This reminds me of the moment in You've Got Mail when Meg Ryan pipes up in the children's section of a big box book store to help the sales person who has not heard of the "Shoe Books" by Noel Streatfeild (which are fabulous in case you are looking for a good recommendation for the avid, pre-teen, female reader in your life). Women from the Ankle Down by Rachelle Bergstein is not one of these books, but instead a look at the cultural significance of women's shoes.
When I put the book on hold at the library it was because it looked interesting and because I have been reading quite a few petite fashion blogs recently on which there is an emphasis on shoes of which I was unaware. Most of the bloggers are regular people with regular jobs, who feature primarily reasonably price clothes that are not from big name designers, but many, many of them also feature shoes from what I would consider "designers" (ie Christian Louboutin, Mahnolo Blanik, Prada, and others.), shoes I can neither afford nor walk it, but that I will admit are sometimes lovely.
This book is not what I expected, not from anything misleading in the blurb, but because I just had an idea about what it would be about, and it wasn't. The book is organized chronologically but does not make any attempt to be a "history of women's shoes." Instead it focuses on various events, trends, and cultural anomalies that have impacted shoe design. She starts with the career of Salvatore Ferragamo covering 1900-1938 in the first chapter. In the second she moves back slightly to Dorothy and her ruby slippers in 1939. From here we are treated to chapters about boots (thanks to Nancy Sinatra), platforms (thanks to John Travolta and Dr. Frank N. Furter), Vans, Chucks, and Docs (thanks to a wide variety of non-mainstream groups), and ends right where I started with high-end designer shoes brought to the attention of "most of us" by Carrie Bradshaw.
While I did not get what I was expecting, I read the book quickly and enjoyed Bergstein's exploration of "which came first, the shoe or the phenomena" in each chapter.