Synopses & Reviews
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Judi Dench: 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.
Sixsmith presents this reconstruction of the story of Philomena Lee,an Irish woman who was put away in a convent for getting pregnant and forced to give up her child at the age of three. The book openswith a foreword by Judi Dench, who played the protagonist in the film adaption of the book. Part I tells the beginning of the storyfrom Philomena's side, while part II focuses on the adoptive childhood of her son Michael Hess, and parts III-IV elucidate hisadult life and eventual quest to find her, with small interludes of the author's detective work in the present day. The story serves notjust as a personal narrative, but a critique of the Church, the Irish government, and the system of international adoption at the time.Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A searingly poignant account of forced adoption and its consequences.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“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 mothers fifty-year search for her son.” Sunday Times (London)
About 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.