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The Ruby Slippers by Keir Alexander

The Ruby Slippers

Historical Fiction   Literary Fiction   Reading Groups   Relationship Stories   eBook Favourites   
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One of our Books of the Year 2014.

A remarkable and thought-provoking debut novel, which immediately becomes a compulsive read. Written with great eloquence, the tale transports you into an everyday reality filled with exquisite loss and longing. With harrowing memories of the savagery of Nazi Germany, tantalising glimpses into the 1930’s film industry and the wonderfully enigmatic Ruby Slippers (which introduce a dusting of glittery optimism); the novel focuses on the very human traits of hope and love. The wonderfully wide range of interwoven characters become tangible living breathing people who entice you into the story and help you feel and empathise with their emotions. The faded yet enchanting Delicatessen sits central in the story and binds together the disparate group. As you dance across the decades, the truth of the tales behind the characters slowly and tantalisingly reveals itself. The tortuous relationships take on a new energy and meaning and brings an understanding of deeper hidden thoughts and feelings. This is a book to cherish, to become friends with; the encounter leaves you thoroughly satisfied and yet still wondering… can the hope of something actually be more magical than the reality of it? ~ Liz Robinson

If you like Keir Alexander you might also like to read books by Marie-Helene Bertino.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.


Kathy Martin - What a truly remarkable book.  This is a stunning debut novel....I found myself thinking about it during the day and really looking forward to getting back to see what happened next.' Read full review >

Josie Barton
- 'This accomplished debut novel uncovers the minutiae of daily life and reveals the insatiability of greed, the sadness of family secrets and the destructive nature of overwhelming regret.' Read full review >


Emily Wright - 'A contemporary fairy tale of coveted ruby slippers, permeated with secrets to be uncovered and cherished hopes; of good men with bad dreams and bad men with good dreams.' Read full review >

Ruth Paterson - 'This novel promised to be a good mixture between mystery and fantasy. In it the worlds of entertainment mix with that of the ordinary and downtrodden.  It is not a cosy read, but it is a good one.' Read full review >

Glynis Elliott - 'An Intriguing Read.' Read full review >

Julie Wragg - 'Beautifully written and thought-provoking.' Read full review >

Xanthe Waite - 'This is a book about characters whose lives become entwined, their stories connected in unexpected twists.  I found it engaging, uplifting and highly satisfying.' Read full review >

Sarah Harper - 'This is a very cleverly written and magical debut novel. It is a truly absorbing read and I would highly recommend it.' Read full review >

JB Johnston - 'How can a pair of Ruby Slippers can change the lives of so many people? If you are a fan of  The Wizard of Oz you too will understand their magic.' Read full review >

Anita Wallas - 'All human life is here in a story which challenges differing values...This book's a literary gem.' Read full review >

Kathy Howell - 'This is an interesting read dealing with greed and how an amazing discovery affects lots of different people.' Read full review >

Karen Cocking - 'Greed, loss, family secrets and regrets are just some of the facets of this story. There were many parts of the book that I enjoyed however sadly it won’t be a memorable read for me.' Read full review >

Rebecca Whymark - 'I thought it was very good. Not a book I would have picked but I was pleasantly surprised.' Read full review >

Angela Rhodes - 'I loved this book, it grabbed and whisked me away like Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road.' Read full review >

Rachel Hall - 'This is a thoroughly feel good read with the key elements being the dreams and hopes for the future of the very different individuals involved.' Read full review >


Beth Townsend - 'Alexander clearly has a talent for creating compelling characters. As magical as the title suggests, The Ruby Slippers is simply wonderful.' Read full review >

Karen Clark -
'Alexander cleverly builds up a web of connections between disparate characters from different backgrounds through the medium of the ruby slippers.' Read full review >

Amrita Dasgupta -
'Rosa, the pariah with a pair of ruby slippers, touches the lives of a motley collection of individuals, giving them hope for a better tomorrow.' Read full review >

