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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 17:19 GMT
Pilcher leads Romance shortlist
Rosamunde Pilcher's Winter Solstice
Rosamunde Pilcher's novel is the bookies' favourite
Best-selling novelist Rosamunde Pilcher heads the race for the Romantic Novel of the Year with her book Winter Solstice.

Pilcher, 75, is currently the bookies' favourite after the shortlisted eight books for the 5,000 prize-money was announced on Monday.

Also in the running is former winner Clare Chambers, 35, with Dry Spell and 28-year-old newcomer Vivien Kelly with her debut adventure Take One Young Man.

The winner will be announced on the 26 April at a ceremony at London's Savoy Hotel, hosted by broadcaster and author Alan Titchmarsh.

Alan Titchmarsh
Alan Titchmarsh will present the award

Pilcher, who is famous for titles such as The Shell Seekers and Coming Home, is the most experienced writer among the nominees.

Her book Winter Solstice has topped the book charts in the US and the UK.

It tells the story of a young woman who moves to an isolated house in Scotland after a personal tragedy and becomes a magnet for various waifs and strays.

The book's down-to-earth subject matter is typical of of the other shortlisted novels which also steer away from romantic stereotypes of handsome strangers and damsels in distress.

'Real life'

Clare Chambers is hoping to take the title for a second time after winning in 1998 with Learning to Swim.

Commenting on her nominated book Dry Spell, she said: "This is not your standard romantic story.

The women in the book have horrible guys in their lives and meet nice guys but it is about real life

Cathy Kelly on Someone Like You

"It's about a marriage which is going through a kind of dry spell and not all the relationships in the book end up in love and happiness."

Vivien Kelly's Take One Young Man is another example of the kind of romantic writing in the shortlist.

It tells of a young man stuck in a rut who gives up his career to embark on an adventure in Antarctica but gets more than he bargained for when he falls in love.

Kelly, who works for a London advertising agency, said: "The book is not a traditional romantic novel.

"It's about escape from everyday life but I don't think it's part of a romantic genre."

Experienced Irish novelist Cathy Kelly, 33, is also nominated for her fourth novel Someone Like You.

She too described the work as a romance firmly rooted in reality.

"The women in the book have horrible guys in their lives and meet nice guys but it is about real life.

"My father had Alzheimer's and one of the characters does too.

"I felt this was a way of helping people understand the illness and it was a cathartic experience for me."

The other shortlisted novels are The Love Knot by Charlotte Bingham, The Seasons Will Pass by Audrey Howard, Getting Over It by Anna Maxted, and The Kindly Ones by Caroline Stickland.

See also:

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21 May 00 | UK
The grand dame of romance
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