Things denied, things untold, things hidden and disguised.

Friday, Friday, Friday. Hurray and also hurrah. Tomorrow is the the start of another long weekend; the boy and I are off down to Brighton for four days to stop with Mark and Emma. It will be a lovely [cheap] weekend of reading on the sofa and walking on the seafront and eating lots of home-cooked food and watching fireworks and also some horse-racing, so I'm told.=. We've not seen Mark and Em since June and I'm really looking forward to it. Stopping with them is a little like a home from home in a way, which is always nice. There's no expectations and I'm pretty sure I'll spend Sunday mooching around in my PJ's eating Sugar Puffs like I did last time I was there. It's just like being at home except there's two cats instead of one and the house is nicer and the garden bigger and of course Mark and Emma are there being all delightful. I can't wait.

Before then though is the rest of today! I'm off to see my Granny in a little while which will be nice as her holiday and my holiday means I've not seen her for 3 weeks so I'm looking forward to a cup of tea and a chat and then tonight I plan to be indoors. We have some TV to watch, I don't know quite what, but something and I'll watch whilst making Christmas presents - this weeks homemade gifts involve buttons!  Exciting.

AND!!! Starbucks Red Cups are back. Dance with me?

In bookish news, this week I read The Casual Vacancy. Would I be lying if I said it was one of the most anticipated titles of the year? Maybe. There was a massive stand full of books in Sainsbury's though and Amazon sent me about 72 million emails so I'm going to say people somewhere were expecting other people to anticipate it.

I wasn't sure how I felt when I first heard that J.K. Rowling was writing another book and not only was it not the history of the Marauders but it wasn'y even remotely connected to Harry Potter. I'm not going to lie - I do not think J.K Rowling is the greatest writer that ever lived. I love Harry Potter, everybody who knows me loves that. I love the books, I know them inside out, I am grateful to Jo for writing them, I think they should be required reading for every child in the world but I don't think Jo Rowling is the greatest writer in the world [hush, don't hate me. I still love her]; she could write in Harry's world forever and I would read it forever, but something else, something totally and utterly different? I wondered how that would work out and actually, I was nervous for her because God, can you even imagine the weight of the pressure that comes of releasing anything following the success of Harry Potter - so much pressure to succeed because everything else she's done is just adored and at the same time so many people, watching, rubbing their hands together and waiting to see her fail. *gulp*  rather her than me.
I think she made the right desecion taking the step away from children's literature for that very reason; anything she wrote in that genre would be judged - harshly - against Harry Potter, she'd have to produce something incredible to stand half a chance of measuring up. At least with The Casual Vacancy whilst people will always compare it to Harry Potter, the comparisons are harder to make.

First impressions? In fact, earlier than first impressions, so impressions based on the information I had before I even had a copy of the book? I wasn't sure I was going to like it. If Jo's name wasn't on the cover then I wouldn't have picked it up and that's a fact; the blurb would not have drawn me in - a book about small town politics doesn't sound like the most exciting read. I read this book purely because it said J.K. Rowling on the cover; Jo drew me in, the fact that I had to see what she could do and I kind of liked that because I had no idea what to expect, no clue. I was pleasantly surprised, actually, because I actually really liked it.

It's a funny thing to say, I suppose, but it felt familiar reading this book. I mean, the characters, the setting, the story, all of it was brand new and yet somehow it felt a little like settling down with an old friend; whilst there are no wizards and no magic and no Hogwarts in the world of The Casual Vacancy but instead council estates and drug addicts and pompous middle aged men and small town politics there's something about it, which I guess can only be Jo that comes through and it made it easy and comfortable to read, perhaps because like Harry Potter, in The Casual Vacancy's characters are at the heart of the story and Rowling does well with characters. It's a book about class and about society and what at first seems like just a simple story about the complexeties of a relatively small group of people - all of whom had their own distinct voice, well done Jo - soon grips you with unexpected melodrama, and twists that leave you gasping and an ending that is shocking but very well executed. Once it got it's claws in, this book wouldn't let me go, I had to keep reading - meaning I am stupid tired this morning - and I'm really very glad I did.

J.K. Rowling has proven here that she isn't just a one trick pony, that she can do more than just Harry Potter and I certainly won't be as nervous about picking up her next offering.



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