Read Philomena by Martin Sixsmith Online


Dopo un silenzio durato cinquant’anni, un’anziana ma arzilla infermiera in pensione decide di rivelare alla figlia il segreto che la tormenta da 50 anni. Rimasta incinta da adolescente in Irlanda nel 1952, ritenuta “donna caduta nel peccato”, è stata chiusa nel convento di Roscrea, dove le suore le hanno strappato il figlioletto per darlo in adozione a benestanti genitoriDopo un silenzio durato cinquant’anni, un’anziana ma arzilla infermiera in pensione decide di rivelare alla figlia il segreto che la tormenta da 50 anni. Rimasta incinta da adolescente in Irlanda nel 1952, ritenuta “donna caduta nel peccato”, è stata chiusa nel convento di Roscrea, dove le suore le hanno strappato il figlioletto per darlo in adozione a benestanti genitori americani. Cinquant’anni dopo, non c’è giorno in cui Philomena non pensi a suo figlio, ed è ormai decisa a ritrovarlo, nonostante le menzogne delle monache. La figlia della donna, Kathleen, entra fortuitamente in contatto con Martin Sixsmith, noto giornalista e saggista in cerca di nuova occupazione dopo la burrascosa fine del suo rapporto di lavoro come ufficio stampa del governo inglese. L’uomo - inizialmente titubante - inizia ad appassionarsi alla storia… Sarà l’inizio di un’inattesa amicizia, e di una serie di colpi di scena....

Title : Philomena
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788856635591
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 460 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Philomena Reviews

  • Susan Kavanagh
    2019-01-28 00:39

    As a person who was interviewed for this book and who appears as a “character” in it, I believe this book should be categorized as fiction. The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, written by Martin Sixsmith, was originally published in 2009. After the success of the movie Philomena, the book was reissued with a new title. By now, everyone knows that the book tells the tragic story of Philomena Lee, who had an illegitimate child in the early 1950s while living at an abbey run by nuns in Ireland. An American couple adopted her son, Anthony Lee, when he was 3 years old and renamed him Michael Hess. Philomena and Michael were stymied in their search to find each other by the nuns’ refusal to provide them with their records.About 7 years ago, Michael’s partner (called Pete in the book) referred me to a journalist who was trying to pitch a book based on the story of Michael’s birth mother’s search for her son. Following Pete’s lead, I agreed to speak to Martin Sixsmith about my friendship with Michael. He recorded our 2-hour conversation. Pete expected to hear from Sixsmith if the book proposal ever came to fruition.When the book appeared without prior notice to Pete or me in 2009, I was appalled to find that Sixsmith had written a fictional version of Michael’s life in which characters engage in conversations that never happened. Because the book received consistently bad reviews in the British newspapers, I decided not to write a review, hoping that the book would fade from view. That is exactly what happened until Steve Coogan read the 2009 newspaper article by Sixsmith and the rest is history.I cringed when I read my “character” engaging in fictional dialogue with Michael. Things only went downhill from there. The dialogue that Sixsmith invented for the conversations Michael and I supposedly had were not quotes from the interview I gave, and I did not agree to my interview being turned into scenes with made-up dialogue. Michael is dead and cannot verify these conversations or, for that matter, any of the conversations he is purported to have had throughout the book.Inaccuracies abound. I met Michael when he hired me to work for him in December of 1977. The book has me engaging in fictional conversations during 1975 and 1976 with Michael about his boyfriend Mark, and even having conversations with Mark about Michael’s supposedly dark moods and behavior. I think the author created these events to support his premise that Michael was a troubled and tortured soul because he could not find his birth mother and because he was required to hide his sexuality at his place of work. This was the 1980s and there were very few gay men or woman who were “out” at work.The fiction continues. I did not discuss politics with Michael during this time period and never talked about supporting Carter. Also, Sixsmith has Michael moving in with me to “recover” from too much partying. Not true. The many purported conversations in which I provide advice to Michael about his love life or work problems simply did not occur. Like most good friends, I did a lot of listening and nodding.It is really difficult for those of us who knew Michael to see him portrayed so poorly. He was smart, charming, good looking and thoughtful. Michael always went out of his way to make his friends’ birthdays special. For 10 years, he took my daughter and I to many Christmas tree lots in search of the perfect tree.Michael was a great boss and mentor who taught me so much about legal research and writing and encouraged me to take on difficult and challenging assignments. He was a terrific writer and speaker. These talents and a lot of hard work contributed to his successful career.Pete and other friends have tried to correct Sixsmith’s depiction of Michael as a tortured soul in recent articles that appeared in The New York Times and Politico. They stress his long-term relationship with Pete and his multifaceted interests, which ranged from following Notre Dame sports to predicting the best new Broadway musicals to his prodigious gardening.Between the made-up dialogue and almost prurient focus on Michael’s sexual behavior, the author has failed to present anything near a recognizable picture of Michael Hess. While I can only speak definitively to the information that I gave Sixsmith and my knowledge of Michael, the book contains other conversations that can’t possibly be sourced because the people are dead. If you plan to read the book, be aware that you will be reading fiction and, not very well written fiction, at that.

