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Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition) [Kindle Edition]

Martin Sixsmith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,630 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent at Roscrea in Co. Tipperary to be looked after as a fallen woman. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him from her and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her child again, she nonetheless spent the next fifty years secretly searching for him, unaware that he was searching for her from across the Atlantic.

Philomena's son, renamed Michael Hess, grew up to be a top Washington lawyer and a leading Republican official in the Reagan and Bush administrations. But he was a gay man in a homophobic party where he had to conceal not only his sexuality but, eventually, the fact that he had AIDs. With little time left, he returned to Ireland and the convent where he was born: his desperate quest to find his mother before he died left a legacy that was to unfold with unexpected consequences for all involved.

Philomena is the tale of a mother and a son whose lives were scarred by the forces of hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic and of the secrets they were forced to keep. With a foreword by Judi Dench, Martin Sixsmith's book is a

compelling and deeply moving narrative of human love and loss, both heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive.


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Product Description

Book Description

Philomena is now a major film starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, directed by Stephen Frears

Book Description

When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent of Roscrea, Co. Limerick, to be looked after as a ‘fallen woman’ and at the age of three her baby was whisked away and ‘sold’ to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising ‘Never to Seek to Know’ what the Church did with him, she never saw him again. She would spend the next fifty years searching for her son, unaware that he spent his life searching for her. Philomena's son, renamed Michael Hess, grew up to be a top lawyer and then a Republican politician in the first Bush administration. But he was also gay and in 1980s Washington being out and proud was not an option. He not only had to conceal not only his sexuality, but, eventually, the fact that he had AIDs. With little time left, he returned to Ireland and the convent in which he was born to plead with the nuns to tell him who his mother was, so that he might see her before he died. They refused. The Lost Child of Philomena Lee is the story of a mother and a son, whose lives were blighted by the forces of hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic and of the secrets they were forced to keep. A compelling narrative of human love and loss, Martin Sixsmith's moving account is both heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but some flaws... 4 Aug. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved the beginning of this book with the descriptions of Philomena in the convent with her new baby, Anthony. It was so Irish, it was moving and it was heartbreaking. From the moment Anthony left, I longed for them to be reunited.

Having finished the book, I find the description a little deceiving. Philomena isn't the tale of the search of a mother for the son she was forced to give away, and once the adoption has actually taken place it isn't even the story of Philomena. I would have loved to have known more about Philomena's own quest and her life after Anthony was taken from her. However, Philomena does not actually feature again until the very end of the book. I guess the original title to the book, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty Year Search is slightly more accurate, but not totally.

I was constantly waiting and expecting "the search" to begin. Anthony (who subsequently becomes Mike) visits Ireland twice, but I cannot really describe what he does there as searching for his mother. Yes, within the book he talks about finding his mother, and it is clear that he wants to, but his actions are not what I would call "a lifelong search for his mother".

As this is what I had been expecting from the book, I did begin to find the seemingly endless life story of Anthony/Mike a little repetitive and tedious after a while. The book is heavily based on his life as a gay man and his career, leading to a focus on a homosexual lifestyle and American politics. Whilst it was interesting, it isn't what I had entirely expected, and I just wanted that little bit extra from it.

That said, I must emphasize that I really did enjoy the book as a whole.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the film but the book is even better. 6 Mar. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book gives so much more information and insight into the life of Anthony Lee. The sad toll that his perceived rejection had upon Anthony's life is sensitively explored and one is left feeling so sad that he never knew of his mother's continued longing and the quest to find him.
The book is also a secondary source of historical information about the prejudice and at best ambivalence experienced by the gay community in America particularly with the advent of HIV and AIDS.
Last but not least is the important story that needed to be told of the Church's role in exploiting young women and their babies as recently as the 1960s and 70s.
Thank you to Martin Sixsmith and to Philomena for giving us this truly heart wrenching book.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down 23 Mar. 2014
By Di
Format:Paperback
I found this book a compelling read. From the moment I picked it up, I found it hard to put down. I liked the style of writing and the sensitive portrayal of the characters meant it was easy to be drawn in. It wasn't Philomena's story, however, it was her son's, but his struggles and the prejudices he faced throughout his life provided a harrowing tale made all the more poignant by the fact it was a true story. I challenge any reader not to empathise with Philomena and the love she had for her son, living in constant dread that he would be taken from her. The manner of his removal and what could possibly have gone through the mind of such a young child at that time still brings a lump to my throat and causes me to hold my children that little bit tighter.

