Apparently we're ready for the Coronavirus pandemic to feature in our novel reading. This autumn a number of big name authors are releasing work inspired by the past 18 months.

I remember a debate a little while ago where publishers and authors considered when it might be appropriate or desirable for this global crisis to feature as entertainment or distraction.

It wasn't something I thought I'd be eager to explore. However, having recently received advance copies of three novels soon to be released, I succumbed to curiousity and have been both surprised and a little perturbed.

The novels were variously a murder mystery (Louise Penny 'The Madness of Crowds'), a literary novella on community and survival (Sarah Moss 'The Fell') and a romantic blockbuster celebrating the human spirit (Jodi Picoult 'Wish You Were Here').

Each one proved gripping, consuming and thought-provoking in different ways.

It's right that we look to novels to investigate moral dilemmas, to feel empathy for decisions and responses opposed to our own, and to be introduced to new experiences.

But when a crisis has affected, and continues to affect, so many people so deeply, it feels insensitive to rattle on about the characterisation or the scene-setting when the plot delves into covid deaths, mental illness, isolation and financial hardship, or the morality of euthanasia.

Or is the novel the perfect environment to ponder these issues in a safe space?

Thank you for reading.