  • Rich10633
    2019-01-21 21:46

    The movie tie-in is so misleading, it borders on criminal. The book is 95% about the son's life, with his mother's protracted search occupying a miniscule number of pages. The movie trailer and Dame Denches's write-up of the mother's role must be from another role, since Philomena's effort was merely a footnote to the story. The title should be: Michael: A Son, His Mother and His Search for Identity.

  • Brian
    2019-02-01 16:29

    To call this book “Philomena” is nothing more than a marketing gimmick to get readers to pick up the book because they saw the recent film starring Judi Dench. The film is good, the book not so much. Philomena Lee, of the title is completely ignored in the text after page 84 of a 420-page book. From this point on it follows the life of the son she was forced to give up for adoption, Michael Hess. Because the author, Martin Sixsmith, focuses on Michael and obviously takes great liberties with the story I would say this is a novel inspired by a true story, because this book is not nonfiction although labeled as such. This is unfortunate because Ms. Lee was alive and available for interview. The story should have been hers. Michael Hess who the book is really about has been dead since 1995. The amount of stuff the writer clearly makes up is simply egregious. He has detailed and lengthy conversations between people who were both dead before he ever heard of them. These scenes (and there are many) are purely his imagination, nothing else.Mr. Sixsmith hyper focuses on Michael’s life as a semi closeted gay man in the 1970 & 1980s. That drama is interesting to read, again viewing it as fiction, but I am not sure that this is why most readers pick up the text. Mr. Sixsmith portrays Michael Hess as a tortured sexual deviant. Yet he sources nothing. I have a feeling the real person was more three dimensional than the version this text gives. The author is mostly (not always) objective about the Church and the Republican Party, which at times are made to look rather bad in the book. He seems to take pains to not throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak, and this reader did appreciate that aspect of the text.The story, such as it is, is an interesting one. Unwed Irish mothers forced to work at convents for 3 years, while the church sold off their babies to American adoptive parents. That is the stuff of a good novel. If you read “Philomena” as such, it is okay. To treat it as anything more is a disservice to those it is supposedly about.

  • Dianne
    2019-01-26 16:34

    I watched the film and was deeply moved by Dame Judi Dench's portrayal of Philomena, one of the 1952 Irish Magdalenes. Mother of an illegitimate child, set to work in a convent laundry, whose two year old son was purchased from the Catholic Church by an American couple and taken to America. Despite this, Philomena remains true to the church and unbelievably forgiving. Her search was to find out what became of her Anthony.Although the book covers the early life of Philomena and her experiences in Roscrea as a young unmarried mother, most is based on the life of her son, Michael Hess, so it complements the film, or to be accurate, the film complements the book. It is a warts and all account of high achievement and degradation with Michael helping the Reagan administration and working for the homophobic Republican party, while a closet homosexual. His tastes took him into the dangerous activities and clubs resulting in HIV. The stranglehold the Catholic church had over the Irish government and society in the early years of the last century are made very clear and one has to feel immense sadness for the thousands of Magdalenes and their infants. However, I found sections of the book boring, tediously repetitive. A little more about Philomena and a little less of Michael relationships, both stable and unstable would make for a more balanced book.

