You are here

Weekly Roundup: Christmas stocking fillers, the Booker Bridesmaid and handy household items.

Weekly Roundup: Christmas stocking fillers, the Booker Bridesmaid and handy household items.

In rounding up the best of the year's fiction to be trussed up and deposited in Christmas stockings, Justine Jordan in the Guardian went straight to the one-stop shop that is the Man Booker Prize. Top of the tree, unsurprisingly, was Hilary Mantel and then the next tier of branches was filled by this year's shortlistees Alison Moore, Deborah Levy and Will Self. The lower branches were hung with Man Booker alumni Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Rose Tremain and Irvine Welsh. If only present buying were always so easy.

Beryl Bainbridge, aka “the Booker Bridesmaid” on account of her being shortlisted for the prize five times but never winning, had a little-known form of consolation: she was a painter. She started while an actress in Liverpool and continued with some guidance of her husband, the professional artist Austin Davies. Bainbridge's artistic career has just been chronicled by her friend Psiche Hughes in Beryl Bainbridge: Artist, Writer, Friend (Thames & Hudson) and some of her pictures are about to feature in an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool –  “Beryl Bainbridge, painter” (7th December-28th April 2013). The book world's gain was the art world's loss: the pictures are suitably quirky and often feature family, lovers and, one for the psychiatrists, Napoleon.

For reasons that were no doubt clear to them – if not to anyone else – the Telegraph asked four writers to choose their favourite household item. In response to this curious request Hilary Mantel obligingly rummaged round her house and came up with the bread knife she bought in 1971 and with which she has sliced her way through the succeeding 40 years, Nicola Barker (Man Booker shortlisted 2007, longlisted this year) plumped for Maris Piper potatoes since she is, yikes, “severely gluten, corn, soya, nut and rice intolerant, a type-two diabetic and a lifelong vegetarian”. For the record Joyce Carol Oates picked her quilt and Marine Lewycka her antique bentwood chair.