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Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook of My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler, read by Ruby Thomas.

This is Gemma Dowler's powerful account, as seen on The One Show and This Morning....

'My name is Gemma Dowler. On 21 March 2002, a serial killer named Levi Bellfield stole my sister and sent our family to hell....'

Everyone thinks they know the story of Milly Dowler.

Haunting headlines about the missing schoolgirl splashed across front pages. The family's worst fears realised when her body was found months later. The years of waiting for the truth, only to learn that the killer, known to the police, lived just yards from where Milly had vanished. The parents subjected to horrific psychological torture at a trial orchestrated by the murderer. And the shocking revelation of what journalists would do for a story - criminal acts that brought down a national newspaper.

But these bare facts hide the true story.

In My Sister Milly, Gemma Dowler shares the heartbreaking account of Milly's disappearance, the suspicions that fell on the family, the fatal errors made by the police, and the media's obsession that focused relentlessly on every personal, intimate and emotional aspect of the Dowlers' lives. It is the story of two stolen childhoods - Milly's and Gemma's - and about the love that kept the family together as they struggled with terrible darkness and injustice.

However, this book is a story of hope and recovery.

It's taken 15 years of pain for the family to find their voice. The family has worked hard and has received intensive therapy to recover from the trauma of Milly's murder. Their story shows that whatever suffering you endure in life, there is always hope, and there is always love.

Now, for the first time, Gemma tells their story and that of the real Milly. Above all, in this book the family want to bring back to life their incredible daughter and sister. Now, finally, the truth about Milly Dowler can never be denied.

©2017 Gemma Dowler (P)2017 Penguin Books Ltd.

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  • Ann D
  • Newcastle, England
  • 12-09-17

Remarkable, shocking and heart-wrenching!

This is a remarkable book for many reasons. It is a detailed account of the horrific ordeals (yes, there where more than one) that Milly Dowler and her family have endured. It is a shocking and coherent account of gross failings in the British legal system. This includes the endemic poor practice and frank incompetence of one Police Force, and even the criminal behaviour of some Police Officers involved in the investigation of the disappearance and murder of Milly. Shameful inadequacies in our Court's treatment of witnesses are also revealed. This is a remarkable book for many reasons. It is a detailed account of the horrific ordeals (yes, there where more than one) that Milly Dowler and her family have endured. It is a shocking and coherent account of gross failings in the British legal system. This includes endemic poor practice and frank incompetence of one Police Force, and even the criminal behaviour of some Police Officers involved in the investigation of the disappearance and murder of Milly. Shameful inadequacies are also revealed in our Court's treatment of witnesses. The book is also a brutally honest account of how Gemma and her parents coped with, and sometimes did not cope with, 14 years of repeated traumas.

I am shocked by very little these days. I have heard, and worked with a lot of horror in my own professional practice, and have been a keen reader of crime, both true and fiction, for many years. Nevertheless, this book left me with a knot in my stomach for virtually the entire 22 hours of it's length. Many times I felt real angry on behalf of this family, and many times, I cried for them. So much of it was truly heart-wrenching and the details of what happened to Milly were very tough to hear/read.

Ruby Thomas deserves a special mention here. Narrating this book must surely have been an experience that took her above and beyond the usual call of duty. Yet her narration is faultless. There are times when there is genuine emotion in her voice. She does not indulge in it, but the trace of it fits perfectly with the words she speaks and the experience of the listener.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to those interested in the subject matter. However, anyone who may be triggered by accounts of abuse, would be best to avoid it.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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The true story

I was compelled to read this as lived for many years in Walton on Thames and my mothers retirement party was in Walton on the day of Milly's abduction, so I felt I knew a bit about what happened, but did not know the truth and wanted to know more.

This is a warts and all tale heartbreaking and heart warming and is written so beautifully by Gemma. She has kept Milly's short life in the beautiful state it should be preserved in, untainted by the dreadful mess that Surrey police made of the investigations into her murder, the horrific hacking scandal and finally Bellfields confessions of what he did to Milly in her last hours.

How the Dowlers have come through this I do not know, their family strength and that of their friends support is magnanimous against the bitter sad individuals out there who did so much to undermine and destroy them.

RIP Milly and I wish the Dowler family all the best in life and thank you for sharing this story.

Love conquers all.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy
  • SOUTHWOLD
  • 17-09-17

if it wasn't true I wouldn't have believed it.

