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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just beautiful-a really sad, haunting love story
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...
Published on 21 April 2012 by JK

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uninvolving
The idea is quite promising: a young woman is besotted by her best friend's hunky brother Tom, a trainee policeman, marries him, discovers he's having a relationship with the suave Patrick, a museum curator. But I thought the plot rather thin and lacking in drama.
The format is unusual -- in what is sometimes referred to as the second person, where the narrator is...
Published on 25 Aug. 2012 by Phil O'Sofa


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just beautiful-a really sad, haunting love story, 21 April 2012
By 
JK "J. K." (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
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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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and desperately sad, 1 Mar. 2012
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brighton, 1957, 15 May 2012
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars UNIQUE AND COMPELLING, 15 May 2012
By 
Mrs. C. Swarfield - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
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This is a heartbreaking story set in the 1950's, when to be homosexual in th U.K. was a
dangerous and difficult situation to be in.

Tom is a handsome young policeman who Marian fell in love with at a young age - add to the
mix a museum curater called Patrick who is equally besotted and the plot revolves about this.

It is an impossible siuation that there is no easy answer to-which is why it such a heart-
breaking story. Marian recounts this story in 1999, looking back over forty years.

This is a bleak tale but it does make you think thank goodness we live in these enlightened
times. I did enjoy it but it made me very sad also.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very satisfying novel, 23 April 2012
By 
Frances Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
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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...a day after finishing the book, I find that I have already lost some of its impact. Perhaps it is because of the gentle way in which the story is told, for although the subject is at best difficult, and at worst, tragic, it aroused no very strong feelings in me. So while I enjoyed the novel very much, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it, it isn't the kind of book I want to shout from the rooftops; hence the four rather than five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uninvolving, 25 Aug. 2012
This review is from: My Policeman (Paperback)
The idea is quite promising: a young woman is besotted by her best friend's hunky brother Tom, a trainee policeman, marries him, discovers he's having a relationship with the suave Patrick, a museum curator. But I thought the plot rather thin and lacking in drama.
The format is unusual -- in what is sometimes referred to as the second person, where the narrator is telling Patrick (now quite old and very ill) the story, even though he must already know most of it. And interspersed with this narration we also get Patrick's version of events, told through his diary.

I found it all rather slow and uninvolving, and I think this was mostly because it consisted of so much 'telling' rather than action. Also the main characters are a bit two-dimensional, and not very appealing. I never got to care about Marion, the narrator, and that's always a problem, I think.
There are some poignant moments, and the general idea seems quite original, but it was touch-and-go whether I bothered reading to the end.
It did pick up a little, about two-thirds of the way through, but that's a long time to wait for a bit of drama, and in the end it didn't amount to much. The writing is good though, and the sense of 1950s Brighton is quite convincing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Wonderful, 18 July 2012
By 
Basement Cat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
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This is one of those books that transports you to another place, so that when you look up from the page, you are slightly surprised to find that you are still at home, and not in Brighton in 1957. This is a very special book that I think I will always remember. I still think about the three main characters a lot, even though it's now a couple of weeks scince I finished the book. My heart ached for Marion, as she is used as a human shield to cover up the illegal relationship between Patrick and Tom. I felt for her when the bottom dropped out of her world when Patrick told her about his trip with Tom, and her desolation is almost tangible when she walks on the beach with her teacher friend.
The story is narrated in part by Patrick, and partly by Marion. As a result of this, you get to know both of those characters quite well. Tom, on the other hand, who is loved by both of the others, remains a thinly sketched character that I found it quite difficult to engage with. In fact, I did not feel that he was particularly likeable. Both Patrick and Marion seemed to be infatuated by his athletic appearance, and while this was sufficient for them both at first, they soon wanted more from Tom, which he was unable, or unwilling to give. Marion gave him the outward appearance of respectability, and although he appears to have stronger feelings for Patrick, he was not willing to put himself at risk of danger for him.
I really hope that this book is the best seller that it deserves to be, and I just know that it would make an absolutely brilliant film!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difference and Pretence, 18 July 2012
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This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
In Bethan Roberts's latest novel, 'my' is the most important word. Possessive, nigh-obsessive, her narrative constantly questions the notion of having anyone. Told through Marion's marriage to Tom, Roberts's story deftly unfolds the contradictions and hypocrisies of pre-Wolfenden Britain. But what starts out as a bitter memoir becomes a truly insightful tale.

