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Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition) Paperback – Unabridged, 10 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (10 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447245229
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447245223
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,580 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

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

About the Author

Martin Sixsmith was born in Cheshire and educated at Oxford, Harvard and the Sorbonne. From 1980 to 1997 he worked for the BBC as the Corporation’s correspondent in Moscow, Washington, Brussels and Warsaw. From 1997 to 2002 he worked for the Government as Director of Communications and Press Secretary first to Harriet Harman, then to Alistair Darling and finally to Stephen Byers. He is now a writer, presenter and journalist. He is the author of Philomena, as well as the novels Spin and I Heard Lenin Laugh, and the non-fiction books Moscow Coup: The Death of the Soviet System and The Litvinenko File: The True Story of a Death Foretold. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kirsty at Book - Love - Bug on 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 By jenny norman on 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 By Di on 23 Mar. 2014
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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106 of 115 people found the following review helpful By N. J. Dearing on 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 By Melanie N on 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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