I’m going to start with the second most romantic gesture I’ve ever received (because I’m like that!) I once received from a boyfriend, for my birthday, a beautiful, specially commissioned pen and ink drawing. It was beautifully framed and the artwork was exquisite but that was not the most special thing. The most special thing was that the drawing was of all the main characters from a story I’d written, a story I still absolutely love and so want to have published one day. The amazing thing was that the boyfriend in question had never read the story, yet the figures and the atmosphere in the picture were spot-on. He said he’d just listened when I talked about it! Either he was a REALLY good listener or I just talk too much. Anyway, that was a very thoughtful, romantic gesture. Which brings me on to the MOST romantic gesture… Well, I haven’t received it yet of course! But I’m looking forward to it.
ADELE PARKS, author of If You Go Away
I’ve tried very hard to think about the one big romantic gesture that swept me off my feet and left me breathless, but I can’t. It’s not that my husband is unromantic – far from it – but I’ve realized his gestures to show his love for me tend to be small and endless, rather than grand and spasmodic. His actions are not gestures, their meaningful actions designed to make me as happy as possible as constantly as possible. Our days are full of texting, laughing, teasing, listening. He’ll light candles, run baths and buy me flowers when it’s not my birthday but maybe just a bad day.
ROSANNA LEY, author of The Saffron Trail
I woke up one Valentine’s morning to find my bedroom strewn with pink paper hearts. They were everywhere; heart-garlands hanging from the walls, hearts poking out from behind the wardrobe, hearts inside the chest of drawers, even hearts under my pillow. On the bed was a small cassette. My boyfriend had gone to work. I listened to the cassette with trepidation. What might it be? A love poem recited? An invitation to a swanky restaurant? A proposal?
It was one of my favourite songs: ‘My Girl’ sung and recorded by my boyfriend. He had a great voice and he had gone to SO much trouble. I would love to tell you that we got married the following year and lived happily ever after. But sadly, romantic gestures cannot stand alone and we split up two weeks later… I still smile though when I hear that song. Right romantic gesture, wrong man. What can I say..?
CLÉLIE AVIT, author of I’m Still Here
Just some weeks ago, my soon-to-be husband, getting on one knee and promising me to marry me this summer in the mountains because he knows I have always dreamt of it.
MARINA FIORATO, author of The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh
I’ve always dreamed about going on the Orient Express – there’s just something so romantic about train travel, and the Orient Express is the ultimate train, a rolling work of art.
On the morning of Valentine’s Day 2014 my husband (film director Sacha Bennett) found babysitters for our children and told me to put on something glamorous. He whisked me off to Victoria Station, where we were conducted (by liveried guards!) to board the world’s most famous train.
We couldn’t quite make it to Venice or Istanbul on that occasion, as we both had work commitments not to mention two school-age kids, but we had a lovely morning pootling around the picturesque counties in the south of England. We had a private compartment complete with art deco marquetry and Lalique sconces, and the service was amazing. Our own steward served us an eight course brunch and as much Buck’s Fizz as we could drink (which was a LOT).
It was so lovely of my husband to surprise me in this way, but I had a surprise of my own up my sleeve – the first proof of my novel Beatrice and Benedick had arrived that morning, and I gave it to him over brunch. He started to leaf through it and saw the dedication – ‘To Sacha, who is my Benedick’. I’m not ashamed to say that we both cried!
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