  • Abbey
    2019-01-28 18:47

    Historically very interesting and incredibly poignant. Particularly so as my mother was born in this place on 1st January 1939. Thankfully, I think my grandmother's sister and brother 'bought' them out when my mother was about two and a half - if they'd left it a few more months, I wouldn't be here! Reinforced my views on the Catholic Church and US Republicans...

  • Margaret
    2019-01-30 22:41

    Poorly written & really determined to prevent the reader becoming involved in the story. This is a fantastic true story which he totally wastes. It was so hard to force myself to finish it.He switches tone & point of view & time frame but never for any obvious reason. He keeps blabbing directly or indirectly where / how things will end so there's next to no surprises or dramatic tension. He hints at things but then doesn't follow up. He tells some parts of the search in excruciating detail and others are not described at all.Finally, parts of this read like the most appalling love story - one trying to "persuade normal people that gay people can fall in love too".

  • Paul Lima
    2019-02-05 16:37

    I believe this book is creative non-fiction in that the dialogue has to be made up based on what the author has found out and surmised about 'the lost child.' The movie, Philomena (which I highly recommend) is based on the book. The movie looks at the quest that Philomenia and a former journalist, Martin Sixsmith, go on to find her son -- a son the Irish Catholic church sold to an American couple. The son is one of thousands of children of unwed mothers the church sold.Sixsmith worked for the BBC as a foreign correspondent. He left the BBC in 1997 to work for the government of Tony Blair. He was fired when a controversial email he wrote was leaked to the press. (The gov't had later to issue an apology and pay him compensation.) His book is a fascinating look at investigative journalism and creative writing. While the movie looks at Philomenia and Sixsmith's journey (somewhat fictionalized) to find her lost son, the book looks at the life of the lost son. Adopted and gay, he rises to a prominent position in the Republican Party when Ronald Reagan is elected president. It is also the time of the rise of religious right and of AIDS. The book becomes a fascinating historical look at the politics of the late 1970 and the 1980s. If you are at all interested in that era, and enjoy creative non-fiction, I highly recommend this book. In fact, see the move and then read the book. Neither spoils each other; they add to each other. Incredible read, and them some.Note: The book gives you more back story -- what the Irish church was doing in the 1950s, and the politics of the situation. In short, the church was conducting a Spanish Inquisition against single mothers and their children -- selling the kids to the US and imprisoning the mothers as slaves. If you needed another reason to hate the church, read this book. .... I wonder what horrors are going on right now that will be revealed a decade or so from now? If God is as merciful to the bishops, priests and nuns as they were to the single mothers and their children, the bishops, priests and nuns are rotting in hell. Where does this divine right in people come from? And why does it way too often manifest itself so ignorantly?

  • Alison DeLory
    2019-02-12 22:42

    This book was disappointing. The story of a child given up unwillingly by his birth mother held great promise for me. Unfortunately the title is entirely misleading. This book is not the story of Philomena but rather 95% of it is about Michael Hess (her son) growing up in America. The writing is not good. The recreated (imagined?) conversations are so flat and boring and clichéd that they are almost funny. The result is that there are no believable characters in a book that purports to be nonfiction. I also was surprised that a journalist as educated and experienced as Sixsmith would offer so much clunky, overwritten prose in passive voice. There is an impressive amount of research, and the bones of a wonderful narrative, but it's too long and feels too made-up. I regret choosing it for my bookclub.

  • Southern_man
    2019-01-31 21:51

    One of the rare times I would say the movie was better. The middle of the book really bogs down in Mike Hess personal issue with his sexuality. I understand it was all part of the story but I think it went on too long.If you liked the movie and want to know more about Michael Hess then read the book but there is very little in this story about Philomena.

  • Ware
    2019-02-06 19:38

    Martin Sixsmith a British pol, journalist and historian wrote a fascinating piece about an unwed Irish mother's search for her child whom she was forced to give up for adoption by Irish nuns. The tale is just the kind of tale that inspires indy movie producers to invest in a bit more than the screen-rights and hire Judi Dench to pay the determined mum.Seeking to capitalize on a very good movie, the 2009 book has been re-released with Dench on the cover. The storyline is excellent. The execution is the problem. It is poorly organized and includes passages such as a last conversation between the lost child and his adopted uncle a dying Roman Catholic bishop. Is this real or is a product of Sixsmith's imagination. The bishop is real enough, but the characters were both dead by the time Sixsmith got involved. Sixsmith, for a historian, makes some claims about American youth culture in the sixties which are problematic. There was a youth rebellion in France in 1968. It did not inspire the American anti-war movement of the same year. That movement was already in full force for at least two years. If anything the student uprisings in France were inspired by American anti-war activism.Go see the movie, it is unforgettable. But the book? Forgetaboutit.

  • Siggy Buckley
    2019-01-24 19:31

    What a story! The first half of the book deals with a real life story of an unmarried mother sent to a Catholic Institution for a couple of years. That's what they did in the 60s: hide these sinners from society. The Abbey is situated in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, near where I lived for over 10 years. And the Catholic Church played their part in selling babies into adoption in the USA.The second half shows what became of the adopted son, Michael: a high-flying Republican who turns out to be gay and dies of Aids. The search for his birth mother was obstructed by the nuns in Roscrea and she only found him after he died.Ironically he is buried on the grounds of the abbey.My interest was primarily in the first part of the book because I had heard similar stories before, from a closes Irish friend who also had lived thru this. I was doing research on the subject matter when I stumbled across this book. It is well written and expertly researched, including photographs and original letters, living proof of what went on in the sixties and seventies in an overly religious Irish society when even the Irish Government turned a blind eye.So strong was the grip that the Catholic Church had on the country.The book is very touching, well worth reading. There is a film dealing with the topic called "The Magadalen Sisters." I recommend both.

  • Priscilla
    2019-01-19 22:45

    First thing first: the movie tie-in version of this book (which is the one I got) is seriously misleading in cutting the title to just 'Philomena'. I bought the book thinking it was all about Philomena's search for her son, and got a little confused when it turned out to be 90% the other way around. That said, I found this book fascinating. As I was only vaguely familiar with the historical and political context, this was an eye-opening book for me. It's heartbreaking to read the lingering effect of the adoption system on Mike, and to think it happened to so many others is staggering. It'd be easy to condemn the church and everyone involved for that system, but I went away with the sense that the system was awful, but there were good people doing the best they could to help within it. There were points where I felt difficult to sympathize with Mike and the choices he made, but it might be due to my understanding that the author never got to actually speak to him, so a part of me wondered how accurate the descriptions of his internal struggles are. All in all, this was an eye-opening book for me on a level and I enjoyed it despite not being much of a non-fiction reader. If I didn't have expectations about reading Philomena's story though, I might've enjoyed it more, but that's the publisher's fault.

