Lucy Banks's Reviews > The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a 50 Year Search

The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith
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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!
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Reading Progress

September 29, 2017 – Started Reading
September 29, 2017 – Shelved
October 3, 2017 –
page 125
October 4, 2017 –
page 210
October 9, 2017 – Finished Reading

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