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The Sopranos: A Novel Paperback – July 10, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1st Harvest ed edition (July 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156012014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156012010
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,291,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 15, 2000
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
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
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 in a featureless port town whose only respite from the numbing drudgery of their existence is achieved through an astonishingly excessive alcohol intake and sex acts devoid even of affection.
The British quality press all say how funny this book is, with epithets like "wickedly funny" (Independent) and "riotously funny" (The Times). Yes there are some amusing slapstick scenes but this book is not purely a comedy.
This in an excellent novel. One starts with a certain mild distaste as one is introduced to the main protagonists but as time and the story progress one is drawn in to a realization of how these girls have been abandoned by our social culture and put-upon by their draconian and misguided school. This leads to a certain affection for these individuals, and their dispair (though most do not acknowledge it) becomes very tangible.
Perhaps the most telling observation is from a young lad who befriends one of the girls whose thought is "These chicks are the damaged goods."
Through the use of quirky spelling and a startling lack of punctuation (which take a little getting used to), the author captures with remarkable accuracy the girls' brash but amusing dialogue and the reader is left in no doubt that he is absolutely in touch with the sub-culture of that environment. The girls meet their situation with riotous rebellion and a dry humour that is very amusing, if not touching.
Especially well drawn is the discovery of a true sense of love in one of the girls, an emotion clearly previously unknown to her and one which leads her to a very courageous public stance.
This is the first book by Alan Warner that I have read. It certainly won't be the last.
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Format: Paperback
After "slogging" (not in sopranos speak) through the first few pages of this exceptional story and getting used to the near-undecipherable vernacular of the sopranos, I was dead-on hooked. I can only describe this novel as a scottish female version of the movie "Go" or perhaps a tarantino-esque irvine welsh story, but that wouldn't do justice to the interludes of truth, meaning, and compassion that exist between outrageous scenes of cheerily lewd behavior. At the end, I knew each girl very closely and cared about the plights of each one - and, as in all good books, immediately wanted a sequel. So, you know what this story's about, just go grab it ASAP and thank me later, you won't be dissappointed.
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Format: Paperback
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 them--it helped me a bit. It may seem confusing or fragmented the first time you read it, but it's well worth reading again, and makes more sense the second time round besides. It really is a remarkable work of fiction--like you are reading the girls' diaries or looking over their shoulders. And, I definitely agree with the reviewers who said it would make a greatr movie, but only if it is filmed verbatim as written. Hurray for Warner! For this is truly one of the best works of our era.
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By A Customer on October 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a gem of a book, and as others have noted, will make a great film. Warner's use of dialect in the novel is much more accessible than that of his countrymen James Kelman and Irvine Welsh. It's necessary, and not overdone. The Sopranos are a vivid, believeable collection of Catholic schoolgirls from the west coast of Scotland. They are lusty, naughty, loving, hating, ambivalent, caring, violent, sad--yet with a will to keep going. They're like high school kids the world over in the turn of the millenium... you'll love them, they'll shock you. You'll see girls just like them in New York and Tokyo and Paris and know they're similar in so many ways. Definitely a worthwhile read...
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