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The Casual Vacancy Audiobook, by J. K. Rowling Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: J. K. Rowling Narrator: Tom Hollander Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9781619695016
3.00020013969865 out of 53.00020013969865 out of 53.00020013969865 out of 53.00020013969865 out of 53.00020013969865 out of 5 3.00 (70,151 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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J.K. Rowling's first grown-up novel is an impressive foray by the author into the world of contemporary adult literature. An intriguing departure for the world-famous author who recently completed the beloved Harry Potter series, The Casual Vacancy is the entertaining and captivating tale of the tiny English town of Pagford whose peaceful appearance hides a dark secret unknown to outsiders - that the town is in fact in a state of perpetual war with itself with multiple factions comprising the warring parties - husbands versus wives, brothers fighting with brothers, teachers battling with their students, and children fighting with their parents.

And when Barry Fairweather, a prominent town council member and local rowing team coach, unexpectedly dies from an aneurism, his now-vacant position on the council sets the stage for the most explosive and widespread conflict that the small, tightly-wound town of Pagford has ever experienced anytime in its history. With the small town's peaceful veneer stripped away none of the town's citizens are safe in the ensuing battle that arises from this tragic and unexpectedly controversial event.

Darkly humorous, constantly intriguing, and filled with surprises, The Casual Vacancy is an unexpectedly thought-provoking novel and an outstanding display of J.K. Rowling's skill and talent as a novelist.

A big novel about a small town

When Barry Fairweather 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. The rich at war with the 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 appears. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war Pagford has seen yet. 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. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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.”


  • “[Tom Hollander] voices the many characters with remarkable consistency, and he distinguishes gender and age with aplomb. His dialects are especially excellent.” (starred review)

  • “Rowling is relentlessly competent…The book rolls toward its awful, logical climax with aplomb.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Rowling is a master at fleshing out characters and describing their world, and she takes her time, examining moral dilemmas and town gossip from multiple points of view. Though it does not include spells and sparks, the climax of The Casual Vacancy is wrenching. We have come to know these characters and to root for them. Even though they are flawed—and some are repulsive—it is painful to watch them fall. Readers often want stories that ‘transport’ them. The Casual Vacancy is a difficult read because it transports us to a sad and serious reality. The only fantasy here is the characters’ wish for a better life.”


  • A #1 Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A #1 Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • Recipient of the 2012 Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award
  • A #1 San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller
  • A 2012 iTunes Best Audiobook
  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction
  • A #1 USA Today Bestseller
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vera T. | 5/21/2014

    " Not Rowling's best work by far but fairly enjoyable nonetheless. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessica | 2/19/2014

    " Little underwhelmed by this book. I think it was alright but all in all it's easier for me to find things I didn't like about then than things I did. Good 'casual' read kind of book if you're not expecting much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rohit | 2/11/2014

    " A side of Rowling which I thought never existed. Really amazing read. A complex tale of intermingled lives "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Beatriz | 2/5/2014

    " This book was terrible. I am an avid fan of Harry Potter but I just couldn't get into this book. I was very excited to read it but ended up being disappointed in the lack of interest. It was dull, I didn't even finish reading it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 1/30/2014

    " I enjoyed this book. Depressing in places but beautiful descriptions of people. The only truly good sounding person died at the beginning of the book.but it was still a very good read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Patty | 1/22/2014

    " I did not actually finish this book. I got at least half way through and could not bear it another second. It's like real life horror. Every character has so many flaws that they can't help but hurt themselves and others, especially children, who then hurt themselves and others. I realize that this is not that uncommon in real life, but I have also noticed that there are plenty of instances when people are nice and helpful to each other, but apparently not in this small English village. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Diane | 1/20/2014

    " zzzzzzzzzz. Those are 8 hours I'll never get back. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Athena | 1/15/2014

    " They should have a unfinished status, I just couldn't get through this book it was so disappointing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caitlin | 1/10/2014

    " reading this because jk Rowling wrote it and you liked her work on Harry Potter is like watching Danny Trejo's filmography because you like his work in Spy Kids. I enjoyed it but it's much more comparable to Franzen's work, in my opinion. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Haley | 1/7/2014

    " This is one of those books that makes you want to die a violent death. Humanity looks so degraded and pointless, the way it's portrayed here. I only made it 2/5 through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fullfaun | 12/12/2013

    " tis good, but is for Adult level reading and I was just not ready for this book. I might at some later date. I have just finished a different book which is set into a small English town and the killer got off scot-free. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vinay | 10/1/2013

