Arts and Entertainment

Sweetness and light among shame and confusion. The greatest of all novels is Leo Tolstoy's final novel, Resurrection. Its effect upon a reader is immense and immediate. Even after eight readings of various translations, I continue to feel its spell and admire its complexity.

Readers' lives; This month: Lunch

This week's winner

Letter: Frozen points

Sir: Evidently Western Siberian Rail was running on time in 1942. I doubt whether Tadeusz Stachowski (letter, 12 November) would be alive to tell the tale of his sub-zero wait on the platform were they under the auspices of today's British railway companies.

Letter: Deep freeze

Sir: Steve Connor writes in "Scott of the Antarctic was killed by a cold snap" (9 November) that the temperature fell to -30F/-34C, with a wind chill factor which must have felt like -45C. The readings quoted are not terribly impressive. I experienced -55C at the Yalutorovsk station in western Siberia while waiting for a train in February 1942. I am still alive to tell the tale.

Travel books: Landscapes and memories

Lilian Pizzichini reviews three books about journeys haunted by ghosts of the past

Russia's Gurkhas: the Cossacks bounce back

Historical Notes

London missed obliteration by four hours

IF YOU were in London on 30 June 1908, you are astronomically lucky to be alive. That day a comet vaporised over Tunguska, Siberia, releasing as much energy as a 12-megaton atom bomb - 1,000 times more powerful than Hiroshima's blast.

Country and Garden: Weekend Work

FORCED HYACINTHS are already available for potting up, though there is no way that I will get round to this job yet. It brings Christmas too close. But if you want to give them as Christmas presents, set bulbs about half an inch apart in a bowl of compost with their noses just showing. Bury the bowl under soil or sand or keep in a cool place indoors.

Books: Over the rainbow

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami Harvill, pounds 9.99, 192pp: Aamer Hussein finds a fairy-tale at the end of a Japanese dream

Books: A Siberian in Paris

The Books Interview: Andrei Makine swapped rootless Russia for lonely Pigalle - and for a fame that he detests.

Former Soviet Union: That Summer: Altai mountains, Russia, 1995: Siberia, where even bears have bad breath

We'd planned a trip to the mountains and Lake Teletskoye - but we hadn't bargained on getting so close to the wildlife.

Film: In Cannes, a tsar is born

The Russians are coming to the film festival - but don't expect a united front.

Rugby League: Thunder in the sun

Gateshead 22

Wednesday Books: Lives fashioned in exile

DESERT FLOWER BY WARIS DIRIE, VIRAGO, pounds 10.99 SIBERIAN DREAM BY IRINA PANTAEVA, BANTAM, pounds 6.99

Englishman takes dogs out for 1,161 mile walkies across the frozen north

SOME TIME today, if all goes according to plan, a lone exhausted Englishman and his 10 remaining sled dogs will stagger into the Alaskan town of Nome at the end of an epic 1,161-mile race through some of the worst weather the frozen north can throw.

Resign? Over his dead body

Boris Yeltsin is a hobbled figure on the world stage. He has survived double pneumonia, bronchitis, heart trouble and a bleeding ulcer, yet he is a political corpse, hated at home, a laughing stock abroad. And the vultures are hovering. So why is he hanging on to power?
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there