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The Sopranos
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 22 July 2016
In a word, brilliant! Bawdy, irreverent and knowing, Alan Warner captures perfectly the vitality of youth before it's lost forever. By turns, hilariously funny, shockingly provocative, agonisingly poignant and achingly tragic, this is a splendid book. I bought it after seeing Lee Hall's stage adaptation, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, and was hooked. Have since read all Alan Warner's works - a real discovery, a total joy.
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on 18 May 2016
Sorry but didn't hugely like this hard slogg. No quotation marks when people speaking g having to try to decipher the Scottish a cents . Wouldn't recommend.
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on 26 June 2017
Would buy again
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on 1 June 2016
Funny, poignant- Scottish convent girls at their rowdiest.
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on 21 April 2017
I laughed an awful lot, but mainly in the second half of the book, sometimes out loud. The first half establishes the characters. Be warned though, with five main characters there is a lot of backstory, but it is never dull. Warner is also very good on small town life and the limitations imposed by class and religion. His prose takes a little getting used to. it is quite poetic. At times it actually reminded me of Under Milk Wood.
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on 3 June 2014
Yes, in the end I did like it. My first impression was disappointment, exacerbated to a large extent by the fact that I'd just finished Kelman's 'How late it was, how late' and felt I couldn't face another dialect book, and then the realisation that this was very different from 'The Deadman's pedal' which I'd thoroughly enjoyed.
However it grew on me. And grew, so that I began to care quite a bit about what happened to each of the Sopranos and how they would get through their tumultuous day. Certainly one to re-read in a year or so's time, to soak up the language and the nuances.
And the observations were fantastically well done; either Alan Warner has sisters, or daughters (I hope not like this!) which he brings very vividly to life
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on 27 December 2010
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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on 13 February 2011
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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on 24 October 2002
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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on 25 January 2002
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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