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My Policeman  By  cover art

My Policeman

By: Bethan Roberts
Narrated by: Piers Hampton,Emma Powell
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Publisher's Summary

Soon to be a motion picture starring Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, and David Dawson, an exquisitely told, tragic tale of thwarted love.

“Stunning...fraught and honest.” (New York Times Book Review)

It is in 1950s Brighton that Marion first catches sight of Tom. He teaches her to swim, gently guiding her through the water in the shadow of the city's famous pier, and Marion is smitten - determined her love alone will be enough for them both. A few years later, near the Brighton Museum, Patrick meets Tom. Patrick is besotted, and opens Tom's eyes to a glamorous, sophisticated new world of art, travel, and beauty. Tom is their policeman, and in this age it is safer for him to marry Marion and meet Patrick in secret. The two lovers must share him, until one of them breaks and three lives are destroyed.

In this evocative portrait of midcentury England, Bethan Roberts reimagines the real-life relationship the novelist E. M. Forster had with a policeman, Bob Buckingham, and his wife. My Policeman is a deeply heartfelt story of love's passionate endurance, and the devastation wrought by a repressive society.

©2014 Bethan Roberts (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

An Irish Times Book of the Year

“Stunning...overdue in becoming a sensation...Roberts’s messy collision of desires and drives leads to thwarted dreams, heartbreak, betrayal and a prison sentence. It’s a story as old as time, but, to my mind, it’s never been told so effectively, principally because Roberts invests us emotionally in both sides of the tug-of-war.... It’s not a happy story. It’s better than that, fraught and honest.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Roberts beautifully captures the devastation of being unable or unwilling to live in one’s truth…. A melancholy story about love, loss, and unnecessary suffering.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A humane and evocative portrait of a time when lives were destroyed by intolerance.”  (The Guardian)

Featured Article: Listen Before You Watch—The Biggest Page-to-Screen Adaptations in Fall/Winter 2022


It’s not just crunchy leaves and cozy vibes that autumn brings. This fall and winter, television and movie fans also have a lot to look forward to, with major page-to-screen adaptations slated from streaming and theatrical releases. So, as your next listen, consider tuning in to the original works that have inspired what are sure to be our new book-to-movie and book-to-television obsessions.

What listeners say about My Policeman

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

too little too late Marion

I really liked the book but Marion didn't do any of what she was doing to care for Patrick, she only did it to alleviate her guilt about sending Patrick to jail for loving another man. Too little too late Marion, I will hate you forever for what you did. You are self centered until the end. Did you once consider that Patrick being kicked and beaten in the head while being in the prison YOU cause led to his stroke. It was not your place to say anything. This story is EXACTLY the reason that gay men should never associate with straight women as friends or anything else. Once they are rejected by you they get cruel or if you don't respond in any way they ruin your reputation with anyone you are interested in. I hate you, you are not redeemable.

4 people found this helpful

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Bittersweet

Both performers were crisp, clean, and clear. The author did a perfect job of bringing us back to the 1950’s.

Best listened to on an cloudy, overcast day with a warm drink.

2 people found this helpful

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Just beautiful

This book is absolutely heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved it because of its interesting way of telling the same story from two different perspectives, describing the same man from two different pairs of eyes. The author has a way of getting in to the two characters heads (Patrick and Marion) and creating two totally different writing and thinking styles for them. The performance from both narrators was phenomenal, voices alway catching perfectly and heart wrenchingly on the bad parts. I cannot recommend this book enough to someone who wants a good hard cry.

1 person found this helpful

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❤️❤️❤️

This was just wonderful, an emotional, heartfelt story. Yes, it’s sad, especially because each of the three main characters were victims of the British laws pertaining to homosexuality. Having said that, of those three characters, Tom, the policeman of the title, is really quite a coward. His actions are all about himself; he is very self-centered, and IMHO wasn’t deserving of the love and devotion of Marion and Patrick. But flawed characters make a story more interesting and realistic. Excellent narration !
Not to publisher: the cover art is really a disservice to this story, it implies that this is a steamy romance rather than a heartbreaking story of conflicting emotions and lose.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good LGBTQ+ British History

This novel centers around the relations between three English people in the late 1950’s onwards: Patrick the museum curator, his male lover Tom the policeman, and the schoolteacher Marion who Tom marries to maintain public face. Bethan Roberts bases his tale on the real-life relationship between the author E.M. Forster had with a policeman and the policeman’s wife. It is representative of what a repressive, homophobic society subjects its LGBTQ+ community to. This epistolary book told from Marion and Patrick’s diaries reminds me of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in that the subjects of the novels (Tom and Gatsby, respectively) do not get their own perspectives represented.

I am very impressed with the immersion this historical novel accomplishes with placing readers in the narrative setting and sociopolitical expectations of the time without any passages that seem only to be there for expositionary purposes. Marion is an unlikeable character, but as heteronormativity is imposed upon the LGBTQ+ community, so is her perspective thrust upon the narrative. Additionally, her sections serve narrative purpose in the latter temporal sections when Tom and Patrick are emotionally and physically unable to communicate with one another, respectively. And so, though at times a slog to get through, I understand why Marion’s perspective is there.

The novel’s 4/5-star rating, IMHO, is more deserved by the fact that Tom is not a very good spouse to Patrick, not a nice guy, and Patrick and Marion in turn only seem to be attracted to Tom physically. Are we not supposed to like Tom? We like Patrick, and Patrick lives more bravely and puts more effort into their relationship than Tom does. Tom is put under substantial societal pressure, but there isn’t much to admire beyond his idolized Greco-Roman physique.

There’s a lot I can rant and analyze about this book, but overall, I think it’s a good one and I’m glad I read it. I read this before seeing the movie, which I am still interested in watching. I wonder how the creative team has interpreted these characters?

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Delicious & Heartbreaking

I was moved to read the book after seeing the movie. It's usually the other way around for me but I was seriously late to the party. This book is so important for the queer community. It humanized a generation that was denied so much. It was painful and hopeful all at once. I will definitely listen again.

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Not love, narcissism

This isn't a love story. The characters seem only to act out of self-interest. It was hard to have any empathy even though aspects of the story are absolutely directly relatable to my own experiences. Very disappointed.

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  • K
  • 10-14-22

Wow, wow, wow!

This book was a journey! The longing, passion, fear, and sorrow are extremely well written and read emotively.

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hmm

NOW WHY WOULD IT END LIKE THAT OUT OF NOWHERE? im so lost i didn’t expect that.

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Wow

A little slow in the beginning but otherwise great book!! I was torn with hating and feeling bad for the characters. I can’t wait to see the movie now!