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The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee [Paperback]

Martin Sixsmith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Sept. 4 2009 --  
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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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Review

“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
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different book? Nov. 27 2013
By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
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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2 of 2 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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12 of 14 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:
http://www.amazon.ca/review/R3VLI8S3WDDTG/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3VLI8S3WDDTG

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 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
loved this bogirlsok made me cry to think what the RC church did these young
Published 10 days ago by books/life
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great story and looking forward to seeing the movie
Published 15 days ago by Carol Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book :-)
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars But still a good read. Haven't seen the movie
I was looking for the mother's view. But still a good read. Haven't seen the movie.
Published 1 month ago by Linda Whynot
5.0 out of 5 stars Opened my eyes to just how terrible unwed mothers were treated in...
Avery heartwarming tale. Opened my eyes to just how terrible unwed mothers were treated in these homes for unwed mothers during that age. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ecee Read
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very sad story.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars philomenia
I remember those days in the church when girls gave up their babies because they were told there was no future for them or their child. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lee Goertzen
5.0 out of 5 stars true stories
I loved this book, did not see the movie. I prefer reading true stories as to the movie as they are so much more detailed and closer to the true events. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Carol Plante
5.0 out of 5 stars Haven't read but recently read "Philomena"
I loved "Philomena" by Martin Sixsmith that I was extremely anxious to get my hands on any extended version. This is my next
reading project.
Published 2 months ago by Holly Morrison
5.0 out of 5 stars ... different from the movie but never the less an excellent story....
A little different from the movie but never the less an excellent story. More details in the book, as the saying goes, "Read the book, then see the movie".
Published 2 months ago by Maurice Butler
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