One fine day in 1953, a Frenchman brought his five-year old son to Brighton. The father said Au revoir, gave the boy a peck on the cheek – at most – and then left him. In an old people’s home. These are the facts given at the beginning of Les Vieillards de Brighton [The Old Folk of Brighton] written by Gonzague Saint Bris and published in 2002.
The narration is set in the former French Convalescent Home in Kemp Town. However, the text shows that it is unlikely that Saint Bris knew the building well. It seems more likely that he saw the Convalescent Home once, perhaps only fleetingly, but was so impressed by it that he determined to set his novel in and around the building. There is little doubt that Les Vieillards de Brighton is a work of fiction, but an imaginative and absorbing one at that.