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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Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
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General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power