The wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Genre: Psychological/Domestic Fiction
Author: Ruth Hogan

Quick Look

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

Score: 4/5

Good to know


Masha, Alice, Sally, Kitty… this book is all about women. The main character is Masha, she loves her dog, works as a psychologist, practices drowning every morning in the town’s lido and spends her free time in the local Victorian cemetery. If these two last hobbies may seem weird, you have to know that her life has been forever changed by a tragic event. She has not been able to let go of her grief since. Thankfully she has her friends: old ones – Edward and Epiphany – and new ones – Sally and Kitty-. Sally Red Shoes feeds the crows at the cemetery and keeps them company singing and dancing. Kitty is “a convent girl-turned-magician’s wife-turned-seventy-something-roller-disco-fanatic”. And then there is Alice, busy mum, whose life is totally focused on her son Mattie.

Will Masha beat the grief that is impeding her to fully live her life? Will she open up to a new world of possibilities?


First of all, telling you what I really think about this book with no spoilers is going to be difficult. Why? Well, because the only part of the book that did not convince me 100% was the last chapter. But let’s start from the beginning.
I must confess that this book is definitely not something I would naturally choose for myself: I am not a big fan of grief and drama. The only reasons why I picked it are the stunning cover (shame on me) and the descriptions of Sally and Kitty on the back cover of the book: I couldn’t resist the charm of the “convent girl-turned-magician’s wife-turned-seventy-something-roller-disco-fanatic”.
This is probably why at the beginning I was a bit shy: not reading it too quickly, having another book ready just in case… but I had nothing to fear: Ruth Hogan has managed to write a novel about loss and grief infusing it with moments of pure joy and lightness. She achieved this mainly thanks to her characters: all and each of them vibrant and full of colour, exactly like the cover. From the most important ones like Sally and Kitty to the ones that we only met for a couple of pages, like Epiphany’s sister – training to be a belly dancer – her boyfriend and the patient whose only reason to see Masha is being able to read his book without anybody interrupting him.
I also enjoyed the time that Masha spent at the cemetery, visiting her favourite angels and imagining how they would have lived. It may sound creepy, but I like cemeteries as well (only during the day, never at night, though!).
Ruth had taken all this, put it together and shaken it with a bit of romance, and still, the book is all about Masha and her journey from woman destroyed by grief to a woman ready to start a new life. And this is why, when I finished the book, I felt like the last chapters belonged to another novel. Unluckily I cannot go more into detail, without telling too much, but I would love to know your opinion too.

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