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

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Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum