Not to leave my non-existent readers hanging, I thought I should post that I did indeed finish The Casual Vacancy. I also finished building the garden and moving in the tomatoes and cucumber plants. I'll post a photo of the garden if I'm ever home when the sun is out.
I did like the book. It did make me wonder if J. K. Rowling will always be bursting full of characters. I liked that all the characters were understandable--none were entirely good or bad. Unlike in the Potter volumes, there was no obvious main character. At the end of the book, I realized there probably had been a main character, and it wasn't whom I would have expected it to be from the beginning. That was fitting, because the novel illustrated the error in judging and dismissing a person.
You could derive this moral from the novel:
Pay attention to your kids, and pay attention to other people's kids too.
Spoiler alert: Very sad things happen.