Sara Fanner -
'Following her involvement in an accident, a pair of Ruby slippers are found in Rosa’s neglected apartment. How did these shiny pieces of Technicolor History end up in Rosa’s dingy forsaken home?' Read full review >

Dorothy Calderwood -
'This is a story in which relationships are tested and values challenged. It is about the search for meaning and for what is important in life. Read it and remember it.' Read full review >

Barbara Gaskell -
'The book was well written, sauntering gently through the lives of the characters, allowing time to get to know their flaws and their qualities.' Read full review >


The Ruby Slippers by Keir Alexander

Old Rosa the bag lady shuffles along the streets of New York, stinking, silent and shunned by man and beast. Time and again her nephew, Michael Marcinkus the grocer, has tried to help - but Rosa remains unknowable. On the day of the St Patrick's Day Parade, Rosa is in a terrible accident. As she lies in hospital, Mr Marcinkus visits her squalid apartment and unearths something remarkable from the monstrous piles of junk: two glittering relics of Hollywood history. How on earth does decrepit old Rosa come to own such a treasure? And what is to be done with it now? Word of Rosa's 'Ruby Millions' soon gets out, and these old articles of faith become an irresistible beacon for the misplaced hopes and darkest desires of an unforgettable cast of characters. Lives are changed, relationships tested and real values challenged. But in the hunger to possess the prize, will anyone stop to learn the incredible story of the woman to whom they once belonged? The Ruby Slippers is a rare and moving story about the search for meaning, and the meaning of value.


This emotionally charged story had us hooked. Bella

A lively and highly atmospheric story. Image Magazine

The Ruby Slippers is the type of book I absolutely love ... Very enjoyable and extremely well-written. Sad and poignant at times, the story also offers hope and a promise of a better life. Brook Cottage Books

How can a smelly old bag lady change your life? That is exactly what the characters in this social drama thought about their unkempt acquaintance, Rosa ... Keir Alexander's debut novel has shown mastery over plot and character building. Creating many multi-dimensional characters in a compelling and convoluted story is no mean feat. The Book Drifter

About the Author

Keir Alexander

Keir Alexander was once an actor and stage manager before working in film as a writer and director. He is now an English teacher living in Sussex where he plays cricket as often as he can. This is his first novel.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

Is The Ruby Slippers based on a true story?

It's not, but there are three true stories in it. The most poignant event in the story is true. The most troubled character is someone close to me, and Rosa’s ‘condition’ is something I have first-hand experience of. Beyond that I cannot go.

The novel is at times funny, yet it deals with serious and tragic events. How do you arrive at the bittersweet tone?

I don't know. I think it reflects my philosophical outlook which recognises that suffering and joy are often strangely intertwined.

What were some difficulties you faced writing from a female perspective?

I didn't find it difficult, particularly, but that's not to say I succeeded; readers will make their own judgement of that. I know lots of females and find them intriguing. I work in a girls' school in fact, and never cease to be amazed by the insight and humour of women - and their togetherness compared to us dysfunctional males. In a way, writing about women is one way of celebrating them. I hope that doesn't sound condescending, it's not meant to be.

Which writers inspired you to write?

They didn't. If I relied on great writing for my writing I would probably have to chuck my laptop in the bin and give up altogether. When I'm in the middle of writing, I deliberately read nothing for months on end, except maybe anodyne thrillers. It's simply to stop myself from being influenced by anyone else.

What is your favourite novel?

War and Peace, followed by The Great Gatsby. John Steinbeck is my favourite writer: America’s Zola but with greater compassion and less visibly polemical.

Where do you write?

In a small study-cum-spare bedroom in our little house in a village near Hastings in Sussex.

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Book Info

Publication date

21st August 2014


Keir Alexander

More books by Keir Alexander
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Website


Corsair an imprint of Constable and Robinson


432 pages


Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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