Philomena

Philomena

A Mother, Her Son, and A Fifty-year Search

Book - 2013
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Philomena is now a major film starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, directed by Stephen FrearsWhen 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.
Publisher: London : Pan Books, 2013, c2009
ISBN: 9781447245223
Branch Call Number: 306 .874 SIX
Characteristics: xi, 452 p., [16] p. of plates :,ill., ports. ;,20 cm
Alternative Title: Lost child of Philomena

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JeremyHR
Jun 16, 2017

I loved the movie, but the book is very disappointing. It's not just that the book spends very little time on Philomela, as others have noted. What bothered me most was that 80% of the book consisted of dialogue that was clearly made up out of whole cloth, much of it between two characters who are both dead. Even when one may still be alive, the question "How does the author know what these two people said to each other?" is never answered. The line between fiction and non-fiction gets blurred so much, and Sixsmith takes so many liberties with what he thinks the people probably said and did, that I ended feeling like he was dishonoring the main characters instead of honoring them.

BrooklynLady_42 Jan 15, 2017

I watched the movie twice which I liked very much. Now I will read the book which will have more details.

Another reviewer mentioned "I would like to know why the cover depicts a smiling Judi Dench. There is nothing at all to smile about...". Yes, there is. Just as in life, there are sad experiences and good experiences. We laugh and smile, and we cry.

We saw in the movie that Philomena was a down to earth woman. She shocked Michael lots of times with her comments.

I am looking forward to receiving the book and devouring it.

f
FlingingPasta
Sep 04, 2015

I first read this in 2014 while trying to face up to the demons of my adopted past. As an Irish-Syrian bastard, I found chapter after chapter so gut-wrenching and heart-breaking, I was unsure I could keep turning the pages. Once I'd finished the book, I unfairly hoped the movie was at least as good. I understand why it had to go the watered down route it did, but I was still terribly disappointed. So, I'm back at the book for a second time.

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grandmachrissy
Aug 21, 2015

I truly enjoyed the book. Although it was sad, you wanted to read it all hoping for the best. I felt very bad for Philomena and what happened to her and other girls that had these babies out of wedlock and had them taken from them. Looking forward to seeing the movie now.

l
labyrinthine
Aug 03, 2015

Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty Year Search by Martin Sixsmith
"Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty Year Search" is exactly that, the heartbreaking story of the separation of a woman and the son she loved so dearly (as told by Martin Sixsmith). Philomena Lee was one of many young Irish women who found themselves pregnant and alone. Without a father for her child, Philomena's family sent her to the Sean Ross Abbey in Ireland. Here she gave birth to a son, Anthony Lee (later changed to Michael Hess). Anthony grows up in the convent, only allowed to visit with his mother when she has completed the tasks the nuns assign to her. Philomena loves her son but, she knows the fate that awaits him. Soon enough a rich couple from America come and adopt him. The nuns force Philomena to sign the adoption papers, then release her saying she has atoned for her sins. However, Philomena never gives up the search for her son, and neither does he. Sixsmith's recounting of true events in this book was touching, and powerful. In addition the book itself, the wording and order of events, bare the mark of a true writer. Sixsmith acts as an excellent narrator, mixing his journey with that of his subjects. He finds a way to balance the moments of success in Anthony's life with elements of tragedy that define his story. In addition the book does not blame the church. It points out that there are good Catholics (like Philomena and Anthony's adoptive mother) as well as bad Catholics (like the bishop that orchestrated the adoptions). A truly beautifully written book. There is also a movie that I feel is a very good companion to the book. The movie follows Philomena's journey whereas the book focuses on Anthony. In this way they complement each other very well.

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gvlee
Oct 19, 2014

I would like to know why the cover depicts a smiling Judi Dench. There is nothing at all to smile about in this tragic story about the son, who was given away and then lived his entire life believing that he was unloved by his birth mother.

r
readerpat
Aug 31, 2014

This book should be called Philomena and Michael, because most of the book is about the son she had out of wedlock and his gay lifestyle. A very sad ending which had me crying.

MrFrida Aug 13, 2014

A true and revealing story of how love between mother and child endures a lifetime despite separation. Each is forced to take separate journeys and live without the other, yet each never forgets the other. A life-long questioning and eventual search by a son for his mother. A long kept secret by the mother. Each lives their life always wondering about the other. Their separation forcibly imposed on them. The story of true love and the twists and turns of life.

booklady413 Jul 11, 2014

This book was quite different from the movie. It was more about the life of Michael Anthony. Perhaps a sequel about her life should follow. Thank goodness this type of home for unwed mothers does not exist in Ireland today.

s
smk706cook
Jun 23, 2014

Great Book. Fills in th gaps that the movie didn't address, especially about the life of her son.

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