I have never read any of the Harry Potter books, and am not that interested in the films (I've only seen two), but l thought l would crack on with 'The Casual Vacancy' as it is J.K Rowling's first 'adult' book, and l knew it to be about class, bigotry, politics, and responsibility for others (four of my favourite subjects). It didn't let me down in the slightest, as there is plenty of swearing, a bit of sex and violence, and as far as the political angle goes, if Jan Moir of The Daily Mail considers it to be "More than 500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature, "Then that also ticks my boxes.
A local Parish Councillor (Barry Fairweather) dies, leaving a vacancy. As he was arguing for the amalgamation of a local housing estate (The Fields) and drug rehabilitation centre (Bellchaple) with the West Country town of Pagford, and the votes were more or less split, some take this as an opportunity to put themselves (or family) up for Council so they can sway the vote. 'Ghostly' revelations about the nominees are then posted on the Council website'e online forum, with varying consequences. Along the way, there is the tale of the misunderstood Krystal Weedon, her young brother Robbie, and her ex prostitute, drug addled mother. Also heavily featured are two school friends, 'Fats' and Andrew (and their families), a cyber bullied Sukhvinder Jawanda (and her family), plus Howard Mollison, the overweight leader of the Parish Council (and his immediate and related family). If you are looking for pomposity, self righteousness, class war, bigoted attitudes, narrow mindedness, overestimated self worth, rape, drugs, and a bit of humour, this novel has them all. I don't consider it a masterpiece, as it is (even to me) a bit preachy, but parts of it were really well written, and l can't overstate how pleased l am that it is out there in the first place, selling by the bucketload, and (hopefull) changing some peoples perceptions and attitudes towards the working class scumbags (like me) that they so readily despise.