The Casual Vacancy
If this is what real life is like in contemporary England, it's no wonder Rowling developed such an active fantasy world. The town of Pagford basks in smug gentility, while strenuously resisting any association with the adjoining lower class development The Fields. When a beloved Parish Council member who has been fighting to support The Fields dies suddenly, the ensuing power vacuum sucks the community into a cycle of recriminations and retribution. Despite it's idyllic veneer, Pagford is a nasty little place: peopled by cyberbullies, emotional abusers, drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers, teen cutters, racists...in short all the evils they mistakenly attribute to an inferior outside world. Rowling creates a colorful and realistic cast of characters, but the relentless escalation in pure meanness (the only truly decent character dies in the first few pages) makes this a tough read.
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