Novel Suggestions Rotating Header Image

The Sopranos by Alan Warner

The Sopranos by Alan WarnerAlan Warner’s latest novel The Stars in the Bright Sky was one of the titles that caught my eye on the 2010 Man Booker Prize long list, but before reading it I wanted to read The Sopranos so as to get the most out of it. I suppose it isn’t essential to read them in order as The Stars in the Bright Sky does stand up on its own, but in the end I’m glad I didn’t skip the earlier book as it does make for fabulously funny reading.

Read on for a full review….

-- The Sopranos by Alan Warner a Review by Des Greene --

The Sopranos introduces us to the young ladies of the Our Lady of Perpetual Succour School for Girls, or to be more precise, to the members of the school’s choir. Living in the rather isolated community of a port town in the West of Scotland, the girls’ main focus appears to be on gaining underage access to the town’s one night club, and the possibility of whether any visiting sailors might be on shore leave.

A trip to the big city to take part in an inter-school competition, presents too good an opportunity to be missed for the choir’s ringleaders the five sopranos, and a catalogue of drinking, misbehaviour and other such scrapes is the almost inevitable outcome. The story follows just a single day in the girls’ lives, but it really is quite a day. Along the way a sixth member is inducted into the inner sanctum; little Kay, previously considered to be a bit of a goody-two-shoes, is found to have hidden depths of bad behaviour and is soon an adopted soprano.

The writing is a splendid mix of colloquial Scottish blended with the charmingly unsophisticated adolescent crudeness of the girls. At times I suppose it is quite shocking, but so long as you are not too prudish in your outlook it is more often than not achingly funny. If this makes the book sound rather shallow, then I should add that the characters are all well crafted and sufficient background is provided for the reader to get a picture of their home life and upbringing. The girls are far from one dimensional creations, and aside from their general naivety and brashness, there is also an underlying bond of care and sensitivity for each other. The overall humour of the book is counterbalanced by the rather desperate prospects the girls appear to have; teenage pregnancy, alcohol abuse and a general lack of opportunity are the norm, and because of this it is easy to form an empathy with these youngsters, as bad as they are.

Well written humour is the exception rather than the rule unfortunately, but it is also a very subjective thing. I found The Sopranos to be tremendously funny myself; whether or not you might appreciate it probably depends on your own personal taste. If you prefer very sophisticated humour, or if you are easily shocked and outraged, perhaps this is one you should pass on. If that doesn’t sound like you, then you might want to get hold of a copy and settle down for some fun.

Already read The Sopranos? What did you think of it? Please post a comment below, Novel Suggestions is always keen to hear your opinions.

Novel Suggestions only provides fiction book reviews of books that we personally recommend. We don’t spend our valuable time writing reviews of books which we feel would be a waste of your valuable time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *