Barry Fairbrother lived in the small town of Pagford and when he died, the town went into shock. While the town itself appears to be idyllic, we soon see that beneath the outward show there is a town at war with itself. The opposites of each other just do not get along–the rich against the poor, husbands against wives, teachers against students and so forth. We soon realize that things are not what they seem to be. Now that Fairbrother’s seat on the town council is open, the war between the people comes to the fore. Fairbrother had worked hard to make sure that the low income families were treated well but now it seems as if his work was done in vain. This book deals with modern issues of today– racism, snobbery, etc but in a town is a microcosm of society as we know it. The focus here is on the rich and the corrupt (and if there was stupidity also included I would have to say it sounds like the Romney’s). We must remind ourselves before beginning to read this that this is a not a Harry Potter book and that this is a real gritty story about members of a community after a prominent citizen dies. Fairbrother used his seat on the town council to help the poor.
There is a large cast of characters whose stories intermesh and the characters are connected and some very serious issues are discussed here, from rape to drug abuse and abuse in the family. Rowling provides a commentary on bigotry, class and greed as seen through the characters. It is a realistic look at people and Rowling’s character involvement is wonderful. There is even a gay character— a young lesbian who comes out to her mother. Since Rowling wrote it, there is no question that it will be red and discussed so pick up a copy and join the throngs.