    " The only similarity in the author's previous works and 'the casual vacancy' is that, they are both fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacob | 8/12/2013

    " A few clunky passages aside, this is a very good first "adult" novel by Rowling. You can tell that the issues in this book are dear to her heart, and she presents them without pulling any punches. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read, though I felt at times I wanted just a bit more depth of character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucy | 7/22/2013

    " This was quite different from the Harry Potter books. There certainly were a lot of flawed people living in this one small town. It was almost like a little Peyton Place. Once I got into it, I found it very likeable. Not great, but decent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 6/15/2013

    " Once I got into it, I did enjoy this very long book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kayleigh | 5/17/2013

    " The goings-on and politics of a small town. For the first 300 pages it seemed the only likable character was dead... By the end of the book the self-absorbed, imperfect, very human characters became almost endearing, and I mourned their tragic fate. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Geoff mac | 5/8/2013

    " A great book, "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenna | 2/20/2013

    " I was sad to e so disappointed by this book. I only could read to about a quarter of the way through. Didn't hold my attention and I found it boring. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joe Smith | 1/4/2013

    " I regret that I have to say I found this book Tedious and lacks focus - previous review "the story Meanders a bit and Loses focus" - couldn't put it better. Had high hopes so sorry I have to be negative about it "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 12/18/2012

    " An interesting book. She writes an interesting story though this one is more realistic than Harry Potter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah V. | 11/11/2012

    " Let's face it, a certain segment of Rowling's fanbase would have bought and read this if it had been a book about rail schedules. And that would be unfair to The Casual Vacancy as it's a very delightful and thought-provoking story that's really unlike anything she's written previously. In addition to being a great story it's also well worth a listen as the audiobook is very well-done. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bert Lane | 11/5/2012

    " This audiobook was a pleasant surprise. It's a very well crafted story that has nothing whatsoever to do with magical worlds, cursed wizards or dim-witted muggles. It's quite a welcome departure for this author and I enjoyed it quite thoroughly! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debsheftz | 11/4/2012

    " Not bad, but not great. Better than a Clancy novel, Well intentioned, but poorly developed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin Lancaster | 11/3/2012

    " I have to be honest and admit that I would not have given this book any attention had it not been written by this particular author. The overview of the plot sounded boring but given the author's pedigree I decided to give it a listen, albeit with mild reservations. I'm glad I did as she has created a unique world in the tiny town of Pagford. It's quite an enchanting story despite the town's constantly squabbling inhabitants. My only complaint is a few sections where the story meanders a bit and loses focus. A good effort overall though! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 A.M.E | 11/1/2012

    " I'll give her credit for trying something new. Unfortunately this novel has none of the charm of the Harry Potter books. It's not awful by any stretch but I just kept finding myself losing interest (I did manage to finish it however). I did think the narrator did a great job though with the material he had to work with. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anne M. | 10/15/2012

    " I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel. I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter series but everything I had heard from interviews with J.K Rowling indicated that this book would have nothing in common with it whatsoever. I wasn't sure if that would be a good thing or a bad thing. Thankfully it turned out to be quite a good thing indeed. Rowling has crafted an intriguing tale of small-town politics and petty conflicts that managed to really resonate with me. It's an offbeat story but very enjoyable. Kudos to the author for this very pleasant surprise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alan Guess | 10/12/2012

    " J.K. Rowling has effectively moved on to the next chapter in her life as an author rather nicely with The Casual Vacancy. Her first novel geared toward a more mature audience is a real winner. Highly recommended. "

About the Author

J. K. Rowling is the author of the bestselling Harry Potter novels, which have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide in more than two hundred territories and have been translated into seventy-four languages and made into eight blockbuster films. She has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry’s schoolbooks within the novels: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Quidditch through the Ages. Her Tales of Beedle the Bard quickly became the fastest selling book of 2008. As well as an OBE for services to children’s literature, Rowling is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, the French Legion of Honor, and the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, and she has been a commencement speaker at Harvard University. She supports a wide number of causes through her charitable trust Volant and is the founder of Lumos, a charity working to transform the lives of disadvantaged children.

About the Narrator

Tom Hollander is an English actor with a stunning array of film, television, theater, and audiobook credits to his name. After graduating from Cambridge University, he continued his career in theater before moving into film and television. He is perhaps best known for the role that brought him to the attention of mainstream movie audiences, that of petty tyrant Lord Cutler Beckett in the second and third installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. His audiobook narration of A Clockwork Orange won him an AudioFile Earphones Award.