  • Eunice Muir
    2019-01-30 21:44

    After watching the film Philomena I got the book from the library, and to cut a long story short, found it to be total rubbish so full of errors that it was practically unreadable except as tabloid 'journalism'. Philomena never traveled to America with the author, and there were no confrontations with the nuns in the convent. Nearly all the events depicted in the film were fiction, although that is not unusual. A few pages at the front and a couple at the back were about Philomena Lee, who in my opinion was shamefully used by the author. The rest of the book, about 97% was a fictionalized speculative account of her son, Michael Hess, who does not come off as a very nice person, although it is hard to tell as the story was so speculative. According to his friends who were interviewed although names were changed, he did not go cruising the gay bars and the black leather S&M and rough trade scene in Washington. It was not his style and was all fiction. These places existed, but there was no evidence that he patronized them, but they make for salacious reading so the author included chapter after chapter on gay bars and gay porn as filler to pad out a rather thin story. According to friends and workmates, he was in one or two long term relationships where they lived as a couple in the country on a little farm and entered home made goods in county fairs while giving lots of popular parties and making many friends. Far from concealing his gay tendencies, everyone knew but did not make an issue of it. He was very ambitious and did not hesitate to switch political parties for a chance to become a Washington insider and consort with the top dogs. At this point the author drops in lots of prominent names, including Nancy Regan, with no verification that they were friends or even acquaintances. My feelings are that the author of the book, a political journalist in Britain, knew about Hess who made no secret of having been adopted from Ireland, knew his real name, date and place of birth. Sixsmith smelled a story and did his homework using his investigative journalist's know-how to find Philomena, rather than her search for her son. Because Hess had risen so high in the Republican party and was gay, he made for a more interesting subject than his mother, and it gave the author a chance to blame the Catholic church for everything. The fact that so many names were changed, there were no footnotes, references nor an index, indicates that it was not entirely the truth. I hate this kind of fiction posing as fact. About the only truth was that the children had been adopted by people in the US mainly because people in Ireland had more than enough of their own and it seemed a good solution at the time to a big problem. There was no help then for unmarried mothers who were shunned by society and rejected by their own families. If the author had described the book as fiction based loosely on fact and changed all the names - a Roman a Clef, there would have been no problem, but I felt that the readers were being manipulated.

  • Terry
    2019-01-30 23:40

    Philomena played by Judi Dench is playing in theatres now and getting great reviews. I decided to read the book first and was quite surprised that the mature Philomena Judi Dench plays has almost no presence in the book. Interesting, though very sad, to learn what the Irish Catholic church did to unwed young women and their babies. Cruel and heartbreaking. But this book is mostly dedicated to the life story of Philomena's lost son. Details of his gay sexual life and his conflicted political career are the focus. And of course his struggles with having been given up for adoption and forever feeling misplaced cause him to be at war with himself.

  • Ellen Gresham
    2019-01-31 23:32

    This book is well written, informative, and tells the very sad story of Michael Hess, who was born at a convent in Ireland, adopted by a family in the US, and although successful in his career never was able to feel like he belonged anywhere.It also reveals the political climate during the early years of the HIV epidemic in a moving personal way from the inside of the Reagan Administration.Philomena's story also speaks to the religious oppression of the day that seems to have reared it's ugly head again in our times nationally in the US. It reads like a cloak and dagger, with Philomena and Anthony (aka Michael) searching but never quite reaching one another in this life.

  • Leila
    2019-02-11 17:34

    Struggled with this book and did not enjoy it.

  • Bev Mattocks
    2019-01-22 16:45

    A truly amazing book. I read all 484 pages over the course of one weekend, absolutely enthralled. And it takes one humdinger of a book to keep me reading these days. I couldn't put this book down.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-18 20:52

