The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 May 2019

Member Reviews

Dressed in an oversized, worn coat and wearing scuffed red Mary Jane shoes, an old woman visits the cemetery. She is eccentric. She smiles. She "enunciates her expletives beautifully". Soon she will leave the cemetery, bag of bread crumbs in hand, and feed the crows in the park. It appears that the cemetery is a place of comfort. For Masha, "the cemetery is [my] her sanctuary" as well.

Every week, Masha swims in the Charleston Lido Pool. Actually, she goes there to drown...almost. As a self-professed authority on drowning, she swims underwater and holds her breath as a means of "self-inflicted waterboarding". She is riddled with grief and guilt over the drowning death of her two year old son, Gabriel. While the cemetery is her sanctuary, the pool is her penance. For twelve years, Masha has been "...caught in a rip current of grief and struggling against it gets me nowhere". Haizum, her Irish Wolfhound, is her constant companion and lifeline, that is, until she crosses paths with the old woman that Masha will refer to as "Sally Red Shoes".

According to Sally, "Life is full of small joys if you know where to look for them...even in the darkest of times and places" "Her idiosyncrasies are strangely comforting". Surprisingly, Sally sings an aria in Italian to a group of Italian headstones while Haizum, the dog, tries to harmonize with her. Sally "...shouts and swears, sings to dead people...she is like a naughty best friend...". Is it possible for Masha to take small, forward moving steps to live life to the fullest instead of to just survive?

"The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes" by Ruth Hogan is a rollercoaster of a ride. "Grief is not a linear thing". Masha with Haizum in tow, visits the cemetery regularly finding some measure of peace spending time with the departed. She tends the graves of those who never receive visitors. The novel is not heavy-handed by any means. "Edith Piaf" is the name of Masha's green and white Citroen, a small French car with huge headlamps. There are many witty and laugh out loud passages. Ruth Hogan's sophomore novel is totally engaging. It is a heartfelt, emotional read. Despite the depths of despair, life can go on if you embrace it. An excellent read.

Thank you Crooked Lane Books and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes".
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The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is a charming book about giving yourself a second chance. Masha has been mourning the death of her young son for over a decade, simply moving from one day to the next. She comes across an eccentric older woman in the cemetery (Sally Red Shoes) and begins thinking more about her own life and her impact on those around her. Together with an expanding, caring network, she begins the tentative steps of starting to live her life as Masha again, and not just Gabriel's mom. 

Running parallel to Masha's story is a story about Alice and her son, Mattie. Hogan weaves this in as we follow Masha's journey.  I would have liked to get a little more background on Alice and Sally in the book, especially Sally. However, I do understand that would have made the book quite long! 

I also am not sure how I feel about the ending, but the overall message of the book will stay with me for a long time. I have not read Ruth Hogan's first novel, but will make that my goal over the next few months! (I would also love a sequel to this book to see where Masha goes!) Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for a copy of this book to review. 
#TheWisdomOfSallyRedShoes #NetGalley
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First of all, I love the cover! So lovely. I won't say that I didn't enjoy the book, I just think maybe I wasn't in the right place to read it right now. My favorite parts included the quirkiness of the characters and humor in such a dark storyline but I just can't move past the heaviness. Just because I wouldn't give this the highest rating, doesn't mean that I wouldn't read more for this author. I haven't finished 'The Keeper of Lost Things' but have really enjoyed it so far (it's just quite a drastic difference from this one.) As I said in the beginning of my review, I just don't think I was in the right mindset for this storyline!
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There is no single genre into which this book will neatly fit.  It is a feast of skilled observation and writing as varied as a smorgasbord.  The primary course is as moving a portrait of loss and grief as I have ever read.  However, Hogan crafts so many witty and clever descriptions and scenes that I laughed out loud many times, and even began marking passages to re-read or share later, only to realize that much of the book is now highlighted. The novel serves up an especially sweet and sensitive handling of people who are flawed and complicated, yet compelling, and worth trying to understand. The book covers the slow loss of control that aging or illness can effect.  Finally, Hogan also manages to create an intriguing mystery with red herrings, plot twists, and an utterly satisfying conclusion which ties all the threads together.  The unusual cast of characters is carefully and slowly revealed.  Likewise the storyline, told from shifting viewpoints, moves inexorably toward the delicious resolution.  Five oh-so-delectable stars from me.
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I don't think I was in the right place to read this book. Death and mourning are not something I care to read at this time. I loved Ruth Hogan's first novel and maybe later I will read this one again and like it.
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England – Present Day

