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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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee