Former Tring resident writes UK’s first ‘Covid novel’

Tales from Lindford is the fourth novel in the Lindchester Chronicles by Catherine Fox

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 10:52 am

A woman who spent much of the 1980s in Tring, where her father the Rev Humphreys was pastor at the Baptist Church in the town, has written a delightfully upbeat novel chronicling life in a small Cathedral and University city during the pandemic, the first full length ‘Covid novel’ to be published conventionally in the UK.

Catherine Fox, 59, first published Tales from Lindford week by week on her blog during 2020, opening quietly when, ‘with barely a jingle of harness, another horseman of the apocalypse sets out to ride in a distant province of China.’

As the months unfold, the novel traces the impact of the virus on the lives of all those who live and work in Lindford, from the Bishop and University academics, to the nurses, hairdressers, Cathedral musicians and schoolchildren, sharing their fears and frustrations along the way.

Tring Catherine Fox (C) Gary Hibbert
Tring Catherine Fox (C) Gary Hibbert

Gradually, the community pulls together and learns to cope with Zoom meetings, face masks and home-schooling, with some households full to bursting and others forced to spend lockdown alone.

Just as the pandemic stretches some relationships to breaking-point, it breathes new life into others and shows that love can blossom when least expected.

Mother of two, Fox is academic director of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and is married to the Anglican Bishop of Sheffield.

Fans of her Lindchester Chronicles series - of which Tales from Lindford is the fourth - have described her as ‘a 21st Century Trollope, only funnier’ – a reference to the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, whose Chronicles of Barsetshire (dramatized by BBC TV in the 1980s as the Barchester Chronicles) gently satirised the C of E of his day.

While readers familiar with the church calendar will particularly enjoy Fox’s writing, which has been praised by Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury as full of 'immense compassion, unsentimental faith and an impressively undisciplined humour,’ anyone with an irreverent sense of fun and a willingness to forgive human failings, will love it too.

Tales from Lindford by Catherine Fox is published in paperback by Marylebone House, and is out now.