Here come the girls, as the adverts say, and they are still quite a handful. The last time we saw Manda, Kay, Kylah, Chell and Finn – in Alan Warner’s The Sopranos (1998) – they were running wild in Glasgow, on day release from their Catholic girls’ school in a Highland port town. That book represented an astonishing act of literary cross-dressing, as Warner uncannily channelled the thoughts and feelings of teenage girls, with their boy-hunger, boozing and body-piercing, as well as a dash of Sapphic romance. This highly enjoyable new instalment, The Stars in the Bright Sky, contains many of the same elements and displays a similar empathy. But the passing years have brought an inevitable shift of tone as youthful exuberance is tempered by the wider world’s demands.
Wisely, Warner does not choose to jump forward a whole decade – how depressing would that tale of mortgages, divorces and faded dreams be? Instead, the action picks up just four years after The Sopranos. Now in their early twenties, the ‘right wee gang’ of old are gathering