Cover Image: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

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Member Reviews

Wow what a book. I loved it and struggled through it at the same time. It’s the story of Masha who for many years has grieved the death of her son and who is walking through an awakening in learning to live while still grieving largely in part because of the eccentric woman named Sally who Masha meets in a cemetery and who truly impacts her life. 

It’s also the story of Alice, a mother, and her son. Her life in intertwined with Mashas in ways that are fairly clear but more apparent at the end. I’ll say no more other than it’s a great read. Hard, if you’ve ever lost someone – reading an entire book about death is never easy – but still good. Recommend for sure.
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It's going to be hard to top this read. Maybe it was because I resemble the main character so much. Her affinity with all things death and cemeteries, her minimal ability to interact with strangers, right down to the swimming. It was all me. Or maybe it was the absolutely magical writing that engaged me so well. Or maybe it was because I sobbed, several times, until I was completely snotty. I think it was all just a perfect combination of the perfect story for me. I will warn, it is not an easy read. It's full of deep, raw emotion and all consuming grief. But, for me - I love, love, loved it.
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3.5 stars, rounded up
This is a sweet book, I have come to like and appreciate Hogan's writing, she fills it with so much life and love and the reader can't help but root for the characters to triumph over their adversities.
In this book, there's one story thread that's a bit too convenient and I saw where it was going from a mile away. Not that it still wasn't touching, I just wanted a bit more of a twist rather than something predictable.
I loved Masha, everything about her is endearing and made me adore her character. I also loved Edward and Sally Red Shoes and everyone in their circles. Like I said, it's a very sweet story and I will definitely continue to seek Hogan's books out in the future.
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I somehow missed the big part Sally Red Shoes played in the book. Sure she was a cute character but I didn't see her as being pivotal to how Masha, the woman who lost her son, faced life. If anything, Kitty's flamboyant character seemed to play a larger roll. The story, however, was sweet and the characters were endearing. It was easy to figure out what was happening and what was going to happen, but that helped make for an easy read. This one doesn't require a lot of strong attention and would be perfect for beaches and vacations.
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I could not get in to this book. I had to stop reading it. I was disappointed because I liked the premise of the book - but I could not get in to the story.
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I have been a fan of Ruth Hogan’s work since I read The Keeper of Lost Things which I loved. The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes was a quite a different story but Hogan’s flair and writing style remained constant. Two very different women come together in this story to create magic in this uplifting tale of wisdom, personal growth and grief. It touches on homelessness among women, the loss of a child, and the commonality that all women have with one another regardless of our social conditions. The characters are brilliantly written, so real you will feel as though you know them personally and the humor within keeps the story from becoming too heavy despite the subject matter. You will laugh, cry and fall in love these women and their story. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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There were several books in this one.  Putting them all together in one didn't quite work for me, it seemed too manipulative.  Whose child is he?  Really?  Really?  Did you have to?  I was perfectly happy following Masha's life, her following of Sally Red Shoes and burgeoning friendship with Kitty.  That would have been a complete book there.  Whole.  But this second, incomplete, yet perfectly worthwhile book about Alice and Mattie, two characters we come to care about, gets smashed into it and is made to belong all along.  Rendering all the heartbreak and growth Masha went through somewhat irrelevant.  It quite spoiled it for me.
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Narrative and plot

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, is a story that shows the painful journey of how to let go of your grief. The narrative shifts between Masha - the protagonist, Alice and Mattie, though most of the book is about Masha and her grief. There are certain places where the narrative was slow and a little bit repetitive. Sometimes it makes you wonder if the things that are being mentioned are relevant at all or not. But the second half of the book wraps most of the loose ends nicely. Masha's narrative is fun and deeply intense at the same time.

This is more of a character-driven story rather than being a plot-driven story. The ending is a bit predictable but the point is, it's not about the "Happy Endings" - pun intended- it is about the journey of life and how you can make the best of what you have.

Characters and Conflict

The book has some colourful and eccentric characters. Yet, it feels like you can actually find some of them in real life. But, the book focused mostly on Masha. Well, she herself was a person with different layers and a sense of humour. It is easy to root for her and feel for her. However, there were other characters out there, of whom we only get a glimpse, towards the latter end of the book. You wish it had less imaginary stories about dead people and focused more on those amazing characters like Kitty Muriel and Sally herself.

The major conflict the story encountered was that of letting go of your grief after a loss and finding your reason to live again. The dead should be mourned none the less but it is certainly not the end of life for the living. That is basically the essence of the book and it is depicted in a beautiful manner . However, there is a major plot of the book that remains unexplored.


The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is a great read if you're someone who has experienced the pain of loss at least once in life. It may not be everyone's cup of tea.

