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Flying Shoes

2.73  ·  Rating details ·  854 ratings  ·  186 reviews
Mary Byrd Thornton could understand how a reporter couldn't resist the story: a nine-year-old boy sexually molested and killed on Mother's Day, 1966. A suspect to whom nothing would stick. A neighborhood riddled with secrets. No one, especially the bungling or complicit authorities, had been able to solve the crime. Now, thirty years later, the reporter's call will reel a ...more
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Bloomsbury USA
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Average rating 2.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  854 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mostly I'm just confused. Why were there such good reviews of this book? Why did a trio of amazing Anns (Ann Patchett, Jayne Anne Phillips, Bobbie Ann Mason) give it such glowing blurbs? This is the story of Mary Byrd Thornton, a wife and mother of two, and the week she has in 1996. She interacts with her gay best friend, she contemplates an affair, she goes to a funeral, she trash talks with her neighbors, she goes on a road trip in a semi. And she does it all in a totally down-homey Southern f ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
Disclaimer: I won this in a first reads giveaway.

Well, this book was not for me.

The writing was ok mostly, with bouts of goodness. The dialogue was usually annoying or unrealistic (do people in Mississippi talk like this book? I doubt it). At first, I thought the plot was going to be the driving force, but the book quickly took a left turn into character development. I disliked basically all of the characters in the book, which didn't help.

Weirdly the big plot climax was very anticlimactic and n
Apr 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Extremely disappointed by this book, which I cannot even bring myself to call a novel. It has a beginning of sorts, but then the entire book is taken up by asides and stream in consciousness of various characters. Nothing moves the "plot" forward; in fact, there really isn't a real plot, only two short passages where the main character receives a telephone call in the beginning and has a family meeting near the end. I am amazed that some people said that meandering around without moving the plot ...more
Maureen Tumenas
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. The novel is set in the south. The "typical" housewife, Mary Byrd, is the main character. Although she is from Virginia, she doesn't really fit into the local scene, being from away. The story opens with Mary Byrd being called back north to revisit the unsolved murder of her younger brother. This mystery runs beneath the rest of the story, but is never enough of a draw to carry the novel.

The plot meanders around, showing glimpses of her family life,
Jul 29, 2014 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

Many of my fellow Goodreaders seem to have been taken aback by the bait-and-switchery of Lisa Howorth's Flying Shoes's blurb description. (To be fair, I was too: after seeing the A- Entertainment Weekly paragraph-long review, skimpy on details, I came directly to Goodreads, scanned the blurb (which mentioned a child murder and Mississippi) and I was reeled in) (only to find, upon reading the book, the murder was really a backdrop to a larger, if not more compelling, story Ms. Howorth wi
AmberLanae - Addicted Souls
Copy provided by Netgalley
This book was not for me.
Mary Byrd, a housewife, gets a call from a detective about the murder of her brother (the murder happened many years ago)so she sets off to go back home to help uncover the mystery of her brothers death.
I never really felt a connection to Mary or any of the characters in the book. There are a lot of 'side' stories going on and this made the book a little muddled (for me).
The writing style was good, but this story just did not 'capture' me lik
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-fiction
I do enjoy a good Southern Fiction book, especially one that has the “voice” of the South. “Flying Shoes” does that, and more. Maybe it’s my fondness for quirky, wonderfully flawed, and loveable characters that are thick in Southern Fiction, as is in this novel. The protagonist, Mary Bird, aka M’Bird, is a loving mother, understanding wife, and devoted friend. She’s from Italian decent, and her black housekeeper, Evagreen, has issues with her because she’s not “white” enough. Mary Bird’s best fr ...more
Karla Eaton
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
While I realize the beauty of this author's writing, this is not my cup of tea.
Firstly, I cannot stand the woman who is the main focus - Mary Byrd. She is exactly the kind of person I avoid - an unmade bed who makes no attempt to get her S**& in order. She even takes pride in her woebegone ways - leaving the cat with "amazon butt" because she doesn't grab it and clean its fur, being irrationally terrified of flying so instead she hitches a ride with a chicken farmer from Mississippi to Richmond,
Felicity Gibson
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Flying Shoes by Lisa Howarth.

