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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Review: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Title: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes
Author: Ruth Hogan
Publisher: 11th June 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction
My Rating: 4 crowns

Masha 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 Thoughts

‘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.

1 comment:

Mystica said...

Thanks for a lovely review.