Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Sunday, 4 November 2012

My Policeman - Bethan Roberts

‘The words that come to mind when I think of my policeman are light and delight.’

This is a wonderful literary novel from Bethan Roberts. Beautifully written, heart rending in it’s pain, not a word out of place I felt, and it tells of the love, secrets, shame and torment endured in the lives of three people, Marion, Tom and Patrick.

The opening grabs the reader’s attention. We are immediately plunged into Marion’s very personal written confession addressed directly to a man named Patrick, and the year is now 1999. She revisits her earlier life, as a teenage girl in Brighton. Marion falls for her friend Sylvie’s older brother Tom. He is ‘the beautiful young man with the big arms and the dark blond curls’ and once she has seen him she is rapt. 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.

As we progress further into the story, we then are privy to some of Patrick’s diary accounts from back in 1957, when he fell in love with his policeman. 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.

I really loved this novel and read it in only a few sittings – it’s a compelling story. I couldn’t wait to discover the revelations and details about Marion and Patrick’s lives with Tom, to find out how the past had unfolded for each of them and what more could happen in the present. 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.

Bethan Roberts convincingly brings to life an era when women were still limited in their career choices, still intended primarily for life at home and expected to marry and raise a family, and an era when the love that is shared between Patrick and Tom is something to be ashamed of, hidden away; men who loved each other were referred to as ‘sexual inverts’ and were punished.

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. Marvellous.

Reviewed by Lindsay Healy

Published by Chatto & Windus

Reviewed for amazon vine


  1. I can tell you thoroughly enjoyed this Lins :) Fantastic review (as always)x

    1. Thanks for commenting Shaz. I felt very involved with the characters and moved by their situation. x

  2. Hi I just stumbled across your blog and I see that we have similar reading tastes, so I am now your newest follower. I would love for you to stop by my blog and check it out. I really hope to see you there and happy reading!


    1. Hi Kimberlee thanks very much for visiting and commenting and following the blog, I'll be over to visit yours.

  3. This sounds like a great read and one I hadn't heard of before. Fab review!

    1. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting Amanda. It is a really good, very moving story. x

  4. I have been looking around.......I LOVE your blog. Great books and great posts.

    Love your library too...the cabinets looks great. THANKS for sharing.

    I am a GFC follower and now an e-mail subscriber. I don't want to miss anything. :)

    Silver's Reviews

    1. Thank you very much Elizabeth, that is very kind of you. I am very lucky to have my little library now.


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