Drew Davies comes to the blog with an epistolary story as an older sister struggles to make a new life for herself through letters to her younger sister back home.
Joy is desperate for a new start in life, now in her mid 30’s, she’s found her desire for the on-and-off relationship with her boyfriend has waned, her anxiety and depression are increasing and her habits (including food, drink and cigarettes) are damaging her life and, most probably, her career. Requesting a transfer to the Copenhagen office, Joy is hoping to make a fresh start and redefine her life for her: despite just how scary that prospect is. So we begin the story as Joy is overthinking, obsessing and detailing every minute detail of her life in letters to her younger sister, Lily. Perhaps she’s ultimately hoping to pass on knowledge and experience, or maybe this is just a form of therapy in her stream of consciousness details, but as we read of moments of big and little changes, find Joy’s struggles feel familiar (if not always as extreme), and want to see her find her way and a new outlook in the world.
Starting out, Joy is stubbornly clinging to all of her bad habits: perhaps great changes are beyond her grasp, or, as we soon see, the comfort in the familiar when everything else isn’t is how she holds onto her version of herself – the one who arrived in Copenhagen without ties, friends or even more than a wish for new. And, it does quickly become apparent that Joy is often her own worst enemy – overthinking her missteps, unable to just go with the flow and allow herself to not think of new situations through the lenses of her old life. But, she is very aware of what she wants to change, and slowly but surely she starts to find her ‘joy’ (pardon the pun) in small changes and new people who are becoming true friends. Improvement and comfort levels are slow to come, but Joy’s hopefulness from the first page to the last, as well as her realistic view of what she needs to change for her health, and just how surprising those small changes seem to effect the rest of her life are little miracles that she is finally able to celebrate. Perhaps the most notable element of the story is the solid voice and presence of Joy, as well as her desperation and need to ‘help” Lily through her experiences.
Written by Drew Davies, I’ll admit that I was curious to see just how well he could transform his perspective to a woman’s, and whether or not it would feel ‘forced’ or ‘false’. I didn’t have to worry: Joy is real. Flaws and all, worries that niggle and others that scream as you are making changes in the world, be you male or female. And perhaps that is the real surprise to me in this: perspectives and how the world is seen are, with a few small anatomical differences, usually human in derivation, and with Joy being a living, breathing person who could be reading her letters out loud, the story was engaging and clever, with plenty of laughs, heart and hope to go around.
Title: Dear Lily
Author: Drew Davies
Genre: British, Coming of Age, Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Literary Fiction /Family Saga
Published by: Bookouture
Published on: 17 May, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Google
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.
A beautiful book-club read for anyone who has ever hit rock bottom, longed for a fresh start, or needed to heal a broken, aching heart.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.