Tuesday, 8 March 2011

RNA Pure Passion Awards 2011

Yesterday was one of those 'glam' writing days. The very few and far between kind of writing days. Jogging bottoms not present. Make-up definitely needed!

I went the the RNA's annual Pure Passion Awards. A new venue this year - One Whitehall Place, which is connected to the Royal Horseguards Hotel on the Embankment. It's a beautiful building, inside and out, and I've always thought it looks like a rather French fairytale castle:

It has the most amazing oval marble staircase too:

Before the awards ceremony proper there was a champagne reception in the Reading & Writing room, with wonderful views across Whitehall Gardens to the Thames. It's a wonderfully ostentatious bit of Victorian interior design, complete with sparkling chandeliers, tiled columns and a vast mural:

We sipped champagne and chatted, surrounded by tables stacked high with the shortlisted books:

Here's Love Story of the Year shortlisted author Abby Green with fellow M&B author Heidi Rice:

At 4.30pm we moved through to the Gladstone Library, where the awards were going to be presented. More chadeliers. More beautiful tiled pillars. And the library of one's dreams, with a staircase leading up to an upper level with even more books. (Well, actually, the books are replicas, but we don't want to mention that and spoil the fantasy, do we?)

Rather than doing a long spiel I thought I'd let my pictures do the talking for me. Presenting the awards this year was Timothy Bentwick, better known as David Archer from the much-adored BBC radio drama The Archers:

And the award winners are...

Lifetime achievement awards went to both Penny Jordan and Josephine Cox:

The winner of the Love Story of the Year was Louise Allen for The Piratical Miss Ravenshurst:

Elizabeth Chadwick won the Historical Novel Prize with To Defy A King:

The Romantic Comedy Prize was won by Jill Mansel for Take A Chance On Me:

And, finally, the Romantic Novel of the Year was The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes - a very popular win, it seemed!

A very exciting and glamorous afternoon, it has to be said. Even a trip to the Ladies was an experience! I nipped out after the awards had been presented and found the room I was looking for at the top of a narrow spiral staircase. I opened the door and said, very loudly, "Oh, my goodness!" I kid you not, the floorspace of this place was bigger than the whole ground floor of my house.

You can tell I don't get out much if I get all excited about football pitch-sized washrooms and little towels you throw in a laundry hamper instead of air blowers, can't you?

And then it was time to socilaise some more and then wend my way home. I'll leave you with a view over the Thames from the Reading & Writing Room (and, no, that's not the mother ship decending over London on the left of the picture; it's just a reflection of one of the chandeliers).


Donna Alward said...


leah said...

For those of us no able to come, a lovely description. See you there next year

Heidi Rice said...

Fi, fantastic pictures as always, and it was lovely to share a table with you.. And thanks for that great picture of me and Abby. Still a bit gutted that she didn't win as I loved Bride in a Gilded Cage with a passion. All the shortlisted books must have been so good I'm certainly glad I didn't have to judge them.

jill said...

A lovely account of the day, and great photos. I really want that chandelier to be the Mothership floating above the Thames!

Julie Cohen said...

It was a fabulously glam time, and wonderful to see you across the flaming meringues!

Liz Harris said...

Fantastic photos and write-up, Fiona. You have absolutely captured the spirit of the occasion. Thank you for putting them up and linking them on romna.

Liz X

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Great write up of the event Fiona. As Liz says, you have captured the spirit of the occasion.

Sarah Duncan said...

Wonderful photos, and a great write up of the event.

Fiona Harper said...

Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone. So glad my camera made it out of my handbag this time round!

Cara Cooper said...

Hi Fiona - Brilliant photographs and now I think I understand the afternoon/evening thing which I couldn't quite get my head around. By the way, am reading, 'Three Weddings and a Baby' and it's excellent. I went to your New Voices talk at Bromley library and everything you said about depth and emotional content is in that book and not at all soupy. Now all I need to do is try and emulate that!

Fiona Harper said...

Cara, so glad you're enjoying 'Three Weddings And A Baby' - and that I've managed to practice what I preach! Phew. Good luck with the writing!

Beth Elliott said...

Lovely pictures and account of a wonderful ceremony. Thank you for that, it's nice to share a little bit in the event.

liz fenwick said...

Seems a life time ago but it was such fun. great write up.

Wonderful to see you.