Author Francesca Segal has insisted it would be a "mistake" if her critically acclaimed debut novel The Innocents triumphed in the prestigious Costa Book of the Year awards.
Segal's debut won the first novel category in the first stage of the 2012 Costa Book awards last night (January 2), meaning it will now go through for a chance to take the top prize, Book of the Year.
The Innocents, a modern day take on Edith Wharton's classic The Age of Innocence, faces competition from double Booker-winning author Hilary Mantel, a firm favourite to take the 2012 prize for her latest book Bring Up The Bodies.
Francesca is overwhelmed by the universal prize for her novel which the Costa judges called a “perfect miniature of the world it portrays” adding it was “hard to believe” this was Segal’s first effort.
The author told the Evening Standard: "If I win, I’d think they’d made a terrible mistake. I’d have the most dreadful imposter syndrome. When I heard I was on the shortlist for my category I thought, ‘This is enough’."
"It surpasses anything I have ever dreamed of. To have won it is such an extraordinary feeling and I can’t even imagine winning overall.”
Up against Segal and Mantel are husband and wife team Mary and Bryan Talbot, who took the biography award for Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes, poet Kathleen Jamie for The Overhaul and Sally Gardner who won the children’s book category with Maggot Moon. The winner will be announced in a ceremony on January 29.