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The Sopranos [Paperback]

Alan Warner
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

July 12 1999
It’s an important day for the Sopranos when the school choir bus hits the big city for the national finals. The girls’ priorities are pub-crawling, shoplifting and body-piercing, and then it’s on to the Man Trap disco.

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From Amazon

If there's any justice, Alan Warner's third novel, The Sopranos, will lead to a sudden fad for artificially shortened kilt skirts, bright shoelaces, and flaming sambuca shots. As it is, we might have to settle for the sopranos themselves, six memorably vile-mouthed Catholic schoolgirls sent from their drab port town to "the big, big city" for the Scottish national choir finals. There Warner follows them as they shop, smoke, eat Big Macs, consume staggering amounts of alcohol, and pay no attention whatsoever to the competition. Winning, after all, would defeat their central goal: returning in time for the slow dances at the Mantrap and the promise of submariners on leave. In the end, it turns out that the nuclear submarine has stopped in their harbor only to unload a dead sailor, and the girls must console themselves with alcohol, sex, a veritable inferno of fireworks, and even one heartbreakingly courageous kiss.

By turns bawdy and tender, funny and sad, The Sopranos faces adolescence head-on, without sentiment or false hope. Youth, for these girls, is precious precisely because they have so little to look forward to. When their friend becomes pregnant, she's already "devoured the few opportunities for the wee bit sparkle that was ever going to come her way." When the nuns' parrot--who likes to spout Spanish obscenities during Mass--escapes from the school, his bright colors are "like a happiness that wasn't allowed below such skies, against these curt roof angles of slate and granite." Theirs is a grim, circumscribed world, but the sopranos shine like tropical birds against the background of gray. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Hottie-tottie Scots girls slosh and snog their way through Warner's (Morvern Callar) bacchanalian novel wi' no a care for the Queen's English and with envious contempt for the "trendy-****ing-city-lassie fashion victims" they encounter on a choir trip to London. The Sopranos, appointed leaders and cool girls of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, chain-smoke and doctor their hemsAand see the choir's trip to the capital to compete in the St. Columba Choirs final as an opportunity to drink themselves silly and add to the notches on their French Connection belts. Away from their small coastal town the convent girls wriggle free of their inhibitions, leaving their striking poverty, dysfunctional families and village gossip behind. Their youth and vulnerability (extreme and fiercely guarded) do not accord with what they've already had to bear. Orla, suffering from Hodgkin's Disease, has not long to live; Fionulla ("the Cooler") keeps secrets about her sexuality; Kylah's beautiful voice is squandered on the "shite" band she sings with; Manda's so poor her father reuses her milky bathwater; (Ra)Chell has lost her two daddies to the sea; posh Kay is a dark horse, thought to be a "swot" who studies hard and rats. The pathos of these pretty young things in tight skirtsA"damaged goods," as one of the unsuspecting and peculiar men who falls in with them thinks to himselfAseeps in between the cracks of the restless, reckless adventure Warner stages for them. In pub after pub they tell stories on each other and get into scrapes, maintaining the buoyant, sanguine arrogance of youth and sexual power. Satirical, too, Warner's novel takes a final twist that proves these blaspheming, Christsaking little Catholic girls know surprisingly well the value of one's word. (Apr.) FYI: The Sopranos was a bestseller in England.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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No sweat, we'll never win; other choirs sing about Love, all our songs are about cattle and death! Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Tender, Funny, and Sad? Which Book Was That? March 21 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I ordered The Sopranos based on the reviews posted online, but now I wish I had gone to a bookstore and thumbed through it first, because if I had, I would not have wasted my money. I was expecting a good naturedly raunchy, fun read about Catholic school girls gone wild during a night on the town. I looked forward to the tender, funny, and sad parts that were promised along with the bawdiness. Instead, I threw the book down in disgust less than halfway through, unable to read any further. Instead of snickering at the antics of a group of oversexed teenagers, I actually found myself feeling ill after reading the chapter detailing one girl's attempted rape of a nearly comatose cancer patient, complete with graphic descriptions of the dying man's loss of control over his bodily functions as she molested him. That anyone can refer to this scene as "grimly funny" is astounding. Exactly what was funny about it? Would it be just as amusing if the roles were reversed and an adult forced himself on an unconscious child? I continued to read for a while longer, although I was having difficulty with the unfamiliar Scottish dialect (while not fair to criticize the book on these grounds, since it was written in the UK, after all, I wonder how accessible this makes it to the average US reader). I got as far as the gory description of the death of a litter of puppies brought about by one of the girls' stupidity. At that point, I finally decided it just wasn't worth the effort, since none of what I read before giving up was tender, funny or sad enough to take away the lingering bad taste in my mouth.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and entertaining March 20 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Wow. The girls in The Sopranos are both wild and endearing. The author handles their exploits in a masterful way -- the reader understands what they are doing is plausible, even though you wouldn't think these girls are just any Scottish girls you might meet. They are all well-rounded and satisfying characters -- and whether they're screaming obscenities in a McDonald's bathroom or prowling for men or discussing sexual topics -- you will be rooting for their success. You will nearly forget the real event which brings them to the big city, and believe they are there for no other reason than to fulfill their own desires.
