Review: Philomena: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty-Year Search, by Martin Sixsmith

First published in 2009 with the title, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, this book was reissued in conjunction with the movie, Philomena in 2013. Philomena Lee became pregnant out of wedlock in 1952 and was sent by her family to Sean Ross Abbey, not far from their home, in Ireland. There the nuns operated an orphanage, a home for unwed mothers and their babies, and a laundry where the mothers worked. The author, in a novelized way, covers the problems that arose with having the Catholic Church and its influence so entangled in the Irish Republic Government’s policies. Philomena’s child, Anthony, was adopted by an American couple in 1955 and grew up as Martin Hess, with a very successful career in the law in Washington, D.C. He tried to find information about his Irish background but neither his adoptive family nor the Irish church and civil authorities were willing or able to help him. Philomena kept her secret until 2003 when she told her family about the baby she had signed away and they resolved to help her find him. I found this a fascinating story although somewhat dramatized by the author.

RATING: * * * A good read

Reviewed by: kh

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