John Howard Joynt III wasn’t meant to live life the way the rest of us do. Like other trust fund types, his life seemed like a fairytale: a weekend house on the Chesapeake Bay, a sprawling home in the Virginia countryside and his very own popular watering hole called Nathans, a landmark in the heart of Georgetown.
As his widow Carol describes it, “He was many things I was not: a child of money and privilege, casual about work but serious about living well.”
That lifestyle collapsed when Howard died unexpectedly in 1997. Soon after, Carol -- a former television producer -- became, legally, an "innocent spouse" when her husband's financial transgressions came to light.
Her new memoir follows her financial struggles and her battle with the IRS that socked her with a $3 million tax bill, making her a federal tax fraud defendant.
In an excerpt from Innocent Spouse, Carol Joynt wrote,
“Nothing in my background prepared me for the three-ring circus my life became after Howard’s death. Lawyers and the IRS in one ring, Nathans and Larry King Live in another, and in the center ring, my son and our home life. The big top was lit up, it was showtime virtually round the clock, and I had to lead the action in each ring simultaneously.”
The book signing at Georgetown's Bridge Street Books was like a Nathans class reunion. Everyone there had either known Howard for many years or had been a frequent Nathans imbiber.
They all had their own Howard stories and they all wondered to what extent Carol would come clean on some aspects of their life together. They checked for their names in the acknowledgements. They bought the book... and later, raved about it.
“An utterly compelling story of spousal deception, postmortem forgiveness, how not to run the hottest restaurant in D.C. and the enduring power of love," wrote Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of the New York Times bestseller "Crazy Love." "You will read this memoir in one night, pages flying and hear racing.”