It’s 1915 and Britain is at war as Kate Hunter’s sequel to The Caseroom - shortlisted for The Saltire First Book Award 2017 - opens on the next stage in the lives of Iza Orr, skilled compositor, and the workers in Edinburgh’s print industry.
At a time of momentous events, we step alongside Iza as she copes with unexpected complexities of patriotism, women’s suffrage, worker victimisation and a historic wartime lockout.
‘It seems the country needs starched cloth-lappers and lunatic asylum attendants, but it does not need books, does not need learning and intellectual stimulation.’
Printers are denied reserved occupation status but, with bankruptcies looming, the jobs of Edinburgh’s dwindling number of female hand typesetters are on the line.
Riven by challenges both political and personal, Iza must weather conflicting calls for loyalty to nation, to class, to gender, to family – her marriage to troubled John, her children, her estranged daughter Mary, now a grown woman – to discover her true common cause.