Annabel's House of Books

Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

A night out in London

I was lucky enough to be invited to the annual Harper Collins summer party last night, held in the Orangery at Kensington Palace. For once the sun shone, and the evening was perfect for strolling in the gardens amongst literary types. I felt terribly flattered to be asked, but being a bit shy I hovered at lot at first. There were champagne, cocktails, sushi, canapés, choux bun towers, and celebs aplenty.  In my pic below towards the left, there is a lady in red talking to a lady in yellow… the one in red was Fern Britton looking lovely, (but I didn’t dare barge in on her, ditto Jo Wood).I did, however, get to talk to the children’s illustrator and author Michael Foreman who was telling me how he put his children into his pictures in his lovely Nursery Rhymes book, (which my daughter loved as a toddler). I also talked briefly with the historian Juliet Gardiner whose book The Thirties is in my TBR. She is one of the experts in the BBC TV series Turn Back Time: The High Street & now The Family which started this week.

Then I finally met someone I knew (phew!), Jackie from Farm Lane Books, and together we went celeb spotting. Seeing Fay Ripley (tiny), Lorraine Pascal (gorgeous, toothsome and tall), restaurant critic William Sitwell (who was tucking into the Sushi). There were loads of non-TV authors there too – thriller writers Boris Starling and Charles Cumming, Ronan Bennett are just a few I remember spotting.  But enough name-dropping …

It was nice to talk to some other less well-known authors like Fiona Gibson, who writes as she put it, ‘Mum-Lit that you can get in supermarkets’. We had a great chat mainly about other things including our mutual love of older children’s book Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls.  I also met debut authors Sam Thompson, whose first novel Communion Town is out next week, and Tony Macauley, who has written a memoir of growing up happily in Belfast in the 1970s. All the authors I talked to were also fascinated by blogging as well and recognised the value of bloggers, (can you feel my head swelling?!?), but it is truly lovely to get that validation – thank you.

It was an experience to be in this company – I can assure you I’m not used to it, and thank you to Harper Collins for inviting me.    I’ll leave you with a picture of the interior of the Orangery which is rather magnificent.

17 Comments

  1. The Orangery looks beautiful! And such a lovely day to have a party too! It’s nice that you had some company at this do and I’m very impressed you actually talked to some authors Annabel!

    • gaskella

      June 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      It was a fabulous venue.and we were so lucky with the weather. I’m getting slightly better at talking to authors – realising that half of them are as shy as I/we am/are.

  2. Some serious envy coming your way, not the least because we were doing some pretty heavyweight paddling around about the same time.

  3. It looks beautiful, it sounds great and was obviously a fabulous experience. Glad to hear you got positive comments about your blogging – thoroughly deserved in my view. As I write this comment it’s almost dinner time – so the delicious food you describe has also given me an appetite!!(Not that I need much help of I’m honest!!!)

    • gaskella

      June 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Thanks Col. The authors appreciate all bloggers – recognising the value of word of mouth/blog – so we should all get a pat on the back.

      Enjoy your dinner. Hope you’ve recovered from the IoW. One day I will get to see Springsteen, but suspect it won’t be until my daughter’s at Uni and that’s 8 yrs away – he’d be in his 70s!

  4. It is amazing to be invited to events like this, but I’m very glad I met you there – going up to strangers takes a lot of courage and I was thouroughly drained after an hour of socialising. You really should have tried the sushi – it was just as good as the cakes :-)

    Look forward to seeing you again soon!

  5. Ahhh….It was spectacular living vicariously through you even for just this post! Thank you! The Orangery and bookish talk, what a terrific evening :)

  6. what a lovely venue I love to go to london and to meet other bloggers is always fun ,all the best stu

    • gaskella

      June 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      We should arrange another bloggers event in London – we did one a couple of years ago, and if you’re ever passing Oxford way I’d love to meet up Stu.

  7. This sounds wonderful, what a perfect venue, how wonderful to be invited to this.

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