*Just a note – this review will contain spoilers you may want to avoid*
I discovered this book by bookbridgr and wanted to request it immediately. I’ve seen this book a lot recently and the cover has always grabbed my attention and wanted to know more about it. I was so happy when this book came as I absolutely loved it, right from the first page. So, what’s it about? This is what the blurb says:
MASHA’S LIFE HAS STOPPED.
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 from underwater – safe from 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.
BUT JUST AS MASHA DARES TO IMAGINE A FUTURE, THE PAST COMES ROARING BACK…
I love this book. I was completely engrossed in the world and wanted to know more about the characters and their stories. You really do get drawn and lost in the world of Hogan’s writing. It’s warm, familiar, safe, comforting. While the book deals with such intense and emotional themes, there’s warmth, humour and wit that shines throughout the book.
There are a number of things in this book that I loved and adored, more than I could mention but here’s a few of my favourite things:
- The cemetery. I’ve always been interested in cemeteries, Victorian’s attitude to death and death in general (not in a creepy kinda way). I find it so interesting and there’s lots of facts of the way of death in the Victorian era and cemeteries. I loved it. Maybe not as much as Masha, but still…
- Sally. Oh, Sally. I just loved her. She was just a breath of fresh air with her swearing, her bold attitude to life. Just like Masha, I was warmed to Sally. She’s a brilliant character that you can just see bouncing off the page and staying with you after you finish reading. Throughout the book, we learn more about Sally and it’s beautiful, upsetting but uplifting too.
- Kitty. Another great character that comes into Masha’s life with positivity. I could just picture Kitty from the first word about her. She was there, bold as brass, full of life and colour. I think she was so vivid to me because she reminded me of my own Nan. Kitty was one of my favourite characters; I loved her story and it was just a beautiful tale. I loved the yellow balloons with the one red balloon there in the middle too. Just beautiful.
- Edward. There was something that I just loved about Edward. He reminded me a bit of myself in some ways and I just loved his relationship with Masha. You could tell they were great friends and they are helping each other with their grief. I loved the scenes when Edward was talking about his new relationship with actor Marcus – and Masha teasing him. Sometimes in books, when the leading character has a gay best friend, it’s a bit of a cliche, cheesy, stereotypical. But this felt more nuanced, more natural and more real. I loved Edward – I would read an entire novel about him and Marcus.
- The humour. There were parts in this book that I just burst out into fits of laughter. That’s the joy of this book, one minute you’re feeling emotional for the characters and the next, you’re laughing with them too. That’s the true joy of the book.
As I said, the book is full of gorgeous writing and beautiful quotes. I really loved this quote that I bookmarked:
When the music ends for someone you love you don’t stop dancing. You dance for them as well.’
Talk about the wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, eh? This is a beautiful book that you can really escape into with the wonderful ensemble of characters. It’s a book that dances with grief, pain, love, the loss of love but also makes you smile, laugh and makes you think about the joys of your life. It’s upsetting but overall, an uplifting read.
Have you read The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!