Burning Bright

11 08 2010

The Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner

The Sopranos are back: out of school and out in the world, gathered in Gatwick to plan a super-cheap last-minute holiday to celebrate their reunion. Kay, Kylah, Manda, Rachel and Finn are joined by Finn’s equally gorgeous friend Ava – a half-French philosophy student – and are ready to go on the rampage. Just into their twenties and as wild as ever, they’ve added acrylic nails, pedicures, mobile phones and credit cards to their arsenal, but are still the same thirsty girls: their holiday bags packed with skimpy clothes and condoms, their hormones rampant. Will it be Benidorm or Magaluf, Paris or Las Vegas? One thing is certain: a great deal of fast-food will be eaten and gallons of Guinness will be drunk by the alpha-female Manda, and she will be matched by the others’ enthusiastic intake of Bacardi Breezers, vodkas and Red Bull. With Alan Warner’s pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, pinpoint characterisation and glorious set-pieces, this is a novel propelled by conversation through scenes of excess and debauchery, hilarity and sadness. Like the six young women at its centre, “The Stars in the Bright Sky” is vivid and brimming with life – in all its squalor, rage, tears and laughter – and presents an unforgettable story of female friendship.

Early Amazon reviewers are pretty split on this follow up to The Sopranos but after a bit of a slow start I have to say I thought it was pretty good. Not all of the characters have the depth and interest of Manda and Ava but still works well with these two at the centre of the maelstrom. There is a heavy dependence on the dialogue but it stays sharp and authentic throughout. Altogether pretty enjoyable.

(And if you were querying the title, they do have a debate about whether it is “bright” or “night” sky in Away in a Manger)

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