Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search (Movie Tie-in) [NOOK Book]

Overview

New York Times Bestseller



Now a major motion picture starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and ...
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Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search (Movie Tie-in)

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Overview

New York Times Bestseller



Now a major motion picture starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and nominated for four Academy Awards: the heartbreaking true story of an Irishwoman and the secret she kept for 50 years



When she became pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to a convent to be looked after as a “fallen woman.” Then the nuns took her baby from her and sold him, like thousands of others, to America for adoption. Fifty years later, Philomena decided to find him.



Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Philomena’s son was trying to find her. Renamed Michael Hess, he had become a leading lawyer in the first Bush administration, and he struggled to hide secrets that would jeopardize his career in the Republican Party and endanger his quest to find his mother.



A gripping exposé told with novelistic intrigue, Philomena pulls back the curtain on the role of the Catholic Church in forced adoptions and on the love between a mother and son who endured a lifelong separation.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1952, Philomena Lee, a young unwed Irish Catholic woman, was sent away to an abbey in County Tipperary to await the birth of her illegitimate child. Journalist Sixsmith (Russia: A 1,000-Year Chronicle of the Wild East) chillingly recounts the subsequent events. After surviving a harrowing breech birth attended to only by an inexperienced nun, Philomena learned she had to work in the abbey for three years to pay off the cost of her care. She rose at 6 a.m. each day to feed her son, Anthony, before attending Mass and spending the next several hours sweating in the abbey’s laundry room. But the worst was yet to come. At the end of Philomena’s service, Anthony was taken from her to be placed with “any person” the abbey’s Superioress deemed “fit and proper”—a practice condoned by the Catholic Church and facilitated by the Irish government. An American couple adopted Anthony, took him to the States, and changed his name to Michael Hess. This part of the book is riveting, but the 50-year search promised in the subtitle takes a backseat to Michael’s suburban upbringing and his experiences as a gay man; Philomena all but disappears. The much-anticipated ending of this mother-and-son saga is hurried, incomplete, and unsatisfying. 36 b&w photos. Agent: Peter Straus, Rogers, Coleridge & White. (Oct.)
Library Journal
09/01/2013
In this book first published in the UK in 2009, Sixsmith (former foreign correspondent, BBC; Putin's Oil) tells the story of Philomena Lee, who in 1952 was compelled to enter one of Ireland's convents where pregnant teenagers, considered reprobates by the Catholic Church, were sent to give birth. She was forced to give up her son, christened Anthony Lee, and told never to speak of him. Adopted by an American family and renamed Michael Hess, the boy grew up to become a successful lawyer for the Republican Party under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He was also gay. Sixsmith attempts to reconstruct Philomena's and Michael's separate lives, ending with Michael's seeking to learn more about his Irish birth mother. It was one of Philomena's daughters from her subsequent marriage who asked Sixsmith to help uncover the past. Sixsmith's narrative, while emotionally compelling, lacks context and verges at times on the sensationalistic, with invented dialog and narration. (This makes it distinct from Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, where the author is telling his own story.) There are no source citations, bibliography, or index. VERDICT As a film is in the works, starring Judi Dench (who provides the foreword here), this title is likely to be in demand in public libraries. However, readers looking for an objective narrative should consider James M. Smith's Ireland's Magdalene Laundries and the Nation's Architecture of Containment.—Hanna Clutterbuck, Countway Lib., Harvard Univ., Boston
Kirkus Reviews
A British journalist's novelistic biography about an unwed Irish mother and the son she was forced to give up for adoption. In the sexually repressive Ireland of the 1950s, single motherhood was a mark of shame not only for girls and women, but also for their families. So when 18-year-old Philomena Lee became pregnant in late 1952, her father sent her to a convent for fallen women. Philomena worked as a virtual slave for the nuns who ran it in exchange for room and board. She gave birth to and cared for an infant son she called Anthony, a son who would be forcibly turned over to a Catholic couple willing to offer a "donation" for the privilege of adopting. Against Philomena's wishes, an American doctor and his wife adopted her son, along with a female playmate he adored. The couple renamed the boy Michael and took him and his "sister" Mary to live in the United States. Michael grew up a model child, but Sixsmith's (Russia: A 1,000-Year Chronicle of the Wild East, 2011, etc.) psychologically probing portrait of Philomena's son reveals how he also suffered from a "secret certainty of his own worthlessness," which stemmed from the pain of maternal abandonment and a growing awareness of his own homosexuality. Michael became a successful Washington, D.C., lawyer whose expertise in gerrymandering issues garnered him the attention of Republican Party elites. Yet due to the fact that Michael could not accept himself, he indulged in darker compulsions--risky sex, alcohol and drugs--that destroyed his relationships and eventually caused him to contract AIDS. His personal tragedy was compounded by the fact that he and his mother searched for each other without success. Since the secretive Catholic Church could not reveal the sordid truth behind the adoption to either Philomena or Michael, the pair "reunited" only after Sixsmith's chance intervention--and only after it was too late. Judi Dench, who provides the foreword, will star in the upcoming film adaptation. A searingly poignant account of forced adoption and its consequences.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101636022
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/6/2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 2,245
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author


