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Literature / In Her Shoes

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In Her Shoes is a 2002 novel by Jennifer Weiner.

Billed as a story about two sisters whose only common trait is their shoe size, the novel basically depicts one long Sisterly Rivalry between Rose and Maggie Feller. Along the way, they learn valuable life lessons about family, grief, betrayal, love, and self-worth.

Adapted into a 2005 film directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine.

This book and film show examples of:

  • The Ace: Sydelle's daughter "My Marcia". According to Sydelle, Marcia: had a bought a size 6 Vera Wang for her wedding and had it taken in, is well-educated, has a great career, is a wife and mother, beautiful, had a perfect wedding (helped that the photos didn't show below the knee), and does everything right that Rose and Maggie don't. Marcia falls off this pedestal when she joins Jews For Jesus.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Rose has an impressive collection of designer shoes, from which Maggie loves to borrow without permission.
  • Alliterative Name: Simon Stein.
  • Book Dumb: Maggie's people skills, her fashion sense, and critical thinking skills are rather impressive.
  • The Brainless Beauty: Subverted. Maggie is beautiful and Book Dumb, but she is far more inquisitive and creative than people give her credit for.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes":
    Simon: So, you don't want to talk about your sister?
    Rose: I didn't say that. (Beat) I don't want to talk about my sister.
    • Also, when Rose asks if she was unfriendly towards Simon on their business trip (before they started dating), he says, "No. Not compared to, say, Stalin."
  • The Cameo: In the book, we get an appearance from Cannie, her dog Nifkin, daughter Joy Leah, and Joy's paternal grandmother Audrey from Good in Bed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Honey Bun, as well as Honey Bun II.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Most of Maggie's journey from Philadelphia to Florida from the book disappears, with much of her coming-of-age story getting condensed and/or relocated.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rose, Rose's best friend Amy, and Sydelle, the Wicked Stepmother.
    • Mrs. Lefkowitz is an elderly version of this trope in both the film and book.
    • Maggie also counts as this
      Maggie: What are you doing in the mall? It's for people with teeth.
  • Driven to Suicide: Caroline. Ella thought she was the only one who knew, but it turns out Rose had figured it out.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: The men at the retirement community Ella lives at do this with both Maggie and Rose.
    Elderly Man: (after seeing Rose get out of a taxi) I tell you, this place keeps getting better and better.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Maggie is the former (YMMV), Rose is the latter.
  • Formerly Fat: Jim, Rose's crush at the beginning of the book. He grew up fat with terrible acne, was called "Fudgie the Whale" and had a hooker tell him she needed to be on top (for "liability issues"), he later slimmed down and became the successful, handsome lawyer that sleeps around.
    • Given the humiliating slideshow at Rose's bridal shower in the film, Rose would likely be this.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Rose finds out Maggie broke the heel of one of her shoes, she's both furious and mortified, while Simon tries to assure her no one at the wedding they're going to will notice; cut to the bride, who asks, "Oh my god; what happened to your heel?"
  • Good Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Stein, they're a very warm and non-pretentious couple that are proud of their son.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: After one dinner date, Simon tells Rose his passions in life include the Sixers and good food, and she should call him if she ever wants to go out to eat or to a game. Some time later, Rose calls Simon and asks, "Are the Sixers basketball or hockey?"
  • Hate Sink: Sydelle, who is verbally and psychologically abusive to her stepdaughters, puts her husband underneath her thumb and even holds her own beloved biological daughter on a pedestal until she does something that she doesn't agree with.
  • Henpecked Husband: The sisters' father is this to Sydelle, who often puts him on the same diets as she is, though she is more controlling of his daughters.
  • I Just Like Saying the Word: Rose is happily telling Amy about her life, consisting of walking the dogs, running errands, and cooking "for my boyfriend". Amy reminds Rose of Simon's name, and Rose admits she loves saying "my boyfriend", and is going to do it as often as possible.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: When over at her father's house, Maggie goes looking for money when she discovers cards and letters from Ella for both her and Rose. Later, after Rose kicks her out, Maggie decides to visit Ella in Florida.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    Rose: You live here? In an old folks home?
    Maggie: It's a retirement community for active seniors.
  • Jewish American Princess: Sydelle is a middle-aged version of this trope. Demanding, nagging, annoying, critical of her stepdaughters, bossing her husband around, materialistic, spends money on plastic surgery, decorating, and shopping....
  • Jewish Mother: Zig-zagged, played with and beyond.
    • Rose's and Maggie's late mother was a sweet, loving, doting mother to her girls but had her own issues with Bipolar Disorder and her marriage. The movie version has Rose mimic a stereotypical Jewish Mother voice when thinking of what her mother would say during her bridal shower.
    • Their grandmother was a loving and proper wife and mother who did over-protect her only child (but not without reason) and tried her best to do good by her granddaughters.
    • Her friend Mrs. Lefkowitz is a comedic and straight example of the trope, but she is dealing with a middle-aged son who is immature.
    • Sydelle is a straight example with her daughter, but with her stepdaughters she is all the negative qualities and more without the maternal aspects of the trope.
    • Simon's mother is described as looking like a "Jewish Tammy Faye Bakker" minus the eye makeup, she is a loving mother and woman in contrast to the bourgeois Sydelle, but she also is a Professor.
  • Leg Focus: Maggie tends to show off these long, slender, toned gams in the film a lot, helped by wearing Rose's shoes.
  • Missing Mom: As well as missing grandmother.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Simon thinks Rose is pregnant, not realizing it was a ruse cooked up by Maggie and Ella's friends to get the two of them to reconcile.
  • Nice Jewish Boy: Simon Stein.
  • Obnoxious Entitled Housewife: Sydelle. She is snooty (looking down her nose at the Jamaican restaurant venue and Simon's parents silverware), she tends to compare her stepdaughters to her accomplished and beautiful daughter Marcia unfavorably, she has bullied Rose for her weight, criticized Maggie's academic endeavors, she pecks her husband a lot, and she was mentioned to be rude to mall Santas.
  • Shout-Out: When Rose sees Ella dancing with Lewis, she asks, "So who's Fred Astaire?"
    • Maggie comes back from work to find Ella, Lewis and Mrs. Leftkowitz watching Sex and the City.
    • Rose runs up the same stairs (with her dogs) that Rocky does.
    • Maggie compares her and Rose to Sonny & Cher - when Rose points out they broke up, Maggie responds, "But they remained quite close", which Rose laughs at.
  • Spit Take: When Ella is watching Sex and the City, she reacts to a particularly racy scene by spitting out her drink.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Maggie does this to Rose, when they're at a diner after having a night on the town and they've bonded over their mutual dislike for their stepmother (or so Maggie thinks), only for Rose to break the mood by asking on behalf of Maggie if the diner is hiring. Maggie thinks Rose is just trying to get rid of her.
    • Rose herself does this to her father when she finds out about the existence of Ella, which her father kept from her and Maggie.
    • Finally, Simon does this to Rose when he catches her talking to her ex Jim, as he thinks she's hiding things from him.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Sydelle. She has been criticizing Rose and Maggie since they were young, doing a number on their self-esteem (the girls feel no love for her), she even goes so far as to use humiliating photos of Rose for her wedding shower.
  • Wrong Guy First: Jim is this to Rose. They carry on an affair until he first stiffs her on a business trip to Chicago then he sleeps with Maggie whilst trying to apologize to her.