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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent