Reviews

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes – Ruth Hogan

About the bookMasha 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..

My Review:  You know those books that you literally speed read eager to find out what happens next, turning the pages super fast devouring the words?  Well this is NOT one of those books.  In fact this is completely the opposite.  I found I was actually pacing myself and savouring the words, deliberating putting the book down several times just to think about these incredible characters and to appreciate the story-line.

This is Ruth Hogan’s second book (I loved The Keeper of Lost Things – read my review here) and I hoped that this book would be as wonderful and charming.  Well, I needn’t have worried, in my opinion The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is absolutely wonderful and even more beautifully written.  Ruth Hogan has an incredible imagination and brings to life the most fantastic, quirky and colourful characters – giving each and every one of them a voice and personality that adds depth to the story.

The main character Masha is literally drowning in grief from the tragic loss of her little boy, but throughout her despair and pain manages to inject her humour into the most unusual circumstances.  My emotions were all over the place reading Masha’s story and whilst my heart broke for her, I was continually laughing at her thoughts and sense of humour.

If I have one complaint about this book it’s quite simply that there was not enough of Sally Red Shoes – I wanted more.  I loved her character,  her personality, her inappropriate swearing and think she deserves her own book!

An emotional and heartbreaking story about loss, love, letting go and living life.  Absolutely LOVED it.

About Ruth HoganI was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford: my sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me. As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on: The Moomintrolls, A Hundred Million Francs, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the back of cereal packets and gravestones. I was mad about dogs and horses, but didn’t like daddy-long-legs or sugar in my tea.

I studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College which was brilliant, but then I came home and got a ‘proper’ job. I worked for ten years in a senior local government position (I was definitely a square peg in a round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage) before a car accident left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously. It was going well, but then in 2012 I got cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was The Keeper of Lost Things.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner (who has very recently become my husband – so I can’t be that bad!) I am a magpie, always collecting treasures, and a huge John Betjeman fan. My favourite word is ‘antimacassar’ and I still like reading gravestones.

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