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Could Richmond be setting for JK Rowling's next masterpiece?
BILLED as “blackly comic, thought provoking and constantly surprising”, the new book by JK Rowling already seems to be creating excitement in one particular town.
For there is talk that the backdrop to the Harry Potter author’s first adult novel is none other than Richmond , in North Yorkshire.
The Casual Vacancy is due to be published towards the end of September and there is growing enthusiasm for any lucrative link to the world’s best selling living writer.
Speculation has been fanned by The Independent newspaper which named Richmond – together with Kelso in the Scottish Borders – as the most likely contenders.
The tale centres on a parish council election and the limited synopsis reveals: “When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Seemingly an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war.”
And as Kelso is in Scotland, it all fits for Richmond, according to Anne Wicks, of Castle Hill Bookshop, who’s already planning a high-profile launch for the new book.
“There’s a distinct possibility it could be Richmond. We have Easby Abbey, there’s a cobbled market place, and of course it is idyllic,” said Anne.
“The book is out on September 27. Unfortunately the publishers won’t tell us anything either but they did ask us to do a breakfast launch, so we’re having a casual event, but it’ll be magic for us if it is Richmond.”
Mayor Stuart Parsons feels the JK Rowling link may be a distinct possibility.
“It is an irresistable place,” he said. “I’m not sure about any election disputes, but we have had some major disagreements.
Look at what happened over selling off the York Square car park.
“The town is well known for standing up for itself. How fabulous it would be if the town of Pagford was based on our town, and what about the film rights, this would be an ideal place for the film.”
However, any comparisons could yet turn out to be none too flattering.
For JK Rowling’s website reveals the town portrayed in the book may have a dark side.
“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.”