SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 SALTIRE FIRST BOOK AWARD
Torn between class and gender loyalties and embroiled in a bitter labour dispute, Iza Ross must choose sides.
Set in the thick of workers' lives, in Edinburgh's thriving print industry, The Caseroom follows thirteen-year-old Iza into the arcane world of the caseroom where she learns the intricacies of a highly-skilled trade.
As one of some 800 Edinburgh women who, for a few decades did so, Iza becomes a hand-typesetter, work that had been, and was to become once more, a male preserve. Despite hostility to the cheap labour that women represent, Iza persists in work that allows her to feed her imagination on books. But holding on to her trade means hardening herself to the needs of those she loves.
And when the men's union moves to eliminate women from the caseroom and a We Women movement forms to oppose them, there is no middle ground.
Reviews from Amazon.
Can't wait for the next part. Beautifully written strong female lead character, not seen enough in historical fiction. The background was clearly well researched and provided an authentic insight into the time. A great read.
This novel deals with the struggles of female workers in Edinburgh's print industry in the late 19th century. This is not a part of history which I was familiar with so it was eye-opening to see what these women went through.
Kate Hunter has a unique prose style, with intricate and vivid details at every turn. The dialogue is also excellent.
It's clear how much research must have went into this book, as there are often long passages devoted just to the process of the main character's work, which makes all the difference.
A tremendously atmospheric novel, bringing the sounds, sights and even smells of the case room Imto brilliant focus. Strong themes - about women and their paid work, their responsibilities and rights, and their desires to determine their own fates - remind us that feminist issues and workers' rights have been central struggles in our lives for a long time. Bolstered by beautiful language too (Kate has been a long-time poet), the book transports its readers into Iza's world, and you inevitably find yourself rooting for her.