Counting the Stars, By Helen Dunmore

Catullus was early Rome’s most revered and reviled poet. From the first page of this intriguing new novel about his love affair with the woman whose identity he encoded as “Lesbia”, Helen Dunmore captures vividly both the poet’s tone and the heightened, overheated world of Julius Caesar’s Rome.

One Minute With... Kate Williams

Leading article: Offal tasty

Depending on your point of view, offal is either a heavenly delicacy which no serious diner could spot on the menu and forgo, or it constitutes the suspicious smelling parts of an animal that no sane eater would willingly thrusting between his or her lips.

Prom 20: BBC SO / Robertson, Royal Albert Hall, London

Considering that an accurate performance of its intricate interactions seemed barely possible when Stockhausen completed it in 1957, Gruppen for three orchestras (1955-7) has done rather well here, periodically drawing rather large audiences.

The Cherry Orchard, Festival Theatre, Chichester

An orchard that bears little fruit

Barry Douglas, Cadogan Hall, London

One of Barry Douglas's tutors once gave me a revealing character-sketch of his pupil. If you were approaching a narrow passage with him, he said, Barry would be impeccably considerate and courteous. But then you would discover that he had somehow got through first: he always had to be out in front. Which is where this Belfast-born pianist has been ever since he won the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, 22 years ago.

Exclusive: Campbell on the couch

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's spin-doctor and "the second most powerful man in Britain", as he was once dubbed, knew something was desperately wrong when he found himself driving a hire car endlessly around a roundabout.

Miles Kington: Ug, prehistoric detective, is on the case

The people called Ug to come and see the body as he was well known to be interested in death

Lancashire the losers with Symonds close to Australian call-up

Yorkshire 417 & 323-6 Lancashire 537 Match drawn

James Lawton: Eriksson more eloquent than tokenism

Sven Goran Eriksson spoke with great feeling and delicacy when he described the emotions provoked by the visit he made with his players to Auschwitz a few months ago.

Hartlepool gets stuck into MP who cashed chips for gravy train

It is said that Peter Mandelson never endeared himself to his Hartlepool constituents after a story ­ perhaps apocryphal ­ emerged that he confused the fish and chip shop side order of mushy peas with guacamole, a rather more metropolitan delicacy.

Hallé Orchestra / Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

No one in the audience at the Hallé's Maundy Thursday performance of Bach's St John Passion was able to compare Mark Elder's interpretation with that of Hans Richter when this orchestra last programmed it. The St John has been a particularly long time in coming round again - 103 years, in fact - but was well worth the wait. Sometimes a performance speaks from the heart, directly to the heart. This was one of those rare occasions. Elder secured performances of humanity, intelligence and intensity, allowing the Passion story to take shape at a pace that was lively enough to keep the attention focused yet never at the expense of the smallest detail. The coughers were silenced, the rustlers and restless stilled, and the large, responsive, audience was drawn in, from the opening chorus to the final chorale.

MPs in plea to save dolphins

How to be liberal with the truth

Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, dramatises a shadowy side of US history in Americans
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee