"Two major themes of the novel are hypocrisy and responsibility. To judge somebody else, to declare them substandard, to conclude that their misfortunes are due to inherent character flaws, can be a way of boosting our own self-esteem because it must follow that our comparative success or happiness is not mere luck or chance, but the reward for superior morals or talent."
In the interview she also discusses each of the main characters and whether they have a character who is their opposite, and who that might be. Rowling's thoughts on the novel, and the discussion going on in the comments on the interview are interesting, and I can see the novel being a popular and thought-provoking book club novel. I'm sure there are many of us in small-town Britain who know characters like those in the novel, and such comparisons aren't particularly flattering.
Despite the subject matter, reading the beginning of the book was like coming home- as a firm member of the Harry Potter generation, Rowling's writing style is incredibly familiar and nostalgic to me. Rowling is an excellent storyteller, and The Casual Vacancy was very comprehensive and full of detail, none of it being irrelevant. One criticism of the novel I have heard is that it is too long. In the case of Harry Potter this wasn't always an issue, as so many of us loved more Harry, but in a novel that is as self-contained as this I think limiting the length would have been wise and might have increased readership. Overall, I am glad I read this and in doing so, gained more experience of where Rowling might be headed after Harry. I gave The Casual Vacancy a 3/5.
Have you read The Casual Vacancy? Did you like it, and does it convince you to read more of Rowling's novels in the future?