Guest Review: Philomena by Martin Sixsmith

I’d like to welcome my 18-year-old daughter Emily to the blog today. She was really impressed with this book so I suggested she do a guest review for us.  Emily is currently in her first year at Wrexham university studying Education.

PhilomenaWhat’s it about?

As a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee fell pregnant and was sent to a convent – a ‘fallen woman’. For three years after her son was born she cared for him there. Then the Church took him away and sold him like countless others, for adoption in America.


This is the story of Philomena and her search for the son she never stopped loving. It is a tale of lives scarred by hypocrisy and secrecy, a compelling narrative of human love and loss – heartbreaking, yet ultimately redemptive.

Emily’s thoughts

There are two ways this book could be reviewed, for those who have seen the film and those who haven’t. I am one of those people that saw the film first and then read the book. The reason I read this book was the film motivated me to find out more about this story, I was hooked, I believe this was due to the amount of tears I shed whilst watching the film.

This book was a present for Christmas from my momma, so since then, I have been reading it. I will admit I am not a regular reader, I typically read Jodi Picoult books and the Twilight saga as I am only an 18 year old girl. So, I surprised myself by wanting to read this particular book as I knew what was going to happen.

For those who haven’t seen the film, then I strongly recommend you to read the book first. I believe the book is from a different angle and is mainly told by her son and is his story. The book is split into four different parts. Part one is the only part that is from Philomena’s side of the story, as this was when he raised in the convent. The other parts are all written from her son’s perspective.

For those who have seen the film, I still truly recommend the book. Despite you knowing the ending, the book is in so much more detail than the film – which they always are in my opinion. I have learnt a great deal from this book – how the church sold children, Irish adoption laws, American governments and many other things which I will not mention due to not wanting to spoil the ending. Philomena’s son goes through so much more that is not even touched upon in the film, his story is more focused on. I was fascinated by some of things the film didn’t include but then in some parts it may have been hard to include – but that’s the script writers fault.

I loved this book, it was a change from I normally would read. I liked the different parts, I prefer books like that. It was easy to read, some of the government language was hard to understand at times but then I do not know much about that world. I would recommend this book to anyone, because I’m 18 and I’m reading it!

One thing I will recommend more than the book itself is that if you choose to read this book after my review is that please do not look at the pictures till after you have read the book. The pictures are in two sections and they are placed in the wrong places and do not go with the words around them and this could significantly impact the flow of the story if you sneak a peek. I know it’s tempting – we all do it – but if you don’t wish to ruin it – be good and don’t peek.

It is a truly touching story that brought me to tears, and I hope the film does extremely well at the Oscars, because Judi Dench in it is amazing – there is also a foreword in the book from her personally.

Buy the book Paperback | Kindle

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