The book that inspired the Academy Award-nominated film, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
"The touching story of a mother's fifty-year search for her son." Sunday Times
When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to a convent 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.
Philomena's son 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.
PRAISE FOR PHILOMENA
"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" 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
"Heartbreaking . . . a story that needed to be told." The Independent
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A great and sad story!
A great story. I was so moved by it that when I finished the last page, I was speechless. It really opened my eyes into the stoic views and mindset of the Catholic Church back then. More importantly, it is actually the power wield by one person and his inhumane mindset , that is the Archbishop, which caused so much sufferings to those young girls and their children. I cannot agree more that society needs to uphold some moral values and to instill good behaviors amongst the young people but to carry out in an extreme and most punitive method as such, it is almost akin to being cruel and inhumane. Now, I cannot wait to see the movie which I heard is very good.
A great story of what went on in the 1950s in Ireland with unwed mothers. Beautifully written and you will not want to put this book down.
Being an adopted person myself, I found with story so heart rendering. It needed to have been written.
Philomena is such a strong, loving, caring
person. I will never understand the church's
stance on such an emotional issue, how a nun
could not even tell Anthony about his mother, when the nun heard that he hadn't gone long to live. No compassion whatsoever! Everyone that
knew Anthony will only be enriched by the experience of having him in their lives.
My love go's out to them all, especially Philomena