    The original book title was accurate. It is about the lost child of Philomena Lee. It was reissued as Philomena with the release of the movie of the same name. But the mother is represented in about 20% of the entire book. But that isn't the only falsehood of this mess. It is a work of fiction based on a real story. The mother's story is compelling but the book is about the less interesting story of the son's life after his adoption. This story is told by a journalist who offers zero notes referring to interviews, letters, diaries, or other sources. He recreated dialogue that took place as long as 60 years earlier. He uses quotation marks when it clearly is recreated. This pisses me off and the entire book loses credibility because of this. He creates a scene such as the room lighting and stating that the gentleman stood but did not extend his hand and other unbelievable detail. The description of how the 4 year old ate his first peach was quite descriptive. But neither the adopted mother nor the kid was alive to be interviewed and they were the only two present. Not only that, after he ate the peaches, he was said to have run to his room "close to tears, racked his brains for something to say." Really? WTF? How does the author know what the kid was thinking? The book contains detailed conversations between two 5 year olds. Pure fiction. "He laughed at the earnestness of Craig's gaze." Says who? Where would that come from if not fictional. There is a long monologue, with emphasis, of the priest condemning Mike's sexual orientation. Where did that come from? "Reagan pulled a face about the teamsters meeting." The only people in that room were dead by the time the author got on this story. Mike had left a group to sit alone at a party, pondering his "lurking sense of his own unworthiness" and felt alone. Who knows what he thought? This is crap and I cannot believe a publisher ever picked it up as other than a novel.

  • Deirdre Boyle
    2019-02-16 21:36

    Heart wrenching true story which tackles a couple of major social injustices. The first was carried out by the Catholic church in 50’s Ireland to an unmarried pregnant girl Philomena, and subsequently her adored son who she is forced to give up for adoption. The second deals with the Reagan government's ambivalence toward AIDS research and action. There is a movie in the works starring the amazing Judy Dench, so you know it’s worth a read. Box of tissues at elbow though, at all times!

  • Claudia
    2019-02-05 19:44

    I was so moved by Philomena the movie, that it was with great eagerness that I began reading this book. I hate to be harsh, but I can't hold back: this book is garbage and totally lacks credibility. Both the title and the cover photo suggest that the book's content resembles the movie's content, when in fact the book's focus is on Philomena's son, Anthony Lee, and bears virtually no resemblance to the film. I have no reason to doubt that the basic facts of Anthony's life are accurately depicted in the book (the names of his adoptive parents, Anthony's American name Michael Hess, his education and employment history, and his cause of death, for example), but the author's imagination runs away with him when he attempts to weave these facts together to portray Michael's life. The book is full of dialogue that can't possibly be authentic (such as Michael's confidential conversations with a psychotherapist and the words he spoke to his confessor at Notre Dame about his homosexuality). Speaking of homosexuality, the author has an almost voyeuristic fascination with that part of Michael's life, and undoubtedly embellishes and fictionalizes the detailed descriptions of sexual episodes sprinkled throughout the book. I also was offended by the author's amateur psychoanalysis of Michael as a man haunted by feelings of inadequacy as the result of being an orphan. How does HE know what Michael thought and how he felt? He even goes so far as to tell the reader what was going through Michael's mind ("You don't deserve to be happy." "You can't be happy because you don't deserve it."), and the shame he felt after engaging in casual sex. I respect the role Martin Sixsmith played in helping Philomena Lee discover what happened to her son after he was adopted, but in my opinion, this book is a shameless exploitation of the remarkable lives of Philomena and her son, their tragic separation and their enduring bond. My advice: see the movie and skip the book.

  • Sara
    2019-01-29 17:26

    So different parts of this get different star ratings from me:4 stars for the heart breaking story of what Philomena went through (although I knew most of it from the movie).3.5 for the stuff about Michael Hess's work life and the role he played in the redistricting etc. legal efforts that were partially responsible for the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. Most folks would probably be bored by this stuff though. I'm a political geek.Unfortunately I was about 25% through the book when I read Susan Kavanagh's review discussing how large sections of the book were inaccurate. That leads to a 1 star rating for those parts of the book. It all averages out about 2 stars. I also was disappointed to not learn anything else about Philomena. In particular it would have been nice to learn about her relationship with her 2 husbands and the children she had after Anthony/Michael.

