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The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee [Paperback]

Martin Sixsmith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Sept. 4 2009 --  

Book Description

Sept. 4 2009 0230744273 978-0230744271

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.

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“The extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman . . . Philomena’s tale is special. . . . It reveals a remarkable human being with astonishing fortitude and a truly humbling willingness to forgive. . . . I hope Philomena’s heroic search and her courage in allowing her story to be told will bring comfort to all who have suffered a similar fate.” —Judi Dench, from the Foreword

“A searingly poignant account of forced adoption and its consequences.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Riveting . . . Sixsmith chillingly recounts . . . this mother-and-son saga.” —Publishers Weekly

“Emotionally compelling.” —Library Journal

“Heartbreaking . . . a story that needed to be told.” —The Independent

“Delves into a woman’s grief with restraint and sensitivity.” Independent on Sunday

“The touching story of a mother’s fifty-year search for her son.” Sunday Times (London)
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Martin Sixsmith was born in Cheshire and educated at Oxford, Harvard and the Sorbonne. From 1980 to 1997 he worked for the BBC, as the Corporation’s correspondent in Moscow, Washington, Brussels and Warsaw. From 1997 to 2002 he worked for the British Government as Director of Communications. He is now a writer, presenter and journalist. His previous books are The Litvinenko File, Moscow Coup: The Death of the Soviet System and two novels, Spin and I Heard Lenin Laugh.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different book? Nov. 27 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I just finished reading the 18 reader reviews of "The Lost Child of Philomena", before writing my own review of the book. And I can't figure out if everybody reviewing this book read the same book. About half of the reviewers referred to the book as mostly about Philomena, an Irish "Magdalene", torn apart from her child after raising him for three years in a home for unwed mothers in Ireland. The others appeared to have read a different book -and the same one I read - which is mostly about the child, Michael Hess, who was adopted by an American couple in the mid-1950's. The story is mostly about HIS life in the US and his growing up with the angst that adopted children sometimes have about their origins, as well as his coming to terms about his sexuality and life in college and law school and life in Washington DC as an official at the Reagen and HW Bush administrations and then at the Republican National Committee. Only at the end were Martin Sixsmith and Philomena brought back into the story.

Okay, that's not a problem for the purchaser and reader of the book, now retitled "Philomena: A Mother, A Son, and A 50 Year Search", as long as s/he knows in advance that's NOT what the book is about. This book is about 75% about Michael, his life, and his family - which IS very interesting - and about 25% about Irish shaming of young pregnant women, the eventual "selling" of their babies, and Philomena's search for her given-up child. I am going to see the movie, starring Dame Judi Dench this weekend, and I'll bet that the movie is more about Philomena than her child.

I point this out because the movie marketers seem to have taken a book - more about the son - and turned it around and made the movie more about the mother, and then tried to rebrand the book to align with the movie.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not engaging Jan. 13 2014
By Crifty
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story is a story worth telling ...... But not by Martin Sixsmith. He may have been very good as a foreign corespondent reporting facts but when I read a book I want the facts to be brought together in a way that makes me engaged in the story. Sixsmith's style is so simplistic and unsophisticated that I felt I was reading a children's book. He didn't provide atmosphere, didn't round out the characters or make me feel for them or make me care what happened to them. So much so that I gave up on the book before I got half way through.
In future I will ALWAYS read the first few chapters before I purchase an eBook.
Very disappointing.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected Dec 3 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I agree with another review:

This book, though perported to be a story about the "50-year search" for the son taken from Philomena, was more than half about American politics, the gay lifestyle and the treatment of AIDS sufferers during the first big outbreak in the U.S. Philomena's story is sadly lacking. I was disappointed. I hope the movie tells us more about Philomena and women like her whose children were taken from them in a disgusting manner by people they were taught to trust.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it was a little wordy with political content Feb. 15 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I saw the movie Philomena after reading the book and must say I enjoyed it much better, but having read the book first it was good to be able to see the mother's part of things.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Child of Philomenia Lee (Original Lee) Jan. 12 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book very much. I had seen the movie and had enjoyed it. The book is more detailed, and follows the two children through their lives (especially the boy)in the United States. Michael Hess (Anthony Lee) had problems with his father and his sexuality growing up, and continued with his successful career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars emotionally factual Feb. 26 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderfully factual and emotional portrayal of a man's lifelong search for acceptance. A connection is felt with the main character, as well as his mother. It also gives the reader an inside look at the emotions and the behind the scenes lives of those who may be running the country in DC, and the social progression (or lack of) over the years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and gut wrenching Feb. 25 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A beautifully told story of loving and the sad tale of trying to coexist with stifling Catholic beliefs of judgement and puritanical mores of the times, The constant striving of the little boy who wanted to be good to be loved and how this behaviour would be the cornerstone of how his life would unfold. This story is endearing, it will make you cry, but at the same time it will make you want to raise you hands to ask....why does this happen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent true story Feb. 18 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a wonderful perspective of this lost child's life with his adoptive family. One gets the feeling he lived a conflicted life and seemed like a lost soul.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read
While I enjoyed the beginning and the end of the story, I did find that the book spent too much time on the lifestyles of the people in the Republican party.
Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Philomena
What a heart breaking story. I admire Philomena and how after the way she was treated by the church, she still has a deep faith.
Published 14 days ago by Shirley Lafbery
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved the Story!
Great Story, well written! The Catholic Church has so-o-o-o much to answer for. It's amazing that it's still so strong!
Published 15 days ago by Bonnie
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
I enjoyed this book I just felt like there was a lot of repeating of events. I found it very interesting in regard to the adoption process at that time
Published 15 days ago by Arlene Vinkle
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
The book is very well written. It is engaging and emotional.
Unfortunately it is the story of too many lives.
Published 19 days ago by Forever Reading
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and heart wrenching
I so enjoyed the book. Trials and tribulations of young unwed mothers not just in Ireland but everywhere. I know someone who has a similar story.
Published 1 month ago by Julie Oberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw the movie.
I saw the movie, came home & downloaded the book. Great, sad story. This is the first book I ever read on an iPad. So great!
Published 1 month ago by L. Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars moving story
I found this to be a very moving account of a life that was difficult - sometimes not very happy - but always compelling.
I could not put it down once I started!
Published 1 month ago by a Canadian reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
I found this book hard to put down. As an adoptive parent whose adult son found his birth mother, it makes me angry how the Catholic church handled this situation. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen dunsmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book!! Can't wait to see the movie!
It was an excellent story and the writing was good although I found the writing style to be a bit simplistic.
Published 1 month ago by chris klatecki
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