From the Wall Street Journal:
Rachelle Bergstein's "Women From the Ankle Down" traces this quest through the lives of American women over the past 100 years. Ms. Bergstein, a first-time author and self-described shoe obsessive, claims that if you look at the shoes women wore—or aspired to wear—you'll understand who they were. In an effort to prove this, she takes us on a zigzagging tour through well-trodden history.
The start of the 20th century, Ms. Bergstein tells us, was a sad time for both women and their footwear. Most shoes were still stitched by hand, so there were just a few styles, mostly in black, brown and white. Cobblers had only recently started using different patterns for left and right feet. Only the very rich owned more than a few pair. A poor woman could expect to wear the same two shoes all of her adult life.