  • Laura
    2019-02-09 18:32

    From IMDb:A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

  • Beth Lind
    2019-02-05 16:33

    First of all, the original title of this book was The Lost Child of Phliomena Lee-- which makes much more sense than just Philomena. Hollywood made an incredible movie based on this movie (loosely based, at times). The movie tells the embellished story of Philomea. The book tells the heartbreaking tale of the son Philomena was forced to give up for adoption.This book does not paint the Catholic church in a positive light. Verbally condemning unwed mothers, stealing babies and selling them to Americans is a horrible way to treat humans. As if those sins were not enough, they failed at every attempt to make things right by lying and refusing to share records when Michael Hess (Philomena Lee's child) and Philomena returned to the Sean Ross Abbey to find each other. Michael Hess struggled his entire life wondering about his mother. Since he was three years old when he was stolen away, it is no wonder! I imagine that his mother had made quite an impact in the three years they were together (well, as much as she was able given that she was virtually a slave at the convent for that time frame but was allowed time daily to visit and mother her child). Michael visited Ireland three times trying to find his mother. At the heart of this story is how Michael grew up in the Hess family. They were strong Republicans and like most children, he adopted many of their political beliefs for a while, even working for the Republican National Committee. But Michael was gay and the party he worked for had very strong beliefs about people who were gay. I can't imagine working for the very party who had the likes of Falwell and Robertson spewing their message of hate and fear through the "Moral Majority."Can't we all just get along? Personally, I believe the more love, the better. But Michael Hess was working for the RNC during the uncertainty and fear of the AIDS epidemic. Sadly, Michael did contract AIDS and it did kill him.Oh, how this story touched me. My brother was adopted from England in 1963 and always wanted to find his birth mother. His rationale was virtually the same. He had a strong need to know if she wanted to give him up or if she was more or less forced to do so. As a child, I didn't understand this need but at that time, I wasn't so good at wearing the moccasins of others. My brother was loved and he knew it but that didn't replace the desire to know about his biological family. Like Michael, my brother was gay and my brother had AIDS. My brother never found his mother either. Ah, the torment of trying to fit in. In high school, when I found out that my brother was gay, it was one of those "aha!" moments. It just made sense. He tried so hard not to be gay; especially while living in the homophobic south. But he was. That was who he was. There was no choice in the matter. It just was. Any shame around those facts should be on the people who hate and fear because this truth, I know -- My brother was a kind and tortured soul who wanted to be loved and accepted. He is and has been greatly missed. I'm sorry it took me so long to understand the depths of how much he struggled to fit in and find his place in the world. Martin Sixsmith, you did a great job researching and telling the tale of Michael Hess. This is a story that will stay with me in the days to come.

  • Kris Springer
    2019-02-05 18:35

    Hard book to read--so sad. Gave it a 2 because it's published as NF but the author never really discusses his methodology for expressing the protagonist's most inner thoughts, since he never met him or communicated with him. Additionally, one of his sources excoriates Sixsmith on goodreads. I'm glad I read it, because people should know how the Irish government and Catholic Church dealt with babies in their care.

  • Joy
    2019-01-28 23:42

    This is a very compelling, moving book. I will admit to shedding a few tears at the end. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie. I will write more about the book later. I don't want to give too much away about what happened to Philomena's son. You may already know if you see the movie before reading the book, which I generally don't recommend. I'll just say I was very moved by this book and I highly recommend it.

  • Lucy Banks
    2019-01-21 18:48

    A detailed exploration into adoption and its lasting after-effects - though hardly any mention of the mother!I know that this book has been the subject of much controversy regarding the 'twisting of facts' etc. As I don't know the details of this, I'm going to solely judge the book based on its readability; and leave the controversial stuff for those who have knowledge of the matter.The Lost Child of Philomena Lee starts in a 'home for fallen women' in Ireland, which is run by some pretty brutal nuns. Philomena arrives, heavily pregnant, then gives birth to Anthony; who she's allowed to see at certain times of the day for a few years, before he's unceremoniously sold to an American family.From then on, Philomena vanishes from the novel, and the focus is entirely on Anthony Lee - or Michael Hess, as he's now known. We follow him as he grows from a desperate-to-please child to a confused, secretive man (I won't spoil what happens at the end, but it is highly affecting and deeply sad). The book was compelling to read, and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen to Michael. Despite the character flaws conveyed, he was a sympathetic character, and I did find myself hoping for a happier outcome than the reality. The backdrop of politics and social attitudes was also excellently portrayed, making it all feel very authentic. For me, there were two major issues though - firstly, the lack of Philomena. I didn't like how she was virtually erased from the novel as soon as her son had been sold; I almost felt this to be a disservice to her (and I'm glad the film chose to give her a far bigger role!). I also felt that way too much was made of Michael's sexuality. Yes, he was gay, and yes, I can appreciate this was necessary to explore - but my goodness, this book did go on and on about it. As far as I was concerned, I'd have liked to have learnt more about Michael - yes, sexuality is a part of who we are... but it's not the only part! I also felt sad when Mary (his adopted sister) completely vanished from the book - I got the feeling that female characters weren't prized full-stop in this particular novel!

  • Ellen
    2019-02-11 18:33

    When she became pregnant as a teen in Ireland, Philomena Lee was sent to a convent to give birth to the baby. Little did naive Philomena realize, the good nuns were charged with finding a good home for her baby and that meant her son Anthony Lee would be sent to America where his name would be changed and he would be lost to her forever. Journalist Martin Sixsmith was contacted in 2004 by a daughter Philomena had when she was later married---a woman who had only heard about this lost brother a year before. Thus begins their search for the son Philomena had secretly mourned for decades.I picked this book up because we have several adopted family members, most notably my beloved Grandpa Karle, who was born in 1906 in the St. Paul, Minnesota YMCA Rescue Home for Fallen Women to a young Norwegian farm hand and the youngest son of her employer. That birth and adoption were shrouded in secrecy, so although I now know the basic facts, I will always wonder about her feelings about what really happened. This was a compelling and readable story about Anthony Lee, who was reared as Michael Hess, who rose to some prominence in the Republican party under George HW Bush's administration. The fact that he was gay and working for a conservative Republican party was fascinating to the political junkie in me.I loved this book and am looking forward to seeing the movie. This would be an excellent book for book groups to discuss.Note: The movie based on this book was also excellent. It, however, tells the story from Philomena's point of view and Judi Dench is excellent in the role. Between both the book and the movie, I feel like I have a complete understanding of Philomena and her son's journey.

  • Ruth Bonetti
    2019-02-14 00:45

    Judi Dench owned the film so it's not surprising we look for more of the same in the book. But for once, the film way outstrips the book.I felt cheated. The title should have retained its original "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee" as there is very little about Philomena in this book, never mind the back cover blurb. OK, we hear about a damaged son in harrowing detail, and given the lies and obfuscations he was fed, we can't blame him. But he has few redeeming or attractive features. Philomena, according to Judi Dench had far more. But what happened to her? Wish I knew. That is glossed over in a few pages. It took me a few tries to get into this book, as the early chapters deal with people we won't meet again, who were involved in setting up the adoption scam. Or expressing qualms about it. Then a few chapters about the birth, early years and adoption of Anthony Lee and his adopted sister Mary. After that the going became tough. Well meaning adoptive mother, Marge. Her husband; bigoted and dictatorial. The writing was perfunctive and plodding. I finished it - just.

  • Melissa
    2019-01-20 23:40

    While I had little interest in reading this book, I couldn't put it down. It is so much more than just the story of an adopted boy looking for his birth mother. There was so much to discussion at book club from the ugliness of adoptions through the Catholic Church of Ireland in the 1950's to the changing attitudes towards homosexuality through the 70's to today in America. Our book club discussion was one of the best we've had in months.

  • Jo
    2019-02-15 18:54

    What a great book! Quite a decieving cover and subtitle!I thought it would be all about unmarried mothers and adoption schemes, but the insight into the US government and the onset of HIV and Aids was extremely informative. I almost felt the Irish adoption aspect was a side story to the Republican idealism and wage on homosexualality that seemed to be the focus of this book! Worth reading!