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.

600 members of the public will be allowed access to the site at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

Who would live in a house like this? Inside the Big Brother house before it becomes a National Trust property

Paul Gallagher gets a sneak tour of Elstree studios propety

'A puerile and irrelevant project': Verdict on the National Trust’s controversial partnership with reality TV show Big Brother - by a Tory MP

Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski criticises 'cost-neutral' move as charity attempts to attract younger people to heritage sites

She's lovin' it: How a trip to a McDonald's Drive-Thru led to an unlikely love of super-size grasses

The McDonald's Drive-Thru Garden: how does that sound? I've been doing some automobile-based garden visiting. Not quite visiting, I suppose, if you don't actually get out of the car. But a McDonald's Drive-Thru is, I think, pretty much predicated upon the idea of you not getting out of the car. It also possesses a totally surprising and rather nicely planted little garden, deftly placed between the order microphone and the paying window. Pieces of broken black slate on the ground, red-leaved cordyline, a deeply lobed black-leaved elder that throws up raspberry tones in bright sunlight and, this time of year, pale wheaty festuca grasses.

Living museum: The owners have lavished Montpellier House with collectibles

Stay the Night: Montpellier House, Cheltenham

A tired hotel in the town’s smartest neighbourhood has been converted into an impressive holiday let, says Sophie Lam

Postcard from... Galicia

A literary hot tub on offer at Wigtown Book Festival

Book lovers will be able to share a jacuzzi with the literati for the first time

Goulding judged for over 40 years at The Chelsea Flower Show

Michael Goulding: Flower arranger who served the Queen and nine prime ministers

Michael Goulding was a flower arranger to royalty and to nine successive Prime Ministers and their wives, from Macmillan to Major. They were all interested in flowers: Alec Douglas-Home used to rearrange Goulding's flowers when he left the room; Dorothy Macmillan would bring flowers from Birch Grove for Goulding to arrange – when he got them they were often dead. Margaret Thatcher took a great interest in his flowers, and put his name forward for a Queen's Birthday Honours award.

The Business Matrix: Tuesday 17 September 2013

Coutts overtakes RBS for assets

Jos Buttler hits out against Australia in Cardiff

England vs Australia ODI: Anything is possible for Jos Buttler the fearless

Series still to play for after another thrilling innings from England’s fastest run-maker

Tony Blair's eldest son Euan weds at ceremony near family's multi-million pound mansion

Euan Blair and Suzanne Ashman have been dating for eight years, having been introduced by former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon

An injured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev emerges from the boat where he had been hiding - a sniper's red dot can be seen on his head

Boston bombings: photos from public wanted for calender of pictures from Tsarnaev manhunt

Calender will feature photos of police during the manhunt for the brothers suspected of detonating bombs at the Boston Marathon

The villa in the resort of Dalyan, Turkey, where the shooting took place

Turkish villa shootings: Father of suspect says argument over secret relationship led to Catherine Anne Bury’s death

Veli Acar allegedly told police the shootings were a 'crime of passion' against his lover, but the family deny any romantic attachment

London's first cat café gets green light

New high street experience finally receives planning permission and announces location on Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch, London

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Lena Dunham
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A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
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Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
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Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
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Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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