The Red Shoe
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The Red Shoe

3.17 of 5 stars 3.17  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Funny, tough-minded and tender, this is the story of Matilda and her two sisters growing up in Sydney in the 1950s at the time of the Petrov Affair. Punctuated by the headlines of the time, it shows with unsettling clarity how the large events of the world can impinge on ordinary lives.
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Published 2006 by Louis Braille Audio
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Sometimes I feel like we in America are now so accustomed to a shiny, glossy, corporate edited McMansion of a novel with a tight plot and rip roaring action, that we can't appreciate anything unusual. We can't find the patience to sit with something entirely new that whispers instead of roars.

The Red Shoe is unusual, and I found it incredibly stirring. Yes, like other reviewers have said, definitely subtle, like an E.M. Forster novel. Forster was the master of subtlety. The Red Shoe reminds me...more
I'm having a hard time putting my finger on a plot in this book. The setting is Australia post World War II and throughout the text are actual news headlines and stories about the events of the time. The newspaper clippings interested me and was why I read the book in the first place. The sad thing is, and maybe it's because I'm not Australian, but they actually added very little to the story for me. They were interesting in their own right, but almost distracting from the story.

You get a sense...more
The story is told through the alternating point of view of three sisters: Matilda (6), Frances (11) and Elizabeth (15). The events of a mysterious neighbor "who looks like a spy" (according to Matilda) are recounted alongside flashbacks and hardships dealing with their father, a veteran of World War II, who suffers from post-traumatic stress and often leaves his family for lengths of time. The girls, who often experience related feelings of isolation and misunderstanding, live in a rundown home...more
Oct 17, 2008 Muphyn rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Maybe people who don't mind reading a pointless story
I can't quite put my finger on what I disliked so much about this book. Probably a combination of a reader reading far too fast, nothing really happening until the end of CD 3 (almost the end of the book) and just being really, really boring. If this YA book is supposed to make young people read and get interested in Australian history, then I don't know...

It just seemed like a string of not very exciting, random events... "Today Mathilda's family went to the movies, the next day they went to th...more
I liked this book. I think the narration is really clever - you mostly see the story through the POV of the youngest sister, Matilda, but the occasional glimpses of perspective from other characters was elegantly done. I thought it might be an 'each chapter the perspective changes' story, but the perspective changes were more clever than that and Matilda remained the focus.

I've read some reviews here criticising the book for not having a story or plot. I did not find this a problem. The thing is...more
This book started off promising. I had heard some negative reviews from friends, but as I started reading, it was alright. Needless to say, it got worse.

The ending felt like a work-in-progress that got too long and just had to be ended with a quick-fix, even if it didn't make that much sense.

I liked the difference between the three sisters, but they seemed stereotypical. Elizabeth was older and enjoyed intellectually challenging activities and cultured movies like "Roman Holiday". Frances was...more
Ava Carollo
I read the book The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky. I enjoyed this book because it made me think about what life was like in war times and I saw how a war effected families.

In the story, the author's attitude toward the characters shows the family's grief toward the war. But the grief is different for each character. The mother is grieving because of what happen at the Basin and she is nervous because he is mentally unstable. While the children are grieving about there fathers absents. All of the...more
Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)
I can't believe that it takes me so long to getting to read some authors. Ursula Dubosarsky is a great discovery, and I am looking forward to reading more of her books. The Red Shoe is a clever exploration of an Australian childhood in the 1950s- 3 sisters growing up on the edge of Sydney- a story to show how the large events of the world can impact on ordinary lives. Beautifully written.

Yuck. Good thing this was a short one that I read in about an hour and a half. The plot was hard to find, and the author didn't seem comfortable switching between the three daughter's perspectives and voices. A little bit of intrigue when you realize the father tried for suicide - but that doesn't happen until page 125, and by then you are BORED. Do not waste your time on this one.
I finished this book earlier today and I'm still not fully sure as of what it is actually about. It's a good piece of writing, but I found it a struggle to lose myself in this book. And I still can't make sense of the plot.
I really wanted to like it and it started out really good, but it left me feeling disappointed in the end.
Miss Amanda
gr 5-8 178 pgs

1954, Australia. This is a story about PSTD, but told from the perspective of three young sisters (15, 11, and 7 years old) When the father attempts suicide, the girls react in different ways and each has her own very narrow perspective of what is going on. These perspectives don't seem to overlap, so I never felt like I had a complete picture of what was going on. No one ever mentions PSTD, but based on the father's behavior that seems to be what he's suffering from.

I found this s...more
Alex Fairhill
Set in 1950s Sydney, this book follows a family in a post-war coastal town. Newspaper excerpts are woven into the narrative, which is told from the point of view of the three sisters, Elizabeth, Frances and Matilda. Six-year-old Matilda is the strongest voice, and Duborsarky has nailed the tone of a girl of that age. Themes include mental health, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder, and looks at how big events - in this case the defection of Russian diplomat Petrov - can impact on the li...more
I found this book quite by chance, inexplicably with our juvenile chapter books, although to my mind the mature content makes it more of a teen novel. The action takes place in Sydney, Australia in the early 1950s, the Cold War era. Three sisters tell the tale, but the focus is on the youngest, a six-year-old (perhaps the reason the book was considered a juvenile read). Their father, who is often absent on military duty, had emotional problems as a result of his service in World War II. His brot...more
Nov 05, 2007 Jess rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of thoughtful YA
I really really wanted to really like this. How's that for an articulate sentence? It has that slightly hazy childhood quality to it, with a slightly Zilpha Keatley Snyder feel, where some of the essence of the child's worldview is captured. Plus there's a Russian diplomat in hiding, some slightly surprised family baggage, a variety of allusions to the Andersen story, and...well, it didn't quite do it for me. I would be really curious to see a child's reaction to it. The perspective shifts betwe...more
Love it! Ursula was actually a guest speaker at my school in 2013, whilst The Red Shoe was included on our Year 9 syllabus. Basically we HAD to read it. If it wasn't a necessity for my academic life, I wouldn't have picked it up. But truthfully I'm glad I did. Jam-packed with Australian history and wonderfully poignant literature, I believe this book was a genuinely good read. Pick it up and give it a try, even if the genre isn't your cup of tea :) xx
I really didn't like the ending of this book. The ending for one of the characters doesn't even make sense. The book felt like a string of events and didn't flow well. The Flashbacks were the only things that broke up the boring everyday life. France's story line could have been explored more and added to. France should also have some trauma from 'the incident'.

