Someone Else’s Shoes Summary, Characters and Themes

“Someone Else’s Shoes” is a novel by Jojo Moyes published in 2023. It follows the lives of two women, Nisha and Sam, whose paths unexpectedly cross due to a gym bag mix-up. Nisha, a wealthy woman suddenly cut off by her husband, finds herself struggling to cope. 

Sam, an overworked mother, discovers a newfound confidence with Nisha’s expensive shoes. As their lives intertwine, they face challenges, find strength in friendship, and ultimately learn to embrace their own paths. The book explores themes of identity, female empowerment, and the resilience of the human spirit.


In London, two women from vastly different walks of life, Sam and Nisha, experience a chance encounter that leads to a mix-up of their gym bags. 

Sam, an overworked mother and wife struggling with financial strain and a demanding job, accidentally takes Nisha’s bag, which contains designer Christian Louboutin shoes. Nisha, a wealthy woman recently cut off by her husband, Carl, is left with only Sam’s bag and meager belongings.

The switch unexpectedly transforms both of their lives. Sam, emboldened by the confidence she feels while wearing the Louboutins, starts to excel in her work as a printing salesperson. 

Nisha, on the other hand, finds herself struggling to reclaim her previous life without her financial resources or status symbols. She finds temporary refuge with Jasmine, a kind hotel housekeeper, and befriends Aleks, a hotel chef.

As Nisha seeks to retrieve her shoes, her path crosses with Sam’s again. However, the gym where the mix-up occurred has closed down, making it difficult to resolve the situation. 

Nisha contacts Carl, who insists on getting the Louboutins back before any settlement can be discussed. Meanwhile, Sam’s marriage is faltering due to her husband Phil’s increasing distance and a misunderstanding fueled by their daughter, Cat.

When Nisha finally tracks down Sam to get her shoes back, their encounter escalates into a confrontation, leading to Sam being fired from her job due to Nisha’s accusations. 

The two women then discover that Cat has donated the Louboutins to a charity shop. With the help of Sam’s friend Andrea and Jasmine, they embark on a mission to retrieve the shoes.

During this mission, the women form a strong bond. They manage to steal the shoes back, but they face a chase by Carl’s bodyguard at the hotel. 

Nisha, with the help of Aleks, escapes and returns to Jasmine’s apartment with the Louboutins. In a fit of anger, she tries to destroy them, only to discover that the shoes are filled with diamonds, revealing Carl’s true motive for wanting them back.

Meanwhile, Carl’s men have burglarized Sam’s house in an attempt to find the shoes. Nisha, Jasmine, and Andrea come to Sam’s aid, helping her clean up and regain control of her life. 

Nisha then negotiates with Carl, successfully blackmailing him to ensure the safety of her and her friends. She also provides a tip to the police about the diamonds, keeping a few for herself and her friends as a token of their friendship and resilience.

The story concludes with Nisha returning to the US to reunite with her son, Sam and Phil working on repairing their marriage, and Sam starting a new job with newfound confidence, thanks to the experience she had while wearing Nisha’s shoes.

Someone Else's Shoes Summary


Nisha Cantor

Nisha, one of the protagonists, begins as a woman of immense privilege, living a seemingly perfect life as the wife of a millionaire. 

However, her world shatters when her husband abruptly initiates divorce proceedings, leaving her stranded in a foreign country with no access to her wealth. This drastic change forces Nisha to confront her own identity and reliance on material possessions. 

Throughout the story, Nisha displays resilience and resourcefulness, forging unexpected friendships and discovering her inner strength. Her journey is one of self-discovery and empowerment as she learns to navigate life without the luxuries she once took for granted.

Sam Kemp

Sam, the other protagonist, is a hardworking mother struggling to balance the demands of her family, job, and ailing best friend. 

She feels overwhelmed and undervalued, lacking confidence in both her personal and professional life. When she accidentally acquires Nisha’s designer shoes, Sam experiences a temporary boost in self-assurance. 

This newfound confidence allows her to confront challenges she previously shied away from, ultimately leading her to reassess her worth and make significant changes in her life. 

Sam’s story highlights the importance of self-belief and the transformative power of taking risks.

Phil Kemp

Phil, Sam’s husband, is initially portrayed as a supportive partner. However, as the story progresses, his emotional distance and lack of communication create a rift in their marriage. 

Phil’s struggles with depression and feelings of inadequacy contribute to his withdrawal, leaving Sam feeling isolated and unsupported. 

His character arc involves confronting his inner demons and learning to communicate openly with his wife, ultimately leading to a renewed commitment to their relationship.

Carl Cantor

Carl, Nisha’s husband, is the antagonist of the story. He is portrayed as a manipulative and controlling figure who uses his wealth and power to maintain dominance over Nisha. 

Carl’s callous actions toward his wife reveal his true character and motivations, showcasing the destructive nature of greed and lack of empathy.


Jasmine, a hotel housekeeper, emerges as a pivotal character in Nisha’s transformation. 