For all the things it explored and ventured into, it is exceptional. There is wit, humour, despair, pain, hope and happiness all in one story. You wish there was more to this. Perhaps it has a sequel, because the story still feels unfinished. Maybe the story intends to leave the rest to your imagination. However, a part of you wants to know more and lose yourself in the lives of these people. And that is definitely because it is a good read.
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George Michael was a member of a successful rock group Wham. When he decided to leave the group, he wrote a song titled Faith which he sang and watched it climb to #1 on the charts. The verse “I gotta have faith, faith, faith” showed that faith can pay off.
Ruth Hogan, author of The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, agrees with George Michael. You gotta have faith! Her novel shows us the meaning of faith and what can be accomplished with faith.
We meet Masha, a woman who has lost her young son in a drowning accident. Racked with feelings of guilt and despair, Masha is barely existing. When not spending time under water at the local pool, Masha walks the cemetery where she talks through her problems at the sides of graves. Thankfully, Haizum, her Irish Wolfhound provides companionship and is her lifeline.
At the cemetery, Masha meets Sally Red Shoes, a truly eccentric woman. Sally, a bag lady, sings arias in the cemetery and draws Masha into a new world. Along with equally unique Kitty Muriel, Sally offers Masha the chance to start living again. Just believe.
The novel also offers another woman’s story, one that will intersect with Masha’s life also.
Alice is a lonely single mother to a young teenage son Mattie. Facing a crisis of epic proportions, the overly protective Alice’s life begins to unravel. Mattie, struggles to handle his mother’s obsessing love and feels adrift with no support and life becomes hard to bear.
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is an extraordinary book thanks to Hogans  ability to blend themes of grief and sorrow with joy. Her characters are diverse, unique, rich and vibrant in detail. Hogans experience with cancer seems to have given her a mesmerizing into the human spirit.
The colorful cover of the book signifies the beginning of a journey told with both bold and delicate brush strokes of insight into life. 
I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. #NetGalley #TheWisdomofSallyRedShoes
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Ruth Hogan created a community of differing personalities, all living with some form of regrets,  The characters all have been frozen in their personal miseries with no hope of escape.  Enter a wonderful character who teaches them to put away their grief and live again.  The back stories of each character is smoothly defined.  Readers learn to love each one of them while still looking to see them resume life.  This book is very touching, leaving you feeling hopeful for the characters.
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Loved this tale of synchronicity and charm. The characters were so interesting and the writing was very good.  I look forward to more from this author.
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I was thoroughly charmed when I read The Keeper of Lost Things and was looking forward to reading her second book.

While being a relatively quick read, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes was not what I was expecting. The charm was still there, but I was expecting an uplifting book that leaves you with a goofy grin on your face.

In some ways, you get that. Masha starts to realise what it means to truly be alive, finding the joy in the simple things and pushing herself to start living again. But there was an element of sadness throughout the entire novel: the reason why Masha must learn to live again is because she hasn’t been able to move on from the loss of her child. Her grief is an undercurrent of the entire book and the happy moments have a bittersweet feel to them.

This wasn’t a sad book though. Far from it! It was a story about finding meaning in your life – friendships, romance, those who are there for you in unexpected ways. Discovering new friends, a new outlook on life despite tragedy befalling. There is that element of charm, that feel-good factor. But while you may have a smile on your face, you can easily have tears in your eyes at the same time.

There is an element of mystery scattered throughout the book; something that doesn’t quite add up. I guessed it, then I second guessed myself and wasn’t certain if things were going to play out the way I expected.

But this isn’t a mystery. It’s a character driven story, and while this unknown element adds another layer to the story, it’s the characters you care about.

You want Masha to find her happiness. You feel as she does about her new friends: the eccentric “Sally”, full of wisdom that gives Masha the advice her old friends have never dared voice out-loud. The glamorous Kitty Muriel – a woman who shows Masha that moving on doesn’t mean forgetting the past, but embracing it and looking forward. Edward – Masha’s best friend despite the word friend not doing justice to what they have between them.

Masha is surrounded by people who love her. She knows that – and wants what is best for her friends. There are such heartfelt, selfless moments throughout this entire book that it makes you believe in humanity: not everything has to be people acting selfishly.

Alice and Mattie are the second plot running throughout. You don’t see as much of them, other than getting the sense there is something odd about their story. But not knowing them as well makes the plot work and everything is revealed by the end.

It’s the type of book that you know will have a happy ending. It’s not fast-paced, it’s not tense. But it’s emotional and sweeps you up, carrying you along with the characters. You truly connect with these lives and leave the book with a satisfying feeling of everything being where it should be.
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This I had to read as really enjoyed Ruth Hogans last book. 
An amazing story that I enjoyed reading. I could not put this down once I had turned the first page.
Great characters that you cannot help but engage with and a brilliant plot. 
A must read for book lovers.
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Roth Hogan can describe a scene like no other. Her character descriptions are amazing and incredibly detailed. This book is full of wonder and brilliant phrases and quotes. I loved the story and everything about this book. I loved all of the characters and even though this book was about death and grief I really enjoyed it. This book was brilliantly done and I highly recommend it.

Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Once again a great book by the author, just showing how human connections and shared stories are so important in life.
Trying to overcome the tragedy in her life, the main character has a choice to make, to keep going or simply quit and embrace the dark side of life.
Along with two very special ladies life starts to get back to normal but so when it does, destiny knocks on her door once more...

Thank you to Netgalley !!!
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‘Some people leave an indelible imprint on your life, like the indentation of a fossil in rock.’

I have thoroughly enjoyed all Ruth Hogan’s novels, so I had high expectations coming into, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes. Once again she presents you with such an original tale, inclusive of all the quirkiness we have come to know and love. There is a beautiful balance within this novel that contains such overwhelming sadness yet also includes light and a hopeful outlook.

“I want to change my life. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it just yet. I don’t have a plan, just a feeling. A feeling that this, the way I’m living now, is not enough. Not any more. And only I can change it.”

Firstly, the despair and grief that consumes Masha is absolutely palpable. You can begin to imagine what it would be like to lose a child. I also love the relationship she has with her dog especially with her walks through an old Victorian cemetery, where she eventually encounters ‘Sally, Red Shoes’.  The stories Masha creates and love she provides to those dearly departed is heartwarming. The range of supporting characters are magnificent - once again, providing that balance of light and shade. They are vibrant and each have a part to play, especially Sally:

‘As I look up, I realise that Sally is studying my face intently. ‘You have lost your joy.’

What ties everything together in a Ruth Hogan novel is her writing style. There are some pretty hefty themes tackled here but through her quirky prose, you might find yourself welling up on one page and then having a huge smile come the next. Her writing, whilst for Masha is extremely introspective, is also insightful as she confronts the loss of loved ones. Filled to the brim with charm and wit, Ruth brings you through dark despair to rediscover life’s moments of pure joy. Bravo! There is a profound wisdom regaled in such a fashion that it is bound to touch your heart. 

‘... grief is not a linear thing. It reboots unexpectedly at a certain smell or sight or sound, and some days I still feel as though my world is like a patchwork quilt that’s coming unstitched.’

So fear not, Ruth will take you on a journey from the pits of despair to rays of light and hope. Such a talent to write like so and produce yet another beautiful story for her readers. To work through grief and find the will to keep living despite such tragedy and pain. This is an overall uplifting novel filled to the brim with reflective passages.

‘When the music ends for someone you love you don’t stop dancing. You dance for them as well.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan was an interesting novel. I am rather conflicted about this one.  It took me a bit to follow the story at the beginning.  The story picked up its pace and it was interesting to say the least.  I really liked the main plot, the quirkiness of the characters, the dialogues, the wonderful sarcasm and the Britishness of the story.  The writing was very well done.  I must confess that I didn't like the novel's resolution. What happened at the end could have been an entire novel by itself. 
I would like to thank NetGalley, Ruth Hogan and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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To me this book shows that everyone is worthy of respect for their wisdom regardless their position in life..  Very wise and insightful and  great relationships.
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Oh, the curse of the second book! I absolutely adore the author's first book and therefore did not hesitate to request her second work without another thought, convinced that nothing could go wrong. But it did, and big time - at least for me. Too high expectations and all that, I guess...

The basic plot about a mourning mother and her way back into life was utterly intriguing, like watching sadness and hope performing a slow waltz, where one moment you face one of them while watching the other's back, and the next second they spin and it's just the other way round. But the whole time it's one elegant and smooth move without sharp angles or sudden turns. Once again, I relished in the author's beautiful writing, but...

This time I thought the story was drenched in flowery descriptions that would even make Anne Rice, the queen of frills, envious. I understand that clothes and decorating habits played a large part in defining the unique characters here, but I'm just no friend of having to peel of layer after layer of fancy cloth to reveal the interesting core hidden within. Even the surprisingly exciting ending could not make up for the circuitous and long-winded road I had to take to finally get there. It was all just too much, like a salad drenched in too much dressing that turns the leaves into a soggy and unrecognizable mush. In the end, I'm sorry to admit that this book fell very flat for me.

(Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book, all opinions are my own)
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When I first started reading this story I wasn't sure how it was going to go or how all the players would tie in. It was a little confusing at first and I almost put it down. It turns out this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. it deals with heartache, grief, and letting your life fall to the wayside. It is about making connections you did n't know you would ever need to move on in life. 
I loved this book so much I asked my library to order it so I could share this story with many other people.

** I received a copy of this book for an honest review**
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