Marion tends to Patrick, the aged victim of three strokes and the former lover of her husband. At first, however, Marion seems to use his incapacity in order that she can tell him how he ruined her married life. Roberts keeps a condescending eye on Marion's world: 1950s Britain is described through Technicolor glare, piling on bathetic references to rayon, Vimto and the like. But underneath this bracing and often larky exterior, more intemperate passions brew.

Shifting the narrative to Patrick, we learn how a mundane but beautiful policeman called Tom came into his life. The only problem is that he's already part of Marion's world. The tug-of-war between propriety and passion, feigned heterosexuality and closeted homosexuality is painful but powerful to read. If Roberts seemed to patronise through Marion's narrative, the resulting conflict is told in anything but snooty terms. Never letting up on her emotional focus lapse for one second, My Policeman becomes an increasingly upsetting narrative.

What makes this story - loosely based on E.M. Forster's life with policeman Bob Buckingham and his wife - so much more than the novel of a marriage, however, is Roberts constant wrestle with surface and interior, constantly shifting between a projected and a real self.

Marion provides an apt lens through which to watch the tale, as neither she nor us is fully aware of the hurt that lies ahead. And, in the final passages of the book, it proves impossible not to be shaken at what once was a way of life and, sadly, a sure-fire path to destruction. As Forster himself wrote, 'it is only that people are far more different than is pretended.' Hopefully the need for pretence is now over, but this novel remains an extraordinary warning from the past.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a haunting book, a sense of place, a sense of time, 5 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: My Policeman (Hardcover)
A compelling read, devoured in one sitting. Largely set in the late 1950s and with a shy but aware young woman as the central character, there are echoes of Shelagh Delaney's `A Taste of Honey'. However in place of the latter's kitchen-sink Northern realism and friendship with a sensitive gay design student we have an evocative period Brighton and Marion's best friend's god-like brother who swims in the sea every morning. Throughout the novel I was struck by how authentic it felt. There are accurate descriptions of sunbathing on the concrete of the long-gone Black Rock Lido and of characters in the seaside resort's gay demi-monde. No surprise then to read on the final page how indebted Bethan Roberts is to Brighton Ourstory's `Daring Hearts: Lesbian and Gay Lives in 50s and 60s Brighton', long overdue for a reprint. The triangular relationship at the heart of the book is believable too, echoing the relationships E. M. Forster and J.R. Ackerley had with their policemen. There is much pleasure to be had in this fine book. Yet there is also a pervading sadness and a sense of anger at lives destroyed by the post-war witch hunts of gay men. A cleverly-constructed and moving story that could make an excellent film. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A reminder of the dark post-war days of homophobia, 5 Dec. 2014
By 
Richard Brown (Hove, E.Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My Policeman (Paperback)
What do you do when, as a young, recently married woman in the 1950s, you discover that your adored husband is in love with another man and that his love is returned? How do you cope with the shock, jealousy, acute disappointment and sense of betrayal not just of your love but of your hopes for the future and your desire for a family? This is the situation Marion finds herself in in this sad and moving tale. In her desperation to break up this triangle and reclaim her husband, she does something that has terrible consequences for all three of them, most of all Philip, her husband's lover. It is only forty years later that she can do something for Philip to try and gain his forgiveness.

Bethan Roberts has written a beautifully sensitive, down-to-earth novel which explores a variation of the ubiquitous love triangle. She is brilliant at evoking that dark era for gay people - in this book, Brighton - with its persecution, secrecy, deception, fear and discrimination, with its propensity to wreck lives in the name of propriety. She is good at catching something of the love of the two men for each other and how difficult it was for them to conduct their relationship in secrecy. Marion is the innocent; her husband Tom (the policeman) the most conflicted and closeted, the most selfish and limited of the three; Philip is the bravest: it's a study in contrasts. The supporting cast of characters are also living, breathing beings - I liked the Julia subplot that spoke of another unrequited love. And the scenes in the classroom where Marion taught made me feel that the author had once been a primary teacher herself (as I once was).

A compelling, moving depiction of an era that, in this country at least, is past, and a chilling reminder of what it was once like for those who loved differently.
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My Policeman
My Policeman by Bethan Roberts (Hardcover - 2 Feb. 2012)
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