The Stars in the Bright Sky – Alan Warner

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 Long listed for 2010 Booker Prize

The gossiping of the teenagers in The Sopranos drove me mad after a while and so I hoped that the girls had matured a bit for this sequel. I was rewarded by twenty-something girls who were slightly more sensible, but I think they need to age at least another five years before I’ll be able read their discussions without wincing!

The Stars in the Bright Sky is set in Gatwick airport. The girls are trying to go on holiday, but unfortunately they aren’t very well organised and so their last minute get-away is proving elusive. While they wait to get on an aeroplane they entertain themselves by drinking and taking drugs in the airport bars.

The first thing I noticed when reading The Stars in the Bright Sky was the improvement in the quality of the writing from that of The Sopranos. The book also relied less on dialogue and I found the vivid descriptions of the surroundings to be a big improvement.

The water feature was beside them, an infinity pool perfectly filled to a suspended mirror of surface encapsulated within an inch rim of black marble. Water trickled somewhere invisibly. Manda used two fingers to draw back her hand like a dart thrower and she precisely tossed her ciggy butt onto the surface then walked ahead.

Unfortunately the girls still had a tendency to gossip. I enjoyed reading their exploits for a while, but as with The Sopranos I got tired of them quite quickly.

My main problem was that very little happened in this book – 200 pages could easily have been removed without loosing anything.

I loved the ending, but there were many points when I considered giving up. I recommend reading the first 100 and the last 50 pages of this book, but the rest was unnecessary padding.


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20 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    Heh, I love your recommendation!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I honestly don’t think you’d miss out on anything by missing out all those central pages – you’d probably enjoy the book a lot more :-)

  2. Sandy says:

    I don’t know, I may have said this with your last review, but I really have no interest AT ALL in reading about gossipy girls. I have more than enough of that in my life with my daughter and her friends. Was I that bad when I was younger? I have no patience for it, because ultimately it is destructive, petty and hurtful. I still give you credit for seeing this one through.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Their gossiping is at least a bit more mature in this one :-) Perhaps you should introduce these books to your daughter?!!

  3. Kinna says:

    LOL, Jackie. The book is 400 pages so your reommendation to read “the first 100 and the last 50 pages of this book” isn’t even half of the book! I do love your reviews. Gossipy teenage voices in books is a big no-no for me too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kinna, Well you can read the first 150 pages if you like to read at least half a book!!! :-)

  4. Steph says:

    This one actually sounds less interesting to me than The Sopranos did, and the more I read your review, the more I kept wondering how this book made it on the Booker longlist! It sounds like it’s mostly besmirched fluff that doesn’t have much actual meat on its bones… I’ll probably pass on this one!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, The way he has captured the voice of these young girls is impressive – it does display a lot of writing talent. I’m not convinced it should have made the long list, but I wouldn’t describe it as fluff. There is at least a bit of depth to this book. If it had been 150 pages shorter then I would have been pleased to see it on the long list.

  5. Jessica says:

    I be passing on this one as well although one reviewer did enjoy the airport descriptions but even so.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, I admit that I haven’t read a better description of life in an airport :-)

  6. Beth says:

    Great review! I don’t think it would be a book that I could read.
    Hugs, Bethxx

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I don’t think I’ll be reading another like it! :-)

  7. Kathleen says:

    I’m glad to hear that the series is improving. I’m still not sure how much patience I will have with all of that gossip.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, It is a shame that there was so much gossip. Perhaps this book would have worked better if read in small snippets each day. Minght have taken me a while to finish it that way though!

  8. I’ve been saving this one (and The Sopranos) to break up the more serious longlisters. I’m glad to not go in with high expectations, but I am still looking forward to them!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I hope that you enjoy this one more than I did. I look forward to reading your review :-)

  9. Jenners says:

    It was hard for me not to think of the HBO show “The Sopranos” (about the Mafia) when I started this review and I kept thinking “what gossiping girls were in the Sopranos!?”

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I admit that I got a bit confused when this first made the long list. People on twitter were mentioning The Sopranos and I assumed they meant the TV show too :-)

  10. Hi Jackie,
    I have to go against the concensus here and say I loved Stars in the Bright Sky; easily the funniest novel I read this year. I know they make you cringe, and you certainly wouldn’t want to be joining them on holiday, but I thought the characters had been brilliantly developed since The Sopranos. I think the real humour of the book is that they are such a nightmare.

    Mind you, I hope I’m not sitting in front of them or their ilk next time I fly!

    1. Jackie says:

      Des, Thanks for commenting on my blog for the first time. I know a lot of people loved this book and it is very well written. I guess it is all down to the sort of funny bone you possess and I couldn’t find the humour – I just wanted to slap them all! At least we can agree that we wouldn’t want to be caught sat next to them ;-)

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