The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan
English | 2019 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 627 Kb
The Wisdom of Sally : Like her bestselling debut, The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan’s second novel introduces a cast of wonderful characters, both ordinary and charmingly eccentric, who guide us through a moving exploration of the simple human connections that make life worth living.
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 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. But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, the past comes roaring back …
“It’s always a living hell for the parents who are left behind. Billy Band was a lively boy with a mischievous streak. Or a ‘right little sod’ according to his dad, but the apple of his eye nonetheless. Billy’s gravestone has a football carved into the granite to remind us of all the goals he scored in his short life. He was seven years old when he chased his football into the road and was hit by a bread delivery van.
You need to know that it was my fault. My beloved boy died twelve years, seven months and eleven days ago and it was my fault. He had a tangle of dark brown curls and eyes the colour of delphiniums. I can still smell the soft sweetness of his skin and feel his small and perfect hand in mine. Almost everyone said that it was a tragic accident; that I couldn’t possibly blame myself. But of course I do. Every day.
As I turn away from the children’s graves to walk up the hill towards the predominantly Polish section of the cemetery, I am startled by a small figure darting in and out between the gravestones. A little boy in a blue coat is playing by himself, swinging a grubby-looking teddy bear by the paw. Grief can be the gateway to its own kind of madness, and for the briefest of moments my reason is overruled by a desperate, ridiculous fantasy. My little boy? My gut twists. Of course not. He would be a gangling youth by now, battling with teenage acne, raging hormones and the agonies of dating. I used to bring him here. Some might say it’s a strange playground for a child, but he loved it. He would chatter away to the angels and crows and try to feed the squirrels with pine cones.”