The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 May 2019

Member Reviews

I received a free e-copy of The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan from NetGalley for my honest review.

This is the story of Masha and Alice. Masha lives in a world of never ending grief and guilt after the drowning of her son, Gabriel. From the day Gabriel died, Masha stopped living life and started an endless obsession with death. While trying to heal and being on a road to recovery, Masha meets some wonderful characters, all of whom play a part in helping her to learn to live life again.

The close group of characters and the people they meet along the way build a close relationship and begin to feel the weaknesses that are shared by the experience of losing a loved one.

Sally Red shoes, a character named by Masha because of her beautiful red dancing shoes. Then there is Alice, a single mum with a teenage son, who suddenly has to deal with the horrors of cancer.

A beautiful, enriching, sad and emotional read filled with beautiful, heartfelt and detailed characters.
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I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley & author.

This is an inspirational story about bouncing back.. finding a reason to live.. and finding inspiration in the places you least expected...            I adored this book
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This was a very sad, quiet novel that is very well written. It has a lot of moments about grief that were so well explained, I was almost crying. Masha is a wonderful character - both witty and funny but also sad and wounded. Her journey to try to come out of her blanket of grief was very moving. 

Alice is another POV that pops up through-out the story and a POV I didn't like as much. She was more preachy and god-fearing. I found her storyline a distraction from Sally Red Shoes and Masha and the journey of the dogs and the friends and the swimming. I was disappointed, in the end, when it was all wrapped up so neatly. I didn't mind the frayed ends and the messiness that is....life. I wish I'd liked it more.
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Ruth Hogan is a master of the up lit genre. The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes Hogan is wonderfully enchanting story of love and loss. The cast of characters are well developed, eccentric and utterly lovable. This book made make me laugh, cry, and rejoice in the friendships and humanity.
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This was unlike any writing style I've experienced in recent memory. The plot unfolds in parallel story lines, one told in the first person and one in third-person with multiple POVs. As it moves forward, we are allowed deep into the psyche of our lead characters, looking back on the events that brought each towards a life-changing decision. I was drawn into their lives and cheered for the positive changes. The ending was satisfying but oblique.
I voluntarily read an advanced review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley and I offer my honest opinion in response.
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An excellent read. 
With vivid writing, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is a book that can be enjoyed no matter how many times the reader reads it. The evolution of its characters, the handling of emotions, the entire journey the reader goes through is every bit enjoyable.
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is to be savoured slowly. Definitely recommend!
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This is a tough book to read. Masha, our protagonist, is trying to live with a devastating loss. We follow her as she begins to emerge from her grief and discovers how it has impacted her life and relationships. 

The title. HaracterSally, remains much of a mystery until the end. She really deserved more. We are also introduced to Alice and her son Mattie which appears to be a whole different boom again, until the end. These three women are all interesting I their own right yet only Masha gets a fair telling. And because of that she is the most interesting character.
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This book began slowly and it takes awhile to get into the story, but the characters are quirky and interesting, the writing beautifully descriptive.  This is an excellent picture of grief and how it affects people.  

A sensitive and lovely book
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When I first started this one I wasn't sure whether I would end up liking it or not because it got off to a slow start for me and I found myself confused from time to time.  Once I did get more into the story I ended up enjoying it overall  mostly due to the quirky characters. It was definitely sad at times, with the grief that Masha was carrying around with her, but as the story unfolded I could slowly see glimpses of light coming back into Masha's life over time. It was quite beautiful to watch as she unexpectedly crossed paths with people who ultimately brought her up from her grief and helped her to live her life more fully again. I'm rounding up to 3.5 stars on this one.
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Good story with eccentric characters who deal with life’s tragedies. The character development is spot on and the story moves along at an easy pace. I received a copy from NetGalley and the publisher and this is my honest opinion.
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Refinement lies in the heart and the spirit rather than in outward appearance, but it is by what we do and say that we prove that it exists within us.
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. 

We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
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. 

He is a long-legged, hairy affair of a dog with the eyes of an angel and the breath of a goblin.
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. I would definitely recommend this book.
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This is such an emotional novel without being so sappy and sad that you don't want to continue.  Beautifully written and deep.  I can't wait for more from Ruth Hogan.
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This book was beautiful - so sad and touching and uplifting and human. I really enjoy Hogan's writing. She makes me think of magical realism but I'm not sure her writing actually is, if that makes sense. It just feels that way.
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I was a bit nervous reading this book since I was such a fan of The Keeper of Lost Things. I had listened to Hogan's debut novel and found it charming and delightful. 

Maybe if I had listened to The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes I could have given a full 5 stars but I found parts of this book to drag. All the narrative about the different "residents" of the cemetery felt like overkill. I think the book would have been a perfect 5 stars with less of this narrative.

Masha was a character that I wanted to get to know and become my friend. I found it interesting how Hogan left different parts of the ending up to the reader's imagination. Hogan definitely has a unique writing style but once again I am a fan.
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Having read The Keeper of Lost Things, I was really looking forward to The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes. I expected it would be just as good and it was. What I wasn't expecting, even though I read the synopsis, was how very touching this story would be.

It deals with tough subject matter and there were quite a few times when I struggled with my emotions, but through it all, there was hope and there was also some humor.

There were lessons to be learned. Lessons about love, loss, suffering and friendships, among other things. Friendships are found in the most unlikely places sometimes and this book illustrates that well. I'm glad I read Ruth Hogan's book and I think you will be also. Give it a try.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publisher for an ARC at my request. My thoughts in this review are my own and freely given.
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The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes charmed the pants off of me.

Ruth Hogan’s writing is beautifully descriptive, making the settings come to life. She builds the story slowly, allowing us to know two of the main characters, via their parallel points of view. Masha is a grieving mother, unable to move on with her life, even though it’s been twelve years since her son died. Alice is a single mother to Michael, now a changing teenager. He’s the apple of her eyes.  

Masha is fascinated with the Victorian graveyard in her neighbourhood, where she spends countless hours, either by herself or in the company of her adorable wolfhound, Haizum. Besides her job as a psychologist, she enjoys swimming in an outdoor pool, no matter how cold it gets.

As they say, the devil is in the details. This is the case here as well. The settings and their descriptions are beautiful. There’s a large cast of quirky and interesting characters. I enjoyed the “word of the day” that popped up now and then and, incredibly enough, learning about the Victorian era ‘death business’, including a few other bits and pieces.

Although there’s death, pain and grief, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes ends up being a feel-good, life-affirming kind of novel, which I savoured and found satisfying.

Highly recommended
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4 or 4.5 stars. This is the story of Masha, who lost her little boy and has been just barely surviving ever since, and how she copes with her grief and tries to move beyond it. It's also the story of how important it is to have wonderful friends to stand by you when life hurts. It's also about being open to learning what you can from everyone you encounter in this life, even if they might be a bit eccentric--like the bag lady Masha calls "Sally Red Shoes". Mostly, I loved the characters in this book and I wish my pool of wonderful friends included Masha's friends! I rounded down on this because I didn't like how the book began: slow moving and kind of obscure. Other than that, though, it was very good.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a free e-ARC of this book for review.
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A story of loss and grief, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes tackles the dark topic of tragedy and death. It was such a beautiful story full of wit and charm. As a mother, I can’t imagine losing a child, so it felt very raw for me, but it was a good perspective to see how Masha was handling her grief. 

I enjoyed this story more than I even imagined! It’s not easy to take such a difficult storyline and told  in such a beautiful way.

I lost my father a year ago, and the grief still comes in waves, but I think this book can help those who also have lost someone empathize and heal.
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If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. 

I'm torn. 

While I loved the quirky characters, the witty dialogue, the cheeky British humor, and the potential this story had...it felt unfinished. It wasn't a novel which had me running to get back to it once I'd put it down, particularly the first 30%...it was confusing and, quite franking, boring. I felt the author, Ruth Hogan, just skimmed the surface of some very emotional, life-altering story lines.

There was so much pointless filler. As a side note, however, having a giant breed dog myself (a St. Bernard), I could relate wholeheartedly to the Haizem (the protagonist's Irish Wolfhound) stories. 

While the book was named after Sally, she seemed more an afterthought...making only brief, not even memorable appearances. Worse, I felt I had slogged through nearly 300 pages, waiting for a resolution, only to have a conclusion/epilogue that completely punked out, and left everything open to interpretation. Sometimes that works, this time it didn't. 

Final thoughts: I can see why this book appeals to so many--the idea is lovely. Unfortunately, it never reaches it's potential, and leaves the reader turning page after page of tedious filler. 2.5 stars

**Thanks to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books, and Ruth Hogan for the free ARC, in exchange for my honest review.
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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.
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