Front Cover
Pan Macmillan UK, Nov 1, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 464 pages

The book that inspired the Academy Award-nominated film, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.

"The touching story of a mother's fifty-year search for her son." Sunday Times

When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to a convent to be looked after as a fallen woman. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him from her and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption.

Philomena's son grew up to be a top Washington lawyer and a leading Republican official in the Reagan and Bush administrations. But he was a gay man in a homophobic party where he had to conceal not only his sexuality but, eventually, the fact that he had AIDs. With little time left, he returned to Ireland and the convent where he was born: his desperate quest to find his mother before he died left a legacy that was to unfold with unexpected consequences for all involved.


"The extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman . . . Philomena's tale is special. . . . It reveals a remarkable human being with astonishing fortitude and a truly humbling willingness to forgive" Judi Dench, from the Foreword

"A searingly poignant account of forced adoption and its consequences." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Riveting . . . Sixsmith chillingly recounts . . . this mother-and-son saga." Publishers Weekly

"Heartbreaking . . . a story that needed to be told." The Independent

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LisCarey -

In 1952, Philomena Lee became pregnant our of wedlock in an Ireland where that just wasn't allowed to happen. She was sent to a convent to give birth to her baby, and would live there for three years ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - abycats - LibraryThing

The film very closely follows the mother's story Only from this book. That just happens to ignore the middle 80 percent of the book that follows the son's life in the States. I think the moviemakers ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2009)

Martin Sixsmith was born in Cheshire and educated at Oxford, Harvard and the Sorbonne. From 1980 to 1997 he worked for the BBC, as the Corporation's correspondent in Moscow, Washington, Brussels and Warsaw. From 1997 to 2002 he worked for the British Government as Director of Communications. He is now a writer, presenter and journalist. His previous books are The Litvinenko File, Moscow Coup: The Death of the Soviet System and two novels, Spin and I Heard Lenin Laugh.

Bibliographic information