The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes: A Novel

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes: A Novel

by Ruth Hogan


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Ruth Hogan, the international bestselling author behind the The Keeper of Lost Things returns with an irresistible novel of unexpected friendships, second chances—and dark secrets…

They say friends make life worth living…

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha's life was forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town's swimming pool. Almost without her realizing it, her life has shuddered to a halt.

It’s only when Masha begins an unlikely friendship with the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice and a penchant for saying just what she means, that a new world of possibilities opens up: new friendships, new opportunities, and even a chance for new love. For the first time in years, Masha has the chance to start living again.

But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back…

Like her beloved debut, The Keeper of Lost Things , Ruth Hogan's second novel introduces a cast of wonderful characters, both ordinary and charmingly eccentric, who lead us through a moving exploration of the simple human connections that unite us all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643852096
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 89,386
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Ruth Hogan was born in Bedford in a house full of books where her parents still live. As a child she was always reading something including the back of cereal packets and gravestones. She loves dogs, seaside piers and potatoes, and has always had a fascination for cemeteries. She lives in a large, rambling house north of London ( and close to her local cemetery) with her long-suffering husband and two rescue dogs.

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The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes: A Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
cloggiedownunder 17 days ago
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is the second novel by British author, Ruth Hogan. Masha knows she’s probably seen as a bit eccentric: she and her wolfhound, Haizum are frequent visitors to the cemetery, where she talks to the dead; she tries to use her word-of-the-day in conversation (spoken or thought); her dress and grooming aren’t always up to scratch; but probably the weirdest thing is swimming to the deep end of the Lido Swimming Pool and sitting underwater holding her breath. None of that quite puts her in the category of the woman she thinks of as Sally Red Shoes, whose flamboyant manner of dress is outdone only by her devoted following of expectant crows (awaiting the bag of breadcrusts she invariably produces), not to mention her habit of operatically serenading the cemetery at full volume. Sally’s speech, Masha and other regulars know, gets scrambled, so the expletives uttered with perfect diction ought not be taken at face value. Masha can’t help liking her, and feeling protective when local teens behave thuggishly. For Masha, the pool is her penance and the cemetery, her pleasure. She doesn’t allow herself much of the latter, still weighed down, twelve years after a tragic loss, with guilt. Her family and friends take care to avoid mention of that awful event, but Masha has come to a realisation that the loss is not hers alone, and perhaps the tiptoeing around the subject needs to stop. Perhaps, instead of just surviving, she can begin to live again. And as she is noticing a handsome, able-bodied swimmer (she thinks of him as the Olympian) at the Lido, perhaps it already has. Meanwhile, young single mother, Alice is besieged by anxiety about the safety of her teenaged son, Mattie, whenever he is out of her sight. At thirteen, Mattie believes he deserves more freedom. However, to Alice, Mattie is so precious, the only one of her babies that survived. But if she is being honest with herself (and soon she may have to be, for Mattie’s sake), she will have to admit the truth about her beloved son. Hogan’s characters are her strength and her description of them, and of life’s little events, make this novel an absolute pleasure to read. Certainly Sally and Masha are not the only quirky ones in the cast: most of Masha’s family and friends have some idiosyncrasy that endears them to the reader whilst providing humour, entertainment or a talking point. While the mystery is slowly revealed, most readers will have guessed the basics, if not the details, early on. Hogan’s own experience with cancer, as well as working in local government, rescue dogs and reading gravestones are apparent in her fiction. Her second novel is heart-warming and uplifting, and the comparison with Eleanor Oliphant is indeed a valid one. Hogan gives her characters many wise words: Sally tells Masha “When the music ends for someone you love you don’t stop dancing. You dance for them as well.” However, readers might be wishing for just a bit more resolution in the final pages. A very enjoyable read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books.
Anonymous 2 days ago
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is a beautifully written study of grief, and how people cope with unbearable loss. There was charm and interesting fully developed characters I just found it too heart wrenching for me. I know that had I been in a different frame of mind I might have really loved it, but at this time I struggled. Thank you to Crooked Lane and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC.
Caroldaz 6 days ago
Although much of this book is about grieving, mourning and loss, it did not seem a ‘sad’ book. It was as much about finding and accepting support from others as it was about losing yourself in the darkness of grief. A beautifully written book about giving and accepting a second chance. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
dcl55 8 days ago
