Casually judging a book by its cover

Harry Potter author JK Rowling's first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, goes on sale worldwide on September 27.

Considering the phenomenal interest in the book and allowing for a 10 hour time difference, it's quite likely some Australian readers will have finished reading the book before Rowlings has attended her first book signing at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London, 7.30pm.

Here she will chat with BBC journalist Mark Lawson, followed by a book signing and will follow this up on October 6 with another interview and signing at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Meanwhile Australian booksellers are trying to get in on the action with pre-orders from Dymock's offering The Casual Vacancy for $25.99 (Hardcover, 480 pages) and Readings for $32.95 - but you get 512 pages by their count... Readings are also offering the audio CD for $55.

In the meantime, debate rages over the final version of the cover although in the long run, it could be plain-packaged like Australian cigarettes and would still sell millions (recalling Led Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door, 1979).

In case you haven't worked it out, the cross/tick in a box on the cover relates to the election that follows the death of Pageford parish councillor Barry Fairweather.

Here's the synopsis that has been tantalising, or otherwise, readers around the globe:
"When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults."
JK Rowling's birth place, Yate
As for inspiration for the subject matter - sleepy English township at war within itself - there are no more iconic villages and towns in all of England than in the Cotswolds.

And of course JK Rowlings was born in the town of Yate, near Bristol, at the southern end of the Cotswolds...

The Casual Vacancy: Little, Brown and Company. Hardback. ISBN:9781408704202


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