Now a major motion picture directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) and starring Judi Dench (Skyfall, Notes on a Scandal) and Steve Coogan (The Trip, Hamlet 2): 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. Fifty years later, Philomena decided to find him.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Philomena's son was trying to find her. Renamed Michael Hess, he had become a leading lawyer in the first Bush administration, and he struggled to hide secrets that would jeopardize his career in the Republican Party and endanger his quest to find his mother.
A gripping exposé told with novelistic intrigue, Philomena pulls back the curtain on the role of the Catholic Church in forced adoptions and on the love between a mother and son who endured a lifelong separation.
“A searingly poignant account of forced adoption and its consequences.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Heartbreaking . . . a story that needed to be told.” (The Independent)
“Emotionally compelling.” (Library Journal)
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Rivetting Story and Performance
The story was anchored in historical and personal truths. We see the story not only from the lens of the mother, the son, but the characters that were involved in the orphanage as well as the politicians during that time who were responsible for the clamp down of the Irish orphanages. The author, Martin Sixsmith, was able to bring the stories alive through dialog between the characters which was written in to enhance the dramatic and emotional depths of the story.
The story is actually a perfect accompaniment to the movie. While the movie focuses on the mother's search for the son, the story book and the audio book focuses more on the story of Philomena's son search for the mother and the consequences of not knowing his birth mother and the effects of being separated from his birth mother which affects his identity and his sense of self worth, and ultimately his relationships.
The narrator, John Curless, did an amazing job in expressing the nuances of the book. He uses appropriate Irish accents, different voice tones to denote different characters. He was not only effective in engaging the reader with the facts but communicated the emotional nuances of the story. I would like to listen to another story or book narrated by him
The psychological analysis of Michael Hess, Philomena's son by Pete Nilsson and Susan Kavanaugh, Mike's closest lady friend was insightful as it gave the reader/listener deep insights into why Mike became self destructive and how this connects to his feelings about not knowing who he was. The other moment that was especially moving was the part when the author described Philomena;s second loss after she received news about her son's fate and how she was eventually dealt with the information she was given by her son's partner. These two moments of the book (which happened towards the end) touched me very deeply. I felt Philomena's pain.
- Fajola Wenders
Very Moving Story