Books Articles

Our favourite nails in novels

From work-worn nails to perfect manicures and silver acrylics

Generation X

By Douglas Coupland (£8.99, Abacus). People could accuse the three characters in Douglas Coupland’s era-defining novel of being proto-hipsters whose lives drift, but there is some romantic intrigue. Dag is hopelessly in love with Elvissa, a friend of Claire’s and a fan of a pink nail polish colour called Honolulu Choo Choo. One day, Elvissa vanishes. Claire discovers Elvissa’s whereabouts when she falls asleep in the New York town house belonging to her on-off man Tobias. Dozily, Claire reaches for a potato chip. Behind the bag is a bottle of Honolulu Choo Choo nail polish.

Anybody Out There

Marian Keyes (£7.09, Penguin). The fourth in Marian Keyes’ books about the Walsh sisters focuses on sweet-natured Anna. Anna loses her much-loved husband in a car accident and, although we know this at the beginning of the novel, much of the story is told in flashback. Anna is a beauty PR for a brand called Candy Grrrl and she’s forced to dress to match the kooky branding. When she first meets her future husband she’s wearing long acrylic nails painted in a silver shade called Candy Wrapper.

The Camomile Lawn

By Mary Wesley (£8.99, Vintage). Frank, full of sex and delicious early 20th century upper-class slang, The Camomile Lawn is a firm favourite for many. The central characters are a group of cousins, used to gathering every summer at their aunt’s house in Cornwall. The prettiest of the set is Calypso, who can be somewhat shallow. “Her dreadful red mouth and nails and excess face powder could not spoil her beauty,” notes Aunt Helena.

The Help

By Katherine Stockett (£7.65, Penguin). The state of a person’s nails says a lot in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. Awkward wannabe-writer Skeeter bites her nails, whilst the domestic servants Aibileen and Minny have nails worn down by housekeeping. Hopeless sweetie Celia matches her nail polish exactly to her over-bright dresses, and uptight b**ch Hilly has the perfect manicure of a mean girl-Southern Lady.

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