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

4.4 out of 5 stars 413 customer reviews

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Length: 484 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Product Description

Book Description

A compelling story of family secrets, love and loss

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: 2711 KB
  • Print Length: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Reprints edition (2 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 413 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,431 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
2 Comments 38 of 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was keen to see the film because of all the publicity it had received (not to mention Dame Judy Dench's performance), and was glad I did. Only then, out of curiosity about the details in the film that didn't seem to strike the right note (when the film came out, I'd heard it had taken some important artistic licence and I'm a stickler for detail and accuracy) did I download both the 'original' book and the movie-related one.

As I read beyond the first chapters in which the conditions in the 'Magdalene' laundries were explained, and Philomena lost her son, I became increasingly disappointed at the way the book focused mainly on Michael's - as he became - dysfunctional relationship with his overbearing, autocratic adoptive father. I did like the way the character of his 'sister' Mary was highlighted, the closeness with his adoptive uncle and later on, his political career as it developed - especially knowing that these are historical facts.

However as the book went on, it seemed to focus more and more - unnecessarily in my view - on Michael's homosexuality and his endless exploits, in far too great a detail, while Philomena completely disappeared; we have no idea how her life developed once she left Ross Crea so it was certainly not 'a book in two halves'. Also I was really puzzled by detailed and private conversations allegedly taking place between two people who are - both! - long dead.

I admit, having got halfway through the 450 pages and become a little exasperated at the lack of expected storyline, to having flipped to the end to see where things were headed, and I have not actually finished it yet.
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