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On a Street Called Easy, in a Cottage Called Joye Hardcover – May, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T); 1 edition (May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316597058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316597050
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fed up with their dark, cramped apartment in Manhattan, Pulitzer Prize winners Smith and Naifeh (for Jackson Pollack: An American Saga) dreamed of living in a palace and found it in a Sotheby catalogue for a million-plus dollars they didn't have. But they made a lucky deal, raised the money, spent three years renovating the 60-room "cottage" in Aiken, South Carolina-built for William C. Whitney-and became so accustomed to its vastness that they considered adding another room. They describe with verve the problems in restoring this white elephant, their experiences with local help and local society; and their delight in the gossip about the high life that centered around Whitney and this house at the turn of the century is contagious. The street it's on really is called Easy and the cottage really is named Joye. For reasons unexplained, Smith and Naifeh plan to donate their dream palace to the Juilliard School as a retreat for musicians; one can imagine that it may, after all, be too big for two people.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

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. Still, this is an appropriate purchase for large libraries.
Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
62%
4 star
33%
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5%
2 star
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See all 21 customer reviews
The characters in this book came to life in a humourous way.
jennifer a evans
I was given the BOOK version of this several years ago by a dear friend and honestly, I have read and re-read this book several times.
I Heart Tahoe
My girlfriend is reading it now and is finding it sweet and fun.
P. LoPinto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 1997
Format: Hardcover
ON A STREET CALLED EASY,IN A COTTAGE CALLED JOYE BY GREGORY WHITE SMITH AND STEVEN NAIFEH IS A VERY
ENTERTAING HUMOROUS TALE OF THE ADVENTURES OF
RESTORING A PROPERTY IN AIKEN ,S.C. THE HISTOTY OF THE PROPERTY IS INTERWOVEN WITH THE DETAILS OF THE ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES OF THE RESTORATION.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK.IT MAKES YOU LAUGH
OUT LOUD..NOT ALWAYS EASY IN THESE TIMES. IT IS
TRUELY A JOYE TO READ!!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Kelly on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
It was August, 1999. After a tough year of renovation my husband and I moved into our own 5,800 sf "Money Pit". We had spent a total of $ 600,000 getting ready for this day. It had been our dream ever since we had completed a renovation of our 1800 sf cottage 12 years before. We had battled bad heating guys, windows that had arrived to fit seemingly another house, workers who preferred smoking in our driveway to actually doing any work, painters who peed in my bathtub and nasty neighbors.

But now we had moved in. We had no countertops as the machinery to put an edge on them had broken. So we did dishes, washed up and brushed our teeth in the one working bathtub. Boxes covered the first floor. The cracks in the wood floors gave me all-world blisters. And the air conditioning STILL did not work.

My husband, after spending less than an hour at home stood and looked up at me up the grand staircase and told me in a calm voice, "I don't want to BE here anymore" and went back to his office. I looked over the house...a decade of work left to do and our life savings committed to it and could only bring myself to do a tiny job that felt achievable; sorting his socks. Even that was difficult as I burst into sight-busting tears.

At that very moment there was a knock at the door. An old friend from down the street handed me this book and gave me a hug. I went to bed with it and over the next week I worked at making the house more comfortable when I felt up to it and reading the book when I didn't. It saved my sanity that hot August.

Three years later I watched my neighbor...distraught and crying on the tailgate of his truck over home renovation issues of his own and passed this life-ring along.

Thanks so much to the authors!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "gryphonisle" on March 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"On A Street Called Easy, in a Cottage called Joye" is an easy and entertaining read, with short chapters perfect for the ride on the subway, or a break between tasks. A close parallel to "A Year In Provence", which is referenced by the authors, the story is essentially a humorous take on the gentry's lament "you can't get good help these days", but the biggest difference is that while "A Year..." is heavily slanted towards food, "A Street..." is almost entirely about the travails of renovating a wreck. It is after all, set in the deep (if it ain't fried, it ain't cooked)south, this is NOT Provence.
The "true" story follows its two, pullitzer prize winning authors as they leave their dark, viewless, Manhattan condo and set out for Aiken, S.C., where they've bought(for quite a bit less than the original million+ asking price) a sixty room mansion built in 1897 by WC Whitney, as the gilded age began to flicker to a close. Through neglect, the house is an absolute mess. The crew hired to bring it back to its glory is pretty much a mess as well. From the holdover-joint-toking hippie that makes off with the only, working-order copper piping to sell for scrap, to the tile man who wants to be paid for time he'd requested to hang out (doing nothing)while the tile arrived, to the maid who spends all day dusting 3 rooms, only to be discovered sleeping whenever the bosses are away. You can't leave this crew a for a second, as they discover towards the end, in a scene that will leave wine lovers heart broken. The problem is, as with "A year in Provence", the owners seem to have a bottomless pocketbook, and always seem to have a check to write to cover whatever goes wrong. And EVERYTHING goes wrong.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John J. Trinkl on August 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I grew up in Aiken, S.C. and this book is a wonderful snapshot of part of that town's interesting history. My father was a butler to one of the "Winter Colony" residents which are mentioned in the book. He liked the place so much he decided to retire there. The book is a fun read and gives an overview of most of the different strata which make it a unique place: the old time residents who go back for decades; the "Winter Colony" people (many of whose children and grand children still live there); the engineers, scientists and other professionals who inundated the town in 1955; Blacks; local workers. There is not much mention of Aiken's middle class--reading the book you might think everyone was either very rich, a redneck or a Black servant. But this is not a sociological study but a memoir of the authors' efforts to resuscitate a dilapidaded old mansion. Anyone has done any kind of major remodel on their house will find find their own problems here, writ hilariously large.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Received this as a housewarming present at beginning of a house renovation. It gave me plenty of hope and amusement.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By I Heart Tahoe on January 11, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
I was given the BOOK version of this several years ago by a dear friend and honestly, I have read and re-read this book several times. The first time that I got it, I actually read it out loud to my husband while we were working on our own version of "Joy Cottage." We both roared with laughter!

Having moved to the South from the West Coast, I understood totally what Mr. White-Smith encountered! From Irish Travelers to the local restaurant that produces vegetables that have had every last trace of nutritional content boiled out of them, collard greens, fat back and fat light (it is vital that you know the difference: one is used to light fires and one is put in with your collards!),pepper sauce, sweet tea (cavities be damned!) to Moon Pies, Krispy Kremes, speech from people that you swear aren't speaking English, painters that can't paint, roofers that drink way too much, Nandina, Magnolias and Smilack at Christmas (I hope that I spelling the last one correctly!) and on and on and on. If you live in the South (especially if you are a transplant) and most especially if you live in or have redone an old house, this is the book for you!

As I said, I have re-read this book several times and I still find myself laughing hysterically. It is a great book that I am terribly sorry is out of print. Until it comes back into its second printing, the audio version will suffice. I wish they would do a "Part II" version...

A MUST read!
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