This book is screaming to be made into a movie. While it doesn't read like a screenplay, the characters and events are so vivid it seems cruel to not show this story visually.
The writing takes a bit of getting used to (unless you can automatically adjust to Scottish slang and [Scottish]-phonetically spelled words), you'll find yourself reading this with a Scottish narrating voice in no time. Once you become accustomed to the language, this is quite a quick and highly enjoyable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lives of Wild Desperation Feb. 25 2001
By A. Ross
Format:Paperback
The most recent, and probably most entertaining of Warner's three books (see also Morven Callar and These Demented Lands) set in a small town on the Scottish coast, it's probably also the least demanding read and most self-conciouslessly commercial of them. Warner shares two stylistic forms with his more famous countryman, Irvine Welsh: ultra-realistic dialogue with a rhythm and vocabulary all its own, and a tendency to write in fragments, scenes, and flashbacks to build the overall narrative. As in his previous books, the narrative here is about the oppressiveness and boredom of youth living in a small town. The book chronicles the adventures of six foul-mouthed, bawdy, and misbehavin' teenage Catholic choir girls as they take a day trip to Edinburgh to compete in a nationwide choral competition. Released to the big city the girls set sights on booze, clothes and men--with mostly predictable results, rendered in enjoyable episodes by Warner. Fun stuff, but the underlying air of desperation to grasp a good time, makes this more than a mere mildly titillating romp with youth. The dull fate that inescapably awaits these girls in adulthood make this a poignant and memorable tale.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet Oct. 15 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Scotland's Alan Warner is one of the best and most original writers at
work today. The only reason I gave this, this third book, four stars
instead of five is because his two previous, Morvern Callar and These
Demented Lands were so much better.
From the title, you might think
this book has to do with the opera world. Hardly. It concerns the
fifth-form sopranos at Our Lady of Perpetual Succor School for Girls
in the Scottish village of Port. the plot concerns a day trip the
girls (Orla, Kylah, Chell, Manda and Fionnula) are making from their
small village school to the city for the national singing finals.
While these girls are superior sopranos with beautiful voices, they
really don't give a hoot about music or the singing competition.
These five girls are completely focused on their free afternoon in the
city where they fully intend to prowl the local pubs for attractive
prospects among the opposite sex.
A local McDonald's provides the
place to shed their school uniforms and don the sexy outfits they
consider more fitting. Somehow, Warner gets the descriptions of the
clothes exactly right, even down to the girls' underwear. With their
makeup and nail polish applied, the girls head off, some directly to
the pubs, some to buy CDs, etc., before meeting again for rehearsal
with Sister Condron.
The book is written in dialect and that takes a
little getting used to, but not much. It would, in fact, have
suffered greatly had Warner not written in dialect. The dialogue has
a perfect air of authenticity about it: this is exactly what naughty
girls at Catholic schools do and say when the Sisters' are occupied
elsewhere.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful--The Best Book I Have Read in a Long Time!!!
This was one of the best books I have ever read. If you are not used to the dialogues and accents used, then you might want to think of someone speaking the words as you read... Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2001 by April
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted and Wonderful
The Sopranos, Alan Warner's exploration of the lives of several teenage girls in the big city is fantastic. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2001 by Elizabeth Hendry
4.0 out of 5 stars A study in dispair
This work is as poignant a social comment as any I have recently read.
This novel turns an intimate spotlight on the plight of bored, rudderless Scottish schoolgirls trapped... Read more
Published on May 4 2000 by David Garfield
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brutally Truthful Masterpiece
Warner has written teenage girls better than any other flimsy novelist out today! He goes into the deepest, darkest corners of the teenager's mind to explore sex, lesbianism,... Read more
Published on March 13 2000 by Lindsay
4.0 out of 5 stars Irreverent Scottish Youth
My first Warner novel, it's taken me quite a while to get through it. The book is written in dialect, which I usually hate, but it's done so well here that I can't imagine the... Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2000 by "obxgrl"
5.0 out of 5 stars Good but not as good as Morvern Callar
Although his second book was better written, it did not have the same feeling as Morven Callar. I enjoyed The Sopranos, but if you are a first time Warner reader I would have to... Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2000 by Chris Williams
1.0 out of 5 stars I'M IN THE MINORITY -- WORST BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR
I thought that not only was this the worst book I've read all year, it is undoubtedly the worst book I've ever read. Read more
Published on Oct. 25 1999 by Nancy Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously good read
If there's any justice, this will be made into a movie. Done right, it will have the same sort of humor that Trainspotting or the Roddy Doyle trilogy (The Commitments/The... Read more
Published on Aug. 28 1999 by Amy Battis
4.0 out of 5 stars Girl power.... if there is such a thing!
Not a book on opera, definitely! But a book on life, sex, questions,religion, booze and the depressing landscapes of Scotland. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 1999
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