As soon as she stopped taking the pills she began to recover, and as soon as she recovered she converted to Catholicism: a major step for a daughter of Presbyterian Edinburgh. “I find Presbyterianism a bit too censorious. It has great qualities, mostly on the side of truthfulness – they’re very truthful in their approach to life, in the sense of moralistic, but it can be a bit arid,” she says. Catholicism entails a very different way of seeing life, but then “I was seeing life differently anyway. That’s why I was happy to be a Catholic: it matched up with the way I was feeling in any case.” The religious turning point also proved an artistic one, releasing her from whatever had been holding her back. Within three years her first novel, The Comforters – about a young woman who “hears” herself being written into a novel – was published to critical acclaim.