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Innocent Spouse: A Memoir Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 030759212X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307592125
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Carol Ross Joynt is an Emmy Award-winning network television producer, Washington writer, interviewer, blogger, photographer. She was born in Denver, grew up in Europe, Ohio, and on the East Coast, and lives in Georgetown, DC.

Carol skipped college and jumped right into national news, joining the staff of the Washington bureau of United Press International in January 1969, the same week Richard Nixon was inaugurated President for the first time. She started as a "dictationist," taking in breaking stories from Helen Thomas and Merriman Smith, but soon was reporting on the antiwar movement. Carol also covered political stories and the Apollo space program. In 1972, she was hired by TIME Magazine and moved to New York to write about politics and assorted features. She traveled on the McGovern campaign bus, reported from the presidential conventions in Miami, and covered the premiere of "The Godfather," among other assignments; TIME offered that kind of diversity of stories.

Later in 1972, Walter Cronkite asked Carol to be one of his three writers on The CBS Evening News; she accepted without hesitation. She wrote script for the Evening News and special broadcasts for four years as Cronkite informed viewers about the death of LBJ, the Watergate scandal, the resignation of Richard Nixon, the kidnap of Patricia Hearst, and the end of the Vietnam war. Each year, Carol and her colleagues were awarded the Writer's Guild Award for best news script, and The CBS Evening News was commended on many fronts for its outstanding coverage of Watergate and Vietnam, including Emmys, the DuPont and Peabody awards, among other accolades.

After a year-off to crew on "Spartan," a 72-foot Herreshoff racing boat based in the West Indies, and to live in the south of France, Carol returned to Washington and network news and a succession of positions, which included producer roles at NBC News, CBS News Nightwatch, USA Today the TV Show, This Week with David Brinkley, Nightline, Larry King Live, John Hockenberry, and Hardball with Chris Matthews. For these broadcasts she focused on subjects ranging from national and global politics and the world's leaders to the latest successes or scandals involving the talented, the royal or the merely celebrated. At Nightwatch, Carol and host Charlie Rose won the 1987 National News Emmy Award for "Best Interview" for an hour CBS News broadcast interview with Charles Manson at San Quentin Prison.

Carol also directed documentary films and oversaw several film projects for clients such as the National Gallery of Art. She worked closely with museum Director J. Carter Brown as she directed a video retrospective of the NGA's 50th Anniversary, and a film tribute to the Kress family and their contribution to the Gallery's collections. In 1994 she directed a film for the American Academy in Rome, celebrating its 100th anniversary.

In 1997, when she was a producer for Larry King Live, her husband of twenty years, J. Howard Joynt III, died suddenly from pneumonia. Carol inherited Howard's landmark Georgetown restaurant, Nathans, where she created The Q&A Cafe, the only known "talk show in a saloon."

The Q&A Cafe launched in October 2001 as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Carol felt the community craved information and she sought to help fill that void by hosting weekly interviews with experts on subjects related to terrorism, the Middle East and South Asia. Over time, and with its growing popularity, The Q&A Cafe focused on other subjects as well - politics, medicine, science, the military, diplomacy, literature, the arts, sports, fashion, music and entertainment - and began broadcasting on youtube. Carol provides the show free of charge to local DC Cable. It airs Fridays at 8 p.m.

Carol closed Nathans on July 12, 2009, after the economy crashed and the building's landlords put the property up for sale. The Q&A Cafe moved to a new location, The Georgetown Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

In addition to booking and producing the show, Carol also writes and takes the photographs for a daily blog, "Swimming in Quicksand," on her website,, and a regular diary about Washington for the New York Social Diary at But her priorities are making a home for her son, Spencer, who is a college freshman, their Bichon Frise, Leo, and Ozzy, the Conure parrot; writing, community affairs and, especially, survival.

Her memoir, "Innocent Spouse," to be published by Crown in May, is her account of the turn of events in her life after her husband's sudden death. It is about love and loss and a hundred avalanches as she deals with what he left behind. "Innocent Spouse" will resonate with any woman who has ever been married and asks the question, "do you really know the person you married?"

