The Casual Vacancy

Adam Mars-Jones writes:

The machinations around the election of a parish councillor provide much of the material of the novel, with the epigraphs for all its sections taken from the seventh edition of Charles Arnold-Baker’s Local Council Administration (2006). The election is important locally because of the disputed status of the Fields, a rundown area that is administratively shared with the encroaching city of Yarvil. The Fields represents the seething id that genteel Pagford doesn’t want to admit to. Old-guard Pagford, led by Howard Mollison, a delicatessen owner, wants the jurisdiction of the Fields handed back to Yarvil, and the addiction clinic there (a parish matter because it’s housed in what was a church) shut down. Mollison, exploiting the opportunity that death has offered, wants these things decided even before the vacancy is filled. This is a Trollopian plot, and it’s clear that Rowling is aiming at High Victorian amplitude and reach.

(LRB 25 October 2012)

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