by JK Rowling
borrowed, read for Bookclub
Think of an English garden. Flowers, bees, rambly and shapeless bushes and trees, tranquil and fresh. Ahhh, gorgeous. Step in and notice the manure, oh no, a patch of weeds, ouch nettles, is that poison ivy in the corner?! That is the picturesque English village, gorgeous and lovely to look at, but the people are really something else. This is a character study – no magic and no whimsical characters…everyone is grounded in good old fashioned rage, drug use, boredom, circumstance, adolescence, crappy marriages, horrible relationships, their heads are up their butts, think their own opinions are the only ones that matter… you know, real life, without any happy people! Not many anyway.
If this is the life of an English village, I am both glad I never lived in one and really want to stay in one for 6-12 months, just to compare to the book. Barry Fairbrother passes away which causes a seat to open up on the parish council. There is a fight over the seat because Barry lead one of the factions about land lines, he wanted to keep the cheap part of town and the others want to cede it to the neighboring city.
There are a ton of characters and some of the names are a little similar like Shirley and Samantha (mother and daughter in laws) and since everyone is angry about someone or other, I had a hard time keeping the families straight until I had dug into the narrative about 100 pages or so. I tried picking it up and reading other things at the same time, which made it worse. I would recommend you dig in and finish, just to remember who is who! The problem I ran into is that my reading material greatly affects my mood. Since the only nice bloke in town just died…I wasn’t feeling my love for my fellow man. It made me look at myself to see if I was unhappy and about what and how I manifested that into my dealings with other people…but ultimately it brought me down a bit. Depressing! But if I were to not read books because they were depressing I would miss out on a lot.
So I did a lot of scowling. I think I need some botox to get rid of the new lines in my forehead (lol – yea, this book did that to me, not anything else). There are a LOT of heavy issues in this novel. Rape, drug use, prostitution, stealing, physical and emotional abuse, denial, teen angst and debilitating OCD behaviors among many others. It is amazing that this is a town and not a psych ward… JK Rowling is a great author, no issues with anything technical and I was in Pagford with the characters as I read about them and after I finished. I have a bit of a book hangover actually. (Quick! Get me a happy YA or Sarah Addison Allen book stat!)
The ending didn’t hold much happiness either. More change is coming for these characters, so you know that they will soldier on. Some learned some good lessons and are better for it, but many are just the same and will probably continue making the same mistakes. You can hope, but how many times do we fail at something before we learn what we need to learn in real life? Because I am sad and grumpy about being a fly on the wall of all these folks who need therapy, I give it 4 stars. Though honestly, I am being unintentionally emotionally abusive and witholding by not giving it a 5th star.