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Dirty Work: A Novel by Gabriel Weston
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Dirty Work: A Novel

by Gabriel Weston

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
NOTE: I never received this book as part of the Early Review program. I took it upon myself to borrow it from a local library 2 1/2 years after I was supposed to receive it (July 2014).

When we first meet Nancy Mullion, she is in the middle of a botched abortion. Her patient is bleeding out and she can't stop it. Subsequently, there is a four month medical tribunal; an inquisition where Nancy's actions are scrutinized to determine if she is competent to continue practicing medicine. Throughout her trial, Nancy flashes back to her childhood and the traumas she suffered as a young girl in England. The writing is fuzzy in the flashbacks. Weston purposefully keeps the abuse vague. Here's what we know about the first incident; we know Mullion was a very small child; too small to sit properly on a bar stool or hold a rubber ball in her tiny grasp. Weston emphasizes this point further to say Mullion's hand is so small it cannot encircle the bartender's penis. What? All in all, I thought Dirty Work was very disjointed in plot and character development. Weston is vague beyond being clever but one thing is clear - abortion is a stronger character than Doctor Nancy Mullion. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 3, 2017 |
Hard to review this book without an ideological lens. It was engrossing, well-written, and an interesting mix of the character's current life and childhood.

But when I got to the graphic descriptions of abortion I had a hard time. I have no idea if this was over the top and thus a disguised anti-abortion screed from a doctor with limited abortion experience, if any (she's an ENT doc after all).

so I just don't know, but for this reason I wouldn't recommend the book to a friend. ( )
  bobbieharv | Feb 9, 2015 |
I’m not sure what I think of Dirty Work—for one thing, I hate the title! I kind of wish it had been a memoir written by an OB/GYN rather than a novel, by an ENT….Nancy was just too confusing as a character. And did she actually personally experience an abortion, or a miscarriage, or what? Couldn’t quite figure that out. I sort of think she wanted to be lots more on the side of knowing her patients—would that help with her doing “her job?” And I do think all OB/GYN doctors should have training in stopping pregnancies—if they don’t want to understand the whole picture they shouldn’t be OB/GYNs. I think “abortion” has been given a terrible picture in this current climate where women are really at the bottom of the heap in so many things. I think I blame most of this on MEN. Oh well. ( )
  nyiper | Aug 29, 2014 |
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"An informed and arresting debut novel about a young surgeon in crisis, by a writer whose "exactitude of expression is rare and uncanny." (Rachel Cusk) Nancy Mullion, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose botched surgery has put a patient in a life-threatening coma, must face a medical tribunal to determine if she can continue to practice medicine. Nancy's fears about both her patient's chances for survival and whether she will be "undoctored" are made palpable to the reader. Throughout four weeks of intense questioning and accusations, this physician directly confronts for the first time her work as an abortion provider--how it helps the lives of others but takes a heavy toll on her own. Interweaving memories of Nancy's English and American childhood andadolescence, Dirty Work creates an emotionally charged portrait of one woman's life; the telling of seemingly untellable stories sets her free, as it can all women. Gabriel Weston has given us a truly original, courageous, and meaningful novel. "--… (more)

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