Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search” as Want to Read:
Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search

by
3.68  ·  Rating details ·  14,289 ratings  ·  1,720 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.
...more
Paperback, Movie Tie-in, 420 pages
Published November 6th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,289 ratings  ·  1,720 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Susan Kavanagh
Mar 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 Amer ...more
Rich10633
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
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Dianne
Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
...more
Abbey
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Paul Lima
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 BB
...more
Southern_man
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
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Priscilla
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 effec
...more
Siggy Buckley
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leila
Struggled with this book and did not enjoy it.
Bev Mattocks
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Eunice Muir
Nov 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Eunice by: The film
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 ...more
Terry
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 care ...more
Ellen Gresham
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 he
...more
92kiaretta
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una storia meravigliosa e drammatica allo stesso tempo http://loscaffaledelleswappine.blogsp...
Repix
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La crueldad de la iglesia. Una vez más.
Lisa
Feb 17, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 refer ...more
Sara
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
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
...more
Deirdre Boyle
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Laura
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.
Claudia
Mar 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Kris Springer
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
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Beth Lind
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 A
...more
Lucy Banks
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
...more
Arwen56
Se del film, diretto da Stephen Frears, se ne poteva anche fare a meno (nonostante la buona prova di Judi Dench), del libro da cui è stato tratto è assolutamente indispensabile farne a meno, perché leggerlo è proprio tempo perso, ve lo garantisco.

Io ho visto prima il film, che a tratti è discreto, ma in generale mi è parso superficiale e non adeguato a sviscerare la materia: una madre cui la bigotteria cattolica e le povere condizioni economiche hanno sottratto un figlio da cui non avrebbe volut
...more
Ellen
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 y ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Screen & Page: Philomena 1 5 Jul 25, 2017 09:18AM  
Summit County Lib...: DVD release date 4 15 Apr 01, 2014 01:59PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad
  • Last Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise
  • Beset: The Pursuit of Happiness in Times of Crisis
  • Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America
  • Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II
  • The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III’s Lost Burial Place and the Clues it Holds
  • Chronicle of a Plague, Revisited: AIDS and Its Aftermath
  • An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner
  • George Carlin Reads to You: An Audio Collection Including Recent Grammy Winners Braindroppings and Napalm & Silly Putty
  • The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins
  • Bread and Wine
  • Ponzi Supernova
  • That's Mr. Faggot to You: Further Trials from My Queer Life
  • Testament of Experience
  • My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure
  • Let the Tornado Come: A Memoir
  • The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women
  • The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works
See similar books…
56 followers
George Martin Sixsmith, British author and journalist.
Sixsmith joined the BBC in 1980 where he worked as a foreign correspondent, most notably reporting from Moscow during the end of the Cold War. He also reported from Poland during the Solidarity uprising and was the BBC's Washington correspondent during the election and first presidency of Bill Clinton. He was based in Russia for five years, the
...more
“Death changes things. It changes how we think about people; it changes the living and it changes the dead.” 5 likes
“Hess” 1 likes
More quotes…