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan is about life, death and dealing with loss. Loss can happen in many ways and in differing degrees. It may be the death of a family member or losing your health, or losing your own identity as family dynamics change. This book has interesting characters but it is sad, just sad! Masha has grieved for more than 10 years because of the death of her two-year-old son. Her reason for living is her large wolfhound, Haizum. She has not let herself move beyond the all-encompassing grief until she has an epiphany at a dinner party. She realizes she has not only stayed static in her sorrow, but she has put her friends in a position of trying to protect her grief from others. She decides to make a change. Alice worries about her son Mattie. She loves him so much, but he is showing signs of defiance toward her due to the onset of puberty. Mattie is trying to understand his Mom. She is either constantly at the window watching for him to come home or she is sometimes forgetful. Alice is dying and she harbors a huge secret. Sally looks like an old bag lady or street person, but she has a beautiful voice and sings in the cemetery. She says the dead are her favorite audience. She loves to feed breadcrumbs to the birds as she sings. She gets her words mixed up when in simple conversation, but her voice never fails her when in song. Sally has cancer. Masha’s life will forever change at the death of one of these women.
paulalala09 8 days ago
This is the story of two women living difficult lives resulting from past events. Masha’s son disappeared when he was a toddler and believed to have drowned. She spends her life visiting the local Victorian cemetery, hoping for the existence of heaven for her son. She daily encounters a gruff woman who feeds the crows and dubs her “Sally Red Shoes.” Grief is Masha’s constant companion. Alice lives to protect her teen son, to his extreme dismay and irritation. She longs to go back to the days when she was the only person in his life. There is so much between the pages of Masha’s transformation and Alice’s search for atonement. It’s a slow read but worthwhile and touching. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Sheremy2627 8 days ago
Ruth Hogan writes beautifully about how a mother copes with her grief. After years of self-inflicted condemnation, Masha becomes aware of the impact her grief has on her family and friends. She begins a slow awakening, seeing people through a new lens. A well told story with an unexpected ending. Thank you NetGalley for the advanced reader copy
booklover_lexi 9 days ago
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes follows the lives of Masha and Alice. Masha is struggling with the grief of losing her son Gabriel. Masha deals with her pain by going to her local pool every morning and almost drowning herself, the way her son Gabriel did. She finds comfort by going to a local cemetery and talking to the gravestones. On her trips to the cemetery she encounters Sally, an eccentric old woman who feeds the crows and sings to the dead. They start to form a friendship each time they run into each other at the Cemetery. Soon, with Sally's advice she starts to turn into her old self again and making new friends. Alice is a loving mother to Mattie who is now turning into a teenager. She is struggling with her own issues of learning to let go of her own past and the future of her health. Ruth Hogan's writing is so unique. She perfectly conveys emotions and descriptions that will captivate you. The way she writes Masha's journey of losing a child and dealing with grief is so heart wrenching yet she still manages to add in light and fun of the memories of Gabriel being alive. Ruth also did a fantastic job of showing Alice's journey through cancer and her son Mattie watching his mother fade away. This book managed to make me laugh and cry at the same time! I loved how absolutely ridiculous Sally was yet so sane and wise at the same time. This was almost a five star read for me but the slow start dragged on a little bit longer than I would have hoped. It wasn't until chapter 7 that I really got invested in the book! But the ending is absolutely everything!
bookluvr35SL 9 days ago
Masha lost her son Gabriel when he was just a small boy, and she hasn't stopped living in her self-made purgatory since. She allows herself very little joy, spending the days either at her job as a psychiatrist or wandering about the cemetery visiting the different graves and making up stories about the lives of those occupants. Alice is a single mom to Mattie, who is emerging on his teenage years. Alice's entire world revolves around Mattie and in fact she has no life except as his mom. This book tells the alternating story of these 2 women and their unlikely connection. This book was a delight from start to finish. The characters were all colorful and charming, and made me wish I could be counted as one of their friends. I highly recommend this enchanting tale!
Anonymous 9 days ago
A really enjoyable book with likeable, quirky characters! There is a cast of numerous interesting characters. The story revolves around two women, unknown to each other. We follow each of their stories. I enjoyed those two main storylines, but also the minor stories involving Kitty Muriel, Edward and most importantly Sally. A beautiful story that focuses on dealing with death, learning to live again, and also dealing with one's own mortality. A heavy load , but well done!
JessiKay22 9 days ago
What a lovely introduction to Ruth Hogan's writing! I love a good book that makes you really feel something, and with this one, there were so many quotes and passages that alternately felt like a punch in the gut or that took my breath away that I feel as though I highlighted nearly half the book! The Keeper of Lost Things has been on my TBR for quite some time, so when I saw that this was available on NetGalley, I requested it right away. I was a little worried that this would be a very heavy read, given some of the subject matter, but it really wasn't. She handles topics like death, illness, and grieving with a sense of poignancy and grace. With the addition of humor (which had me actually laughing out loud at times) and a set of quirky characters to lighten the mood, the story felt perfectly balanced. This book was very well-written and compelling, and rather than being a page-turner, it was one that I wanted to slow down and savor. Besides Sally, of course, Masha was my favorite character. She absolutely came to life for me, and she felt to real. I loved watching her character develop, as she went through grieving and learning to live again. I rooted for her the whole way, and she ended up feeling like a dear friend. As for the plot, I love a good duel narrative, and this was no exception. I had an inkling of how everything would turn out, but I didn't see how it would all happen. I feel very satisfied with the ending, and I loved seeing how it all came together. Overall, this is a wonderful, compelling story, filled with emotion. I was so pleased with Hogan's writing that I must get my hands on The Keeper of Lost Things very soon. This is one of those books that will make you feel a lot and give you a lot to think about. I know Sally Red Shoes will stay on my mind for some time to come.
