Yes, that J.K. Rowling - the Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Her latest novel, and first specifically aimed for adults (seriously, this content is not for children), was released at the start of October and came out to, as I showed you here, some mixed reviews. One, reviewer for the NY Times Book Review called it "dull," while others couldn't muster up more than a few nice words. However, I can 100% assure you that this novel is anything but dull, and I highly, highly recommend it to you to read.
Amazon describes the novel as "When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults."
Lev Grossman, from TIME, asserted that in the writing of this novel, Rowling has transformed herself into Ian McEwan and I have to say that I completely agree. In The Casual Vacancy, Rowling creates a snapshot of small town life - letting us into a world we may not otherwise see, and allowing our hearts and our minds to be pulled into this beautiful story. As the end nears, and we see the possibility of a truly happy ending slipping away, Rowling demonstrates us how truly impressive her writing is by showing us that some good can be found in even the saddest of moments, and that there is always hope for triumph, even if the face of extreme adversity. This novel does not have a typical happy ending, but I think that it can be read with optimism and an appreciation of Rowling's greater understanding of humankind.
What did you think of The Casual Vacancy? Did the ending take you completely by surprise, as it did for me? Do you think that some of the characters, Samantha, Kay and Andrew in particular, have a greater hope for the future than others? At the end of the day, I think that this book is not actually about a town election, but something much greater - human interaction in and around a small town. Do you agree with this?
And now, I would like to introduce November's READ THIS! novel, The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom...
Amazondescribes this novel as "When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk. The Kitchen Houseis a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail."
I am excited to dive into this piece of historical fiction and hope that you'll read along with me!