, 10:40

Deej wrote:I've read the book and I don't believe the TV version does it any justice. Its rushed, misses large parts out from the book, makes strange changes and doesn't really go into the trouble of explaining what its all meant to be about. So no wonder those who haven't read the book are left feeling confused.

There is no in-depth portrayal of the characters either, so its little surprise that the viewer is left feeling little sympathy for the complex and problematic lives of the people on the estate.

Sukhvinder (Parminder's daughter) who we see barely anything of in the TV series (she's always on them headphones) who tries to save Robbie, not her father Vikram.

Overall - disappointing.


I might give the book a try if I can pick up a cheap copy; I think that the lack of depth to the characters was the biggest issue I had with the TV version. Must admit that Sukhvinder mystified me - she was introduced to the show but had no part in it when clearly there was some sort of story there.

I will say that episode three was a lot better than one and two.

It's just occurred to me that I am sat in a library so there may be a copy here :)
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 03 Mar 2015, 10:51

Hope you're not in Pagford Library! :shock:

I came to the conclusion that Sukhvinder was constantly clad in headphones as a symbol of how little communication there was between her and her parents. Or maybe she was trying to shut them out. I also wondered several times if she was the "ghost", pretending to be locked away in her own world while secretly observing and recording what was going on around her. But it seems not.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Moonraker » 03 Mar 2015, 19:52

I'm so glad I didn't bother with it!
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Deej » 04 Mar 2015, 22:57

Anita Bensoussane wrote:Hope you're not in Pagford Library! :shock:

I came to the conclusion that Sukhvinder was constantly clad in headphones as a symbol of how little communication there was between her and her parents. Or maybe she was trying to shut them out. I also wondered several times if she was the "ghost", pretending to be locked away in her own world while secretly observing and recording what was going on around her. But it seems not.



Spoiler*

Sukhvinder was indeed one of the "ghosts" in the book. She was sick of the fact her parents constantly favoured her siblings Jaswant and Rajpal. Sukhvinder was also regularly bullied in school and due to this torment, is shown to cut herself on several occasions in the book. She wanted a way of paying her mum back as in her eyes, Parminder only cared about the election and the rest of her family. We see none of this in-depth look at Sukhvinder in the TV series.

In fact, there were a number of people who turned out to be the "ghost" in the books.

Fats was as he detested his parents, especially Colin Wall and his hypochondriac ways, the fact he was obsessed in the election and also because Colin wasn't his real dad. Fats was the result of an incest! We hear nothing of this in the TV series.

Andrew Price - we know about that. Simon abused both Andrew and his brother, mocked Andrew for not having a job, was a generally 'dodgy' character both in work and out of work and also stood for election much to Andrew's despair.

Patricia - The daughter of Shirley and Howard. She is also a lesbian and the old-fashioned and quite prejudiced pair are very distant with her because of it. Patricia also wants payback.

There are four ghosts and most of them are children who are sick of their parents antics and obsession with the Fields/Pagford Parish Council election.

I agree that Pagford is quite insular as well. Most Pagfordians would seemingly rather look after their own than care about the people on the estate and the people who desperately relied on the drugs clinic.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Daisy » 04 Mar 2015, 23:40

Having read that synopsis, I am reminded of why I found it so depressing and disjointed!
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Spitfire » 05 Mar 2015, 00:06

I haven't read the book or seen the TV adaptation, but I'm curious about the mention of 'ghosts'? Judging by the context, what is meant isn't ghosts in the traditional sense? - hopefully somebody will enlighten me. :)

I'd like to read the book someday but I think it's a book I'd have to be in the mood for. It does sound quite absorbing but rather depressing. I'd skip the TV adaptation though. I don't watch a lot of TV anyway and it certainly doesn't sound as though it does the story justice.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 05 Mar 2015, 00:28

Thanks for the extra details, Deej. It certainly sounds as though a lot of characters and happenings were missed out of the TV adaptation.

Although Sweetlove House was presented mainly as a drugs/counselling clinic, it was supposed to be a community centre. You'd have thought activities and festivities would have been held there to attempt to get the residents of central Pagford and the Fields doing things together, but we didn't seem to hear about things like that.

Regarding drugs, it wasn't only the people on the estate who used them so it ought to have been in everyone's interest to keep the drugs clinic open. We saw people with other addictions too - and they weren't from the estate. For instance, the doctor told Howard Mollison that he was obese because he ate too much and wasn't even trying to improve his diet as he'd been advised, and Howard's son (whose name I've forgotten) was constantly eating sweets.