Annette5151 9 days ago
This book is so different from her first book. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and it was pretty sad and depressing for most of the book. I did like the last half of the book better and really wanted a few more chapters. An interesting story
Momma_Becky 11 days ago
I had mixed feelings about The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes. The story hits on some dark themes, and I loved the quirky characters, but I struggled with this one for most of the book. The pacing is a little slower than I prefer and the beginning felt muddled, at least until I got further into the book and figured things out. I suppose that could have been intentional, or it could've just been me. Either way, it didn't work for me. From what I've seen, I'm certainly in the minority as this one has received some pretty high ratings, but it is what it is. I just found this book too easy to set aside for something I could immerse myself in and more difficult to pick back up than it should've been.
Sunshine1006 11 days ago
Masha's life was changed forever by a catastrophe twelve years ago. She just can't let go, but finds comfort in her dog, Haizum. Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a secret history. She also, speaks the things she wants to say but part of it's due to a malfunction in her brain. Masha feels as if drowning, it may be a peaceful end, so she goes swimming everyday as today could be the day. She haunts the Victorian cemetery as the ones buried there bring her a type of peace. Masha has friends , Kitty and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes. This is a sad story with characters who grow and lessons are learned. No matter who you know and how long you know them, there are still hidden things. Where there are birds, there are angels, is something I won't forget. There are children's deaths and the effects of losing those you love. I cried big, ugly tears, but there are some great parts that don't make you cry but that brings hope. I loved this book and recommend it highly. I received this book from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books
Shelley-S-Reviewer 14 days ago
I will admit the title and cover (every edition has an amazing one!) are what got me to want to read this book. But, I loved the fact that this was about older people doing what younger people do. This was so refreshing as it allows those of us who are aging know that we are not left out of the fun times, the sad times or the just comfortable times. It is a story that anyone can relate to. This book is about life and the characters are ageless. I expected The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes to follow this lady around as she got into mischief. It did that, but it also gave a very real insight to what it's like to be older and was sprinkled with sound advice and pearls of wisdom. The book was pure gold because there were moments of laughter, tears, fears, hope and joy...real life. I really loved the "word of the day" and I actually learned something new. I loved that the dogs and birds added another facet to the book and I enjoyed this read immensely. The characters are very likable and well defined. There were times I laughed out loud but was also very touched and saddened at other times. There were surprises and some things I wish were resolved differently but I won't go into them because of the spoiler factor. One thing is for certain, I couldn't help but love Masha and Sally and I finished the book with such a happy, warm feeling. The writing is superb and I was surprised to find myself in many of the characters and situations.
Anonymous 14 days ago
This is author Ruth Hogan’s second novel. I was quite moved by it and plan to read her debut, The Keeper of Lost Things. She has a talent for describing characters who are fully human, quirky and both struggling and trying their best. The novel is about two women and those they know, love and/or have lost. Masha is a mother whose child disappeared a number of years ago and, although not found, was presumed to be dead. Masha has grieved for him and has struggled to progress in her life. The reader observes as she moves forward bit by bit, fortified by new and old relationships. Part of Masha’s story takes place at the lido, a favorite locale for me after reading Libby Page’s novel. As in that novel, swimming yields some peace. Then there is Alice. She is a mother who is overprotective and very attached to her son. Her backstory is told with compassion and the reader comes to understand her struggles and decisions. Sally, herself, is a elderly woman whose past history becomes known late in the novel. She is eccentric and a source of some of Masha’s healing. She reminds Masha of the importance of continuing to dance, both literally and metaphorically. Other characters include Kitty who has overcome her own tragedy. While characters in this book have experienced loss, the story is not depressing. Ruth Hogan writes empathically and I was sorry when the novel ended. There is a twist that you might see coming but, even if you know, you can enjoy reading about it. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this e-galley. Ruth Hogan is an author to watch!
ShelleyWalton_123 14 days ago
What a delightful story! I enjoyed every minute of it and could not put it down. While the reason for Masha's grief is sorrowful, I never once felt overwhelmed by it, if anything her journey was uplifting.The eccentric and eclectic mix of characters drew me in completely, from Sally herself to Epiphany, Elvis and even the lovable dog Hazium. The story alternates between Masha's story and Alice's which intersect at the end. The descriptions are beautiful, the narrative flows and the humour is unexpected - I laughed out loud during the Mikado scene. I do wish authors who attempt first person stories were all able to pull it off like this. The one and only issue I had was that I found the cemetery scenes slightly excessive, there could have perhaps been less or shorter scenes but overall it did not detract from this enchanting story. Many thanks to #Netgalley and #CrookedLaneBooks for the advance copy of #TheWisdomofSallyRedShoes in exchange for my honest review.