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on 4 April 2014
I did like this book, it is well written with an intricate story running through it. I liked the way the author linked all the characters in the book. I would love to have been able to vist the deli I could smell the aromas the description was so good. I knew I would like this as I am such a fan of The Wizard of Oz and liked the link to the film and reference to Judy Garland with Rosa having been one of her dressers during the filming. An unusual book and I would recommend it.
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The cover is a wonderful one. You instantly know something about the book, and you'd be right. I felt very much like I was in New York reading this. And yes, it's all about the famous Ruby Slippers.

But how did bag lady Rosa ever get hold of them? Rosa is the catalyst for a whole series of stories that converge on the coveted Wizard of Oz shoes. Involved in a traffic accident one day in New York, her nephew then goes to her apartment to sort through her belongings and discovers the ruby slippers hidden in a box. He also discovered they are authentic, really worn by Judy Garland. And Rosa has also left letters explaining her life's story.

This isn't really Rosa's story though. We do hear her voice in flashbacks as Michael, her deli owner nephew, reads her letters. And her story, and his connect. And with Harrison, the young man watching the ruby slippers from across the street... And James, the customer watching his lover die in hospital... And a teenage girl skipping school to head to the city to find her father... And the bitter old man and his put-upon nurse...

I love stories that seem so disparate but then gradually weave their way together. It's easier to do visually I feel, in a film, but I love Alexander's strands of story that entwine when you don't see the joins coming.

In a story about dreams, hope and family, the ruby slippers play a crucial role in having our characters brought together in different ways. I loved the ending, I thought it was perfect, very moving. It's a story you get caught up in, there are so many things you are willing to happen for various characters.

Very cinematic in its approach, would love to see the film of this. The reason I didn't give it a full five stars was that I was strangely underwhelmed by Rosa's story in her letters, I didn't feel it hit the right notes at times and didn't feel as moved as I think I was meant to. It serves its purpose but I think it could have been filled out more, there was more story to tell.

A wonderful debut overall, easy to picture in your mind, a wonderful set of characters and a set of stories that connect and pull you in.
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on 11 June 2016
Rosa is a bag lady who lives in New York. When she is involved in an accident her nephew Michael the grocer goes to her home to start to clean it up. He comes upon a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. Other people however would also like the slippers.

I picked this book up as it was something different, something quirky. A bunch of characters are bought together in the story mainly because of the slippers. The story seemed to venture of on a tangent at times and had really nothing to do with the main content, really just fleshing the book out.

Michael and Rosa's story was for me the main reason I finished the book At times this was a struggle. The book for me could have been a bit more magical and less drab, I felt it was missing something.

The book was a very average read about a group of people who think that finding something precious and wanting it is going to make them happy when all it does is cause unhappiness. An ok book for something different.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 March 2014
Love, loss, greed and redemption are just a few of the themes explored by Keir Alexander in this stunning debut. I was hooked from the start and it's one of those rare books which becomes an imprinted experience that plays over in your mind long after you've finished reading it. I absolutely loved it! The slippers of the title are Judy Garland's from The Wizard of Oz. They are the focal point for a modern parable where each character struggles to find true value in their life.

It's a gripping multi themed story. I was grabbed by a narrative which moves the story forward skilfully in small bites. There's a finely drawn cast of characters each with a tale to tell as their lives and paths weave across a New York backdrop. There's a real sense of place and time as disparate threads are carefully drawn together and the central characters start to learn what really matters. From the laconic, streetwise youth who lives with his god fearing aunt to immigrant refugees seeking a new life, each voice is distinct and different. They become an eclectic microcosm drawn by temptation and opportunity.

The pace is superb; there are moments of genuine pathos balanced by events which brim with true happiness. It's filled with insight into souls motivated by greed. The underlying story about the acquisition of the slippers and their stark juxtaposition to Rosa, the bag lady's life is a tantalising reveal which swept me along and ultimately took me by surprise as the plot unfolded. Original and haunting, this book's a literary gem.

My thanks to lovereading for a pre publication copy.
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The Ruby Slippers are, of course, the shoes worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard Of Oz. And, as everybody knows, if you click the heels three times and repeat “there’s no place like home”, then home is where you go.

