The book, which started life in The Independent, has sold over 750,000 copies. The British Book Awards, which are chosen by the publishing and bookselling industry and do not carry a cash prize, also honoured Jilly Cooper with a lifetime achievement award.
Louis de Bernieres won the Author of the Year award. His novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin has been in the bestsellers lists since 1995. He beat other acclaimed authors including Arundhati Roy, Bill Bryson, Shirley Hughes and Iain Banks.The awards ceremony took place at the Hilton Hotel in London.