Just finished this audio book. I can safely say it is the most interesting, harrowing and love filled book I've ever read/listened to. What this family went through is beyond anything humanly survivable but they did it. And they did it with poise and dignity and they did it together. I am so proud of them even though I don't know them!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The most harrowing and compelling audio book I have ever read

I was absolutely riveted by this book from beginning to end. It was so nice to finally hear from the Dowler family as to what happened from their perspective and I truly hope that no family have to ever suffer as they did through the wrongdoings of the police and the media. A lasting tribute to Millie x

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Tragic, and breathtakingly heroic

I didn't know what to expect from this book. I only remember the case because it happened so soon after the death of my husband.

I listened to the book over three days, not able to stop listening. What this family had to go through was unbelievable, I can't understand what the Police did to them. Not only that, but the way the despicable lowlife treated them at his trial.

I'm so glad they are coming out the other side, and beginning to live again, and Milly through them. I hail them all for the hero's they are.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A tragic tale of deep love vs immense evil. And love prevails ...

I avidly followed this tragic story from the beginning and the initial missing report of such a delightful, life-loving teenager. However, reading this book has provided a totally new dimension to this sad event. My soul has been forever changed. I know not how this beautiful family survived such a heinous event and still retained their sanity.

I genuinely hope that police training schools, for serious crime detectives, put this book on their required reading list - and media colleges for trainee journalists - and lawyers who wish to work in defence of the truly wicked amongst us. All these roles, whilst essential in life, can surely be delivered with compassion and humanity - or just plain & simple, common human decency towards the families of murder victims. If not, there can surely be no room for the word 'justice' in our legal system.

Finally, to the family of Milly, I do so hope your happy family chain links up again one day in those beautiful fields of gold. And may deep peace find you in the intervening years ...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JJ
  • 28-10-17

Graceful account of truly harrowing times

Gemma has written with grace and dignity about what she and her lovely family have endured since the disappearance and murder of Milly. Her honest and heart wrenching account of how she and her family have suffered must surely influence changes in the support currently offered to families of victims of crime. Writing this book was a selfless act of bravery which hopefully will prevent others from suffering in the way you all have. Well done Gemma and thank you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must read. Un put downable

A hard story to tell. But very well written. Really explains the post traumatic shock disorder that happened and it's grip, and how hard it is to find treatment. Should be read by all police & barristers & Healthcare staff & press to understand how NOT to treat the family of a murder victim. The murder is bad enough especially since Millie could have saved if the police had searched for her that first night.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Heartbreaking and Fascinating...

I bought the book first and read that almost without putting it down, the audiobook I've listened to while driving... Such a strong family, this book should never have been written or narrated, it's only through the loss of Milly that it has...

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Heart breaking and powerful.

An unbelievably true and heart wrenching account of a tragic story. Gemma Dowler has done an amazing job off getting her family's story told. It's a difficult listen at times but there are really important issues and lessons to be learnt. What a brave inspirational and amazing family the Dowlers are!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • 14-11-17

Shameful Investigation Added to This Family's Pain

This book shook me to the core. I was interested in the British justice system and it let this family down in a huge way.
I believe the Dowler family experienced the most horrific tragedy imaginable but that was only the beginning of their ordeal.
Without giving too much away I was floored at their treatment in the aftermath of losing their precious daughter and sister.
I feel that sweet Milly found peace the moment her life ended. Not even close for the people who loved her.
It angers me how the person who did this, a non-human in my mind was afforded so many rights while the family had NONE.
The person who is upmost in my admiration is Michelle, the therapist who literally brought Sally and Gemma back to life.
Gemma Fowler managed to write an incredibly beautiful tribute to her cherished sister and I loved hearing about her short but wonderful life.
They are such a strong family! I was continually amazed at how they kept it together for Milly.
This is a book I will never forget and Gemma, Milly,, their parents and Lovely Granny have made a lasting impact on my heart.
Gemma, I am so sorry for all you went through. Thank you for writing this. The power of love, as you said is greater than anything else. I wish you all the very best.
Narrator was great.

5 stars - should be more

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • christy
  • 09-11-17

This account left me breathless - I hope it results in many positive ripples

I will be thinking about this hugely inspiring story of one family's long road back from their man made hell. And with such grace and courage. Well done, Gemma.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Judy
  • 01-12-17

Sad Story

This is the harrowing account of the abduction and murder of a young girl who was snatched from the street in broad daylight. The appallingly incompetent police investigation was hampered from the outset by a preposterous tunnel vision that focused solely on the Dowler family, while unethical news hounds went to unthinkable lengths in pursuit of a scoop. It was this unsavoury press activity that propelled the story onto the international stage.

