This didn't promise to be the greatest book, either from the blurb or from the first few pages, but it picked up quickly and was surprisingly readable by the end. Amy is a shoeaholic, though for some strange reason she only has 34 pairs which sounds quite reasonable to me, someone who is not even a big fan of the things. They are very precious possessions to Amy though, and a lot of her life seems to resolve around lusting after shoes and buying shoes and wearing shoes. She even has a special shoe cupboard for them in the flat she shares with boyfriend Justin. In other words, shoes are her life. So, when Justin believes Amy is cheating on him, he hits her where it hurts and sells off her beloved collection on eBay before kicking her out. Homeless and heartbroken, Amy decides to follow her heart, picks the shoes over her bloke, and sets off around the world on a mission to be reunited with her babies. Along the way she meets a clutch of colourful characters, from NYC drag queens to Polish builders, and, cliché ahead, starts to learn the secrets of her past as she pursues the shoes of her present.
It's not a tear-jerker of a book although it could have been - there is a vaguely heartfelt story behind the shoe search, especially in the case of a few pairs. Instead it's a sometimes funny, mostly amusing book that will make you titter rather than chortle, but is a nice easy read. This a book about boyfriends but also about fathers, about shoe shopping but also about ballet and about new friends as well as old ones. The story you end up with is not what you might expect as you start reading, but it is interesting nonetheless.
Where I thought this book fell down was in the approach to Amy's crisis and subsequent shoe search. As someone who is obsessed with the things, you would think she would notice her boyfriend rummaging around in the cupboard, checking details as he listed them on the auction site, and the fact she was away all weekend as they were being sold and dispatched is a little too handy. When she goes off on her search, I felt this would have been a really good opportunity to tell some interesting stories, but the limited pages meant she didn't get one good juicy tale out of each pair. This is a book that reminded me of "Twenty Times a Lady" but I felt that title accomplished what "Clicking Her Heels" didn't quite pull off.
There are a few gaps and inconsistencies in the story, but if you don't worry about these things, or if you don't really notice them unless you go looking specially, they might not always catch your eye. I thought some of the characters were mentioned too fleetingly, for example the ex girlfriend who had clearly scarred Justin for life, or the momentary love interest during her time in the States, and I would have liked to know more about them. That said, the story is generally quite neat, as the slightly inconceivable plot twists are, for the most part, handily explained - Amy's working for a travel company enabling her to get cheap worldwide flights at a moment's notice, for example.
Overall I quite liked this story but it's only good, never brilliant. Worth a space in the books-to-read stack next to your bed, but it doesn't need to be top of the pile.
This review originally appeared under my name on The Bookbag (www.thebookbag.co.uk)