Book Review: Philomena – Martin Sixsmith

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After being made into a film starring Judi Dench I had to hunt down the book before seeing the movie, which I try and do every time. The book follows Philomena and her search for the son she was forced to give up as an unmarried mother in Ireland in the 1950s. The novel starts with Philomena’s violent labour, through the eyes of a young nun. The novel then follows her and her young son, Anthony through their time at the nunnery. The novel outlines her horrific conditions young women in Ireland in the 1950s faced, the worst being forced to sign a legal document stating that they will never contact their children again, despite bonding with them for three years. The savage beatings from horrific nuns and at times not being told as your child is simply taken away from you. The scandal of children being sold to Americans could have also been handled better. The novel does have a few unclear perspective changes I warn you, I got terribly confused at points.

I felt quite uncomfortable reading from what was supposed to be Michael’s perspective, because it really isn’t.  I don’t feel like we really get either perspective, Michaels or Philomena’s, the book is mostly guesswork from the author’s idea of what happened and the memories of others. We will never know what was really felt by Michael and I wonder if we can really appreciate his story in this manner. We will never know how he felt in his relationships with his adopted family, nor will we really know how he felt being a secretive gay man in the republican party at the height of the AIDS scare in the United States.

I desperately wanted to know more about what Philomena does after she leaves the nunnery. As fascinating as Michael’s story was I wanted to know more about the woman who had her heart broken, we are simply left to wonder and don’t meet her again for years. Apparently the book is also called The Lost child of Philomena Lee a much more fitting title than the one currently given because the book only really focuses on Michael’s life. I couldn’t help but notice throughout the novel the awful impression that religion leaves on both mother and son and the lasting effects on both of them.

I give this 3 stars simply because I got very bored with it. It wasn’t really a page turner and I could quite easily put it down and walk away from it. I felt like it was largely based on stereotypes and not always on fact, possibly due to the fact that a large part of the book was trying to put the pieces together. The ending was also a little disappointing and I’m hoping that the film version could possibly bring the story to life.

My Big Mouth: Ireland changes the world, Take Note USA

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Today history was made in Ireland, the good people of that beautiful country voted YES to everyone being able to marry! While I was unhappy that it had come down to a vote (I mean come on no one had to vote on straight people being able to get married) the result is incredible.

I’ve been watching the news for the past two days, hoping and keeping everything crossed. People travelled home to cast this vote, because they are decent people, who believe in freedom and equality. Someone asked me ‘Why are you so excited?, It’s great but you don’t live in Ireland and you’re not gay?’. Correct, I neither live in Ireland, nor am I gay but I have a really close friend who is. I wrote a letter to them last year for National Coming Out Day (read it here), it makes me sick that if they lived in another country they might not be able to marry someone they love because of someone else’s bull**** opinions. I don’t care what religion you’re a part of, you can’t take away someone else’s happiness.

I’m bursting with happiness for Ireland but there is so much that we need to do! Listen up America, it’s your turn! America is getting a lot better with legalising gay marriage (pft legalising it, I hate writing that). That said, some people still think if they shout loud enough they and stop whatever they want, especially if they back themselves up with some religious book.People deserve the right to get married no matter what their sexual preference is. They are in love, they want to be committed to each other and it’s not going to impact anyone else’s life other than theirs.

I realise this has gotten slightly ranty and I apologise. I just feel so passionate that countries such as the UK and USA are leading countries so we should set an example and show love and compassion. I’ve hung out with a lot of LGBTQ people and guess what? They’re good, normal, honest people! So what if a girl likes another girl, a boy likes another boy or someone decides they like the best of both or uncomfortable in their own skin.

Change the world, spread some love and fight for equality! Congratulations Ireland!

Image from Pinterest

Where in the World, 10 places to visit

Today’s post is inspired by the fact that I now know of a few people who have accepted to study abroad for a year! The most exciting and heartbreaking so far is Eleanor who is going to New Zealand! Yes that’s right one of my best friends is heading to the other side of the world. As well as that  few more of my friends are waiting to hear back from other parts of the world. Of course I’m doing that stupid overly proud best friend thing because it is freaking awesome!  I had to write because HELLO, NEW ZEALAND. I have put in my request for a Koala bear as a present.

Why aren’t I heading across the globe to study? I thought about it but there are lots of reasons,the band being a big one. The main reason however, is down to me being a total wuss, so I’m going to stick to rainy old England.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel! So here’s a list of 10 places I want to travel to.

Rome 

Because who doesn’t remember the Lizzie Mcguire movie? (‘Sing to me Paulo’)  Who doesn’t love Italian accents and who the hell doesn’t like Ice Cream. I’m a massive fan of Italy, the food, the people (including one of my best friends) and it’s just an incredible place, not to mention all the history!

New York 

‘There’s nothing you can’t do’ ah New York. There are so many things I want to do and it just seems magical and busy and beautiful. Ali went with his Mum before we came to uni and I was beyond jealous. I never used to be bothered but the older I get the more I need to go. After all it’s the only city where you can pretend you’re in Friends and How I Met Your Mother. The Empire State building, Time Square, the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park, Ground Zero and the beautiful Statue of Liberty ahhhh get me on a plane now!

Amsterdam 

Yes I’m a fan of The Fault in Our Stars, no it’s not the only reason I want to go. I am desparate to do all of the geeky things in Amsterdam. I’m stupidly excited about the Van Gogh museum because I love his art. My heart belongs to the Anne Frank museum, I will cry a lot but I need to go. Hopefully this will be my 21st treat!

Australia and New Zealand 

These go together because I’d do them together. I will have one best friend in each country which is my first reason to visit. Then there are the beaches, the culture and of course in NZ,  HOBBITS! I want to see the other side of the world, because why not! It just looks interesting and warm and lovely.

Ireland 

Ah Ireland. I’ve been obsessed with going to Ireland since watching P.S I love you when it came out on DVD. It’s so pretty and green, plus the accent is to die for! I’m pretty sure as well that there is Irish on my Dad’s side so that would be nice.

Paris 
I need to go back to Paris and do the grown up side. I’ve done Disneyland 5 times, but that was about 15 years ago…. I want to explore and go up the Eiffel Tower and have pastry and find the writers cafe that I heard about. Ah Paris ❤

Prague 
I’m actually going here in 3 months. It wasn’t on my original list but the more I look up, the more excited I get. Prague looks absolutely beautiful, I can’t wait to see what I can find.

Berlin 

I want to see the hustle and bustle of Berlin. I have no idea why it just seems like a really cool place to see.

Bern 

On my Mum’s side I am Swiss Italian which is freaking awesome. Although I don’t think my family is from Bern, I’d like to visit and just be in the country that my ancestors came from. Switzerland is also supposed to be interesting and beautiful, I don’t know too much but I definitely want to go.

Los Angeles 

Total tourist freak out. Hollywood sign, the beach, maybe even a cheeky trip to Disney too….

Have any of you guys been to any of these places? Any tips for me? Let me know!