Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston
Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston follows the story of Nancy, a gynaecologist and surgeon who finds herself at a turning point in her career.
Since childhood, Nancy was calm when faced with blood, the first time helping a friend with a cut foot, she realised just how much she likes the feeling of helping. After a few years living in America she returned to England and studied to be a doctor. She didn’t choose gynaecology but she found the work rewarding, then one piece of paper changed her life. As she reads the paper asking if she conscientiously objects to abortions an emergency case is rushed in and distracts her.
One thing she does know is that she believes in every woman’s right to have an abortion, especially after having a personal experience in that area. What she never truly considered was the mental effects on a person who carries out this kind of procedure every single day. With her detailed work and care for her clients, she excels in her surgical work and is asked to perform more and more terminations. During one such procedure she starts to feel strange, detached and suddenly her patient is bleeding out on the table…
Gabriel Weston is a highly regarded female surgeon in her own right and her insight into this area must be what makes this novel so incredibly powerful. The novel alternates from Nancy’s childhood, medical training and current life as she waits to hear if she will be struck off by the medical board. Experiences from sexual abuse, unrequited love and insecurities all give you an insight into her psyche. Strong and determined Nancy makes a hugely likeable character which you cannot help but empathise with. Being such an evocative subject Weston has cleverly kept the graphic detail of the termination process itself to one section toward the end of the novel. It is written in italics and can easily be passed by without ruining the structure of the story. Personally, I would not recommend skipping this part. It is hard to read, it’s uncomfortable and brutal but this novel is pushing to expose a truth and ignoring that seems a true shame. This novel is evocative, important and painfully honest, it raises questions we don’t even like to think about, let alone ask and therefore I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.