Spitfire wrote:I haven't read the book or seen the TV adaptation, but I'm curious about the mention of 'ghosts'? Judging by the context, what is meant isn't ghosts in the traditional sense? - hopefully somebody will enlighten me. :)

A character who has died appears to be posting on a website, revealing scandalous information about various villagers, but of course it isn't really him!
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Deej » 06 Mar 2015, 20:07

Anita Bensoussane wrote:Thanks for the extra details, Deej. It certainly sounds as though a lot of characters and happenings were missed out of the TV adaptation.
Yep, no mention of Gavin (Kay's boyfriend) whatsoever!


Anita Bensoussane wrote:Although Sweetlove House was presented mainly as a drugs/counselling clinic, it was supposed to be a community centre. You'd have thought activities and festivities would have been held there to attempt to get the residents of central Pagford and the Fields doing things together, but we didn't seem to hear about things like that.
You're right. It was a community centre and it never seemed to be used. Most of the time Andrew seemed to be there with his brother fixing a leak in the roof. It seemed badly maintained. I remember the drugs clinic being called Bellchapel in the books. I'm not sure if this was the same thing as the community centre?

Anita Bensoussane wrote:Regarding drugs, it wasn't only the people on the estate who used them so it ought to have been in everyone's interest to keep the drugs clinic open. We saw people with other addictions too - and they weren't from the estate. For instance, the doctor told Howard Mollison that he was obese because he ate too much and wasn't even trying to improve his diet as he'd been advised, and Howard's son (whose name I've forgotten) was constantly eating sweets.
I think in the book, Bellchapel was generally meant as a methadone clinic for recovering drugs addicts on the estate. There were no addicts of such in Pagford.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby deepeabee » 06 Mar 2015, 22:14

I don't like books that tear at my heartstrings. I used to but now I have enough to deal with in real life and want pure escapism from a book.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Maid Marian » 08 Mar 2015, 22:19

I read this and thought it was awful! I thought JK Rowling tried too hard to prove that she could write a book for adults and it was just depressing from the first page to the last.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby burlingtonbertram » 10 Mar 2015, 09:55

Maid Marian wrote:I read this and thought it was awful! I thought JK Rowling tried too hard to prove that she could write a book for adults and it was just depressing from the first page to the last.


Yes, that is what I fear. Still, I'm at my local library now and about to collect my reserved copy so fingers crossed.
Last edited by burlingtonbertram on 10 Mar 2015, 17:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby Rob Houghton » 10 Mar 2015, 16:11

Having read all these reviews and opinions I'm quite glad I've never read the book, or watched the TV series! Mind you, I'm not a fan of JK Rowling at all anyway - only read half of the first Harry Potter book and have never revisited her books since! :shock:
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby snugglepot » 10 Mar 2015, 20:50

Maid Marian wrote:I read this and thought it was awful! I thought JK Rowling tried too hard to prove that she could write a book for adults and it was just depressing from the first page to the last.


I agree. All the way through, I was thinking how much better this would have been as a murder mystery. Barry could have been murdered and all the other characters were suspects. There were heaps of motives and I would have enjoyed reading it.
As for the murderer, my favourite suspect would have been Crystal's mother because she suspected Barry of being too familiar with her daughter.
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Re: The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

Postby burlingtonbertram » 14 Mar 2015, 13:08

Well, I finished the book and it was better than the TV version. The show needed more than three episodes to properly develop the characters.

It is possible to have sympathy with several of the characters but little patience and certainly no liking for most. Sukhvinder is more appealing but even there my liking is mostly laced with pity. I found Samantha Mollison quite likeable too.

I don't usually read 'state of Britain' novels (as the blurb on the back of the book pithily puts it) but it was quite a good read. It seems odd coming from JK Rowling though. Rather like meeting one of your former teachers in a pub and seeing them drink, smoke and tell dirty stories.
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Re: The Cuckoo's Calling

Postby Moonraker » 15 Jul 2017, 15:26

I was given this book and have almost finished it. It's a reasonable story, but for me is ruined by the frequent use of obscene language. Maybe Rowling wished to show she was a "grown-up" authoress, but so many F and C words make it unpalatable for me. I won't bother with any more of her adult books.
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