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Dirty Work [Hardcover]

Gabriel Weston
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: £14.99
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

Two women in a room.

One is bleeding to death.

The other just sits back and watches.

For both, there is everything to lose.

Surgeons are meant to save lives, but Nancy is a special kind of surgeon. Doctors are meant to be good at reporting the truth, but Nancy’s is an untellable story.

A mistake made in the operating theatre changes all of this. Summoned to explain herself to a tribunal appointed by the General Medical Council, Nancy is forced to consider what it means to be a doctor who has killed as well as cured. And to realise that her own redemption can only come through telling a tale that nobody wants to hear.

Gabriel Weston, author of the acclaimed Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story, winner of the 2010 PEN/Ackerley Prize, has written an extraordinarily moving and powerful novel about a female doctor who performs abortions.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 022409128X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224091282
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 1.8 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A lot of novels are called “brave”, and they aren’t. This one is." (Lionel Shriver)

"A brilliantly intense, thought-provoking story" (Stylist)

"Gripping, well-researched and elegantly written" (Rosamund Urwin Evening Standard, Books of the Year)

"This courageous and interesting author is that unusual thing, a contemporary moralist" (Rachel Cusk Guardian)

"Bold, brave, and uncomfortable… it's a gripping read" (Observer)

Book Description

A powerful, gripping novel that confronts one of the great contemporary taboos head-on. By the author of the brilliant Direct Red.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirty Work 12 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Nancy is a surgeon. She is facing a disciplinary hearing at the hospital where she works because a patient suffered serious bleeding during an abortion which she carried out. The book covers the four weeks of the hearing which we see from Nancy's point of view. During that time she reminisces about what led up to her mistake and how she feels and thinks about her work.

I found this a harrowing read and even though it is fiction it has the ring of truth because its author is herself a surgeon. As a study of how carrying out abortions affects the professionals involved it is devastating and searingly honest. Some of the images are likely to reappear in my nightmares. But this is not an anti-abortion rant dressed up as fiction - it is an absorbing novel which will almost certainly cause you to examine your own views of this always controversial subject.

Whether or not you like the narrator herself, and I didn't always like her, I wanted things to work out somehow for her and for her patient to live. Human beings make mistakes - they are not perfect - it is in how we deal with those mistakes that our level of maturity is revealed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, unnerving, devastatingly honest 12 Jun 2013
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
"Can I not be allowed to tell this truth... no-one expects becoming a doctor to be easy, but I did not expect it to be this hard"

Nancy is a brilliant young doctor and surgeon with a high-flying career in front of her - until, one day, in the operating theatre her life starts to unravel.

This is a short read, but an unnervingly honest one which deals unflinchingly with some difficult, controversial, even taboo issues. Without questioning the legitimacy of legal abortion, this deals with the emotional fall-out for the doctors who have to practice it. Above all, it explores the perhaps unspoken challenges that it poses to young doctors who agree with the procedure in principle but who are unprepared for their own role and the psychological consequences than might ensue.

This is a book written with enormous intelligence and integrity - and which feels emotionally authentic. Parts of it are very disturbing, as they should be, particularly the italicised section towards the end which is like nothing else I have read on this topic. But it is precisely this harrowing honesty that makes this such an important book. That it is also a beautifully-written novel which is impossible to put down is even more of an achievement - this isn't an easy read but it is a superb one on so many levels: highly recommended.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this. 11 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I throughly enjoyed this book of the story of a female surgeon who finds herself in a predicament with moral and professional dilemmas to face. I liked the way it ended with the little tease about David. I would love to know more about David and hope this will be pursued in the next book. I am now re-reading Direct Red which I am loving all over again.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She comes undone. 23 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
"How complicated it is to be a doctor." Performing so-described "horrible procedures" is just a part of a doctor's job, Gabriel Weston's character, young doctor Nancy, tells in "Dirty Work", the book which I found quite hard to read, despite it being merely 175 pages. The "Dirty Work" covers a heavy, controversial and difficult topic of the abortion and of a doctor who performs the procedure on a daily basis, and how one becomes to be this doctor, and what becomes of this doctor. The doctor whose everyday job is to perform abortions regularly.

I finished the book within a couple of days, because it was gripping, yes (at the end I was biting my nails waiting for the medical tribunal decision on the future of the main protagonist ('What is a doctor, if not a doctor?"). But I also wanted the book to end as I found it emotionally draining. More and more so as we gradually learn about Nancy's job and her feelings towards it, which are far more complicated than she lets on in the beginning of the book.

This short novel, or, I find, the word "account" is better suited for what this book is, describes the account of one event and further development (as well as a pre-story) and is written with authenticity and honesty and a deep knowledge of the subject.
I was not sure of all the retrospective glimpses into the heroine's past, but after finishing the book I assume they were necessary to complete the study of one surgeon.

A "topical" book, not for everybody, but I imagine it is a stand-out account into the psyche of a female surgeon and ethics of the obstetrics and gynaecology professionals. An intelligent, intense read. If you are of medical profession and if you interested in the difficult moral/ethical argument of abortion - this book might prove a brilliant read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Glad it was a short book 9 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Didn't like this I'm afraid. Maybe enjoyable if that's the right word considering content for people in the profession or connected. Read it as it was on our book club programme. Too much medical detail. Would have been good to put across the story and feelings of the woman undergoing the procedure as well, all too self centred.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book! 23 Mar 2014
By Natasha
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book so much. As a fellow doctor, I found Gabriel Weston's depiction of the medical world startlingly accurate - not just the physical setting, but also the emotions which can so strongly be evoked in you as a doctor. The subject matter of the book is a delicate one, but the protagonist's story is so well-written, and makes the reader consider things from all angles. I found the work to be original, thought-provoking and highly readable - I couldn't put it down, and couldn't wait to get back to it when I did have to. Gabriel Weston is an excellent writer who deserves credit, and I am so impressed by her work. I have also read Direct Red, and thoroughly enjoyed this too. I can't wait for her to write more!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What it says on the label
Life as an abortionist, and what it could do to you. Ms Weston is/was a surgeon herself, and knows of what she writes. It's quite short, but complete. The writing is wonderful.
Published 2 months ago by Korhomme
4.0 out of 5 stars Review: Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston
Dirty Work describes the “Fitness to Practice” investigation into the work of Nancy, a registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr. Simon Howard
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Look into the White World. Was a little disappoinnted by main characters weak self defence but overall the book is very much alive and dealing w an important human challenge
Published 9 months ago by J. Theilade
1.0 out of 5 stars Abortion brutalises those who provide it
In an interview with the Telegraph in early 2013 Gabriel Weston showed just how brutalized and hardened abortion providers become. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kim
1.0 out of 5 stars Dirty Work
It was fortunate that I had read Gabriel's previous book, Direct Red, first. I thought that it was excellently put together and a thoroughly absorbing read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by james baillie
2.0 out of 5 stars Not gripping
Read this following reviews in various culture driven supplements that were not consistently supportive, but the subject area seemed arresting (which it was) but the narrative was... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jared Ruff
1.0 out of 5 stars An abortive attempt at fiction
Like many other reviewers here, I had read Direct Red and was seriously impressed, feeling it to be one of the best memoirs I have ever read and stylistically brilliant. Read more
Published 13 months ago by S.M. Gidley
3.0 out of 5 stars Clinical
Whilst I loved he author's Direct Red and having heard his book discussed on Radio 4, I looked forward to reading this. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mrs J McGregor
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