Lisa Howarth’s ‘Flying Shoes’ is a work of fiction. It is based on the still unsolved case of her stepbrother. This is not a crime novel; it is a story of a particular time and place in the South. Everything is inextricably entwined. It is like knitting pattern with many strands of wool, a pattern which does not present itself to the reader easily.
The book has a flamboyant cast and a real sense of history. The heart of the story is a shocking and true story. The prot
The book opens with an extended rant about Corelle dishes and how they're not actually unbreakable (do they claim to be?) and how the snobby main character thinks they're crap. Um, what? Why the vendetta against Corelle? That's what I've used my entire life, and I can tell you, it's really resilient. Very hard to break. BUT, if it does, it shatters into a thousand tiny shards. You're not going to be cleaning that shit up with your hands, that's for sure, but that's what the main character does i ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Never could get into this book. The whole thing felt like backstory.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oxford, Mississippi resident Mary Byrd Thornton receives a phone call from a detective that the 30 year old cold case investigation into her then very young half-brother Stevie is being re-opened. She has suffered guilt for many years that she was somehow connected to his murder and while she wants to see justice served, there is hesitation in returning to the painful past that the family has tried to move beyond. The story doesn't revolve solely around Stevie's murder. The reader is given a ver ...more
Carrie Kilgore
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A real charmer. From the book: "…she learned early that this is the way the world works, randomly and chaotically, with billions and trillions of stories overlapping and colliding and entangling so that one could never feel that one's own story was one's own. Everything that happened was like a stone thrown in a pond, rippling out, or an earthquake causing distant tsunamis."

We're treated to a few of these overlapping stories as we follow Mary Byrd, whose life was forever changed when her young
Jean Bystol
Jul 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
I rarely stop reading a book, even if I'm not enjoying it. This one was the exception. 100 pages in and it meandered so much and never developed anything resembling a plot. Lots of stream-of-consciousness about nothing. Fed up, I gave up.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
I thought it was going to center around an unsolved crime from decades ago, but that was only mentioned a few times. It really just followed the main character around all day, while she did totally mundane things and talked to her family, neighbors and friends, who I didn't really like that much.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was really good. It's too bad that it was originally marketed as a thriller/mystery (as other reviewers said) because that made the wrong people read this book. This was a meandering, souther novel. It felt very real to me, and I really enjoyed it.
Jul 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Flying Shoes
Lisa Howorth

My " in a nutshell" summary...

Mary Byrd Thornton has been called back to Virginia to be made aware of "new evidence" for the murder/disappearance of her stepbrother Stevie over 30 years ago. Other issues and colorful characters take up more than half of this book before she is able to leave.

My thoughts after reading this book...

Mary Byrd Thornton has much going on in her life. Two naughty puppies, three cats...two inside and one feral...a lawn and garden to take care of
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Man I was so excited to get an ARC of this, because I've been waiting for it to come out for what seems like foreverrrr... and it hit the spot. Anything Ann Patchett has been waiting for, put me on that list. I start to get a craving for (so-called) southern fiction in early summer (by mid July I'm all into the Scandinavians -- give me all the ice and snow escapism. One of my most memorable reading experiences remains Smilia's Sense of Snow in August). Anyway, that brings me to the first point - ...more
May 16, 2014 rated it liked it
'Flying Shoes' is an interesting, and appropriate, title for Lisa Howorth's novel. Like many readers, I pick up a book, consider the title and cover image, glance over the blurbs and dive in eagerly. Most books are clearly represented, but this novel is not easily surmised by any of the typical attributes. Yes, I know, don't judge a book by its cover. Flying Shoes is presented as a mystery. When the character of Mary Byrd Thornton receives a phone call in her Mississippi home concerning a 30-yea ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When Oxford, Mississippi resident Mary Byrd Thornton receives word from a Virginia detective that the thirty-year-old investigation into the assault and murder of her half-brother, Stevie, is being reopened, she must travel to her hometown to confront her family’s heartbreaking past. Her current life doesn’t stop for the investigation, however. As Mary Byrd is preparing for the arduous journey through a killer storm, the daughter of Mary Byrd’s housekeeper, Evagreen, is arrested for the murder o ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
If you are the kind of person who alphabetizes your books, color-codes your closets and likes stories with a clear beginning, middle and end, bookstore owner Lisa Howorth's first novel, Flying Shoes (Bloomsbury, digital galley) is likely to drive you plum crazy. How appropriate it kicks off with Mary Byrd Thornton throwing a cheap plate on the heart-pine kitchen floor of her Oxford, Miss., home. The shards of faux-china explode all over the place, just like the pieces of Mary Byrd's sto
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
This book introduces Mary Byrd Thornton, a married woman with two children, living in Mississippi in the late 1990s. One day she receives a phone call from a reporter in Richmond, asking her about the case of her younger brother who was kidnapped and killed on Mother's Day in 1966. This takes Mary Byrd back to the time, place, and family in Virginia where she grew up, and where this happened. She has always had a certain degree of guilt about her younger brother's death, and it has colored her p ...more
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-books-read
Mary Byrd Thornton receives an unwelcome phone call in the midst of her messy, busy life in Mississippi, telling her that the police in her home town of Richmond, VA believe they have new information about the molestation and murder of her 9 year old step-brother that happened over twenty years earlier. She must put things in order for the trip back to Richmond to try to deal with this dreaded issue ~ see that her children are taken to school, that her husband & kids have food in the house, and ...more
Mar 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
I am a sucker for first novels, imagining there are millions of them around in drawers, closets, cupboards etc. that will never be published. A friend of mine wrote two like Left Behind that were never accepted by a book publisher.

