Lindsey Davis with Leisel Schwarz and Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan has triumphed with her romantic comedy novel, Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, published by Sphere. She has been awarded the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) highest accolade, the Romantic Novel of the Year 2013. The judges found their final decision difficult to come to and said, “It really was a close run thing.” Jenny was presented with her award by bestselling historical novelist and creator of the ‘Falco’ series, Lindsey Davis.
Five independent industry professionals adjudicated: Sarah Broadhurst, The Bookseller; Jane Mays, The Daily Mail; Alison Flood, Guardian.co.uk; Jonathan Ruppin, Foyles and Chris White, Waterstones.
Coming together for the first time after having read all five finalists’ novels, the judges were divided between Jenny’s book and another that came a very close second. They said, “We debated the finer points of each novel for over an hour but in the end Jenny won by a nose, thanks to her impeccable plotting and structure.”
The judges found that the entries this year were of an exceptionally high standard and that was the reason for their impassioned debate before declaring Jenny Colgan the winner.
The Romantic Novel of the Year award is the highest accolade that the RNA can bestow upon on an author. The award recognises the very highest standards of romantic fiction and Jenny has won through, despite being pitted against some of the genre’s most prolific, best-respected and gifted authors.
Jenny, whose novel is based in rural Derbyshire, drew her inspiration from her love for old James Herriot books and wrote Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams in tribute to the sweetshops of her childhood.
The books that vied for the Romantic Novel of the Year title were the category winners of the annual Romantic Novel Awards, which took place in February. Jenny was winner of the Romantic Comedy category. The other contenders were: Mhairi McFarlane with her debut book, You Had Me At Hello, published by Avon; Rowan Coleman, Epic Category winner with Dearest Rose, published by Arrow; Charlotte Betts, Historical Category winner with The Apothecary’s Daughter, published by Piatkus and Victoria Lamb, Young Adult category winner and author of Witchstruck, published by Corgi.
Pia Fenton, RNA Chairman said, “The standard was so high this year that every finalist can be justly proud of her book. Unfortunately there can only be one winner and our warmest congratulations go to Jenny Colgan, who produced a real page-turner of a novel, combining romance, comedy and nostalgia. She thoroughly deserves her win.”
Also presented at the RNA summer party was the association’s annual recognition for the best in new writing, the Joan Hessayon Award. This is generously sponsored by Dr David Hessayon in memory of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme.
This year the Joan Hessayon Award was won by Liesel Schwartz with A Conspiracy of Alchemists, published in February by Ebury Press/DelRey. Liesel took home a cheque and a silver trophy.
There were nine contenders in total for the award this year including: Jenny Barden, Mistress of the Sea published by Ebury Press/Random House; Serena Clarke with All Over the Place published by Crimson; Ann Stenhouse’s Mariah’s Marriage from MuseItUp; Henriette Gyland is author of Up Close published by Choc Lit; while Liz Harris wrote The Road Back, also published by Choc Lit. Carol McGrath’s The Handfasted Wife is published by Accent Press; Cathy Mansell wrote Shadow Across the Liffey from Tirgearr while Tainted Innocence by Joss Alexander was published by Carina. All received a certificate and a cheque.