One book stood out a mile on the shortlist for the 2011 Romantic Novel of the Year award. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes is, as I wrote in the Daily Express last week, “everything a romantic novel should be.” By the time I got to the last few pages of Moyes’s heartrending tale of passion, adultery and lost love, I was a complete wreck. Tears poured down my cheeks, my face was bright red and I had very smudged mascara. Not a good look.
But after all that I was thrilled that Moyes’s book scooped the title. The Romantic Novelists’ Association, which organises the annual Pure Passion awards, threw a great party at London’s One Whitehall Place to celebrate. The champagne flowed, waiters whizzed round with trays of flaming meringues (yes, really) and Timothy Bentinck, alias David Archer in The Archers, was on hand to announce the winners.
The star sweetly confided that he’s a romantic at heart and great at giving flowers to his wife. He also put up with a host of witty asides about poor Nigel Pargetter’s death plunge from the roof at Lower Loxley and admitted that standing on the awards’ high rostrum made him feel slightly nervous.
Other Pure Passion award winners included Elizabeth Chadwick, who won the best historical novel prize, Louise Allen, who triumphed in the love story category, and Jill Mansell, who scooped the romantic comedy prize for Take a Chance on Me. “The last time I won something was in a competition at a nightclub for tearing a telephone directory,” chuckled Jill.
PS: Every so often I do something completely reckless, like buying a stunning Proenza Schouler bag in Barney’s on my first-ever trip to New York . I’ve felt guilty ever since so I was speechless when the clasp broke. I emailed the Proenza Schouler office on Broadway and they replied immediately. “Send it back and we’ll repair it for you,” they said. And that’s exactly what they did, even commissioning a new clasp to be made in Italy. After its trip across the Atlantic, the satchel arrived safely back in the UK this week, looking as good as new. My teenage son glanced at it and declared: “New York, Milan – that bag is much better travelled than you are.”