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Filed Under: // Sep 03 2014

General Info:

Title: The Casual Vacancy
Published: September 27, 2012
Summary: Opening with the death of beloved Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother in a suburban West Country town called Pagford, a vacant seat on the council causes conflict before the election for his successor takes place. Factions develop, particularly concerning whether to dissociate with a local council estate, “the Fields”, with which Barry supported an alliance. However, those running for a place soon find their darkest secrets revealed on the Parish Council online forum, ruining their campaign and leaving the election in turmoil.

[The Telegraph published a guide to all 34 characters]

  • Barry Fairbrother – A member of the Parish Council who was born and raised in The Fields. He coached the girls’ rowing team and was particularly fond of Krystal Weedon. It is his death that rocks the community of Pagford.
  • Mary Fairbrother – Widow of Barry Fairbrother. Due to the fact that Barry was about to publish an article about The Fields prior to his demise, she blames The Fields for occupying her husband’s mind, and therefore causing his death.
  • Howard Mollison – Leader of the Parish Council, owner of a delicatessen and married to Shirley. He is morbidly obese and suffers a heart attack after Andrew’s anonymous accusations that he has had an affair with business partner Maureen.
  • Shirley Mollison – Wife of Howard Mollison and mother of Miles. She is devoted to Howard and all of his endeavours, until she learns of his affair with his business partner Maureen.
  • Patricia “Pat” Mollison – daughter of Howard and Shirley and sister to Miles, who lives in London and only comes to Pagford for her father’s birthday party. Her relationship with her parents is strained due to her being a lesbian. As retribution she tells Fats and Andrew of the affair between her father and Maureen.
  • Miles Mollison – A lawyer who works with Gavin; he is the son of Howard and Shirley, brother of Pat and husband of Samantha. Miles runs for and eventually wins the council election.
  • Samantha Mollison – Wife of Miles and owner of a failing bra shop. Samantha has lost interest in Miles, kissing sixteen year-old Andrew Price and fancying Vikram Jawanda, and “Jake”, a member of her daughter’s favourite boyband. She shares mutual dislike with Miles’ mother, Shirley, and appears to have an alcohol problem.
  • Krystal Weedon – A resident of “The Fields” who dates Fats Wall. She suffers a traumatic childhood, raised by her heroin-addicted mother, frequently acting as sole caregiver to younger brother Robbie, and suffering rape at the hands of her mother’s drug dealer. She commits suicide following Robbie’s death.
  • Terri Weedon – A heroin addict and prostitute, mother of Krystal and Robbie and resident of “The Fields”. She attempts to rehabilitate through the Bellchapel clinic, but fails and ultimately relapses.
  • Colin “Cubby” Wall – Deputy Headteacher of the local comprehensive. He considers himself to be a close friend of Barry’s and stands for election. This is later marred by anonymous accusations made by his adoptive son, “Fats”, that he is afraid of being accused of molesting a child. This considerably worsens his obsessive compulsive disorder, which leads him to believe he has committed crimes that in fact he hasn’t.
  • Tessa Wall – Wife of Cubby and adoptive mother of Fats. She is the school’s guidance counsellor and has regular meetings with Krystal Weedon, although she later disapproves of her relationship with her son. Also a diabetic.
  • Stuart “Fats” Wall – Adopted son of Colin and Tessa, Andrew’s best friend and popular at school due to his witty humour. He bullies Sukhvinder and begins a sexual relationship with Krystal Weedon. The novel ends with him isolated from the community due to his partial responsibility for Krystal’s brother Robbie’s death, the comments made on the council website, and for kissing Gaia, Andrew’s crush. Fats has a strained relationship with both his parents, particularly with his father, and at times wonders what his real parents are like. Tessa eventually explains to him that his birth mother had him when she only fourteen years old; his conception possibly being the product of incest. She also says that she insisted on adopting him despite Colin not being in good health at the time. Though he only reveals his father’s obsessive fears while posing as “The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother”, after Robbie’s death, he shoulders the blame for all of the Ghost’s activities.
  • Andrew Price – Son of Simon and Ruth, and Fats’ best friend. He develops a romantic interest in Gaia Bawden, eventually securing a weekend job in Howard’s delicatessen to be around her. He secretly hates his father Simon for his domineering and abusive behaviour, and resents his mother for excusing and putting up with it. Later on reveals that his father had purchased stolen goods under the guise of “The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother”.
  • Simon Price – Husband of Ruth Price and Andrew and Paul’s father. He decides to stand for election so he can receive bribes, and physically and verbally abuses his children and his wife.
  • Kay Bawden – A social worker from London and mother of Gaia. She moves to Pagford to be with her boyfriend Gavin, and becomes Krystal and Terri’s social worker temporarily. She has the most success with Terri but then is forced to give up the family’s case when her co-worker returns from sick leave. She eventually breaks up with Gavin.
  • Gavin Hughes – A lawyer and Kay’s boyfriend, although he is shown to resent her throughout the novel. He claims he was Barry’s best friend and eventually confesses his love for Barry’s widow, Mary, though she rejects his advances.
  • Gaia Bawden – Kay’s attractive daughter, fancied by Andrew. She befriends Sukhvinder and detests Pagford, knowing Gavin isn’t interested in her mother; she wants to move to Reading to be with her father. She eventually kisses Fats Wall, much to the disappointment of Andrew and Sukhvinder, but later regrets it and reconnects with both friends at Krystal’s funeral.
  • Parminder Jawanda – Doctor and mother of Sukhvinder, whom she pressures to be upstanding like Parminder’s other children. She is a member of the Parish Council and supporter of keeping “The Fields”, although her motive is suggested to be her love of Barry by Sukhvinder posing as “The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother”.
  • Sukhvinder Jawanda – Daughter of Parminder, is bullied by Fats, pressured by her mother to be great, and self-harms. She was a member of the rowing team alongside Krystal Weedon, and eventually risks her life in an attempt to save Krystal’s brother, Robbie. After Krystal’s great-grandmother died while under her Parminder’s care, Krystal blames Parminder for her death and threatens to hurt Sukhvinder because of it.
  • Vikram Jawanda – Handsome husband of Parminder Jawanda and father of Sukhvinder and her siblings. He is the heart surgeon who performed Howard’s triple heart bypass.
  • The Ghost Of Barry Fairbrother – The secret identity of three Pagford teens (independently and for the most part unaware of each other’s identities) who use Barry Fairbrother’s old account on the Pagford council’s forum to reveal secrets of council members.

Interesting Fact:
Fictional town Pagford is located in the West Country, is much like Jo’s birthplace Yate, Gloucestershire.