In this feature of the Washington Watch, WW will primarily recommend books you may find interesting but may also now and then mention a TV program or other things. I welcome your suggestions and your input. What have you been reading or watching that you think WW readers might like?
On a Street Called Easy, in a Cottage Called Joye
by Gregory White Smith & Steven W. Naifeh (Authors)
Daniel Baxter (Illustrator)
Published in 1996
It’s a long way from apartment living in New York City to buying, rehabilitating, and inhabiting a 60-room house on Easy Street in Aiken, South Carolina. But what can you do when you’re in love? When the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers of Jackson Pollock (Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, LJ 9/1/89) first saw Joye Cottage, built by robber baron William C. Whitney in the late 19th century, they knew they had to buy it. This is a warm and lighthearted account of the trials and tribulations of purchasing and renovating a 100-year-old house with 20,000 square feet of living space (including 18 bedrooms, 12 baths, formal gardens, and a swimming pool), not to mention a leaky roof, literally tons of falling plaster, faulty plumbing, and more. Interesting bits on the history of the Gilded Age and the Whitney family scandals are interwoven with the problems of getting good help and finding decent restaurants. Ultimately, this cannot be compared with Peter Mayle’s Provence books or John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (LJ 1/94); the narrative drags at the end, and the book as a whole could have used a little judicious editing to eliminate repetition.