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  • My Sister Milly

  • By: Gemma Dowler
  • Narrated by: Ruby Thomas
  • Length: 22 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (515 ratings)

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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.

What listeners say about My Sister Milly

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Worst book I've read/listened to ever!

I really feel for the Dowler family, and this was a story that should be told. Unfortunately the wrong person told it, and the wrong person narrated it! It was so bad I had to return it. It's written by the daughter who was 16 when Milly was taken. The start of the book was aptly written and narrated in the style of a 16 year old child. The problem is that as Gemma (apparently) grows up, the style of the book and narration doesn't. The book is written in a totally infantile style throughout and is narrated the same way, which becomes extremely wearing after the first few hundred chapters (OK, there was *only* 80+ chapters, it just felt like a lot more. And I didn't even get to the end!). This takes me to the next problem. Apart from being very badly written and narrated, it's far, far too long and very repetitive. It definitely needed the work of a decent editor! The title, "My Sister Milly", is a misnomer because it's more about Gemma than anyone else. She doesn't come across as a particularly nice person, and using Milly's murder as an excuse for her appalling behaviour doesn't wash. I was left feeling extremely sorry for the parents for not only having lost Milly in such a devastating way, but for then having to cope with Gemma's self-serving dramatics. Not a book I would ever recommend!

17 people found this helpful

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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.

14 people found this 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.

12 people found this helpful

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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!

6 people found this 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

5 people found this 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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Too long

For sure this is the most boring book I've ever listened to. I'll never hear the name Milly without recalling the narrator going on and on and on. 85 chapters of Gemma venting her unbefore heard feelings of loss, betrayal, police failures, media harassment, parental secrets, fathers embarrassing fetish, for which she magnanimously forgave him, and of course her hatred for the paedophile that killed not only her sister but other young girls too. I can understand her wanting to get everything out but it was too long, by 50 chapters, to be a good book.

3 people found this 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 ...

3 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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An incredible and unbelievable read

I was enthralled with this book. I cannot say it is an enjoyable book because of its content but it is certainly an educational book. By education I mean how the police treat the victims compared to the perpetrator. How the perpetrator is allowed to dictate exactly what he wants, ie only talking to blonde policewomen. I am not sure why his demands are accepted and he is allowed to dictate his requests and worst of all everyone is happy to oblige. The Dowler family have been through hell and it was nice to hear about Milly and the kind of girl she was. Lovely granny is exceptional and supportive. It was also an education to learn about the papers and how they are allowed to print almost what they like. Doesn't matter about upsetting the family, as long as the papers sell. At the end of the day this is a tragic story told extremely well. Gemma is going to be a great writer I feel. I did enjoy the read and would talk out loud to some of the things that has happened to this poor family who at last is making a new life for themselves without their beloved daughter. I must point out that the narration by Ruby Thomas was superb.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Susie Q
  • 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

12 people found this 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.

9 people found this 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.

7 people found this 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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mary Burnight
  • 17-10-21

VERY BEST TRUE CRIME AUDIOBOOK (in my opinion)

“I Know You By Heart” was the farewell song (by Eva Cassidy) played to Milly Dowler at the beautiful final service which took place in the Crematory following her abduction and untimely murder. When I heard about this private event while at my own home, I cried long and hard as if I had known her … ? … and yet I really did (though I live one wide ocean away)! So how did I fathom her essence enough to weep deeply? Via the extraordinary care with which her sister Gemma described her in this extraordinary memorial tribute called “My Sister Milly.” After just a few chapters written in raw emotion straight from Gemma’s heart, I was well acquainted with this phenomenal 13-year-old schoolgirl named Amanda (Milly) Dowler of Surrey, England: Such a happy, quirky, intelligent, loving, giggly, teasing, forgiving, caring, funny, vibrant, musical, creative, enchanting person she was! And we are reminded of her many positive attributes throughout uplifting recollections of her in this exquisite verbal portrait of Milly unveiled herein. This marvellous though also heartbreaking true story spans the legal trial of Milly’s abductor and the many other human trials which her long-suffering family endured (including local police, UK press, News Corporations) along the way in order to ultimately survive with triumph.

// PS. Re Milly’s father, Mr. Robert Dowler: Many people have a private sexual secret (so what! — there is NO shame in that) but most people do not wish to murder an innocent dear child!

PPS. Please do not be put off that this thorough book is long because it IS a very interesting story and does not drag at all for the most part (though I’ll admit that I chose to skim rather quickly through the handful of chapters about the hacking scandal). And at the finish, there’s a long list of persons the author thanks — I thought it smacked of prolonging saying goodbye but ended up welcome there, after all, as this built up to a remarkable final sentence befitting Milly.

(I cannot figure out where best to mention this so I’ll just tack it on here….Ruby Thomas’ perfect narration is/was A++).

4 people found this 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.

4 people found this 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.

4 people found this 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.

4 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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  • Kaylynn Hart
  • 07-11-17

Breathtaking

A glimpse into the lives when the cameras are off. Loved EVERY word. Great great read

3 people found this helpful