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Fiction Animals

Night Watch

The Vet Suite

by (author) Gillian Wigmore

Invisible Publishing
Initial publish date
Feb 2021
Animals, Family Life, Women Authors
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2021
    List Price

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Shortlisted for the 2021 Danuta Gleed Literary Award

Three poetic novellas centred around the author’s background of growing up as the child of a veterinarian.

Full of humour and compassion, Night Watch collects three novellas that explore the lives of rural veterinarians. Wigmore’s vets struggle to stay awake during unending calving seasons, reaching for moments of stillness and grace between phone calls and farm calls; they balance their own family’s births and deaths with shepherding animals through caesareans and euthanasia, covering miles of road in their vast jurisdictions during harsh winters and muddy, ruthless springs. Travelling from small towns in northern BC to the south of France and Fiji, sometimes in the span of a night and sometimes over a lifetime, the men and women in Night Watch work with their hands, keep their hearts in check, and strain to define themselves against the backdrop of an unforgiving job that puts them at the mercy of the elements—and each other.

“One might assume the graphic viscera of farm medicine wouldn’t lend itself to beautiful writing, but one would be wrong—Wigmore’s lilting writing is as soothing as a lullaby.”Chatelaine

“Wigmore’s prose brings to mind Alice Munro’s ability to capture the complex emotions that simmer underneath quiet, quotidian moments.”Vancouver Sun

About the author

Gillian Wigmore grew up in Vanderhoof, BC, and graduated
from the University of Victoria in 1999. She has been published in Geist, CV2, filling station, and the Inner Harbour Review, among others. Wigmore won the 2008 ReLit Award for her work Soft Geography and was also shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize. She lives in north central BC with her husband and two children.

Gillian Wigmore's profile page


  • Short-listed, Danuta Gleed Literary Award

Editorial Reviews

“A dreamy, gentle triad of tales about rural veterinarian life in Northern B.C. A woman who never left her small town can’t let go of a childhood love. A sister works through jealousy by helping her brother calve. An overworked man’s marriage falters. One might assume the graphic viscera of farm medicine wouldn’t lend itself to beautiful writing, but one would be wrong—Wigmore’s lilting writing is as soothing as a lullaby.”Chatelaine

“At its heart, each novella is about the fractured bonds of fraying, once-intimate relationships...Wigmore’s prose brings to mind Alice Munro’s ability to capture the complex emotions that simmer underneath quiet, quotidian moments.”Vancouver Sun

Night Watch is a beautiful anthem to the hard world of a rural veterinarian, a life of muscle and blood and guts, all detailed by Gillian Wigmore with surprising delicacy and lyricism. These moving stories make poetic the mountains and gravel roads, the headlights at night and C-sections in doomed barns, the calves and donkeys and horses and otters, the miracles and casualties during nights without sleep. The book is intimate, superb.”—Danuta Gleed Literary Award jury

"Wigmore doesn’t romanticize veterinarians; she writes about them realistically, respectfully, and certainly, compellingly. Loving animals is not a prerequisite for reading this book. Life is summed up concisely: 'It won’t be easy, and some of it nearly kills him. But it is interesting. And sometimes in the straw and shit of a barnyard there is grace.'"—Jessica Poon, The Ormsby Review

“Though spare, the stories are rich with intimate detail... as characters navigate the love, loss, struggle, and joy that comes with a career often rooted in self-sacrifice and communal giving. A lovely book to fall into, Night Watch: The Vet Suite can be read in one sitting or savoured slowly, and offers readers a multifaceted escape into the impacts of a profession not often at the centre of literary depiction.”The Miramichi Reader

"Sensitively attuned to both human and non-human lives, Night Watch invites us to broaden our perspective beyond the anthropocentric and view the veterinarian's role from compelling new angles."—Marisa Grizenko, The Malahat Review

"Rural veterinarians work tirelessly to save and heal what they can, and let go of what they can’t, as their spouses, siblings and lovers try to make sense of the world blazing around them in night skies full of stars, blistering in sunlight off snow. Characters orbit each other, childhoods are lost and recovered, regrets owned and released, choices made and questioned. In prose both blunt and nuanced, brutal and tender at once, Wigmore’s Night Watch will make you ache for paths not taken at the same time as you relish the journeys these characters haul you along on. You’ll feel the swelter of an awkward afternoon with a new lover, and the fatigue of a late spring night birthing calves as though they were your own memories. Night Watch moves with a warm, bloody, big heart that you’ll carry with you long after the last page is turned."—Laisha Rosnau, author of The Sudden Weight of Snow

"In Night Watch, Gillian Wigmore’s new suite of novellas, characters stand at the edges of lives they’ve almost lived, wondering what could be, reaching across the boundaries of time and distance toward remembered intimacy, allowing themselves room to wonder, grieve and imagine more. Veterinary medicine threads through Night Watch: think James Herriot crossed with a gothic Canadian sensibility. There’s gore, sex, and gentleness; close calls, strange alliances, softening bodies; bruises and blood. Wigmore’s sentences sing: clear, surprising, and delightful. The writing is as bracing as the changing seasons in rural British Columbia, where much of the suite is set. Wigmore takes us outside, outdoors, in all weathers, and inside, into the secret lives of domesticated animals, their suffering and pleasures a mirror for the confusion of our own."—Carrie Snyder, author of Girl Runner

"First of all: not one, but three novellas featuring veterinarians and the people who love them? Genius! And then: the beauty of them, the exquisitely rendered inner lives of complicated people, the complicated workings of calves inside cows, the world in a donkey's eye. Night Watch is tender and unflinching and totally captivating. I loved it."—Anne Fleming


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