She embodies kindness, generosity, and unwavering support, offering Nisha a safe haven and genuine friendship during her most vulnerable moments. 

Jasmine’s selflessness and unwavering belief in Nisha’s strength serve as a catalyst for Nisha’s personal growth and empowerment.


Andrea, Sam’s best friend, is a source of unwavering support and comedic relief. Despite battling a serious illness, she maintains a positive outlook and encourages Sam to embrace her own happiness. 

Andrea’s unwavering loyalty and friendship highlight the importance of strong female bonds and the power of laughter in navigating life’s challenges.


Joel, Sam’s coworker, initially appears as a potential love interest. However, his role in the story is primarily to serve as a catalyst for Sam’s self-discovery. 

Through her interactions with Joel, Sam gains confidence and begins to question her current life choices, ultimately leading her to pursue a more fulfilling path.


Simon, Sam’s misogynistic boss, represents the workplace challenges faced by many women. 

His dismissive attitude and refusal to acknowledge Sam’s hard work serve as a catalyst for her decision to seek new opportunities. 

Simon’s character highlights the importance of recognizing one’s worth and not tolerating toxic work environments.

Other Characters

The book features several minor characters who play crucial roles in the lives of the protagonists. These include Aleks, the hotel chef who befriends Nisha, and Cat, Sam’s daughter, who inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events that brings the two women together. 

These supporting characters add depth and complexity to the story, emphasizing the interconnectedness of human lives and the impact of seemingly small actions.


Female Solidarity and Empowerment

Moyes intricately brings the theme of female solidarity throughout the narrative. 

Initially, both Nisha and Sam find themselves isolated and grappling with personal challenges. Nisha, cut off from her luxurious life, discovers an unexpected support system in Jasmine, a hotel housekeeper who offers her shelter and friendship. 

This connection fosters a sense of camaraderie and shared strength, highlighting the importance of female bonds in times of adversity. 

Similarly, Sam, burdened by her responsibilities as a mother and wife, finds solace and encouragement in her friendship with Andrea, who provides a listening ear and unwavering support. 

Through these relationships, both women begin to recognize the power of female solidarity in navigating life’s trials. 

Moreover, as their paths intersect, Nisha and Sam eventually form an unlikely alliance, transcending their initial animosity and recognizing their shared experiences as women. 

By joining forces, they not only reclaim their individual power but also expose the manipulative nature of the men who sought to control them. 

The novel ultimately champions female empowerment, demonstrating how women can uplift and support one another, ultimately leading to personal growth and resilience.

Identity and Transformation

The theme of identity and transformation is central to “Someone Else’s Shoes.” The accidental exchange of gym bags triggers a profound shift in both Nisha and Sam’s lives. 

For Nisha, the loss of her expensive belongings and social status forces her to confront her true identity, stripped of material possessions. She is compelled to re-evaluate her values and priorities, ultimately finding strength in her resourcefulness and resilience. 

Sam, on the other hand, experiences a temporary boost in confidence while wearing Nisha’s designer shoes. This newfound self-assurance allows her to challenge the limitations imposed upon her by her circumstances and assert herself both in her personal and professional life. 

However, the novel also emphasizes that true transformation comes from within, not from external validation. Both women eventually learn to embrace their authentic selves, independent of material possessions or societal expectations. 

Through their journeys of self-discovery, Nisha and Sam ultimately find empowerment and forge their own paths, illustrating the transformative power of embracing one’s true identity.

The Illusion of Perfection

Moyes skillfully delves into the theme of the illusion of perfection in “Someone Else’s Shoes.” Nisha’s seemingly perfect life, characterized by wealth, luxury, and social status, is shattered when her husband abruptly ends their marriage. 

The novel challenges the notion that external appearances equate to happiness or fulfillment. Nisha’s designer clothes and opulent lifestyle mask her emotional emptiness and lack of agency. 

As she navigates her newfound circumstances, she realizes that the pursuit of perfection is an illusion and that true contentment comes from inner strength and genuine connections. 

Similarly, Sam’s initial envy of Nisha’s seemingly perfect life is replaced by a deeper understanding of the challenges and struggles that lie beneath the surface. 

The novel encourages readers to look beyond superficial appearances and recognize that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, faces their own unique battles.

Resilience and Second Chances

“Someone Else’s Shoes” is ultimately a story of resilience and the power of second chances. 

Both Nisha and Sam experience significant setbacks and losses, but through their shared experiences, they discover an inner strength they never knew they possessed. 

Nisha, forced to start anew with limited resources, demonstrates remarkable resilience in rebuilding her life and finding purpose beyond her previous social standing. 

Sam, facing challenges in both her personal and professional life, finds the courage to stand up for herself and pursue her own happiness. 

The novel highlights the human capacity for growth and adaptation, even in the face of adversity. By embracing change and seizing second chances, both women ultimately find happiness and fulfillment on their own terms.