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- My Policeman by Bethan Roberts | Waterstones.
Comments Share your thoughts and debate the big issues. Join the discussion. And music. All the sentimental magic that he loved. Wednesdays were an indulgence, I know that. For him and for me. PS — Michael is blackmailed for his gayness and kills himself. View all 7 comments. I was both fascinated and immensely annoyed by this book. The blurb describes it as a tragic love story, of a man and a woman both in love with the same man in a time the s when it is safer for him to marry the woman and maintain a front of respectability.
I didn't. In the spirit of fairness, I should list its good points: s Brighton is beautifully vivid, and the prevailing attitudes of the time I was both fascinated and immensely annoyed by this book. In the spirit of fairness, I should list its good points: s Brighton is beautifully vivid, and the prevailing attitudes of the time are well-captured. Patrick and his mother are wonderful characters, Julia a relatively minor character, yet an important one is great, and the relationship between Tom and Patrick feels era-appropriately dangerous.
However, Marion - the main protagonist - is an out and out bitch. I don't use that word lightly, but honestly, I don't think I've hated a female character this much since Mary-Anne in the Tales of the City series.
I think we're supposed to empathise with her plight - she's young and unworldly, living in a time when homosexuality just wasn't talked about, so when she announces that she's in love with Tom and is warned by his sister , no less, that he's 'not like that' she's naively or willfully unaware of what that means.
I wanted to punch her then, and I didn't shift much on that opinion throughout the rest of the book. If anything, my loathing deepened as it became clear exactly what she'd done to dispose of her opposition. She loses a good fried - Julia - in her refusal to accept her husband's 'perversions', loses her husband his career, and destroys Patrick's life. And all so she can 'win' Tom, a plot which thankfully backfires spectacularly, leading to a loveless, sexless, forty year marriage.
What is never made clear is why Tom would choose to stay with this awful human being in later years when divorce and homosexuality both became more socially acceptable. Another big failing from my perspective is that Marion's point of view is so dominant, there isn't room for Tom to speak for himself. The ending is heartbreaking. Marion finally does the right thing and tells Tom and the ailing Patrick what she did, and true to form, disappears to leave them to deal with it.
I was so angry with her by this point that I didn't even care that the ending was a bit cliched and unnecessarily dramatic. In short, this isn't a gay romance, nor an exploration of the difficulties of maintaining a public face and an illegal private love. It's a straight woman's vision of those things, written for other straight women, and as I don't fall into that category I found it incredibly insulting and annoying. In the hands of a different writer I believe it could have been far more sensitively handled, and Marion could have even become less loathsome.
As it is, for all its good points, it remains horrible. This is well-written and certainly captures the feeling of living in a time and place when homosexuality was illegal and when anyone who didn't avoid any connection with it was liable to pay a heavy price.
As a story, it's It's a perfectly good book. But I felt that there was always something there, just out of reach, something a little deeper, a little more hard-hitting, something that could grab the reader, if only it was said. And that something never really showed up. Not chick-lit, This is well-written and certainly captures the feeling of living in a time and place when homosexuality was illegal and when anyone who didn't avoid any connection with it was liable to pay a heavy price.
Not chick-lit, because, well, chick-lit doesn't usually hit this kind of subject-matter. But it does feel a little like chick-lit - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because every genre has its place. But I wanted something more. Jan 30, Sonja rated it it was amazing Shelves: library-book. Apr 15, Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing.
Since Marion was a girl she has been besotted by her friend Sylvie's older brother, Tom. She dreams of their being together and tries to scheme her way into seeing him any which way she can. As they grow older, Tom goes into the military and then becomes a policeman. He is a good swimmer and gives Marion swimming lessons. Though Marion feels so strongly about Tom and he must know it, he is slow to make any sort of advances. Sylvie tries to warn Marion about Tom, alluding to the fact that he is d Since Marion was a girl she has been besotted by her friend Sylvie's older brother, Tom.
Sylvie tries to warn Marion about Tom, alluding to the fact that he is different from most men. Marion is not sure what Sylvie means and, in any case, ignores her warning. She is too smitten with Tom to listen to any advice that might lead her away from him. Tom has a friend named Patrick who is a museum curator. He attended Oxford and is quite educated and wealthy.
He, like Marion, is in love with Tom and tries to show Tom the beauty of the arts: paintings, operas, sculpture and music.
Gradually, they consummate their love and Marion initially does not know about Patrick. Tom feels unclean, as the time is in Britain when homosexual liaisons are against the law, and he asks Marion to marry him so that he might feel more normal about himself. She agrees and they marry quickly. The book opens up in with Patrick quite ill and under Marion and Tom's roof. Marion has taken Patrick in after he has had two strokes and she is trying to nurse him back to health.
Marion has written her account of the story of their three-way love and she plans to read it to Patrick so as to help him heal. The doctor says that talking to him will help. Patrick also has been journaling most of his life up to his strokes and the reader is privy to both Marion's and Patrick's journals in alternating parts of the novel.
The novel goes back and forth from the present, , back to , when Patrick meets Tom. This novel beautifully shows the reader the tragedies that ensue with this three-way love and engages the reader from the start. This is a sad book and a stirring one, filled with repressed emotion, love and rage. It is heartbreaking and is a reflection of the times - in Britain, homosexuals were called 'inverts' or 'perverts'. Though the novel reflects the what is occurring in as well, most of the action takes place in the earlier part of the century when love between two adults of the same sex is punishable by imprisonment.