Although I swear I will never read another novel set in the deep southern United States, I went ahead with this one because it is a first novel.

I cannot understand how it got printed by a legitimate publisher. The characters are all worthless chasing the next party, pi
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I felt mostly like I was sitting on the porch with Lisa having lemonade and catching up on all the doings around town. Yes at the heart of this novel there is an old unsolved murder. But there are always old stories and secrets in every family and all over every town. The old sadnesses get carried along with us to the beauty shop or the post office and it is in this quotidian way that our real lives get sorted and new memories get made.
I met Lisa when I was a guest on her bookstore's Thacker Mou
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a tough book to review. The character development was engaging and each of the stories about the characters was interesting. The problem was with the book as a whole. It felt like all of the stories should be building up to something where everything converged, presumably surrounding the long ago unsolved murder, but this never happened. There were well written character stories that stayed independent from the others and so at the end of the day the novel seemed to lack purpose. As a fi ...more
Beth Farley
So different from what I was expecting. This book is not plot driven at all. It pretty much just follows this woman, who mostly just has men friends, (her husband is barely even a character in the book), around for a few days, in which several fairly dramatic events take place. But then it switches viewpoints several times too. And the title had very little to do with anything in the book, also. And yet, there were thoughts of the characters and events in it that were very relatable to me.
Nancy McFarlane
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lisa Howorth deftly weaves together a beautiful story of the South, family, relationships, racial issues and unresolved guilt. She takes seemingly unrelated strands of stories of people who are important in Mary Byrd’s life and intertwines them until you understand how the unsolved murder of Mary Byrd’s young brother 30 years ago and the guilt she has carried around since then have made her the cynical, needy, self-destructive, funny, and very likable character she is today.
Shaina Marie
Jul 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
this book sucked. where do I begin, the first hundred pages went through the family history of practically every character in the book, the majority of the book focused on unimportant characters and events,and finally, there was only ONE CHAPTER dedicated to the reopening of the case. What the hell??? That's what the whole book was supposed to be about!!! I held out hope that somehow all the back stories were somehow related, but nope!!
Mississippi Library Commission
What happens when a tragedy strikes the youngest in a family? Thirty years after her kid brother is killed, Mary Byrd and her relatives are still trying to cope with their loss. This story intertwines with the goings-on in her small Southern town. Truly looking forward to reading more by Howorth; she has a great turn of phrase and an excellent feel for her surroundings. Highly recommended.
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Flying Shoes & Fear of Flying 1 15 Aug 11, 2014 01:12PM  

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LISA HOWORTH was born in Washington, D.C., where her family has lived for four generations. She is a former librarian and the author of the novel Flying Shoes. She has written on art, travel, dogs, and music for the Oxford American and Garden & Gun, among other publications. Howorth lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she and her husband, Richard, founded Square Books in 1979. ...more

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