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.

Francois Hollande and his then partner Valerie Trierweiler greet thousands of gathered supporters at Place de la Bastille after victory in French Presidential Elections on May, 2012

Valerie Trierweiler: Former French First Lady set to pen a tell-all book about the Francois Hollande affair and her time at the Elysee

In interviews published today, Trierweiler says she “fell from a skyscraper” when she learned that Hollande was having an affair with an actress

Wave goodbye: Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler have officially separated

End of the affair as François Hollande vows to live the single life for the rest of his Élysée term after separation from Valérie Trierweiler

President François Hollande, the man who never married, is a bachelor again.

Portfolio: Christian Jankowski reinvigorates interest in Poland's monuments with the help of champion weightlifters

Destroyed by the Second World War, and still raw from both Nazi occupation and its subsequent 45 years of Soviet rule, Warsaw is a city whose history is writ large upon its public spaces.

President François Hollande and First Lady Valérie Trierweiler

Valérie Trierweiler loses First Lady status as President Hollande confirms separation

It is understood that she refused to put her name to the declaration

Marina Ginesta: Socialist activist whose photograph became one of the most memorable images of the Spanish Civil War

When Marina Ginesta heard on 18 July 1936 that the Spanish military had risen against the country's democratically elected government, her first thought was that the army's rebellion was to stop the People's Olympiad, the alternative Olympic Games in Barcelona planned in protest against those held in Nazi Germany in the same summer. "We had no idea what was really happening, we were that innocent," Ginesta, then a member of Spain's Socialist Youth movement and helping to organise the Olympiad, recalled.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: As it is, Ed Miliband’s language fails – another sobering Commons tale

“The press was squared / the middle class was quite prepared.” Hilaire Belloc’s words about another Prime Ministerial hopeful could have been written for Ed Miliband this week. How better to describe his article in the Daily Telegraph, no less, promising to “save the middle class”?

François Hollande's alleged mistress Julie Gayet 'blocked from arts jury'

The actress was expected to be appointed to a jury responsible for selecting state funded scholarships for the Villa Medic academy in Rome

Arthur Scargill at a public meeting in London on the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike in 2009

Former NUM leader Arthur Scargill 'tried to buy London flat under Margaret Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme'

Miners' union general secretary Chris Kitchen: 'Unfortunately the perception I had of Arthur the great trade unionist, socialist, just is nothing like the reality as to the man that I know now'

Reporters raise their hands during French President Francois Hollande's annual news conference

French President François Hollande rebuffs media on alleged affair with Julie Gayet: 'These are painful moments, but private matters should be dealt with privately'

This being France, the President escaped close inspection of his private life at a long-awaited press conference. Instead, he talked about his plan to slash state spending. John Lichfield reports from the Elysee Palace

'Anti-Semitic' comic Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala's show banned hours after Nantes court said it could go ahead

Riot police carrying shields blocked access to the Zenith theatre as supporters arrived to protest decision

The pope has a lamb put around his neck by a woman dressed as a character from the nativity scene at Church of St Alfonso Maria dei Liguori in the outskirts of Rome

Pope Francis lambasts the rich and reminds the world of what matters most

The head of the Church makes a simple point: Modern society is putty in the hands of the wealthy

Thomas Hitzlsperger with the Germany team

Thomas Hitzlsperger gay: The reaction in Germany after former Aston Villa player comes out

The former midfielder, who was capped 52 times by Germany, has received widespread support

Mr Hollande is accused of abandoning his 'anti-finance' election promises

Francois Hollande makes drastic U-turn on tax cuts and welfare in bid to save presidency

President says he  is ready to axe the ‘excesses and abuses’ of France’s social model

Awkward positioning: Francois Hollande goes for a handshake with Austrian President Heinz Fischer but misses the target

Let’s (not) shake on it! Pictures of international snubs prove François Hollande’s popularity problem

Images add insult to ignominy for the man who polls suggest is now the most unpopular French president in history

France approves Francois Hollande's 75% 'millionaire tax'

Constitutional council says super tax on salaries above €1 million is legal

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

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Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick