One thing I just don't appreciate in it is that there is a number of characters on which I sometimes fail follow or recall their stories and backgrounds as I go further in the book. It's a tasking job to make mental notes of them. But the side stories were all interrelated and necessary to make the whole plot. In the end, Rowling was able to patch them up together and made a good one out of it.
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The Plot (Spoilers Ahead!)
Casual vacancy is a term connoting a situation where a seat in the council is suddenly vacant due to death or resignation of a parish councilor. The story revolves around the lives of the people in a town called Pagford after the death of Barry Fairbrother who suffered aneurysm in the night of his wedding anniversary with Mary Fairbrother. On that day, Barry was so busy making a news article of Krystal Weedon whom he happens to be proud of. Krystal is part of the school's rowing team on which Barry is the coach. Despite her bad image and poor academic background, Barry trusted her the captaincy of the team and he is said to have made a good choice as they happen to win the championship against the other rival school, St. Anne's.
Barry's position is now vacant and three aspirants are vying for it: Colin "Cubby" Wall (a Deputy Headteacher and believes that he is to replace Barry since he is his close friend), Simon Price (since he heard that Barry is not at all a straight man, he is convinced that it is the time for him to gain more income through bribes by having that position) and Miles Mollison (someone who is always walking in the shadows of his father, Howard who is also a Parish Councilor).
There is also an issue in the book which was handled by the council about the Fields, if it is to be retained as part of Pagford or be joined in the local city of Yarvil. Most of Pagford's neighborhood don't like the Fields because it is a place which is equivalent to the untouchables. Those who reside in the Fields are mostly drug-addicts, lawbreakers, grassroot individuals, and lacking in manners. It is equivalent to what the Filipinos call squatter area. Krystal lives in there along with her druggie mother and Robbie, her younger brother.
It can be seen in the novel that Krystal and Barry were the significant figures along with the people who are part of their lives. There were also Andrew Price, Fats Wall, and Sukhvinder Jawanda who triggered the commotion in town when they posted in the Parish website the unknown truths and accusation about Simon, Cubby and Parminder Jawanda by hacking the user account of Barry and renaming it to the The-Ghost-of-Barry-Fairbrother. The post said that Simon is doing outside business after office hours in the company he works and is using stolen goods in his home, Cubby is accused to having fantasies of his female students due to his obsessive compulsive behavior, and Parminder was said to be in love with the late Barry Fairbrother. Then at the later part of the novel, another accusation was posted in the website about Howard Mollison having an affair with his business partner, Maureen.
These turn of events have become a way for Cubby to be nervous and disoriented and loss faith in winning the candidacy, Simon Price pulled out his intention for the position and Parminder became distraught thus losing her focus in supporting The Fields. Then Shirley Mollison, wife of Howard, after reading the post became jealous and tried to murder her husband.
Then one day, the important characters become unconsciously part of a tragedy when they happen to be in the same place at the same time. When Krystal and Fats were having their thing in the bushes near the river, Robbie wander around and was drowned. Sukhvinder tried to save him but her thigh was caught by the computer monitors Simon had thrown in the river due to the accusations in the website. Samantha, Gavin and Shirley happen to pass in the area which is near Mary's house. Fats run from the vicinity and her mother, Tessa, came looking for him. She asked his friend, Andrew, and Andrew got the idea that his friend may be in their secret hiding place (the Cubby hole). The urgency of the matter made Andrew broke his promise about the Cubby hole by bringing Tessa in there. While the search and rescue is happening, Shirley injected EpiPen to Howard and it gave him a heart attack. Parminder was summoned by Miles but she refused to help him because she is in suspension from the medical world.
The end was the tragic death of Robbie and the suicide of Krystal Weedon. She felt responsible for her brother's death and guilt overpowered her causing her to induce an overdose of her mother's heroine supply. It ends with a funeral where Krystal's grave was put alongside her coach, Barry Fairbrother.