At the launch of his new novel, The Book of Gifts, earlier this week, Craig Higginson observed that one of a writer’s most important roles is to “draw connections”. EM Forster’s famous but much misused injunction, “Only connect!”, hovered in the air as Higginson elaborated.

Novelists act like amateur psychologists, conveying to their readers — often allusively, or elusively — how the threads of a story may be drawn together, bringing coherence to what might seem fragmented. It’s not simply a matter of plot. The psyche of a character begins to make sense to us as we observe cause and effect, motivation and action.

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