This book could have used some serious editing. The endless repetition of key events actually becomes tiresome, as does the constant examination of personal thoughts and family dynamics.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Marisa
  • 06-10-17

A worthwhile, yet excruciating listen

Well written. Perfectly narrated. Excruciating to listen to. There was one part that really upset me and I made myself keep listening. The author gives every single detail of the horrible experience she and her family dealt with following her sister's murder. If you are interested in the subject matter, this book will not disappoint you (I hesitate to use the term "enjoy"). A worthwhile, important book. Hard to listen to, but well done.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • IndyMcDuff
  • 05-03-18

Brought Me To Tears, and Rage, Many Times.

Exceedingly well-written book. For once, the whole impact of the survivors, family, friends is laid bare by a sister who truly loved/loves her murdered little sister, her mother, father, grandmother, extended family.

Truly, the Surrey police should be deeply ashamed of their very poor police work, their bullying, their lies,selling out to Rupert Murdoch with little or no regard for the family. In fact, they should be flayed in public, as should Murdoch and the murderer. I'd be happy to participate. It wasn't until the Surrey police were commanded by a new female commander that anything at all was done. The fact that the PM was cozy with the CEO of the offending Murdoch publications, neighbors, in fact made the hacking of phones including the murdered Milly's phone...as well as many other innocent victims..a whole lot easier as they had inside info from the police.

If I ruled the world (happily for them I do not), each of them would have a very slow, painful, public death. But before that I'd have QUALIFIED CSI go through their homes, phones, computers, the phones of their children parents, girl and boyfriends, everyone they were in contact with...and plaster everything in the newspapers, on YouTube, Vimeo, in fact I'd put up websites showing their dirty laundry. THAT is the impact the book had on me. Oh, and the murderer? I'd hire Stephen King to come up with a unique, horrible death for that turd.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sonya
  • 19-12-17

The best memoir I have ever read.

Gemma did a beautiful job on telling her family’s story. I feel I know Milly and the Dowler family. What this family went through is unthinkable. If you like memoirs you won’t be disappointed.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sheryl
  • 01-10-17

Thank you to the author

I can’t imagine how difficult it is to lose a daughter, sister, grandchild, and niece. I can tell you that through this book I felt so emotional. This family is so loving and true. Thank you for giving of yourself to honor your family. I pray you are all well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sheila Dolan
  • 01-11-17

Very moving, touching story

One of most moving narratives I have ever read. Gemma puts us right inside her home with her and her family. A family that has endured and survived the very worst.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Cathy
  • 31-10-17

A Story of Strength, Resilience, Courage, and Love

Make no mistake: Gemma Dowler's tale of what she and her parents went through after the abduction and murder of her sister Milly is a story that is hard to take at times. But despite its grim subject matter, this book is also uplifting. Although it is full of horror and heartache, it is also a testament to the strength of the human spirit. Gemma does a wonderful job of painting a picture of her free-spirited, humorous, fashion-obsessed sister Milly, and describes the fear and confusion she and her parents felt when Milly failed to return home from school one afternoon in 2002. What Gemma, Sally, and Bob Dowler (and the rest of their extended family) endured from that day forward is nothing short of horrific. Their treatment at the hands of the Surrey Police and the British Press will make you cringe in disbelief. But somehow, they managed to survive it all and then some.

Gemma's story reminds us all that life can change in a heartbeat, and that you never really know what fate has in store. The narration by Ruby Thomas is also terrific. Fans of true crime will enjoy this one, but so will those who are interested in how living victims of crime handle themselves in the aftermath, and how the trauma affects them, not just in the moment, but for years and decades to come.

Such a great book that I listened more than once. I came away with nothing but admiration for the Dowlers - and a lot of disgust for police procedure.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • veronica mcgowen
  • 06-04-18

Love, evil, loss, grief, strength, memories.

What made the experience of listening to My Sister Milly the most enjoyable?

Listening to Gemma describe every memory she has of Milly. The good, the bad, the sad, the horrific, the hilarious. You will KNOW Milly as a friend by the time you are through reading this book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of My Sister Milly?

When Gemma made the decision to honor Milly's memory by sharing her story with others. She has decided to relive the most tragic memories, her feelings, her fears, while at the same time gathering strength, determination, and courage from so many endearing moments shared with her beautiful sister.

What does Ruby Thomas bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Her voice is clear, calm, soothing. Surprisingly, there are a few lighthearted moments in this story. Ruby conveys the appropriate level of humor, without being irreverent or disrespectful. Her voice conveys emotion, without being overly dramatic or sappy.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The anguish Gemma felt, not knowing where Milly was, or what might be happening to her. The paralyzing fear that she might be taken by the same, unknown entity that had taken Milly. The feelings of guilt, shame, helplessness, hopelessness, brokenness. Feelings that overwhelmed her even before Milly was discovered.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful