My twenty-something daughter has promised to loan me her copy of The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. I can't wait to read it, and I'm equally eager to hear her opinion. Both my daughters are Generation H (Hogwarts.) Hooked by the opening line: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much,” they, like many of their demographic cohort, remained faithful to Harry and his mates through 7 volumes and 4,100 pages. Neither daughter went to Harvard, yet both were inspired by the commencement address Rowling presented to the graduating class of 2008. (Listen to it; it's great.)
Until my copy arrives, I'm biding my time and reading reviews. The New York Times panned the book calling it “depressingly clichéd” and “not only disappointing, but dull.” The Wall Street Journal was more sympathetic, reporting that once the characters are established “and events begin to unfurl, it becomes a positively propulsive read.” The most interesting article I've read so far is Ian Parker's profile of J.K. Rowling, published in The New Yorker Magazine.
What’s The Casual Vacancy about? The story is set in the provincial English town of Pagford, where a parish counselor has just dropped dead from an aneurism. This unfortunate event creates an empty seat or “casual vacancy” on the counsel, which, in turn, leads to bitter competition among village residents and between supporters and opponents of a controversial public housing project. Since that's the extent of my knowledge, I'm asking readers like you to share your views. Is this book as awful as the NYT would lead me to believe? Or is Rowling still a master? What clicked for you, and what didn’t? Have you read the Harry Potter series, and if so, how does The Casual Vacancy compare? Would you recommend it to a friend? Will you read another Rowling novel?
Tell me, please, because I'm still waiting for my daughter's verdict--and her copy!