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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
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...
Published 4 months ago by Di

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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading!
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...
Published 6 months ago by N. J. Dearing


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 23 Mar 2014
This review is from: Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition) (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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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading!, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition) (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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended, 21 Feb 2014
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The book is much more comprehensive than the film. Philomena, touching story and politically interesting too, a good read and well written.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good story, well told, 21 Feb 2014
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I read this before I saw the film, and was glad that I had- the book contains far more depth.
Its a heart breaking story well told and with unexpected twists. Do read you won't regret it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good read, 11 Jan 2014
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Much more detail about Michael Hess and his sister Mary , less focus on Philomena the Abbey comes out even worse than the film. Have just read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline - fictional /fact about transporting homeless children from the streets of Manhattan to the mid west US to work on farms and as house slaves
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the film but the book is even better., 6 Mar 2014
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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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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition) (Paperback)
Anyone buying this book expecting to read a account of a mother's search for her lost son, either on the basis of its title or after seeing the film, should prepare themselves to be hugely disappointed and frustrated. With the exception of a few pages at the end it does not tell the story of Philomena Lee's search for Anthony/Michael. The book is essentially a biography of Michael Hess but it is written almost in the style of a novel. The style is the other issue I have because it results in much of the content taking the form of surmised situations and conversations rather than providing a documentary narrative of Michael's life.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as expected, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition) (Paperback)
I saw the film first then bought the book on the strength of it.I was greatly moved by the film because it concentrated on Philomena's desperately sad quest to find her son over many years ,only to discover the highs and the lows of his life with the help of the journalist ,Martin Sixsmith.
The book , initially, told us about her pitiful plight as a young unmarried mother in Ireland ,making one feel fully involved emotionally with her suffering in Roscrea.
Unfortunately, when it moves on to Mike's life in America , after describing his difficult relationship with "Doc" and his feelings about being adopted it becomes bogged down in a huge chunk of the book detailing his adult life . Unless you are interested in the recent history of American politics and the Gay Rights movement then it becomes very slow and tedious,i found myself skipping over this part and I can't remember it featuring very much at all in the film.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sensitively written story of our recent history, 17 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition) (Paperback)
I watched the film which was superb., I needed to read the book which tells this true story in so much more detail than the film. I remember Martin Sixsmith as a superb journalist. He raises the issues of inhuman behaviour over many years by those involved in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and the children's homes where pregnant single young girls were taken to give birth. They 'paid for their sins' by slaving on tasks such as working in the laundry. Martin's research leads to the discovery of the adoption of these babies and traces the story of a small boy. Subsequent enquiries led to wilful withholding of information. A second theme is the political system in USA where this boy was taken for adoption and we follow the devious political 'response' to the crisis of HIV/Aids.

There is so much more in the book than the film which should be read by all interested in social and political history, and theology. As a Christian, I am ashamed of the activities carried out in the name of Christ who came to bring Good News to the Poor.and needy. I would recommend 'Nevertheless' by John Kirkby which tells the true story of how he founded "Christians Against Poverty"..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, 20 April 2014
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Bought this after reading about the film but it is boringly awful. Much of it must surely be pure fiction as the author never met the guy in question and how can anyone know what a child relocated from Ireland to the States would be thinking? I gave up when the book turned into an exploration of gay issues (not that I'm homophobic) but again because he was trying to delve inside someone else's mind. How much of the book is based on reality and what actually happened is open to question. I was going to buy the film DVD but after trying this book which it is based on I don't think I'll bother!
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