Andrew Taylor, “Caroline Minuscule”

Why can I never remember that is not actually my friend? When it recommends a title like Andrew Taylor’s Caroline Minuscule— just because I’ve bought some of Taylor’s previous books — I need to remind myself that this is an algorithm speaking, not a human being. And that even if the premise seems alluring (ye olde graduate student-dragged-into-crime caper novel), the execution may not thrill. Most important, I should remember the rough wisdom of the marketplace. If an early work by a successful novelist goes out of print, it often deserves that fate. And its resurrection by a specialty press does not necessarily mean that it’s an overlooked treat. I did read to the end; but then, it’s short.

Plot? Oh, okay. William Dougal, a graduate student in paleology , discovers the murdered body of his advisor. Shortly thereafter he meets a sinister figure who hires him to, um, tidy up a few loose ends involving a medieval document copied in a form of script known as “Caroline Minuscule.” (I do love the unexpected “-u-” in the middle of that word. It may be the entire reason I read the book.) Events unspool from there, Dougal discovers unsuspected, unacademic talents, his decorative girlfriend Amanda lingers on the edges of the tale. There are guns, diamonds, a yacht moored in a Fenland estuary, blah blah. Apparently Andrew Taylor wrote quite a few more of these Dougal novels. Productive fellow.

About carolwallace

I spend most of my time writing and reading. Most recent publications: the reissue of "To Marry an English Lord,"one of the inspirations for "Downton Abbey," and the historical novel "Leaving Van Gogh." I am too cranky to belong to a book group but I love the book-blogging community.
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9 Responses to Andrew Taylor, “Caroline Minuscule”

  1. Annie says:

    I would have read this simply because it was Andrew Taylor. Thanks for the warning.

    • carolwallace says:

      Aside from the curiosity factor (it’s his first novel, after all, and you can see him sort of figuring out how it all works), it’s definitely one to skip, Annie.

  2. *giggle* That’s all I can do when reading this post. Love it! 🙂

    • carolwallace says:

      Thanks, Book Chick — something tells me you’ve had those moments, too, when you realized the nice people at Amazon were, at best, enablers. (I mean — are normal people excited about going to BEA?)

  3. Pingback: Follow my book blog, “Book Group of One” | | Carol Wallace BooksCarol Wallace Books

  4. Mem Morman says:

    guess i’m not part of the in group. i enjoyed Caroline Minuscule – despite the misspelling – when it came out and still read it with pleasure from time to time.

    • carolwallace says:

      Thanks for posting, Mem — I guess I was a little bit snarky about this one, huh? It’s so different from his later books, I guess.

  5. Dave says:

    What is the purpose of a fiction book – I suggest it is to entertain; possibly to add to our stock of knowledge; always to make us think, perhaps to escape from our present dull reality. Maybe the thinking here is not as high level as the normal reaches of your mind but I found it, if not provoking, not obvious or signalled but unusual and entertaining. If I may say so, I also found your review, such as it was, trivial and almost purposeless. This is not an attempt at a great work of literature but neither is it reminiscent of some of the dribblingly stupid works that infest the book shops now. And finally, and I say this without any attempt to be rude or irritating, I cannot take seriously any reviewer who so completely misunderstands Tinker Taylor …. and its quintessentially British orientation.

    Toodle pip Dave

    PS What’s wrong with “minuscule”? If you trouble to check the reference works you’ll find minuscule is entirely appropriate for the plot and the title and indeed is part of the author’s masterly misdirection of the reader.

  6. carolwallace says:

    Dave, I’m honestly glad you felt strongly enough to warrant a comment, and I’m sorry my criticism rubbed you the wrong way. I love to be entertained and a lot of Andrew Taylor’s work has been right up my alley, but this one missed for me.

    Nothing wrong with “minuscule” but the way it’s usually said in the US, one would expect a second “-i-” rather than the “-u-.”

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