Reuters Reports Various Comments from Newspapers and Critics (UPDATED)
Sep 27, 2012
Reuters has released statements on The Casual Vacancy from various official sources:
“Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly cliched that ‘The Casual Vacancy’ is not only disappointing ” it’s dull.” (New York Times)
“The Casual Vacancy is no masterpiece, but it’s not bad at all: intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny,” said Theo Tait in the Guardian newspaper.
Andrew Losowsky of the Huffington Post website, said Rowling’s foray into adult fiction was worth publishing, but perhaps did not match the giddy anticipation surrounding its release.
“Would this book be published if it weren’t for the name on the cover? Almost certainly. Would anyone pay much attention to it, and its message? Probably not.” (Huffington Post)
“Though some sequences feel a few drafts short of being ready, others are written with a fluency and beauty that suggest that there could be more and better works to come from her pen.” (Huffington Post)
In The Independent newspaper, Boyd Tonkin believed Rowling was at her best when describing the younger characters.
“The teens of Winterdown belong in a bolder, richer book than some of the parental caricatures,” he said. “All the social and hormonal turbulence that the later Potter volumes had to veil in the euphemisms of fantasy appear in plain sight here.” (The Independent)
The conservative Daily Telegraph broadsheet took umbrage at Rowling’s skewering of the middle class.
“While Rowling gives due respect to the poorer, damaged characters, higher up the social scale she is busy carving grotesques,” wrote Allison Pearson in a three-star review. (The Daily Telegraph)
The rest of the article can be read here.
UPDATE: Washington Post captured a few more reviews:
“In this one 500-page book, Rowling re-traverses the Potter series’ entire tonal journey: a gradual darkening in which snide comments on small stakes give way to sharp commentary on big ones. The election unearths tensions. The tensions ruin lives. No amount of Reparo spells can undo the things that are done; we’re not in Hogwarts anymore.”
“This isn’t a book that’s easy to fall in love with, the way Harry Potter was with its charming, winning hero and his plucky friends, saving the world from evil with the help of a powerful spell or two. Even with its moments of humor, it’s a hard story where some people just don’t get saved, because really, they never had a chance.”
“Rowling clearly knows how to create a universe that’s compelling, consuming even, but Pagford is no such place. Rather, it is little more than a backdrop, a stage set, its lack of depth an emblem of Rowling’s inability to engage us, to invest us sufficiently in her characters, young or otherwise, to reckon with the contrivances of her fictional world.”
“Rowling’s strength was never her prose. It was her ability to create unforgettable characters and weave stories that held us captive. The magic simply isn’t there in ˜The Casual Vacancy.’ Indeed, the spell has been broken.”
“Rowling does a nice job laying out her 20-plus characters’ endless pretensions and weaknesses, which she punctures with gleeful flicks of a surprisingly sharp comic blade.”
“Rowling captures the humanity in everyone, even if that humanity is not always a pretty sight. And ’ though creating Harry Potter was more than enough ’ if Rowling wants to convince the world that she can cast other spells, she has succeeded.”
“As in the Harry Potter books, children make mistakes and join together with a common cause, accompanied here by adults, some malicious, some trying yet failing. Minus the magic, though, good and evil are depressingly human, and while the characters are all well drawn and believable, they aren’t much fun.”