Martin Sixsmith is the author of several fiction and nonfiction books and is a former BBC journalist and director of communications for the British government. He lives in London.



Judi Dench is one of the world’s most celebrated actresses and has received numerous awards for her work, including eleven BAFTA awards, two Golden Globes, a Tony Award, and an Academy Award. Her most recent films are The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Skyfall.


Martin Sixsmith is the author of several fiction and nonfiction books and is a former BBC journalist and director of communications for the British government. He lives in London.



Judi Dench is one of the world’s most celebrated actresses and has received numerous awards for her work, including eleven BAFTA awards, two Golden Globes, a Tony Award, and an Academy Award. Her most recent films are The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Skyfall.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 61 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(11)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 61 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Philomena is a grand book. The writing is top notch. It is a hea

    Philomena is a grand book. The writing is top notch. It is a heartbreaking yet inspirational story. I was a bit surprised by the storyline. I thought it was going to be about a mother’s search for her son, but it was more about the life of the son – rising up in the Republican party, his lifestyle as a gay man, and his battle with AIDS. Even though it was different than what I expected, I still really enjoyed this book.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2013

    Spoiler Alert

    I thought this story was going to be about a mothers search for her son after being forced to give him up it ended being a very long book about the sons rise and struggle with the Rebublican party, his gay lifestyle and then his battle with AIDs All of my hope while i was reading this arduous account of his life came to an end when he dies never finding his Mother, and when she finally finds him she has to settle for a gravestone Although this was a very true and touching story, I felt completely let down at the end--very sad

    7 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Even better than the movie!

    I enjoyed the film so much that i decided to read the book. Mr. Sixsmith unfolds the story with finesse and skill. The film gave a fairly full view of Philomena's experience, but the book reveals an equally well documentation of her son's life, as well. A very good read.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Anonymous

    I too thought the book was going to be about a mothers search for her son. I finished the book and was disappointed in the real storyline. First book I will delete from my Nook!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2014

    What a story.

    I recently saw this film then read the book afterward. This is a truly engaging and true story and it shows the heart of love and determination that a mother has for her child. This is a walk through the life of a lady that is honest and open to the reader.
    This book is well worth the read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    Not what I expected

    This was an interesting book with respect to how unwed mothers/adoptions were handled. I was expecting more on Philomena and her search for her son. Not expecting the majority of the book to be about the life of the son.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    My husband just finished reading this book - and absolutely LOVED it. I have not yet read it; I am in the middle of another book. But, we ordered this book after seeing the movie, Philomena, which we both loved, and which made us curious about the book. The basic difference between the book & the movie, is that the movie is almost entirely from Philomena's perspective. The book concentrates on the experiences of her biological son. So, if you're a fan of the movie, this book rounds out & completes the story. It answers questions the movie may have left you with. I am looking forward to reading the book, but my husband & I are very much in synch regarding our reading, and so I have no doubt I will also highly regard this book. I may write another, more detailed review after I read it, but that may not be for another month or two.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    Recommended

    This wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be about, but very interesting, touching, and educational at the same time.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2014

    This book takes time to read...