The news paper clippings were an interesting addition that I don't see in many books and I felt it added to the plot. If they were left...more
I read this very quickly this afternoon and the narrator was entrancingly convincing as a young child. I think this is much closer to the consciousness of a child than I have seen in literature for a long while. Every tiny daily detail is filled with significance and Matilda senses things that she can only half explain. She is much more observant and much smarter than the adults around her might like.

Her other two sisters are narrators as well, but they don't register as much interest as Matilda...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

Matilda’s dad isn’t functioning well since he has returned from the war, Matilda’s mom is spending lots of time with an uncle, and what is going on next door? This little story, set in 1950’s Australia, shares a time of anxiety, both personal and societal. Beautiful writing.

Gemma Wiseman
The scattered debris of post war worlds is all here. The headlines of the day cut into the home lives. Disturbingly, perspectives of home mirror the crises on larger scales. This is not a novel based on a traditional, linear narrative sequence. It is like mini memoirs co-existing spiced with flashbacks; mainly the memoirs of children growing up in a world they barely understand. The effect is mesmerising; a sense of sadness grappling with the right to find some kind of happiness - with a little...more
Kathy Lane
The Red Shoe takes place in Australia and chronicles the real life story of a Russian defector hiding duing the Cold War. The story is told through three sisters, but mostly through Matilda who wants to be a spy when she grows up. I think the author has a neat writing style, though much of the story has little to do with the plot. This is a solid tale, though I don't think it has much appeal for teens with its young characters and somewhat obscure subject. (Kip)

Too obscure, but newspaper excerpt...more
Anne Broyles
This is an odd book that is at its best when probing the perspectives of three sisters in Sydney, Australia during the Cold War. There are moments when Dubosarsky nails what a six-, eleven- or fifteen-year-old might feel when confronted with a shell-shocked father who hasn’t recovered from the war or the presence next door of a defecting Russian diplomat. For me, the author’s initial use of the old “Red Shoes” story was strained and unnecessary. And the use of actual newspaper articles from the...more
Susan Wilson
Another wonderful coming of age story from Ursula Dubosarsky. A short novel at only 181 pages, she manages to delicately weave a tale that kept me on tender hooks from the first chapter...strangely the retelling of a grim Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. A mesmerizing story told from the perspective of the three central characters - 15, 11 and 6 year old sisters. The intertwining of real clippings from the Sydney Morning Herald from April 1954 it worked well and the story came together perfec...more
This novel had so much potential: 3 sisters growing up in Australia during the Cold War, a defecting Russian diplomat. But it fell flat for me.

First it is a dark tale, and you don't find out until the end why it is such a dark tale. I found it hazy and confusing through most of the book - some books lead up to something, this book just seemed to enjoy taunting the reader with what you don't yet know.

Rated PG for sexual innuendo, violence, and disturbing themes.
A very subtle and interesting story about three girls and their dysfunctional family. It is set during the time of the Petrov affair, when communist spies were receiving a lot of media focus. The father is a war veteran and tries to hang himself. I really loved the character of Matilda; she is curious and imaginative. Although I enjoyed this book I don't know that it would appeal to students. As I said, it is very subtle.
Glenda Gregory
In the most part this book is reliably narrated by a six year old girl. The reader is placed in Australia in 1954. The storytelling is subtle and realistically portrays how historical events affected the every day lives of a Sydney family. I very much enjoyed the primary sources, in the form of newspaper clippings, that are found throughout the novel.
AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING this book IS AMAZING i LUV this book it is about 3 sisters elizabeth whose 15 and has recently been had a nerveous break down 11 yr old artist fracessa and curious 5 yr old matilda it is one of those books that everyone will love so READ IT NOW
This book was interesting, but kind of weird and random as well... not something I'd recommend or read again. The newspaper clippings were interesting, but seemed to have NO point, nothing to do with the story at all! A bit strange and confusing.
This was an interesting story set in Australia in the 1950's with plenty of actual newspaper reports to highlight social mores. The narrator is a 6 year old girl, seeing events with a naive eye which is especially charming. An enjoyable read.
I didn't love this book. Rather depressing and a little too vague in parts. I wanted to like it for the fact that the author is Avi's wife and that it's set in Australia and who doesn't love that, but it wasn't a favorite.
Jenny Tang
I was just confused.
I picked up this book because I loved The Game of The Goose.
But this one was just hard to engage to.
The technique written is great, but its definitely not something I'll read again.
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Ursula Dubosarsky is an award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults. About The Golden Day, her first book with Candlewick Press, she says, "The little girls watch, wonder, respond, change, and grow — and then their childhood is gone, forever. This element of the story, I suppose, is at least partly autobiographical. But, as I say — all of our teachers come home safe and so...more
More about Ursula Dubosarsky...
The Terrible Plop The Golden Day The Word Snoop The Return of the Word Spy: A Funny and Fantastic Voyage into Language, Grammar and Beyond Too Many Elephants in this House

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