We're reading The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. This is our 10th installment of the book club. Join our discussion in the comments!
Today's top story in news everyone already expected: Mollison wins! Miles Mollison wins! By a landslide! I'm moving to Canada! Or whatever the British equivalent is!
But really, this whole Parish Council election thing, which was kind of set up to be the climax of the story, went over like a whimpering fart compared to the REAL peak of action and excitement in this chapter: Howard Mollison's 65th b-day party, which finally put the whole town of Pagford in one room with a bunch of booze and NO. FLIPPIN'. MERCY.
Orchestrating the scene at Howard's party may be the crowning achievement of this book, and the biggest testament to J.K.'s development as a writer. Seriously. Have you ever tried to write a party scene that feels real? From more than one character's POV? It's HARD! And Mama Muggle pulled this one off with Fleur-frickin-Delacour panache.
This is the moment we've been waiting for—at least, I have—when so many selfish citizens of Pagford face the results of their own actions, misgivings, and gaping personality disorders. Howard Mollison's affair with Maureen gets outed by his cynical, city-dwelling daughter (who I wish had showed up in the story sooner). Andrew Price's all-consuming crush on Gaia explodes in his face like a water-balloon of snog-juice, and lets him realize how little is truly keeping him in Pagford. Gavin Hughes eats his shame for treating Kay like a booty call, and mans up enough to sling some crap back at Samantha Mollison.
And, oh, Samantha Mollison. Sammy, Sam, Sam, Slammy…ripping apart the false austerity of Pagford with nothing but an undersized boy band t-shirt, a few gallons of champagne, and a well-timed smooch to a drunk 16-year-old. Weird. Wrong. My new favorite character.
It's a shame the festivities had to end as they did, eclipsed the next morning by Krystal Weedon facing some real-talk problems with addiction/poverty/a strange ugly man in her toddler brother's bed again. I loved this whole party scene, even if nobody emerged from it happy. Maybe BECAUSE nobody emerged happy, and I've been to parties like this and had my dreams crushed in a single evening. Have you?
Not much left here but the denouement. Who will leave Pagford, and who will stay?
Who do you WISH would leave Pagford, on a missile, into the sun?
Do you think J.K. pulled off a compelling climax from multiple POVs?
Let's finish this thing, party favors. Cue the music.