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.

Indonesia abduction: Kidnapped oil worker Malcolm Primrose released by armed captors and reunited with family

A British oil worker kidnapped in Indonesia has been reunited with his family after a two-day ordeal.

34 per cent of colonies failed to make it through the winter

A third of Britain's bee colonies perish in wettest summer in a century

A third of Britain's honeybee colonies perished in the winter following the wettest summer in 100 years last year, according to a new survey.

Wait and see: The joys of a slow-blooming peony

There are seven big buds on my peony "Sarah Bernhardt". I've just counted them. I've been waiting several whole summers for this. And you do wait a long time for peonies. You can occasionally find yourself feeling like the End Times will approach and the Sun and the Moon and the stars will all go dim before the peonies get themselves going. Here come the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! Oh well, that's very inconvenient timing, because my "Bowl of Beauty" just decided to open.

And the gold goes to: Anna Pavord picks her favourites from the Chelsea Flower Show

Gold medals were scattered around the Chelsea Flower Show this year like petals falling from the apple blossom. In 2009, for instance, only three of the 13 show gardens got the top award. This year, 10 out of 15 did. And you can't suppose that this largesse was the result of a particularly good lunch on the judges' part. The panel meets at the cheerless hour of 8.30am on Monday, the day before the show officially opens.

Tom Sharpe arrived in Dorset shortly after the publication of Wilt, settling in a house on the edge of Bridport

In brief: Tom Sharpe

Tom Sharpe (obituary, 7 June) arrived in Dorset shortly after the publication of Wilt, settling in a house on the edge of Bridport.

A bumblebee species that had become extinct in Britain will get a second chance when a new generation of queens is released in the south-east of England

Short-haired bumblebees to be released on nature reserve in project which could help reverse UK decline

A bumblebee species that had become extinct in Britain will get a second chance on Monday when a new generation of queens is released in the south-east of England.

Editorial: Let our verges run wild

Roadsides could provide us with wild strawberries, sorrel and elderflowers
Kingsway Dalston

Mown down: The wildlife toll on UK's roadsides

Our obsession with neatness is harming plants, bees and butterflies

The listed Merchant’s House

B&B and Beyond: Merchant's House, Frome

As the Glastonbury masses prepare to descend on Somerset, Laura Holt explores a more serene corner of the county

Five-minute memoir: Isabelle Grey is driven to distraction after passing her test

On the open road, Isabelle Grey was ready for anything. Except this.

Over the course of spring and summer, a female lily beetle can lay 200-300 eggs

The Playlist:Black Manila / Melvins / Ciara

The songs that are hot on our playlist this week

Eurovison boosts Waitrose's profits thanks to sales of meatballs and Danish pastries

If you’re going to stay in for an evening of cheesy pop, camp presenters and political voting à la Eurovision, you  may as well munch on the continent’s finest cuisine.

Chris Durban beside a U-534

Chris Durban: I sank a German U-boat in 1943, I was just 20-years-old and terrified

As we prepare to celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Battle of the Atlantic tomorrow, Nicholas Milton speaks to a 90-year-old naval veteran about the psychological impact of fighting the Axis' stealthiest weapons

Director of Fleming's nurseries Wes Fleming celebrating the Trailfinders Australian Garden winning the gold medal and Best in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea Flower Show: A blooming century lit up by tweed and Pimm’s

After 100 years, the show has qualified for a message from the Queen – and, writes Tom Peck, it’s still going strong

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter make a mad 320-metre, 75-step dash to work
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK edition of wedding show forced to recast after wave of drop-outs
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
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Independent Travel
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Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week