I don't want to say much more and spoil people's reading but Anthony/Michael's story is a real education in prejudice and the struggles of one man who couldn't conform in an unforgiving society. I was appalled at the narrow minded and medieval attitudes of the Catholic Church, American society and political institutions. I think there was an element of bias from the author towards the Church, Michael's adoptive father and some others but that is for people to decide themselves.

This is an excellent book and I recommend it to all.
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107 of 116 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading! 8 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback
If you think you are going to read Philomena's story - You are wrong. This is Michael Hess ( Antony) story. It centres on his journey through life feeling rejected and alone. He embarks on a career in Law which takes him to the Whitehouse, rubbing shoulders with the President, and partying in Gay Bars, progressing to a life that includes a sordid and depraved side, often pushing aside those that come to love him and selling out fellow friends and associates that are homesexual to further his career, and save himself from public humiliation.You have every sympathy for his situation, and his lost identity, but he did have a good family, a mum who loved him, and a sister that shared his past and present life.His attempts to find his real Mum were rather half hearted in my opinion, and he didn't really appreciate the love and education that his adoptive family provided.
It is an emotive subject, and I really wanted to read Philomena's story and how it affected her. Unfortunately this book does not cover her story at all. Maybe I will have to watch the film, but I do feel the title of the book is misleading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Book Title 11 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I feel that this book should have been called Anthony or Michael A Hess. I bought the book expecting to read about Philomena's search for her son but I was badly disappointed. The book did cover Anthony/Michael's birth and the dreadful way in which he was taken from his mother. But the main bulk of the book is about his life in America following his adoption and the last few pages are about Philomena's search for her son. I was very disappointed.

The author states at the end that there is another story to come another day about Antony/Michael's father - I won't be buying that one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking but good read
Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I did not expect it to be more about the life of her son than Philomena's own life. Read more
Published 1 hour ago by lindalou
4.0 out of 5 stars Stolen Children
This story rips at your heart and makes you cry at the heartless way the mothers and there babies were treated. It is unforgivable.
Published 1 day ago by Susan Slevin
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming
Sad but heartwarming. Really moved me. Can become hard reading during the middle but stick with it, so worth it
Published 1 day ago by Isobel Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking story
A must read, I couldn't put it down.. as a mother myself it really touched my heart. Written with great warmth shown towards its main characters.
Published 3 days ago by Rhian Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
Couldn't put it down lovely story.
Would recommend anyone any age to read this story.can not wait to see the film
Published 4 days ago by bren
3.0 out of 5 stars A book that reminds you how far we have come in our beliefs and...
I did not know what to expect. This book certainly made me laugh and cry all within a few pages. A sharp reminder of how Society has changed over the last fifty years or so. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Sam Cozens
5.0 out of 5 stars I had never seen the film so I was keen ...
I had never seen the film so I was keen to read the book and it did not let me down. I think I will watch the film now but nothing compares with the book. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Elizabeth
1.0 out of 5 stars Philomina .not my cup of tea. Was all about her!sadley Not recommended...
Did not grab me at all.
Published 6 days ago by Jillybabe
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
great
Published 8 days ago by Cecilia Weathers
5.0 out of 5 stars Aitch
Excellent read would recommend. Having seen the film before reading the book which is nothing like the film. Read more
Published 8 days ago by H M Weav
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