Genre: Literary. Action and Adventure
“Naturally Shirley had known, as they slid stock words and phrases back and forth between them like beads on an abacus, that Howard must be as brimful of ecstasy as she was; but to express these feelings out loud, when the news of death was still fresh in the air, would have been tantamount to dancing naked and shrieking obscenities, and Howard and Shirley were clothed, always, in an invisible layer of decorum that they never laid aside.”
Pagford is not what it first seems.
On the surface, it is 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. There’s a massive divide between the haves and the have-nots—the residents of the Fields, the council flat that some want to push off onto Yarvil, the county council nearby.
But in tiny Pagford, and at its school, which caters to have and have-nots alike, everyone is connected. When Barry Fairbrother, one of Pagford’s parish councilman, dies in his early forties, the town is left in shock. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. In the election to find Barry’s replacement, events are fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations.
Rowling’s first adult book is very different from the Harry Potter books that made her rich and famous. It’s purposefully non-magical: the closest thing to wizardry is the ability to hack into the amateurish Pagford Parish Council website. All the residents of Pagford and their hatreds and hopes are established and mixed together. Secrets are revealed, relationships twist and break, and the book rolls toward its awful, logical climax with aplomb. Children make mistakes and join together with a common cause, accompanied by adults, some malicious, some trying yet failing.
Good and evil are depressingly human, and the characters are all well drawn and believable.
Written by Celine Margaret.
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