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Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved: A Woman Moves a House to Make a Home Paperback – April 26, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Whouley, a single, 40-something business planning consultant to booksellers and a self-described frugal New Englander, takes on the challenge of moving a vacation cottage a distance of 20 miles so she can attach it to her tiny three-room house at the edge of a bog on Cape Cod to create more personal and professional space. But given the amount of detail she presents on everything from obtaining a permit to selecting decking materials to waiting for the plumber to arrive, it appears she may have been thinking of getting a book out of the experience, too. Her meticulous account chronicles the joys and frustrations of the yearlong project that began in December 1999, when Whouley saw a classified ad in the local paper announcing, "Cottages for Sale. $3,000 each. Must be moved." By book's end, a year later, she hosts a Christmas dinner "in the newly arranged living-dining room, at the big round table that is now by the windows... with the view of the birds at the feeder"-a huge improvement over having to consume meals "hunched over the kitchen counter" in her old digs. Do-it-yourselfers will enjoy the exhaustive information regarding budget home construction, including how the lumber at the independent Mid-Cape Home Center stacks up against Home Depot's (Whouley likes "old friend" Mid-Cape better, but grudgingly admires Home Depot's service). Other readers might skim the construction details and focus on Whouley's descriptions of the workers, friends and neighbors who help create her new home. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A few years ago, the author, a habitual reader of classified ads, saw something that caught her eye. Completely assembled cottages were for sale for $3,000, but, if you wanted one, you had to be prepared to move it yourself. What would the author do with her very own cottage? Well, she ran her business out of her home, and she was desperately in need of more office space. Why not attach the cottage to her house? Cheaper than constructing an addition, right? So began an odyssey of confusion, consternation, and light comedy. On one hand, there is not much to this book--she buys the cottage, arranges to have it moved, and it gets moved--but, on the other hand, there is so much here you will want to read it twice. The book has a cast of characters that range from interesting to eccentric, a series of misadventures that might have come from a comic novel, and a narrative style that makes you keep turning the pages. It's one of those books in which the author has taken something personal and made it universal. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
If home is where the heart is, then Kate Whouley's COTTAGE FOR SALE is an eloquent narrative on the making of a home with occasional sidebars on the condition of her emotional heart. It's a more engaging book than I thought it would be for reasons I can't quite put my finger on except perhaps that, as a homeowner myself just finishing a complete kitchen remodel, much of it resonates. And Kate has a cat; we have three. Anyway, the story was hard to put down.
The tale begins when Whouley sees an advert announcing uprooted vacation cottages for sale. One thing leads to another and, a year later, she has successfully grafted one on to her existing (tiny) home on Cape Cod. The rationale was that she needed extra space for a home-office. In COTTAGE FOR SALE, the reader follows the project, expensive both financially and emotionally, every step of the way to completion. Kate's finances take a big hit, and her emotions run the gamut from euphoria to frustration. (I hear ya on both! And regarding the frustrations of a remodel, I only hope there's a special place in Hell for dawdling contractors.)
The book includes a section of B&W photographs taken over the course of the job. If she hadn't indicated in the text that she took so many at every opportunity, I would've judged the selection more than adequate. As it was, I thought too many crucial snaps were missing; that's my only niggling criticism.
There's a thin but persistent heart string that weaves through the narrative that has its origin in the yearning that the single, 42-year old author has for someone to share her adventure:
"I stare at the two windows, joined by a single white sill, and think back to my hopeful New Year's wishing. Wishing for a cottage, wishing for a man. Hoping the man would come if I made room for him."
Thus, Kate finds herself with a crush on a couple of the construction crew workers. First, there's Rick, who operates the big crane that lifts her cottage off the flatbed transporter to deposit it on its new foundation. Size counts. Then there's Robert, a.k.a. Vito, who works with concrete, and to whom Kate loans a book on Tuscany:
"... I imagine a date, a dinner date. Vito tells me what he has learned about Tuscany, and I sip a crisp white wine. Better yet, the wine is red and we are in Tuscany. We are seated across from each other at an outdoor table with a view of an Italian hill town. I am wearing a black linen dress. The waiter arrives, refills our glasses; Vito orders in Italian."
One is left to wonder if the dress is a "little black dress" meant to seduce. In any case, Whouley is later crushed when she finds out that Robert, a.k.a. Vito, is married to a fantasy-wrecker named Amy.
At the time the author writes her second book, Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words: Travels with Mom in the Land of Dementia, several years later about having to cope with her mother's increasing dementia, she is still unattached. One cannot but wish Kate well.
And then, of course, there's Whouley's cat Egypt, who transcends his initial discomfiture at the disruption to his personal space to eventually regard the noisy project with an all-knowing, feline noblesse oblige.
Yes, I liked this book very much.