Here is a recent interview about the book on

Customer Reviews

This book is so well written, and you don't want to put it down.
Rosalyn H. Martty
It is a book many women should read and take heed--you can never know too much about your family finances, accounts and real estate.
Avid Reader
What makes this memoir exceptional is Carol Joynt's unending honesty.
Jesse Kornbluth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When Carol Ross was 22, Walter Cronkite hired her to write the evening news. He had a crew of writers, but she was his personal writer, the one who sat next to him, just out of camera range. No fool he --- Carol Ross was not just young and talented, she was extremely attractive. Gossip followed, none of it true.

When I met her, she was 24. I had an instant crush, which resulted in a dinner or two. There were many guys meeting her after the broadcast that year, and I don't think she noticed any of us --- she was consumed by her job, and then she was consumed with leaving it to crew on a boat in the Caribbean.

Our next dinner was thirty-five years later. She had another name now, having married John Howard Joynt III. And a very different situation: Howard Joynt, the popular owner of a popular bar in Georgetown, had died. He left behind a five-year-old son and a very puzzled widow, for right after his death, the IRS showed up to demand $3 million in back taxes, penalties and interest.

Carol Joynt didn't have $3 million. And then there was the problem that couldn't be assessed so neatly --- she really hadn't known her husband. At all. He was tall and affable, quick to open the champagne, and he had cast himself as her protector, and she bought it all.

Oh, there were signs. Early in the marriage, he hit her. Pushed her out of the car at night, in a rainstorm, far from home. Drank himself into a hate-spewing jerk.

But then Howard would be his adorable self again. And Carol would go back to sleep.

There are many memoirs by women who don't know their husbands until they die, but none has the brutal irony of "Innocent Spouse."

The irony? She had to convince the IRS that she was an "innocent spouse.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Outnumbered on November 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this for the Georgetown insider, tabloid style history it provided. But I finished this book and found myself wondering why I didn't feel more compassion for the author. This story is after all a story of tragedy - a husband is dead and a wife learns not only of a huge financial burden, but also of years of deceit. I think part the cause for my lack of compassion is the writing style I mention in the title of this review. It's written in the same somewhat clipped, monotone style of a Vanity Fair piece. Not a style that really grabs for the heart strings. For reference, the author also writes for the New York Social Diary website, and one can see some parallels in style. I also didn't care for the fact that in her description of various challenges, she spends a lot of time talking about how she was wronged, but doesn't seem to adequately acknowledge how lucky she was. More specifically, lucky to be surrounded by a cast of friends and acquaintances that provide her with an extraordinary amount of assistance. Clearly not everyone can line up a world-class trial lawyer to work case pro bono. Not all of us are able to have Bob Woodward intervene on our behalf. In summary, this book conveys a sense of narcissism that doesn't enhance the telling of the story.

Other reviewers have questioned whether the whole story is told in this book. I really couldn't say. I think of it as a story told by a one-time socialite, knocked a bit off her throne, who wants her story to the public in a way that reopens some of those old doors. So yes, it may come across as a bit of a whitewash.

All said, an interesting enough book from a Georgetown/DC tabloid gossip perspective, but I was expecting more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Carol Joynt wants us to believe that her book about her life with her duplicitious husband should be a warning to all women. And, indeed it should. However, most women are not privy to well-placed friends, therapy, the best lawyers, and private schools for their children. This is a credible story, and I am sure she suffered, but somehow it is difficult to feel too sorry for her.

Carol and her husband, Howard, lived the life of luxury, several homes in and around DC, trips, expensive cars and boats, designer clothing and glorious vacations. Until one day, Howard died and the truth of how they had been living became too real. Howard had a much smaller trust fund than he said, it appeared they were living on the proceeds of Howard's bar, Nathans. Bills at the bar/restaurant were not being paid because all the money was going to their upkeep. As Carol dug deeper, she found she needed to find a very good lawyer because she owed the IRS a great deal of money. She was able to beat that with the assistance of a lawyer who worked for the IRS and wrote the 'Innocent Spouse' bill. But, still she had to support her son and send him to private school. Shd did receive some money to keep her going. She tried to save Nathans and worked hard to support herself and her son, But, alas, there was too much to do to rev up the establishment, and she had to declare bankruptcy. She supports herself with media jobs, writing for the New York Social Diary and interviews with celebrities.

This is an entertaining read at times, but could have used more editing. It is a cautionary tale for everyone, actually. We all should know what we are getting into in our relationships, and keep our eyes wide open at all times.

Recommended. prisrob 10-07-11

[[ASIN:B004J4WMCC Innocent Spouse: A Memoir]
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