It began with a sneeze. Then my voice began sounding like Fran Drescher from the TV show “The Nanny.”

It was official: I have allergies. Thanks, grass.

I was confined to my home, with only TV and soup to keep me company. But thankfully, I am a bookworm and books don’t judge me when I’m ill.

So I have enjoyed several books this week. Yet one will stick like a memory in my mind forever. If you read it, the book will have the same effect on you.

It’s called “Philomena: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty-Year Search” by Martin Sixsmith. The book follows the journey of Philomena Lee, starting when she was sent to a convent when she became pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952.

Lee was at Roscrea Tipperary to be looked after as a helpless woman. She cared for her baby, Michael, for three years until the church took him from her and sold him, like many other children, to America for adoption.

Tricked into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her child again, she spent the next 50 years secretly searching for him, unaware he was searching for her as well.

Come to find out, the son, Micheal, didn’t turn out so bad. Renamed Michael Hess, he grew up to be a top Washington lawyer and a leading Republican official in the Reagan and Bush administrations.

As a gay man, he had to conceal not only his sexuality, but the fact he had AIDS. With little time left for him, he returned to the convent where he was born in Ireland. His desperate quest to find his mother before he died left a legacy that unfolds with unexpected consequences for all involved.

This book is a moving narrative of human love and loss, both heartbreaking and yet one with hope. Lucky for us here in Cove, this book is now available at the library.

To reserve this book and many other book titles, you can visit the library at 501 S. Main St., or through the website at

Monique Brand is a Herald correspondent.

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