I thought the NY Times reviewed The Casual Vacancy very well here:
NY Times Review- The Casual Vacancy
The reviewer saw more of the "societal ills" aspect to the book than I did, and after seeing Rowling do a few interviews on the subject, it was clear that for her, addressing those themes was the focus, even the impetus, of the novel. Maybe I needed to be hit over the head with it a little more, because that didn't completely come through for me. But I defer to the Times and to Rowling who both obviously know better than I.
Here's my original post on the book:
The Casual Vacancy
Other books I've read lately:
The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand- not my favorite of hers, but still a fun read.
Night Road by Kristin Hannah- excellent, a real tearjerker.
Three Girls and a Wedding/ Three Girls and a Leading Man by Rachel Schurig. I read the first in the series, Three Girls and a Baby, over the summer and liked it. It's nothing heavy, but the "three girls" are written well and have a great friendship
The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory. I hated this book. I loved her Henry VIII books, so I was extremely disappointed by this one, which is about the early days of Elizabeth I's reign. It was so badly written that I had to stop reading it. The characters were wooden and the descriptions, particularly the adverbs, were repetitive and cringe-worthy.
I also read a biography of a woman who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Arizona circa 1909-1913, which was interesting, but I forgot the author's name.
A lot of women's lit there, and I'm starting to tire of it. I need some male authors, some crime novels, maybe a mystery or two. Any suggestions? I'm reading even more now (still love that Kindle during baby feeding time) so I need help!