From the back…
It’s me, Joy, your much wiser and (very slightly) older sister. I thought I’d start a new tradition of letter writing – now that we’re long distance.
On the plane over here, I began to cry in seat 21C. I think the magnitude of it finally hit me, after everything that happened…
I haven’t even unpacked yet – the only thing I’ve taken out of my suitcase is Harville, your beloved childhood teddy. Sorry for stealing him, but I need him more than you do. Every time I look at that little brown bear I think about our childhood. Remember that dance we made up to Annie’s ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’? (Remember the broom choreography?)
I’m also sorry for abandoning you – I’ve always been your agony aunt, and a buffer in your infamous shouting matches with Mum. But I had to leave, Lily, I had to.
Anyway, I’m here now. I’m here to start over, and to face up to the past. I want to learn to laugh again, and to find someone to love who will maybe even love me back. You always told me I was just getting by, not actually living, so I’m finally doing it. Wish me luck, little sister.
Where to start with Dear Lily by Drew Davies? It was like a warm hug, perhaps one of the cheesiest things I’ve written but it sums up this wonderful book perfectly – it left me feeling warm and happy.
So, this book is made up of 33 letters written by Joy to her younger sister Lily.
In her mid 30s, Joy’s packed up her life to move to Copenhagen for a fresh start.
Over the course of her letters, Joy talks about her life, her family, her friendships and relationships and we soon find out why it is she’s moved in the first place.
There’s something about writing that allows people to bare their souls, it allows them to be open, honest, share their darkest secrets, speak from the heart. There’s something intimate and beautiful about a handwritten letter and Dear Lily captures all that in a story that’s full of warmth, humour and love.
I loved Joy, she had no filter (the best people don’t), she was so candid, holding nothing back in her writing, which had me laughing and cringing in equal measure. She seemed to be a troubled woman looking for answers, unsure if Denmark would provide it.
As we get to know Joy, it feels as though she’s on a path to self-destruction, troubled by something, as a reader I wasn’t entirely sure what that something was but did start to get an idea and I was praying I’d be wrong.
I felt sad for Joy at times, she clearly missed her sister, that bond remained despite the distance between them, Joy would tell Lily absolutely anything in her letters, there’s no worries about judgement, she isn’t embarrassed just unapologetically herself, it’s glorious.
It was delightful to read about Joy and the unconditional love between her and her younger sister, right up to the very last line.
I found myself cheering Joy on and hoping she got her happy ending as she matured, settled into her new life, made changes for the better and became comfortable in her own skin.
I half expected to read a light-hearted rom com, I got so much more than that. It was emotional, funny and sad with endearing characters. I got a love letter from one sister to another and tale about a woman taking a big leap and risking it all in the hope of finding something different, I loved it.
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm