the observer Sun 21 February 2010
Most of us are fascinated by the practice of medicine because of its combination of dispassionate abstraction and extreme emotion.
In her compelling semi-fictionalised memoir, Gabriel Weston questions how far she should allow the expression of her human response to a patient in distress. For Weston, there is an additional subtlety nestling in this question. As a woman, those she treats expect her to possess a comforting maternalism lacking in her male counterparts. And yet, as a junior doctor trying to make her mark in a predominantly male sphere, she finds herself pressured to prove she is capable of exercising the detached judgment of a clinician whose primary focus is cure.
The conflict between these opposing forces - personal and professional, female and male - makes this is a curiously thrilling read, written with an elegance heightened by its clarity and economy.