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The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty Year Search
 
 

The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty Year Search [Kindle Edition]

Martin Sixsmith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Now a major film, called Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and directed by Stephen Frears.

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.

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1413 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0143124722
  • Publisher: Macmillan (11 Aug 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GUYWYE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,686 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
113 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How different it all would have been..... 22 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I cannot say I am a fan of "misery lit", but I think this book elevates itself above that terribly titled genre. This is heartfelt, genuine and desperately sad. A story of missed opportunity and almost insurmountable grief. The images that are brought brilliantly to life by Sixsmith are that of 2 people so desperate to find each other and every obstacle put in their way. You see an unloving father doing his best to be a family dictator, you picture the most unfeeling nun burning evidence that they sold children to rich Americans and you most of all you see a woman crushed by the hatred and un-Christian ways of Catholic Ireland who refuses to be bitter.

Michael Hess's life was dedicated to finding his place in this world. To understand where you came from is so vital in understanding who you are and where you can go. He was denied this by brutal backwardness and malevolence of the highest level. Sixsmith's book is long but all the better for that as we get a real insight into Michael and his search. What you are left with at the end is not just a story of missed opportunity but something much greater and wonderfully redemptive. My only warning is to not read the last chapter in public; it literally could break your heart. A superb book.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener 3 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is probably too long, telling us too much about American politics. That said, it is an eye-opener in respect of what happened to the children who were forcibly adopted from Irish institutions. The cynicism of the deValera government in handing over control of adoptions to a cruel church for political support is almost beyond belief. If the cruelty of the nuns in those institutions doesn't make you angry, you're not human. If the evil practice of selling the children to American parents doesn't raise your hackles, you're not human. I'm keen to see what the film makes of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Unbalanced Book 26 April 2014
By Granfan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I saw the film 'Philomena' before I read this book, which may have been a mistake, although I am not sure about that. When I got to the end of the book, my over-riding feeling was that Martin Sixsmith was not the right journalist to have been given to job of telling this story. The film attacks the story from the point of view of a mother in Ireland in the fifties, who had her son forcibly removed from her when he was three years old and given away in adoption to America. The film charts her journey to try and find him fifty years later. The book, on the other hand, pays little attention to the mother's story, apart from some detail leading up to the child's adoption, and it is all written from the point of view of the son, who was adopted by an American couple, and it follows his rise to an exalted position in the Reagan government as a legal adviser. I expect that Martin Sixsmith had little interest in a relatively uneducated Irish woman, who was just looking for her son. It comes over loud and clear in the book that his fascination was only with the political aspects of the story - probably understandable as he is, after all, a political journalist and one who was in Washington at the time that the son was rising through the political ranks. The book is 420 pages long and I read on and on, expecting it to be a story in two halves - one of the mother and one of the son. However, 405 pages are devoted to what became of the son and a miserly 15 pages rushes through the mother's quest to find her lost son. Why the book is called 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee' is beyond me. It should have been called 'A biography of Michael Hess' (Anthony Lee became Michael Hess when he was adopted). Read more ›
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book and beautifully written. 21 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating and harrowing account of a son who was essentially stolen from his mother by the Catholic nuns, and handed over to a 'good Catholic family' in America.

Unlike other books on this subject which are written mostly in memoir form, Martin Sixsmith's book is written as a novel and allows us the reader to meet lots more characters than just mother and son.

Martin Sixsmith's research is painstakingly accurate and includes some excellent background information into the Catholic Church's power and influence in the 1950s and also opens a window to us the reader as to why the government of the time (De Veleras) allowed the Church to wield so much power, and allowed the Church to treat 'fallen women' and their children in such a cruel and terrible way.

Once Michael, Philomena's son, leaves Ireland bound for his new home and adoptive family, we follow his story right through his difficult childhood to rising to the dizzy heights of Chief Counsel for the Republican Party in the Regan/Bush era.

During this time, Michael searches for his mother, and she for him.

As the book is written in the structure and format of a novel, the reader is treated to a variety of characters, views, opinions and again a unique insight to the workings of the US President's office and his powerful legal team.

But ultimately, this is a tragic story of a mother loosing her much loved son, and his mother.

Martin Sixsmith writes beautifully, and it's clear from the very beginning that he cares for his characters - even those we find difficult to like.

This isn't a story/book about the Catholic Church's abuses in Ireland.

It's much more than that.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I thought it went on a bit about his gay lifestyle and not enough about Philomena.
Published 21 hours ago by Jeanette Gourley
4.0 out of 5 stars such a sad story, made me cry
saw the film,which lead me to buy the book. such a sad story, made me cry, but what a brave woman Philomena turned out to be
Published 1 day ago by janet1945
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Absolutely brilliant - shed so many tears throughout.
Published 3 days ago by Daisy
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
Having watched the film I was totally enthralled by this story and enjoyed reading the book.Such a sad story.Well written.
Published 10 days ago by lisa lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Engrossing and gripping read. Illumination of a time not so long past.
Published 11 days ago by Yarnthyme
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful, sad story but so vividly told heartfelt thanks to Martin Sixsmith
Published 12 days ago by pamela
4.0 out of 5 stars Better at the start got less gripping towards the end
Better at the start got less gripping towards the end. A real insite into how events in some ones life can cause a chain reaction.
Published 13 days ago by kay newton
3.0 out of 5 stars I was VERY bored by the American politics and who he was accompanying...
I preferred the film which followed Philomena's journey more than the book, I was VERY bored by the American politics and who he was accompanying or dining with knowing he was cow... Read more
Published 17 days ago by vmac
3.0 out of 5 stars Such a sad story. Not sure how so much dialogue can ...
Such a sad story. Not sure how so much dialogue can be in speech marks, given length of time that's passed.
Published 18 days ago by linda palmer
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Excellent read brought back memories of my childhood I was brought up near roscrea
Published 21 days ago by concepta peacock
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