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Better Homes and Husbands

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Valerie Ann Leff, co-director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, authored this wonderful book about class and caste feuds, all played out within the walls of what appears to be a co-op. Co-ops are similar to condos, although you actually own stock when you own one, rather than the actual property. The ownership of the stock gives you the right to live there and take advantage of any services it offers. This is a rather tantalizing book, especially if you like drama. Here’s a snippet from’s review:

980 Park is on the Northwest corner of Park Avenue and 83rd Street, a fictional, pre-war co-op that houses the rich and famous–Sidney Sapphire, the blonde anchorwoman on ABC news, Angela Somoza, the gorgeous Cuban jet-setter, Bob Horowitz, the former chairman of the UJA, and a Latino doorman who goes on to become a major fashion designer. The building shelters the usual collection of banking and industrial CEO’s, Wall Street magnates, and white-haired philanthropists.

The building’s board, rich as clotted cream, sips gin in the afternoons and devises ways to keep out anyone they possibly can. Stifled resentments come to a head when the French baroness in the penthouse dies, and two Jewish families in the building suspect the co-op board of more discrimination with regard to prospective buyers than might be legal.

The board in this book is one condo, actually co-op, board I would not want to deal with. After all, I do like dealing with honest boards who follow the law. Still, the book is a great read. You can pick it up now at

-John Mudd
“Mr. Real Estate”

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