I had pre-ordered this book at a local bookstore and picked it up on the day it was released. I did this because I did not want to wait for the book to be delivered. I waited very eagerly for nearly 3 months for this book. And what do I get? Disappointment. Yes, I never expected Rowling to come up with something like Fifty shades of Grey. You got me right! it has some horrible sex scenes and usage of vulgar words scattered throughout the book. Every page has so many references to the “F” word. Does adult mean throwing in sex scenes arbitrarily or talking about private parts of the body? I had presumed that she meant a book for “mature” audience when she said she was writing an adult novel.
I did not read this book expecting it to be like Harry Potter. I did not read it thinking it would be a murder mystery or thriller. I knew what I was going to read. I watched her interview where she clearly said that this was a sad book about politics in a small town, more to do with poor people and how people do not care for poor people.
An excerpt from her interview:
“I desperately needed to write this book,” Rowling said. “Not because I wanted to prove anything, not because I felt I had to write a novel for adults. None of that. You know, people ask me that sort of question a lot. I’ve never sat down to write anything, thinking, ‘What am I proving today?’ Never. It’s just not how I would write…. That was just a story I really wanted to tell.”
She also said that this book is very close to her personal life and there were many things in the book that she had personally experienced (like OCD). She also said that the ending would make us cry. This is what made me read the book. I thought it will be realistic and would have a wonderful story spun by my most favourite author. And I could not be more wrong!
I liked Harry Potter not because of the story itself, but also for the way it was written. The witty dialogues, her writing style, those amazing quotes and funny lines made me like it. So I became a fan of her writing style. This book was written in the same style and that is what made me somehow finish it. If this story was written by anyone else in this world, I would have given up after 20 pages for sure 🙂
The starting of the novel was a bore, probably one of the most boring bit. I was kind of disappointed looking at how ordinary and dull the narration was. I still forced myself to read. After I read some 100 pages or so, the story seemed to pick up. I now knew everyone in the town and what they were like. She is very good at portraying and describing characters. I already knew whom I liked and whom I did not.
Story: One of the members of the Parish council suddenly dies and now people are fighting to take his place in the council. There are 3 people in the town who want to compete for that position. I found the politics bit interesting. You can consider this book as consisting of many threads, stories about many families in the town.
Some characters that I found interesting were:
Kay Bowden – A social worker who had been cheated by a man and has now left everything for another man that she is in love with. She seemed like a sympathetic lady and I did like the way her part of the story ended.
Ruth Price – She is being abused and harassed by a monster of a husband. Her character portrayal was very good and I thought of giving 4 stars to this book initially just because of her story.
Tessa Wall – She seemed like a mother in distress but also a nice woman. I liked her part of the story too. Dealing with a spoiled son is so hard and it is something I have personally seen in many cases.
Sukhvinder – Her character was something I really liked. I liked it because her situation was so realistic. It happens all the time around us. I have seen such cases in the movies, in real life.
Other than these 4 characters, I HATED all the other characters and their stories. A girl who is a whore and likes beating classmates has been shown as a great personality who must be sympathized with, which really made me not like this book. Just because someone is poor, they need not go for prostitution. Why can’t someone who is poor take up a job somewhere and work hard, instead of selling their body? I never got that theory. She is trying to say that poor people have to be pitied upon. But do we need to pity drug addicts and whores? At least I cannot show pity towards them and hence I never felt sad nor did I cry while reading the book. Every time something bad happened, I was happy 🙂
Middle portion of the book kept me entertained because of the politics. But the ending was again disappointing. I did not understand the point of the book. What was she trying to say? What was the whole point of reading 500 pages? The lives of some people got sorted out at the end, but the rest of them? It was such an abrupt ending. It was like a mega serial which had no point. A mega serial which dragged on and on for some years and then it was taken off-air since nobody was willing to sponsor the next season.
Overall a very disappointing book, even though the middle portion was good. I give this book 2 and 1/2 stars out of 5.
My verdict: A one time read. Don’t go buying the book. Borrow it and forget about it.
[Spoiler: There is a 40 yr old woman who kisses a 16 yr old boy and her husband just forgives her? Just like that and she is not even ashamed of what she did? I liked the way Sukhvinder takes her bit of revenge. That chapter had me laughing, even though there was nothing humorous. I liked the Ghost of Barry Fairbrother part the most in the book. If not for that and the politics, I would have given this book 1 star.]