From the moment Marion first lays eyes on Tom – her best friend’s big brother, broad, blond, blue-eyed – she is smitten. And when he comes home from National Service to be a policeman, Marion, a newly qualified teacher, is determined to win him. Unable to acknowledge the signs that something is amiss, she plunges into marriage, sure that her love is enough for both of them…
But Tom has another life, another equally overpowering claim on his affections. Patrick, a curator at the Brighton Museum, is also besotted with his policeman, and opens Tom’s eyes to a world previously unknown to him. But in an age when those of ‘minority status’ were condemned by society and the law, it is safer for this policeman to marry his teacher. The two lovers must share him, until one of them breaks and three lives are destroyed.
Unfolding through the dual narratives of Marion and Patrick, both writing about the man at the centre of their lives, this beautifully-told, painful, tragic story is revealed. It is a tale of wasted years, misguided love and thwarted hope, of how at a time when the country was on the verge of change so much was still impossible. Bethan Roberts has produced an intense and exquisitely raw yet tender novel, which proves her to be one of our most exciting young writers.
From the faded glitter of The Argyle to the sexy seediness of The Spotted Dog, My Policeman skulks through the 50s Brighton underground gay scene like a rent boy in pursuit of a trick. Desperate love in a dismal age. I loved it.
Dashing…a humane and evocative portrait of a time when lives were destroyed by intolerance.
Bethan Roberts’s third novel is a moving story of longing and frustration. The writing is fluid and tender.
It’s pitch perfect – the awful grief and raw disappointment of the characters is devastatingly described.
My Policeman’ is a beautiful book – tender, truthful and deeply moving. I loved it.
In her two narrators, Roberts gives us two strong, absorbing voices, whose competing claims on our sympathies, complicated by our knowledge of subsequent events, make ‘My Policeman’ a satisfyingly taut and involving read.
A gripping read. *****
My Policeman is a beautifully written modern tragedy… Bethan Roberts’ prose is elegant and sparing, her eye for period detail astute – but it is her ability to expose the oppressive state of 1950s Britain with regard to homosexuality that stuns. I doubt that many will know just how hard it was back then to be gay in the UK… From page one I could not put this book down, and by the final chapters I was rationing the words.
Roberts deploys her research carefully, honing a novel with a strong period feel and a sprightly structure.
This beautiful but heartbreaking book stayed with me for days after reading it… a love story set in a time when that love is forbidden. Keep the tissues nearby!
(B)eautifully rendered and observed.
Passionate… Captures the obsessive and destructive madness of sexual jealousy.
(One of) the coolest must-reads of the year.
Roberts has a light, effortless-seeming narrative style yet reaches tragic depths in her period account of repression and self-delusion. Deceptively easy reading with a long afterburn.
The carefully depicted setting serves to highlight the period-piece nature of (the characters’) predicament, which is adeptly conveyed by the interweaving narratives of Marion and Patrick as they both pursue their Adonis, capture him – and then try to deal with the consequences.