Masha (her nickname) has spent the past twelve years grieving the loss of her child to drowning. Each day she treks to the outdoor pool in town and “drowns”, or attempts to, at least. And each day she climbs out of the pool and goes home to her dog, and on to work as a psychologist. Masha has become an authority on drowning, researching the topic, and has also chosen to read every book on death that she can find in the local used bookstore. For Masha, the only reason for living these days is her dog, her wolfhound Haizum. Losing her child effectively ended her normal life, and these days Masha drifts through each day, trying not to look in the nursery, and walking with Haizum in the cemetery where she is an expert on all of the tombstones. She even dreams up stories about the inhabitant of each grave. And it’s there that she sees Sally Red Shoes feeding the crows.

Sally Red Shoes is not her real name, it’s the name Masha has given her because the elderly lady wears red Mary Janes. When talking to Sally, Masha is constantly surprised at the seemingly mild mannered woman’s racy vocabulary. Sally feeds the crows breadcrumbs every day, swearing like a sailor, but obviously not meaning anything by it. As Masha comes to know Sally, she realizes that this woman is far from crazy, and is warmed by her very honest advice.

In a town not far away, Alice and her son Mattie live alone. Alice is overly protective of her son and Mattie is starting to resent it. Every day she prepares his supper and stands at the window waiting for him to walk up the street after school. Her whole world revolves around Mattie. Alice is certain there are no secrets between them. But lately he has not been sweet, lovable Mattie. There is a tension between them, although at times he reverts back to his old self. Alice just wants everything to be normal and wants Mattie to love her.

THE WISDOM OF SALLY RED SHOES is extremely emotional in so many ways. It’s also thought provoking, humorous, and poignant. Masha is trying very hard to overcome her long depression. She has lovely friends, elderly, caring parents, and a longing for normalcy. But she is probably more normal than she gives herself credit for. Alice is a woman with low esteem and doesn’t know how to handle difficult situations, especially when it comes to Mattie. And Sally Red Shoes is a lovable curmudgeon who helps change Masha’s outlook. 

There is plenty of sadness in this novel, but it’s interspersed with some downright hilarious scenes. One chapter, in particular, is a dinner party that Masha attends where one guest brings out the best and the worst in everyone else. I highly recommend this wonderful book. It’s beautifully written and a tribute to the human soul.
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This is an incredibly sweet book and a very poignant study of cancer and its effects. It's well written, and also surprisingly optimistic and light hearted in parts, despite the heavy subject matter.
Ruth Hogan has done a lovely job with this, and the cover design is beautiful.
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Round up to 4 1/2 stars...
Ruth Hogan's second book is, once again, filled with delightful and unique characters, a really good story line, and hours of satisfying reading. Getting to know everyone - including Haizum the dog - was a pleasure. I'm so sorry to see the story end, even though I pretty much saw what was coming... I think it's a tribute to how much I love Hogan's writing style, that I read not only the epilogue (well, who doesn't?) but the acknowledgments too.

Hogan definitely goes on the favorite author list for this reader.
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A very brave book about death and about cancer written by Ruth Hogan when she was herself undergoing treatment for cancer. However do not for one moment think that it is a "difficult" or sad book. The sad is outweighed by the optimistic and the good, and there are many light hearted moments.

This is my second book by this author and she has a very recognisable and descriptive style. Sometimes nothing happens for pages but the content of those pages is pure reading pleasure. Her characters are fun too, always a touch quirky and very entertaining. I particularly liked Edward and thought it was a nice touch to give him a special role in Gabriel's life.

