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This is the story of Anthony Lee, with a lot of fictional dialogue and imagined thoughts imposed on the main players. I'm glad I read the book and at certain points I was keen to know what would happen next, but it was a let-down in many ways. The opening chapters tell of Philomena's ordeal living at the convent and giving up her child for adoption, and towards the end we meet Philomena again when her daughter searches for her half brother. But in between these two appearances, the book is about Anthony-Michael. This is all interesting enough, but I kept wondering what was happening to poor Philomena whose grief would have been immense, and the longer she was left out of the story the more irritated I became. I have no idea why the book title is 'Philomena' and why the book cover photo suggests that Philomena and her son are eventually reunited. To me, the publicity for the book and film are very misleading. The narration is little more than a reading of the text. The voice lacks character and the presentation is pretty flat.
What would have made Philomena better?
A different narrator. This reader just managed to pinpoint the book's weak areas after five hours of misery from him and the self-pity from the characters I couldn't go any further. Perhaps a different narrator would have improved the whole atmosphere. I just couldn't continue.
Would you ever listen to anything by Martin Sixsmith again?
I would listen to this again with a different narrator. The book is supposed to be wonderful. I did find it a bit heavy as there was absolutely no humour at all and some of the poignancy was lost to me because of the endless misery.
What didn’t you like about John Curless’s performance?
Pretty much everything.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Irritation and ultimately disappointment.
Would you try another book written by Martin Sixsmith or narrated by John Curless?
Probably not. Having seen the film, which dealt with Philomena's attempts to trace her son, I was very surprised to find a large section of the book was a semi-fictitious account of the childhood and career of Michael/Anthony, the majority of which had little or no bearing on the story of his adoption.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
The Irish side of the story, dealing with the convent babies, how they were adopted and the trauma to both infants and mothers, then the attempts to re-unite them
Have you listened to any of John Curless’s other performances? How does this one compare?
This is the first one. It was passable, but to my mind a little one paced and most of the characters sounded the same.
Do you think Philomena needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No. If there is one, I shan't bother reading it.
Any additional comments?
Would be a lot better without the middle long centre section on Michael, which could have been dealt with in one or two chapters, and I found extremely boriing
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
There has been so much hype over this book that I thought 'I MUST read this', so far I have only listened to the first part - almost 8 hours and another 8 to go!! The whole thing could have been said in 2 hours!!
OK there is a sad tale to tell, but Martin Sixsmith's idea of what was going through the minds of Mikey and Mary from their early childhood until their later life is purely fictional, and to me sounds highly improbable, as is the manner of the activities that the older Mikey gets up to (for instance how he thinks a particular boy is deliciously attractive!!).
The narrator has one of those 'If I shout this harshly you'll understand what I am saying' voices which I find most disturbing. I MIGHT manage to tackle the second half of this, but I don't hold out great hopes for that at the moment, it is drawn out to such an extent that it is boring in the extreme.
I can imagine that the film would be slightly better, after all the story IS worth telling, but the fictionalisation (is that a word?) is not done intelligently at all, ... in my opinion of course.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
did not enjoy the narrators bad Irish accents, surely an irish (female) narrator would have been a better choice?
good story though, enjoyed it and i like that it was very long.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Philomena?
the kids getting taken away - harrowing
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
no, disliked the narration
Was Philomena worth the listening time?