I think it was George Bernard Shaw who coined the maxim: "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches. While there may sometimes be some truth in those words, they most certainly do not apply to the writer of this very good novel, Bethan Roberts. On the evidence of this, her most recent book, she is an exceptionally talented writer. The essence of the story is a somewhat unusual menage a trois.
The setting is Brighton, the time is the late s.
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Marion is an intelligent, but rather naive, young schoolteacher. She falls in love with Tom, who is the brother of her best friend. Tom is an inexperienced police officer. He meets and becomes infatuated with Patrick, who is the curator of Western Art at the town's art gallery. Despite his feelings for Patrick, Tom marries Marion. At a time before gay sex had been decriminalised, he is keen to fit in and to live outwardly, at least a life of respectability and what he thinks of as normality. In a sequence of narratives that shifts in time from the late s to the late s, "My Policeman" recounts from Marion's and from Patrick's perspective their shared love for Tom and the impact that it has on all their lives.
It is a poignant, painful and ultimately tragic story. The writing and characterisation are excellent. Roberts paints what appears to be a very authentic picture of the social and sexual ethos of the time and of the way in which gay people were forced to contend with being labelled as "sexual inverts" and "queers" terms used in the story and with the risk of exposure for behaving in what was then a criminal manner.
My Policeman - Bethan Roberts - Häftad () | Bokus
Her style of writing is crisp and flowing. And she depicts what are sometimes very intense and emotional events in a humane and sympathetic way. It is a very good novel indeed, marred only by the slightly overdone conclusion. View 1 comment. Jan 26, Julie Rainey rated it really liked it. One of those books like The Poisonwood Bible which inhabits your field of vision while you're reading it. Walking around Brighton this past week, I half expected to see the characters slip out of the museum or stroll, arms swinging, through the arch at Queen's Park.
Roberts crafts a story from the desires and fears of the three main characters as they try to negotiate the social strata of the south coast in the s. Starting and fiinishing in present day Peacehaven, the characters long for p One of those books like The Poisonwood Bible which inhabits your field of vision while you're reading it.
Starting and fiinishing in present day Peacehaven, the characters long for past pain in preference to the desiccated routines of their later lives. The threads of the characters' lives tangle as the meet, weave together as the reach a temporary accommodation of their conflicting desires and finally unravel completely, leaving them paralysed in misery like the beautiful boys in Patrick's galleries.
If you've had the breath kicked hard from your lungs by the sight of someone suddenly turning a corner in front of you and bartered everything you hold close just for a shot at happiness with that person, then this is one for you. May 02, Robyn rated it really liked it Shelves: couldn-t-put-it-down. Sad, sad, sad. Such a beautifully written book - one that really got inside the hearts and minds of the 3 main characters. Fabulously set in late s and present day Brighton, this book was totally compelling, and very telling about how difficult it was being gay, or indeed a woman, in those times.
I was struck by the sadness of each of the characters in this book, and the way most people in the story, both primary and minor characters had such empty and wasted lives. Ms Roberts' description Sad, sad, sad. Ms Roberts' descriptions of lives led without much meaning cut deep. This was a story that will linger with me for quite a while. It calls to mind the Thoreau quote "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation". Apr 21, Lindsay rated it it was amazing Shelves: literary-fiction , romantice. She revisits her earlier life, as a teenage girl in Brighton.
With Tom heading off to national service, Marion trains as a teacher and awaits his return with hopes of a future for them together. Despite small inklings and some words from Sylvie, Marion marries Tom, now a policeman, and believes their relationship will work. Patrick works as a curator in Brighton Museum, and having met Tom by chance one day, Patrick introduces him to the appeal of art and opens up a new world to him.
There is a beautiful, tender mutual attraction between them but at the time they meet there is nothing but condemnation for any romantic relationship that the two might have.
The dual narratives of Marion and Patrick take us through the whole of the story, as we learn from them about their perspectives on their relationship with the man who dominates both their lives; the man they must share until it becomes too much and their worlds collapse. The author depicts the emotions of Marion and Patrick so vividly; as we hear from them both first-hand and know of their hopes, their past pain, their longings and disappointments. It was heartbreaking to think of the pain and sadness of wasted love and lives ruined by the constraints and judgements of society.
This novel captures that heartbreak, and it absolutely pulsates with the sadness inherent in it all. A perceptive, emotional and absorbing read by a talented writer. Mar 09, Cate rated it it was amazing Shelves: 5-star-books. Beautifully written, measured story but oh how sad. There are no winners here. As madly as Marion loves Tom, so to does Patrick. Both love his beauty, his bare Heartbreaking. Both love his beauty, his barely supressed laughter, his charm.
And of course, all are thwarted. The deception perpetrated on Marion is cruel and hard. Her well-intentioned friend Julia tries to tell her this is futile, even though her rage at being decieved is not misplaced, Marion does not want to hear. Yet Marion's not the villian of this piece, anymore than Patrick or Tom are. But alas not this time. The pain is palpable in this book. I thought the author did a good job. Well written, well structured and Brighton is a strong setting that is never allowed to overshadow the drama of these 3 lives, yet is also deeply part of the story.
I highly recommnend this book. Norwegian Wood. Animal Farm. The Trip of a Lifetime. The Light Between Oceans. Ready Player One. Subscribe to Read More to find out about similar books. Sign up to our newsletter using your email. Enter your email to sign up. Thank you! Your subscription to Read More was successful. To help us recommend your next book, tell us what you enjoy reading.
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