for writers and readers….
Picture the drawing room at The Regency Town House in Brunswick Square. You come on your own (The Sunday Salon is definitely the kind of event that welcomes solo visitors) or with friends. You meet Alison MacLeod and Sarah Rayner, two writers who have won international success with novels firmly rooted in the streets of this south coast city that punches above its weight. You get the chance to get to know their work better, to chat and make connections. This is real conversation not a sales pitch, conducted over tea and homemade cake. And every penny raised goes towards restoring a 200 year old town house that is a hub of local history. No one is being paid for the afternoon, not the writers or the cake maker, or the hosts (that’s me and Catherine Page and Jenny Fraser-Smith) and I think this adds to the atmosphere. We’re all in this together.
Many writers have been inspired by Brighton, but these two novels have a special quality that captures the life of the city. Alison MacLeod’s novel Unexploded is historical, while Sarah Rayner’s One Moment One Morning is set in contemporary Brighton.
Longlisted for the Man Booker prize, it has been serialised for BBC Radio 4.
The time is May, 1940 and the unthinkable has happened. France has fallen and Britain stands alone. Brighton residents wait for the enemy to land on the beach. There are rumours that Hitler wants to make the Pavilion his HQ.
The main character is Evelyn, a young wife and mother brought up in Brunswick Square and now living in Park Crescent. Terrified by what the future might bring, she volunteers to help at the internment camp on the race course where ‘enemy aliens’ are held captive. There she meets with people who have already lost everything…
“It’s meticulously researched without showing off about it. It’s full of character studies and psychological insights but doesn’t shove them down your throat. It’s poetic without being pretentious.” The Observer
One Moment One Morning
Officially one of the 21st century’s bestselling books, it has sold almost 300,000 copies in the UK alone and been translated into eleven languages.
In a carriage packed with commuters a man has a heart attack on the 07:44 Brighton train to London. For at least three passengers life will never be the same again.
In a moment everything can change.
“A book hard to put down…and characters so credible and real that I found myself looking out for them on the streets of Brighton.” Sussex News
“Rayner is a swift, efficient plotter, nudging her characters towards the light of congruence and self-reliance. Her Brighton is carefully and affectionately mapped…” Times Literary Supplement
The novels are available from all good bookshops, but CITY BOOKS, the independent bookshop in Western Road, Hove are giving a fantastic £2 discount to ticket holders on both these titles. Just go in with proof that you’ve bought tickets to the Sunday Salon and the staff will do the rest. (To enjoy a permanent discount at City Books become a member of the Friends of Regency Town House scheme.)
Alison MacLeod The award-winning Canadian author has lived in Brighton since 2000. From 2009-2018 she was Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester and now writes full-time. Alison’s most recent book, the story collection All the Beloved Ghosts, was named one of the Guardian‘s ‘Best Books of 2017’.
Sarah Rayner was born in London. Her father was a psychoanalyst and her mother the author/illustrator of children’s books. Sarah’s own career started in fashion PR before she became an advertising copywriter and eventually turned to fiction. Three of her novels are set in her adopted home town of Brighton and she is currently writing her sixth. Sarah is also the author and publisher of a popular series of self-help books, focusing on mental health.
In three words – a momentous restoration project. Unlike most of the properties on Brunswick Square, the Regency Town House is remarkable as it remains relatively unchanged from its Georgian beginnings. But with age comes disrepair, which means a lot of skill and TLC is needed to restore it to its former glory. A team of hard-working and enthusiastic volunteers are helping to transform the property into a museum and heritage centre, with meticulous attention given to historical accuracy.
In the first floor drawing room where grand parties were once held on a lavish scale. It’s the largest room in the Town House and if you look carefully you can see traces of one of the original decorative schemes on the walls. It’s an incredibly atmospheric and unique space.
Sunday June 16th from 3pm to 5pm. Tickets are available from Eventbrite at £15 + booking fee