BEST-SELLING author Jilly Cooper's Riders, which was almost never published after she lost the manuscript, has been voted women's favourite-ever beach read.
The "bonkbuster" topped the female best-reads charts in a survey of 4,000 people which saw Nick Hornby's High Fidelity take top spot for men.
But yesterday Jilly, 67, revealed how she accidentally sabotaged her own novel while celebrating finishing the manuscript.
She completed Riders in 1970 and marked the achievement by inviting her closest girlfriends to "a long, boozy lunch" in London.
It was not until she boarded the train home that Jilly realised with horror that she had mislaid the 700-page manuscript.
In those pre-PC days, it was back to the drawing board - and the novel was not published until 1985.
Jilly said, "This is terribly exciting. There's a lot of history to that book."
Riders beat Bridget Jones's Diary, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans and Chocolat by Joanne Harris to the best women's beach read in the Tesco.com poll.
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby's novel about rock-obsessed Rob Fleming, owner of a failing record shop and his romantic failures and successes, was voted men's favourite beach read.
The book, made into a film starring John Cusack, Jack Black and Catherine Zeta-Jones, beat John Grisham's legal thriller The Firm, Lord of the Rings, Nick Hornby's football-themed bestseller Fever Pitch and Alex Garland's cult read The Beach.
Nick Hornby said, "I'm very surprised, really. Who'd have thought that someone would want to lie under sunny Mediterranean skies reading about someone being miserable in North London pubs and clubs?
"It just goes to show, I think, that men aren't very good at holidays."
He admitted he reads on the beach, but prefers "longer books - things that would take an eternity to get through under normal domestic circumstances.
"I read Our Mutual Friend and Martin Chuzzlewit on holiday. Dickens is the best beach author of all time."