Ian McEwan's new novel, The Children's Act, portrays the conflict between religious belief and medical procedure.
The new bok from the best-selling author of Atonement, Saturday, and On Chesil Beach is due in September and sees UK High Court judge Fiona Maye presiding over cases in the family court.
However, her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.
At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life.
McEwan has long been fascinated by issues relating to death and dying. A patron of Dignity in Dying, in 2011 he discussed his own death in an interview with The Telegraph.
"Actually I would rather be awake, " he revealed. "Peacefully awake, brim full of some calming drug that was seeing me out of the door, having said my farewells."