Friday, 22 February 2013


If you've arrived to read my review for Darcy's Reading challenge - then scroll down to the bit which starts A CASUAL VACANCY, as the first part of my post is my Rocking Your World Element

OK peeps let's do this in list format, it's late on Thursday and I'm having to engage my brain - neither of which is a great mix!

  1. A week off from work
  2. Two yes I said two ice hockey matches to see Sheffield Steelers last weekend, not been in forever and we won both matches! 
  3. Said 12 year old getting the 'ice hockey' bug - this I like! 
  4. Time with my sister and my niece at the ice hockey! 
  5. Time with my Mum making a mini book on Sunday and then finishing it on Monday
  6. Keeping in contact with my Lil Bro! 
  7. Said 12 year old being happy with his new phone! 
  8. Having my hair cut
  9. Hubby rocking my world as always, putting up with the mood swings I'm having with these crazy tablets, and coping with my general stupidity - thank you hun! 
  10. Having a lie in - something we sometimes take for granted around here! 
  11. Crafting time!
  12. The Wednesday Whine girls keeping it real - thank you girls! 
It's been one of those weeks, where the time disappears but you can't quite put your finger on what you've done!  Overall it's been a good one, I hope yours has been too! 

If you fancy joining in pop yourself a post together and head back here to link up, we are a bit low on participants but I love to see others join in!  

Mr Linky is at the bottom of this post 


Well in hindsight picking what is probably the longest book during the shortest month was not my wisest of moves, I've struggled with fiction for years probably because once I'm caught up in a story I get completely absorbed, this book being no different by the 19th February I was only just 200 pages into the 501 page book, this morning I find myself collecting my thoughts on the book, having completed the same last night at 12.30am and today is the 20th - like I said I get absorbed.

So the review, having been
an avid J K Rowling fan it took some getting used to as a book, no wizards in sight for a starter, the first part of the book is, as would be expected well written but hard work trying to place the characters of which there are many.  The book is based on a fictional village called Pagford which has a long local political history with the nearest town Yarvil which has encroached on it's land by building social housing accommodation which has impacted on the local school.  The book doesn't centre on a single character but rather on the interactions between people.  The casual vacancy being the death of a local Parish Councillor which sets the scene for the political turmoil that follows.  Within the melee of characters you have school teachers and social workers, delicatessen owners, surgeon's and GP's, those that are on benefits, users of drugs the depth of characters is significant.  Those that were born there and those that were still deemed 'outsiders'.  You also have the difference between young and old, the teenagers in the book, developing their own characters and personalities and all that comes with growing up.

It's a book that makes you think, in 501 pages JK Rowling has summed up perfectly the sorts of issues that affect people every single day, it's easy to see that past circumstances have moulded each and every character, some are still tainted by it.  The book challenges you to make assumptions not because you are superior or better but because it's human nature to rationalise who someone is.  What it actually achieves is that we are who we are because of circumstances and choices sometimes beyond our control and that is what is the most deeply troubling aspect of the book.

The book is a page turner, you really want the story to 'come good' to be neat and tidy and happy, but the book is real life, it isn't neat and it isn't tidy or even happy in places, what it is is real.  It gives you a new perspective a deeper understanding and breaks those taboos that many choose no longer to talk about.

It's about chances and opportunities, it's about rare people giving others a chance, it's about the culture in which we now live and what lies ahead for future generations, its about consequences, from a personal level, to a local level to a national level.

Although at a national level you only touch on the implications of cut backs, the book shows at grass roots level the real impact.  Cutting local government funding, who in turn pull back the axe to fall on the services for the most vulnerable in society who in turn affect the lives of people needing help and in turn damage the next generation forever.  It's not far fetched it's reality and that's what probably made it all the more shocking.

It made me cry, I didn't laugh or even smile through the book, it's one where you nod and understand and 'get' what it's about but as the book draws to a close it did make me cry.  Circumstances and people, people and circumstances.

About three quarters of the way into the book I commented to my hubby that the book didn't actually have anyone that was happy and that I found frustrating because to reflect real life surely there must be people within that village who were happy?

Would I recommend it, absolutely, did I learn anything from it - it reminded me that those small gestures that we make to others are like the butterfly wings flapping that eventually cause the hurricane, we often don't see what those small gestures do, we don't see the impact or the benefit likewise we don't see the impact of an unkind word or an argument, it makes you realise that each and every one of us makes a difference, if you want yours to be a good one, make each of your interactions positive and considered and thought out.

The art was hard work, probably because I couldn't quite tell where I was coming from with it but this is my attempts this month, a journal page, the background writing was the word 'responsible' repeated over and over I think it sums it up!

Mr Linky for those joining in Rocking Your World


  1. I am back, though feeling sheepish! I have only seen ice hockey on the television in a show, I have never seen a proper game! Sounds like you have had a busy week connecting and enjoying your time off.

    I have that book on my wishlist. What a touching message to get out of the book. I have bumped it up my wishlist a little more, probably a good time to read the book when I am not the least melancholic!! I really like the colours on your page and that open door is very effective. Feels very emotional, and you can tell you connected with the book.

  2. I love the colour and the texture on your pages. I have not fancied this book. Might give it a try. Your week has gone as quickly as mine. I had my hair cut too but I forgot to put that on my rocks! Sounds like you have done lots of catching up. I am commenting on the computer now as my ipod keeps going silly! Happy Friday, jenx

  3. I have really wanted to read this but at the same time, being such a big Harry Potter fan has made me think I might be disappointed but your review is great and convinced me that I want to give it a go! Love your artwork, the door is really effective against the background x

  4. Gosh that sounds a hard book to read. I'm not a gushy hearts and roses kind of person, but I do want there to be some hope of happiness. To not smile once while reading a book would break my heart! Well done you for choosing to carry on reading. Your page has a beautiful sadness about it, especially with the word "responsible" attached to it :D XXX

  5. Great Rocking list this week, Virginia. I'm glad you've been in touch with your brother - I know how much you've been missing him.

    Your book review was really interesting - I will be keeping an eye out for this book now, having read your 'take' on it. Brilliant art journal pages - I really feel like I could walk through that door!

    Have a wonderful weekend,


  6. Virginia, I can't even tell you how much I love the Casual Vacancy piece you created. I can tell, it is a book I will never have the desire to read. I have become a very shallow reader of late, and like my stories happy or, at least, ending happy. But your work is really evoking all kinds of feelings, and I LOVE the door! I noticed despite the weight of the wall above and around it, it is OPEN. It fits so well with the page I just want to walk right in it or at least take a peek. I'll sum it up with a "wow"! Can't wait to see what else you do with future Darcy challenges!

  7. This book is on my e-reader, now if only I could find a bit of time o read more! :)
    I love your Art but then you used one of my favorite colors! ♥

  8. A very thoughtful and thought-provoking review. And how thoughtful and clever of you to link to our blogposta. To me it seems magic.
    The book is not what I would have expected after seeing it talked about in the media, so your review was a valuable eye opener. Althought it sounds relevant to today, I do need a bit of sunshine and happiness in a book these days.
    Yourvartwork and it's cool colours, and the word 'responsibility, seem to embody the tone of the book. And the solitary door seems to suggest solitariness and aloneness.
    Enjoyed your review very much.

  9. wow I had no idea this book existed, I am sure if I had seen it I would not have expected something so deep and meaningful from this author. I shall add it to my list. Love the artwork, so very soulful, I can see how this book really touched you.

  10. A Casual Vacancy sounds like a book that really does make you think and think deeply about the consequences of our actions. A little sad that there were no happy people in the village, I am sure there must have been hiding away somewhere they just did not make it to the page! Your artwork is perfect for the book, it is a door opening into a world we all think we know but obviously do not.

  11. Thank you for your review it is so careful and informative. I had no desire to read this book but want to now despite the sadness you predict. It sounds so very real. Your journal page is wonderful, full of depth and the open door is inspired.
    Jen x

  12. I found your review of A Casual Vacancy to be heartfelt, sometimes feeling your frustration, sometimes feeling that emotional sadness that took over as you read the book. As I was reading about the consequences on lives that affect various (mostly future) generations, I kept thinking about one of my philosophies: always try to start with something positive. It also appears this is a global issue.

    I was quite impressed with your journal page, especially when you used the word "responsible" over and over. Nicely done.

  13. Oh....I have that book in my 12..I'm pushing it down the list as I'm so not in the mood for a book that makes me cry.
    Great review Virginia and I love the artwork.
    Love the sound of your week too!
    Hugs xx

  14. I've looked at this book in the bookstore and passed it by. I, too, am a JK Rowling fan. Your art is definitely thought provoking as it seems was the book. Don't know if it's for me...will take another look. Great review!!

  15. I have been wondering whether or not to read this, and really appreciate your review and thinking I will add this to the ever growing list the Artful Readers is making me create...xx

  16. How very interesting... I hadn't wanted to read this book before now but your review has made me change my mind!
    Love the art work... Soft but confusing, layered and intricate.
    Love it

  17. Ohhhhh. I don't know. I said this wasn't one for me but you are making me think again but at the same time it sounds depressing. I think I'd have to be in the right frame of mind to pick it up. I do love your journal pages though Viginia. I haven't linked up yet as still haven't finished my book let alone the art.

    As for Rocking Friday - I'm late as usual and kinda took list form too. The ice hockey sounds so much fun :)

  18. Hello :) Sounds like a busy week - so is he playing ice hockey too? Love your journal page it's beautiful.

  19. Excellent review. It is not a book for me, but I am glad you read it and told us about it. Your journal page is brilliant.

    Janet xx

  20. doh - I thought I had commented on this already - I've been so behind on my blopping recently!

    First off, RYWF, ice hockey! yay! welcome to my world :D Glad you all enjoyed it. And do we get to see a piccie of the new haircut?

    and the book - sounds like hard work! One of my pet peeves is books full of unlikeable and/or unhappy characters, so I must say I won't be rushing to add this to my to-read list. I love the journal page it spawned though, so that's a good outcome :)

  21. I love the HP books so was a bit hesistant about trying JK's foray into adult fiction, but I think I'll happily give it a go now! Great journal page that you've created - I love how you've incoporated the wording into the background. x