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.

Weekend work: Time to plant conifers

What to do

So where were you when you heard Lady Thatcher had died? Lady who?

“Her shadow is very long,” someone said on the Huw Edwards special which took over the afternoon schedules – and if you’d been watching the rolling news coverage since the announcement of Baroness Thatcher’s death, you would have felt every inch of it.

Mike Ashley (left) shares the good news with Derek Llambias

Newcastle’s 'financial model' leads to boast of £1.4m profit

Spending structure allows Llambias to show off a club in the black rather than deep in debt

Reindeer were introduced on South Georgia a century ago

South Georgia leads where Britain may follow with mass reindeer cull

British-owned island takes drastic action to stop animals destroying native habitat

Weekend work: Time to split snowdrops

What to do

Splash of colour: work to create a 21st-century pleasure garden will build on the success of the vibrant wildflower meadows that delighted visitors to the Games

Largest urban park in Britain for a century

This time next year the grey concrete space next to the Westfield Stratford shopping centre will be filled with wild flowers, bees, kingfishers and fountains. Work is already under way on what will be the largest new urban park built in the country for a century.

Heathrow hits new passenger peak

British Airways' takeover of rival airline BMI led to fuller and larger planes taking off and landing at Heathrow last month, taking the airport's passengers numbers up to a record 4.85 million.

Weekend work: Time to prune your roses

What to do

My life in travel: Russell Kane

'I've promised myself I'll meet Mickey'

Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode in Stoker

Jonathan Romney on Stoker: Embalming fluid can go a long way

Forget the weird plot and get lost in fabulous visuals and a pouting, simmering Nicole Kidman

Postcard from...Goma

Alexis Barrell spring/summer 2013

Floral prints for Spring: In the night garden

Spring florals are given a dark edge this season with an inky palette and a grown-up flavour

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