All in all I loved 'The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes' so why I am I not giving it five stars? The answer to that is the way the book ends. Read it and see what you think!
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I'm not sure why, but I couldn't get into this book.  Perhaps its because I read it right after finishing Mitch Alboms First Phone Call From Heaven and i wasn't in the right mind set. 

I finished, but plan to reread it in a few months to give it a fair shot. 

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review.
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I have yet to read Ruth Hogan's first book, The Keeper of Lost Things, but after reading Wisdom, I will be reading every single other book by Hogan! [And my mom read it and loved it so I'm sure I will too!]

Masha's life was changed forever changed 12 years ago during a tragic accident, and it seems like her life has come to a halt ever since. She's lived a hermit life with her dog and her neighborhood swimming pool. But then she meets bag lady, Sally Red Shoes, and her life is forever changed. 

This book was charming, sweet, and irresistible. I loved every page and every character! Now on to The Keeper of Lost Things!
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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!
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I finished The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes this week.  It is about learning to live again after a loss.  

Masha went through a tragedy and it’s now 12 years later and she is still sleepwalking through her life.  It all starts to change when she meets a woman she thinks of as Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady who is kind and always says what’s on her mind.  She helps Masha open up and join the world again.  

This book was pretty sad - there’s a lot time spent in cemeteries.  It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was ultimately uplifting.  This book will be released on June 11th, 2019.  

#thewisdomofsallyredshoes #ruthhogan #bookreview #currentlyreading #bookshark #netgalley
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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.
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What a wonderful life affirming book.  I really loved it!  The way the characters were portrayed they felt so real and there were some real characters, such as Kitty Muriel and Elvis.  The dog, Haizum with his wonderful doggy personality was a delight.
The story is about a woman whose toddler, Gabriel, was lost in the river when she fell and became unconscious  and how she had grieved for so many years but was slowly turning a corner and getting on with her life.   I loved the way Masha, the main character, lived her life, making up stories about all the people buried in the graveyard and trying to live her life by the principles of Lady T.  Masha is a strong character and stands by her beliefs so when Sally Red Shoes is attacked she confronts the attackers.  She appears to be loved by everyone who knows her and this is apparent by the way she makes a number of new friends in the story.
There is a parallel story about a single parent who has terminal cancer.  It was not until I was about two thirds through the book that I made the connection between the two stories and what a connection!  The book leaves the reader feeling a number of emotions as there is great sadness, but also great humour in the story.
I had started to read The Keeper of Lost Things when it came out but didn’t really get on with it so abandoned it part way through the book.  I shall now revisit it as Ruth Hogan is obviously an author of great talent and I want to read more from her.
Thank you Ruth Hogan for writing such a wonderful book.  I didn’t want it to end.  Also thanks to Net Galley for allowing me to read and review The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes.
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So moving! If you’re sensitive to stories of loss, put this book aside until you’re at a point in your grief or caregiving/healing when you can fully immerse into this story. It has some beautiful points of clarity and the author is a master of characterization. 
So much to think about and discuss here! Book clubs will be thrilled with this one!

A beautiful work, and kudos to the publisher for this gorgeous cover. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.
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I received a copy of this book through Net Galley.
Found the book easy to read,liked the way it devoted a chapter to  Alice and Massie,although it soon became clear early on in the book that Alice had taken Gabriel .
Still made a pleasant and relaxing read,personaly would have liked a more detailed ending and not just a letter,git the impression that there should have been more.
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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
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

A story about love, loss, friendship, and all of the small things that make life worth living. I loved the twists and turns of the relationships, and actually was surprised by the twists and turns toward the end. A couple of weeks later, I'm still thinking about this. And that is a good sign of a story well told. And as the mother of two young babes, I really struggled reading the inner thoughts and feelings of Masha.
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This was my first reading of a novel by Ruth Hogan and I was very impressed by her beautiful writing skill. She tells this heartbreaking story in a masterful way, that reminded me of the writing of other popular authors such as Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly. The story is told from the two viewpoints of mothers, Alice and Masha. I really enjoyed the story line and I was left surprised by the ending, I honestly didn't see it coming. I look forward to reading more novels from Ruth Hogan in the future.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for this ARC.
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