[Review] ‘My Policeman’ is a powerful read that everyone should buy

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Penguin Books

Step into literary fiction “My Policeman’ written by Bethan Roberts, an eye-opening novel about heartbreak and love.

Lyla Sachs, Writer

Bethan Roberts’ third novel, “My Policeman,” is a fiction tale of heartbreak, love and secrets. Her first two books were “The Good Plain Cook” and “The Pools,” but “My Policeman” was her first big hit. The book follows Tom, Patrick and Marion and the terrible consequences of their choices.

Set in the 1950s and present day Brighton, England, the readers are able to see how the characters’ young decisions affect their adult life. Tom and Patrick hiding their relationship when they were young affected the lives of the three of them when they were old in age.

“My Policeman” brings awareness to LGBTQ+ issues, like a queer man having difficulty opening up about his sexuality, causing him to marry a woman to avoid homosexual prejudices.

The book opens with Marion writing a letter about her relationship with Tom and by association, her relationship with Patrick. Due to a stroke Patrick had because of his old age, Marion is coping by journaling her thoughts, memories and feelings into a diary. This letter shows the readers the events that took place through her eyes.

The readers are able to visualize and empathize with her feelings. Throughout this letter, we are able to see a crush Marion has on her best friend’s brother, Tom. She admires from afar for many years and inside her head, we are able to see her fantasies about the relationship she longs to have. When he shows interest in her, we are taken along on their journey where a friendship blossoms, leading Tom to introduce his friend Patrick to her, which is where the real story begins.

I appreciate when Patrick was introduced because through Marion’s eyes, we see this intelligent man who intimidates and contrasts her. He is everything she is not: knowledgeable, grown up and experienced. Patrick shows her a life that contrasts what she has been sheltered from.

From there, we see the friendship that grows between the three of them. Of course, the readers do not see the budding relationship between Tom and Patrick until the narration shifts in the middle of the book to Patrick’s diary entries.

The narration switch was very smart, as it allows the readers to see the different views from two people in love with the same person. Marion is not shy about her love for Tom and Patrick who has no choice but to hide his. The contrasting views from both characters are powerful and emotional.

This novel transports you to the 1950s, a time when old values were the most prevalent, and homosexuality was viewed as a sin. The readers are able to feel the fear that was instilled in the two men, and it is easy to feel sorry for both parties involved. Marion was used as a cover for a relationship she didn’t know existed and Patrick had to hide his love from everyone he knew.

The novel is slow-paced, taking vivid small steps through each memory. We see how women are expected to stay at home and mother their children while Marion makes her own destiny and becomes a teacher. The readers are able to see the growing love and infatuation with Tom and how he supports her through her decisions.

I found it interesting how Tom was the center of the book, yet his character was not talked about. He remains a mystery to the readers and we do not understand why both Marion and Patrick are both infatuated with him. We only know the basic facts of what color his hair is and the fact that he is a policeman, hence the title “My Policeman.”

The book is written so well, and it is being adapted into a film later in the year. Filming has already taken place and the release date should be announced soon. The movie is being directed by Michael Grandage who is known for directing “Genius” and “Red.” The movie stars Harry Styles as Tom, Emma Corrin as Marion and David Dawson as Patrick.

Although “My Policeman” focuses on the hidden sexuality of the two men, it also brings light to women empowerment and their role in society that was not common during the time. The book is a powerful read and everyone who reads it can find something important they can relate to. You are instantly drawn to the characters and captured by the heartbreaking plot. I can not wait for the film adaptation to see this novel come to life.