The Sopranos Paperback – Jul 12 1999
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on Aug. 7 2001 by April
The Sopranos, Alan Warner's exploration of the lives of several teenage girls in the big city is fantastic. Read morePublished on Jan. 31 2001 by Elizabeth Hendry
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
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 morePublished on March 13 2000 by Lindsay
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 morePublished on Feb. 22 2000
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 morePublished on Feb. 10 2000 by Chris Williams
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 morePublished on Oct. 25 1999 by TheReader23
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 morePublished on Aug. 28 1999 by Amy Battis