Ruth Hogan is the perfect author to be reading right now, during Covid-19 Lockdown as she shows the core goodness of people (which we are seeing in our key workers and friends), while not hiding from the harsh realities of the world. In Sally Red Shoes, a character called Alice struggles through a cancer diagnosis and treatment which is full of honestly and highlights human resilience.
The Keeper of Lost Things is a lovely heartwarming novel perfect for sentimental people like me, who keeps (hoards) lots of little silly things (junk). Anthony Peardew is an author who has spent the majority of his life gathering lost items in the hope of one day returning them to their owner. Laura is Anthony’s housekeeper, who arrived at Padua 6 years ago depressed and recently divorced, who has shown his house the love and care it deserves. This causes Anthony to gift the house and it’s large contents to Laura in his will, on the proviso she seeks out the rightful owners for the lost things and doesn’t change Therese’s rose garden.
‘You’ve been left a great big beautiful house, full of treasures with a dishy gardener thrown in. Anthony loved you like a daughter and trusted you with everything precious to him, and instead of turning cartwheels you sit here whingeing. He believed in you; It’s not just Sunshine that you’re hiding from; it’s everything.’
Thankfully Laura is not alone. Following Anthony’s funeral 19 year-old Sunshine who is ‘dancing drome’, has decided to be Laura’s new best friend as she seemed lonely and quickly makes herself part of the furniture. Freddy Padua’s mysterious gardener is on hand to offer advice and IT support for the website. An abandoned and abuse Lurcher called Carrot completes the safe sanctuary that is Padua.
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes is unusally set in an outdoor swimming pool (it’s generally cold in the UK, so most pools are indoors) and a Victorian cementory, where Masha graples with her grief for Gabriel, her little boy, walks her dog Haizum, meets her friend Edward and Lord Byron (his dog ) for egg mayonaise sandwiches. However more importantly this is where Masha meets Phoebe an elderly eccentric who used to be an opera singer, who now acts as a bodyguard for the crows or aka Sally Red Shoes, whose friendships helps guide Masha back to happiness and the land of the living.
‘If the pool is my penance, then this is my sanctuary and today it is fairytale beautiful.’