In Keir Alexander’s novel, we meet an old bag lady, Rosa, and her dog Barrell as they buy provisions from the Sunrise delicatessen, run by Michael Marcinkus. Michael is, we discover, Rosa’s nephew. As it goes, Michael is one to harbour a grudge and he has a pretty big grudge against Rosa who, it seems had swanned off to Hollywood to live it up whilst Michael and his family were left behind to face first the Germans and then the Russians in wartime Latvia. However, Michael knows that Rosa has a pair of Judy Garland’s ruby slippers stashed away somewhere in her rubbish strewn apartment and when the opportunity arises…

The novel is one that follows a group of disparate characters and switches back and forth between storylines every page or two. We follow Michael; a gay man, James, visiting his dying partner in hospital; Siobhan, a teenage girl; Harrison, a delinquent black kid who hangs around across the road from Michael’s deli; Malachi McBride, a lonely man in a wheelchair; and various bit part characters. Then, there is a long letter from Rosa, giving us the background to her migration and early years in the United States.

The stories are well crafted and interlink just enough to create a coherent whole without relying on Dickensian coincidences.

The ruby slippers themselves keep a low profile for much of the book. They are the MacGuffin that brings the characters together, allows then to display their true colours. But little by little, they steal their way into the story, representing dreams, memories, hope and love. Those whose lives are touched by the slippers go on a metaphorical journey – some are great, others small – but each undergoes some form of positive transformation. Just like in the film, the transformation is generally in the form of valuing what you already have – a journey that leads you back to home.

The writing is superb. The details conjure up locations perfectly. The narrative has atmosphere. The reader feels the characters’ emotions. The pacing is perfect and the way the narrative keeps cutting away is well times, leaving little cliff-hangers all over the place. The ending seems well judged too; the strands do tie up and it is a broadly happy ending, though with a touch of melancholy just to stop things becoming saccharine. It’s a bit like the end of The Wizard Of Oz; Dorothy may be happy to be home, but home is still in Kansas.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 August 2014
We're in New York, actually, following the interlinked stories of aging deli owner Michael, James whose male partner is dying in hospital, teenager Siobhan who treks to the city to find her missing dad, rich bitter invalid McBride, young dude Harrison who hangs out on the corners and stinky old Rosa, the down-and-out owner of a pair of twinkling ruby slippers.

Coming to this directly after Friendship, another Manhattan tale, it was interesting to see how they compared. Friendship is written by an American resident of Brooklyn, Emily Gould, The Ruby Slippers is the debut novel from British writer Keir Alexander. The big question is: does he pull off an equally authentic New York 'accent'? At first yes, but as odd English words and expressions began creeping into the narrative, I'm afraid to say: no. The first blooper that struck me was the word "iffy" - I just can't imagine an American using the word.

And from there it all pretty much went downhill. The different plot strands started to repeat themselves and the denouement was wa-a-ay too protracted. A good editor should have helped a first-time writer to excise at least a hundred pages. It's a story - or rather, a set of stories - about learning to have empathy for others but at the end of it, I really did feel as though I'd walked more than a mile in the characters' shoes. And those ruby slippers pinched a bit by the end.
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on 24 August 2014
This is an excellent book - a compelling read. Who was the woman hidden behind the filthy clothes and what has made her like this? What is the significance of the ruby slippers and the magic hidden in the debris of her home? This book takes us on a journey into the past, not only to excavate her life but also the lives of the other characters the author creates for us. I had to read on to find out. I look forward to Keir Alexander's next novel.
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on 30 September 2014
This book kept me captivated from the very start.I could not wait to pick it up each day to find out what would happen next to each of the characters.Poignant,funny,thought provoking and a tear jerker.I hope there is another book by this author coming soon.I cannot wait.
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on 14 May 2014
Maybe a little contrived but ultimately a damn good read, recommended for Wizard Of Oz enthusiasts and lovers of family sagas and rich characterisations. Hugely enjoyable.
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on 30 December 2015
Beautifully written, engrossing story line played out by a multitude of well rounded characters whose lives intertwine as the story progresses. I loved it.
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