I would like to note my friend Shannon is always right, and I do not mean this in a sarcastic or bitter way at all.
So, as I continue to read Sweetness in the Belly, I will get to understand why my first assumption -- that the main character aids a woman giving birth in a dark London alley in the early 80s, then performs a circumcision on the girl child -- is wrong. But this is the graph in question, which threw me off and set me in the wrong direction altogether:
I cut the umbilical cord with the razor blade I'd packed along with a towel and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. I'd feared I might have to use that blade for something else. If the woman had been infibulated the baby might have been in distress, might have even suffocated by the time we'd moved her into an operating theatre. In that case, I would have had to cut through her scar tissue to open up the birth canal, at the risk of injuring the baby, at the risk of the woman hemorrhaging or going into shock. But we were lucky; it was just a minor circumcision: clitoris and labia minora. (p. 14-15)
See where my confusion lies? This graph kind of shocked me last night, but I was too tired to keep reading. So when I shared my shock with Shannon today, she assured me I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I will see why soon enough.
Camilla Gibb's novel has enjoyed heaps of praise and so doesn't need more from me, who has not yet begun Chapter 2.... But suffice to say despite my misunderstanding the paragraph I've highlighted, the tone and prose are things to fall in love with.