Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

Six Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

Important new discoveries about Van Gogh's 'unknown' Sunflower paintings revealed

An expert on Vincent van Gogh has tracked down two “unknown” Sunflowers, and has revealed an image of the work destroyed in the Second World War never seen outside Japan.

Portugal's Ria Formosa: Spot the exotic visitors as they fly in

Birds and planes are major features of the Ria Formosa. Sophie Lam takes to the water to explore this extraordinary lagoon

Weekend work: Time to divide bearded irises

What to do

Put some cream on it - that'll make it better! Hospital's own brand of moisturiser goes on sale to remedy funding gap

Trust managers are confident they can sell 20,000-30,000 bottles required to make profit

Hungry bumblebees travel more than a mile to find food

Honey, I’m just popping out for some pollen. I may bee some time...

Insect forced to travel more than a mile to find food, study finds

Review: Plants Vs Zombies 2

David Phelan explores the world of zombies, explosive potatoes and in-app purchases

Review: Plants Vs Zombies 2

David Phelan explores the world of zombies, explosive potatoes and in-app purchases

Weekend work: Time to re-pot cyclamen corms

What to do

Great works: Onions (1881) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Kimbell Art Museum, Texas

Weekend work: Time to prune climbing roses

What to do

The Welsh dragon: rare tree returns to the Valleys

A tree facing extinction in its native Canary Islands has flowered in Wales for the first time in 25 years.

Andy Murray and heatwave give retailers summer lift

Retailers enjoyed their best July for seven years after the heatwave drove scorching sales of barbecue food, summer clothing and outdoor furniture in a “golden month”.

The 10 Best oils and serums

Learn the true meaning of beauty sleep with a selection of nourishing  and rejuvenating overnight products

Council hunts cannabis cultivating culprits after Newport plant pots display planted pot

By the time the police had been informed the plants had already been harvested

Anna Pavord's A to Z of pests and problems: N is for neighbours, nettles and nutrient deficiency

Our green-fingered correspondent Anna Pavord continues her A-Z of horticultural pests and problems standing between you and your perfect garden

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Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
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Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star