Natalie Kleinman joins the celebrations at the RNA RoNA Awards
It was a sparkly evening in the middle of March! The Romantic Novelists’ Association certainly knows how to put on the glitz and this occasion was no exception. The atmosphere was electric and I defy anyone not to enjoy themselves in such friendly company. The bubbly reflected the mood of all those present. Katie Fforde hosted the event with ease and charm in lieu of the chair who was one of those short-listed and it was felt inappropriate on this occasion for her to ‘wear two hats’. The anticipation before the winners were announced was palpable but the camaraderie was tangible and confirmed to me – as if I needed it – what a wonderful bunch we writers are.
We were lucky to have the delightful Darcey Bussell to make the presentations and Jane Wenham-Jones to act as link in her own inimitable style. The winner of the Romantic Novelist of the Year Award, the RNA’s highest accolade, was Veronica Henry with A Night on the Orient Express, and Helen Fielding was honoured with the Outstanding Achievement Award and delighted us with the story of her first submission – and still to be published book – to Mills & Boon which apparently ended with the line, and forgive me if I misquote but this was the gist… Doctor to nurse. It’s all right, it isn’t a snake. This is where I stop name dropping for fear of leaving anyone out, either recipients or indeed guests. Suffice it to say that the Gladstone Library was filled with the good and great of the writing world, with publishers, editors and agents mingling with writers across the romance spectrum.
If I have any reservation about the evening it would be the lack of sufficient food. The canapes were beautifully presented but for an evening lasting from six to ten o’clock they were sadly few in number. As someone who could only have the vegetarian option I was disappointed, though there was little more for the others. I’m sure that many people would have come straight from work and would have been feeling the hunger long before the event was over. There was bubbly in the reception area and on the tables and I would like to suggest, if I may, that next time one drink is offered (as is the case with the Summer and Winter Parties) and the saving be expended on catering, with perhaps a paying bar from the beginning for those who feel the need.
I began by talking about the sparkle of the evening but one thing that stood out as particularly shiny for me was the vision of the wonderful Dr David Hessayon, having just received an Outstanding Achievement Award, carrying his silver and pink RNA bag off the podium. My only regret is that I don’t have the photo to prove it. A lovely man and a priceless image. I’m sure Joan would have been as proud of him as he so obviously is of her.
My thanks to the RNA for permission to use these wonderful photos.