Nothing is more irritating for novelists than the expectation of the public that they will remain true to previous form in every way. Publishers in particular are keen on consistency. There is always great in-house consternation when novelists who have built up a following and become profitable with one kind of novel suddenly produce a quite different sort. The usual fans will be alienated and new ones hard to attract. It is those novelists who go on delivering the same goods successfully who are most prized by publishers, and also, to a certain extent, by readers. Everyone knows where they are with, for example, the excellent Anita Brookner – no danger there that she’s suddenly going to go berserk and start turning out, say, magic realism.