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The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and A Fifty-Year Search Paperback – October 4, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0230744271 ISBN-10: 0230744273

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Paperback, October 4, 2009
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (October 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230744273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230744271
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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

“A powerful testament to the strength of the bond between mother and child.” —Shelf Awareness

“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

Had to keep reading to see how things would end.
LIP
"The Lost Child of Philomena Lee" by Michael Sixsmith is a tragically true story.
A. B. Huxtable
I have seen the movie and read the book (borrowed).
Penname1

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

235 of 254 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
Read more ›
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111 of 120 people found the following review helpful By jocelyn on April 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Philomena Lee represents thousands of women who might otherwise have lived fruitful lives and their children might have otherwise given Ireland educators, musicians, scientists, doctors, writers, productive happy people. The Catholic Church took all that away from its own country that supported it and was too loyal. The nuns and priests again were above the law, and were responsible for many innocent people living through tortuous frustration, thinking they had done something wrong, they were being punishes for their "sins." Young Michael/Andrew has memories of his mother, but feels as though he never belonged anywhere. His life may have been much different had the nuns at the Abbey treated Philomena with humaneness and respect, and maybe just a little love for God's "image and likeness." This search for the son and mother was well researched and very well written. I couldn't leave the book alone. I had to remind myself often that this is a true story. I could picture the roads in that part of Ireland and the old ruins since I've recently been to Tipperary. Now I want to return just to see the places Martin Sixsmith writes about. I also need to research some of the Nixon-Reagan years as this will help me understand how Michael lived during those conservative, stringent times. The photographs in the book are impressive. Thank you, Mr. Sixsmith, for including them.

I have recommended this book to many people. This needs to be known!
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91 of 101 people found the following review helpful By A. B. Huxtable on June 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The adoption process run in Ireland by Catholic Authorities sold children for money, without regard for the women and their children, effectively exploiting Mothers and their children whose lives were forever affected by the inhumane deception and cruelty - State & Church benefited financially. Secrecy, lies and illegal practices were the order of the day at Sean Ross Abbey fully supported by strong political governmental connections.

"The Lost Child of Philomena Lee" by Michael Sixsmith is a tragically true story. At first I hesitated to buy it, 451 pages long, but once I started to read I couldn't put it down. Mike/Anthony Lee searched for years. He felt a strong connection with his Irish roots and hoped one day his Mother, Philomena Lee, might find him.

Women victims in these Prison type Religious Institutions served as slaves and used to breast feed their children (cost saving for the Convent) and then when no longer needed thrown out without any guidance, counseling or meaningful support, which made way for more inmates. It's a wonder that any of these women and their children survived.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Philip Burrows on November 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one heck of story. Martin Sixsmith, in somewhat pedestrian style, tells the tale of the boy's situation, rather than the mother's. It's a tale that migrates, through an almost unbelievably cruel practice of the Catholic Church, in which unmarried mothers were pressured to relinquish the rights to their illegitimate children, to America, where well-heeled 'benefactors' gave them a 'good home'. His is a story of bewildering sexual identity, resulting in the eventual embrace of his homosexuality, his political aspirations and public charisma which propels him to the highest echelons of power and to his eventual struggle to find his mother, faced with his inevitable demise with the fatal disease of AIDS.
This fascinating and emotionally powerful story is somewhat weakened by huge amounts of unnecessary detail and really packs a punch only when the two sides of the story begin to come together. For the mother's story, see the film adaptation, 'Philomena', in which Judi Dench gives a rivetting performance as the woman bearing the undeserved stigma of disgrace and suffering the torment of forcible separation from her beloved son.
Phil Burrows.
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