    It is painful to read what these girls go through and I find myself putting the book down occasionally because it is so sad. It is such a fascinating story!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2013

    Recommend - but Philomena is not the main character of the book.....

    I found the book very easy to read and so interesting that I did not want to put the book down; however, in my opinion, the main character and storyline of the book is not Philomena, It is her son, his life and eventual search for his mother. Philomena, to me, was a secondary character who was addressed in about 1/4 of the book. I purchased the book after seeing the move trailers and reading about the movie. Based on what I had seen and read, I assumed Philomena would be the main character and the storyline would be about her search for her son.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2014

    Very misleading on what this book is truly about!

    The overview of this book made you believe this was a mother/son searching for one another over a 50 year period. Absolutely not the story! There were 474 pages and only75 pages in the begining and 30 pages at the end were used to write about this so called search. The other 300 plus pages were devoted to the son learning he was gay. Then you had to read about his gay dating, his sexuality, his sex partners and him going to different gay clubs and having sex with numerous men. And if that wasn't enough you had to read about him berating and talking horribly about the Republican Party who he was working for. Then there was the whole AIDS scandal. Bottom line, if you think you are purchasing this book about a mother giving up her son and the son searching for his birth mother DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT IS NOT WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT! If you are interested in homosexuality and dislike the republican party, then this is your book. VERY, VRRY MISLEADING OVERVIEW OF BOOK. Wish i could get my money back!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014

    Highly recommended

    Totally different from the movie. It gives you a much wider picture of the emotions involved from so many more prospectives.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    A must read if the movie left you with questions

    This book was origionally titled " The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee". A more apt title, since the book comes from an entirely different perspective than the movie did. The book primarily takes you through the life of Michael Hess here in America: what his life was like growing up, his relationships with his " sister", his adoptive parents and his new country. His adult life; successes and struggles and his visceral connection with Ireland and his birth Mother. Very little mention of Phillomena as an adult. The book and the movie together paint a more complete picture than the movie alone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Misleading Title

    The title and accompanying description of the book indicates it would be a story about Philomena, her dealings with the church during her time of "shame", and how she coped with the removal of her child from her life. Well, it turns out to be the in-depth story of Anthony (Michael), how he was raised, his uncertainties and feeling of rejection, an extreme detail of his sexual preferences and depravity, the onset of the AIDS virus, and the ever changing political climates. Finally in the last 10 pages, in the Prologue, there is a story about Philomena and what became of her life. So title the book what it is: a biography of Michael Hess.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    I was really hoping for the story to be mainly about the search,

    I was really hoping for the story to be mainly about the search, however, this book was more about his homosexual lifestyle and the mistreatment of the mother by the Catholic Nuns, than about the mother's search for a son. VERY DISAPPOINTING.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Pretty good

    Wonderingehatthe movie willbe like. So far it is all about the son.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Four Stars, nothing is perfect.

    It's hard to believe that people could be so cruel to an unwed mother, not to mention her innocent baby. As a society, and the Irish in particular, we have come a long way. I'm not Catholic, so I can't comment on the church.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    A Really Good Read

    Did not see the movie, always want to read the book first. Was a really good read, and would recommend to anyone who loves a good story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    Very disappointing, read reviews before buying.

    This book was described as a search by a Mother for her son. It was grossly misrepresented. It is the story of a gay man and his lifestyle with a very small part devoted to his search for his Mother. I wish I had my money back.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2014

    Not what I expected.

    The title is deceiving. It was really the life story of her son, Anthony, who was renamed Michael Hess.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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