The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes
by Ruth Hogan
Masha is drowning.
Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, her life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago.
Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town’s lido, where she seeks refuge underwater – safe from the noise and the pain.
But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women – the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl-turned-magician’s wife-turned-seventy-something-roller-disco-fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice – opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again.
Until the fateful day when the past comes roaring back…
Both of these stories have beautiful covers and both of them are a little bit quirky too. This story is one of loss and mourning, told through relatable characters that make you smile even though their lives are full of heartbreaking memories.
Masha is the leading lady. She’s a bereaved mother who spends most of her time in her local Victorian cemetery. She takes care of and pays attention to the graves as if they were members of her own family, bringing them back to life with stories from her imagination. Despite this bleak and somewhat morbid setting, the book isn’t completely depressing, I promise! Hogan gives her characters interesting names, clothing, anecdotes and back stories that keep things upbeat throughout.
“Life is full of small joys if you know where to look for them”
I’ve luckily not suffered a great deal of loss myself and I think that I struggled to connect with this book a little because of this. Sometimes it felt a little repetitive, like the story was going round in circles, but then at other times there seemed to be a bit too much going on in a short space of time. This meant that, for me, some characters weren’t as developed as others. I wanted to learn more about the title character Sally Red Shoes and I really feel that her character wasn’t given the time she needed to grow and show her true colours. Kitty Muriel, on the other hand, was covered extensively, and as a reader I grew to love her eccentricities.
Overall rating: “The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes” is a quick and easy read but it’s one full of heartbreak. Ruth Hogan is skilled at creating quirky characters that you can’t help but love but I felt I couldn’t connect with this book as much as I would have liked. It’s 3 stars from me.
See my other reviews of books by Ruth Hogan here: