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My Policeman Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition First Printing edition (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701185848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701185848
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.8 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bethan Roberts was born in Oxford and grew up in nearby Abingdon. Her first novel 'The Pools' was published in 2007 and won a Jerwood/Arvon Young Writers' Award. Her second novel 'The Good Plain Cook', published in 2008, was serialized on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime and was chosen as one of Time Out's books of the year. 'My Policeman', her third book, was the 2012 Brighton City Read and an Irish Times Book of the Year. She also writes short stories (in 2006 she was awarded the Olive Cook short story prize by the Society of Authors) and has had a play broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Bethan has worked as a television documentary researcher, writer and assistant producer, and has taught Creative Writing at Chichester University and Goldsmiths College, London. She lives in Brighton with her family. Her new novel, 'Mother Island', will be published by Chatto & Windus in June 2014.

Product Description

Review

Pitch perfect (Marie Claire)

The era and the seaside locale are beautifully rendered and observed, not least the social and sexual undercurrents of the time. The writing is assured and never over-reaches itself (Sunday Times)

Roberts skilfully evokes the atmosphere of late 1950s Brighton... The writing is fluid and tender (Guardian)

A moving story of longing and frustration (Observer)

Passionate... Captures the obsessive and destructive madness of sexual jealousy (Psychologies Magazine)

Book Description

An exquisitely told, tragic tale of thwarted love

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I feel as though I've been living and breathing this book for the past couple of days. The main characters felt so real and sympathetic and their predicament so desperately sad. I know it's only the beginning of March, but I've found a very strong contender for my book of the year.

Set in Brighton in the mid-twentieth century, the story centres around young policeman Tom Burgess and the two people who are in love with him - conventional schoolteacher Marion and cultured, erudite museum curator Patrick. This being the 1950s, Tom and Patrick have to conduct their relationship in secrecy (not least because of Tom's job), and Marion thinks all her dreams have come true when Tom asks her to marry him, little knowing that her troubles are just about to begin.

The book is narrated by Marion and Patrick in the form of journals - Patrick`s written at the time of his relationship with Tom, and Marion`s in the present day, directing her narrative towards Patrick after she brings him to live with her and Tom to recuperate following a severe stroke. We don't get to hear from Tom - just worship and admire him through the eyes of the two people who adore him. It was interesting to observe a character in this way; at times he came across as self-centred, cowardly and spoiled, and at others just vulnerable, confused and understandably very scared.

The impossible predicament of gay men and women in the mid-twentieth century is explored through Patrick's attempts to form a lasting and meaningful relationship against a background of prejudice, suspicion and fear, and the 1950s period detail is beautifully observed; everything from the clothing the characters wear and the food they eat through to Marion's involvement with the burgeoning CND movement, all adds to the evocative sense of time and place.

I loved this beautifully written, heartbreakingly sad story, the memory of which will stay with me for a long time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JK TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The eternal triangle told from an unique perspective and written with such emotion, warmth and understanding it'll make you weep. What a refreshing concept, basing a book on a love triangle involving two men and a woman but; the men are in love with one another. The author delves deeper and deeper into her characters, unearthing more and more of their personality, which means you become involved, they feel like friends and not ink and paper shadows. A lot of tragedy befalls these three lovely folk as the author unravels what must be the ultimate conundrum and I was an emotional wreck at times. Not a "frothy" lightweight romance by any stretch of the imagaination. These men had to hide, and hide well, otherwise they could have lost everything, including the careers they'd worked so hard for, and you do get a sense of that "threat", there's a dark shadow throughout the book. It does seem unfair that a young woman is used, drawn in under false pretences to become a "gay wife", her grief is palpable but; it happens in reality never mind fiction. There are some serious issues bravely explored in "My Policeman" and the author handles the whole concept with sensitivity and dignity all of the way through.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Marion and Patrick are both deeply in love with Tom, the policeman of the title. It is 1957 and homosexuality is still illegal, so Tom attempts a life of married respectability with the besotted Marion, whilst carrying on a relationship with Patrick, his true love.

The novel is narrated alternately by Marion (in 1999) and Patrick, and this device enables us to see the same events and characters from differing perspectives. Marion's delusion and belated self-awareness combined with Patrick's lack of freedom makes for a deeply sad story; one can only watch as the characters condemn themselves to a life of unhappiness.

"My Policeman" is an engrossing read and you are immediately immersed in the characters and the Brighton setting. Roberts convincingly evokes the precarious and secretive lives led by gay people during the fifties and I finished the book glad that we have come so far since that time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frances Stott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel tells of the love triangle between Marion, Tom (the eponymous policeman of the title) and Patrick. It is the 1950s, and Marion, a young schooteacher, falls for and marries Tom. But Tom has a dark secret; before he married Marion, he met and was seduced by the older, more experienced Patrick, and marriage is not going to be allowed to get in the way of his first love. Inevitably, problems and heartbreak follow, not least because homosexuality is still illegal, and as the story unfolds, a difficult situation gradually becomes impossible

The story is told in two first-person voices; Marion, who, many years later, has written her story down, and is reading it to Patrick, who is now bedridden with a stroke; and Patrick, who has his own point of view. Approriately enough, we do not hear from Tom - the character at the centre of the triangle - and hence his point of view is seen - or guessed at - through those of Marion and Patrick.

This novel is beautifully written, and I was immediately drawn into the terrible dilemma of the protagonists. The reader is lead through the tangles of an impossible situation, as Marion in particular tries to find answers and come to terms with what is happening. Perhaps inevitably, my sympathies lay with Marion, the unsuspecting victim in a drama which was not of her making; hers was a simple choice, when she married Tom, while the two men were both guilty of deception. But life is never that straightforward, and it is possible to sympathise with the men, especially Tom, the weaker of the two. The ending, too, is satisfyng without being too neat (so many writers fail to deliver at the end), and I as I came to the end, I felt that I had had a very good read.

And yet...
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