Martin Sixsmith

10 October 2013
480 pages


The extraordinary true story that inspired an acclaimed film starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, Philomena, by Martin Sixsmith, is a gripping tale of heartache, hypocrisy and ultimately, redemption.

It follows the lives of Philomena Lee, who, after falling pregnant in 1952, was treated as a fallen woman by Irish Catholic society, and her son, torn from her by the Church and swept across the Atlantic as one among many forced adoptions.

Philomena, shamed and coerced into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her son again, wages a secret, decades-long battle to reconnect with her lost, beloved son. Unbeknownst to her, her son has been renamed Michael Hess, and grew up to become a high-powered lawyer in the homophobic climate of 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.

In this searing narrative, Sixsmith exposes a clandestine world of love, loss, secrets, and the unbroken bond of a mother and child.