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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching but hilarious
'Morvern Callar', Alan Warner's first book was bleak but beautiful, yet the sequel, 'These Demented Lands' was over ambitious and difficult to read, despite some crafted writing and original ideas. 'The Sopranos' restores Warner's place as one of Scotland's finest contemporary writers, telling the story of a day trip to Edinburgh for a school choir competition from...
Published on 27 Oct. 1999

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strangely warming
This is a difficult book to describe. Following a school choir as they travel to Edinburgh for a contest, this does take a while to get going. Initially the characters are unsympathetic, there is little event to capture interest, and the school cliques are stifling.
As the girls take in the city, however, their masks drop, and we see a more human, vulnerable side to...
Published on 24 Oct. 2002 by Mr. Paul J. Bradshaw


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching but hilarious, 27 Oct. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
'Morvern Callar', Alan Warner's first book was bleak but beautiful, yet the sequel, 'These Demented Lands' was over ambitious and difficult to read, despite some crafted writing and original ideas. 'The Sopranos' restores Warner's place as one of Scotland's finest contemporary writers, telling the story of a day trip to Edinburgh for a school choir competition from the perspective of half a dozen teenage girls - the sopranos. Warner identifies with and writes authentically from the perspective of the six girls; the description, language and dialogue is vivid. Whilst the girls are rebellious and hilarious, we are also exposed to their hopes, fears and insecurities in what is a humane and delicate story. The level of detail brings out every facet of each of the girls' personalities, and Warner shows an exceptional understanding of his subjects' emotions and inhibitions. This is one of my books of the year - highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars girls at the end of civilization the cooler, 13 Nov. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
this is a wonderfully crafted and written book. (i dont normally do criticism). my favorite aspect of Warner's writing is his usage of the scottish way of speaking, his books have actually affected the way i speak and write informally. another aspect that i find exhilarating is the bleakness that he presents in these highland characters. it is very consuming. like pointing out light things in a dark room. on the issue of the girls' sexuality, there are many reasonable complaints about the fact that these girls act the way a dirty old man might want them to act, but i'm not so sure. i know girls here in boston and other cities that throw themselves fully into being promiscuous, based on the fact that they feel theres no other way. the girls are living in some blank highland town with no future other than being poor, getting drunk, having as much sex as possible and in the end, getting knocked up. the seemingly self-destructive sexual behavior can account fr this. the bi-sexuality could as well be seen as a quest for something more than what existence has offered, but thats not an excuse because bi-sexuality does exist in great quantity and not just in fiction. in the end, this is just an incredible read, so so good. whether you feel it's a dirty man's wishbook or a tale of existing when yr existence means nothing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strangely warming, 24 Oct. 2002
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
This is a difficult book to describe. Following a school choir as they travel to Edinburgh for a contest, this does take a while to get going. Initially the characters are unsympathetic, there is little event to capture interest, and the school cliques are stifling.
As the girls take in the city, however, their masks drop, and we see a more human, vulnerable side to their characters. Events take a turn for the worse, and secrets come out.
Even so, it is only with the return to their hometown and a night on the tiles that we have some true tension and the various stories come to a close.
You finish the book with a subtle affection for the characters, and a hope that things will be alright no matter what. Strangely affirming, in that way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outrageous funny sad realistic magic impossible yes, 9 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
"The Sopranos" follows a group of Catholic schoolgirls through 24 hours as they prepare for, travel to, and recover from, an annual choir competition in Edinburgh. This summing-up gives you a totally false picture of the novel -- and of the girls. As soon as they get free of their teachers, they change into street clothes and set off into the capital city in search of clothes, CDs, alcohol, and men. Snogging (kissing) and shagging (shagging) with near-strangers they pick up--night club bouncers, railway station countermen, miscellaneous bumblers--fill a large part of their fantasy lives & even an important part of their waking lives. These half-dozen accidents-waiting-to-happen become real to us and each other as they go through lives some might call sordid and others soaring. A loose parrot and a caged budgie form an image of what these girls do for each other. Sometimes baffling, sometimes maddening, always compelling. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As modern a book as I have read this decade, 13 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
"The Sopranos" is Warner's best book yet. After the over-reaching ambition of "These Demented Lands", the author not only recaptures the spirit of his debut novel, "Morvern Callar", but shows he has many more strings to his bow. His portrait of five Scottish teenagers on a trip to Edinburgh from their west-coast home is by turns touching and amusing, farcical and serious. Warner's examination of fatal illness in the character of Orla represents one of the most sympathetic treatments of this kind of subject matter any contemporary author has attempted. Perhaps most impressive is Warner's uncanny grasp of Scottish speech and idiom - he exceeds Irvine Welsh in this respect and uses this feel for language as a tool for examining the characters' inner workings. A magnificent book and worthy of the most serious literary plaudits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my top 5 read of 2010, 13 Feb. 2011
By 
Lucinda Stern (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
This book takes place over a short period of time and follows school girls Fionula (the Cooler), Chell, Manda, Kylah, Orla and posh girl Kay on their choir trip the big city. The girls take the opportunity of a day away from the provincial Port town where they live to make the most of the city, namely it's drinking places and it's men.

I was always one of the good girls at school, but I did go to a school where other girls would drink on the coach, and would make crude signs to show to the lorry drivers. I recognise that world and it was interesting to enter it. The girls are both lovable and shocking. The amount they drink is huge and unsurprisingly the book contains lots of throwing up and a scene in A@E. When reading it all seems very funny, and I wonder if it is possible to feel drunk on Warner's prose.

For me the best drawn characters where Fionula, who befriends the wretched and no longer good-girl Kay; Kay who is dealing with her own secret and Orla who is in remission from cancer. All the characters have some level of back-story, giving them a realness and a vulnerability in contrast to their bravado. The friendship between the girls is well caught.

I read this and then I HAD to read Stars in the Night Sky which had just come out in print. I was so glad I read it at that point, I don't think I'd have liked to have waited the 10 years it took Warner to write a follow up to find out what happened next. I'd love it of Warner wrote some more stories, set in the Port, about Morven and these girls....once you've fallen in love with Warner's world you just want to stay there!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, sad and funny, 27 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
The Sopranos takes place in the course of one day, following a group of Catholic schoolgirls as they take the bus from their small Scottish village to the city to enter into a singing competition. We listen in to their secret cool-girl gossip as they escape the discipline doled out by the nuns; how they plan to dress, snog, gossip, shop, drink huge amounts of alcohol and get into clubs despite being underage.

So begins a day of debauchery, getting sick, sharing secrets, escaping the various tricky situations they get themselves into, and the inevitable adolescent sexual fumblings and experimentations.

Though this might sound like a careless romp and a chance for us oldies to reminisce back to the days when getting drunk in a club full of marines was on top of the agenda, a dark undertone runs through the entire book. It is in part a social commentary on how British teens live and the challenges they face depending on the class they come from. It's about the sometimes insurmountable chasm between young teenage girls and their parents, the different language they speak and the heartbreaking loyalty they have to their friends because at that age there are very few other places to which they can safely turn.

At the same time it is absolutely hilarious. The Scottish accents are near phoenetical throughout the entire book, and the ping-pong, quick-fire dialogue between the girls feels really natural and easy. In a whole, the book is outrageous, incredibly funny, original, disgusting, sad, and sometimes toe-curlingly nasty. Well worth the read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling and tragi-comiedy, 5 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
When we meet the titular Sopranos they are about to set off from 'The Port' (A thinly disguised Oban) to a choir-competition in Edinburgh. For the six girls singing would appear to come a distant second to drinking, shopping and making it back to the Port before closing at the 'Mantrap' nightclub. What starts as a light-hearted comic romp with genuine laugh-aloud momments, soon matures into something more satisfying as the girls find themselves hopelessly out of their depth in the big city. Alan Warner allows the indivdual vcharacters space to develop and soon the faultlines in their friendship become apparent, riven by ambition, social class and money, as the certainties of their small-town teenage life collapse around them.

By the end of the novel several of the characters have made life-changiing decisions and we get a tantalising glimpse of six girls on the cusp of adulthood. Touching, moving and lingers long in the memory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humane eye, nice attitude, 25 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
I was recommended to Alan Warner by Michael Moorcock who was enthusiastic about his quirky mindset and if you like that strange mix of surrealism and down-to-earth common sense associated with Moorcock and Iain Sinclair, you'll really enjoy Alan Warner. He hasn't been well served by the promotional regionalism which has made Scottish books go as in and out of fashion as Celtic theme pubs and though he's associated with Irving Welch, I personally can't see anything much united them. Warner seems a lot more talented and eloquent. I am not denigrating Welch. I just can't see what they have in common. This is a brilliant and very funny book and certainly not the drag act some reviewers made it out to be. Warner is fast becoming one of my personal favourites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so good and so touching, 20 Dec. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sopranos (Paperback)
Warners best book to date, the most readable and most touching, It sums many of us up as we were in our teens, the crazyness, the longing for acceptance, understanding, every thing, He beutifully conveys the feelings and emotions of these confused teenagers and deals magnificently with many touching, difficult realities. A wonderful book, one of my favourite bits being his little cleopatra in her bath of powdered milk. Warners sense of place and narrative is astounding,he creats a magik/realist world, with true female adolescent feelings. Beautiful,A book to be read and enjoyed.
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The Sopranos by Alan Warner
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