How would you feel if your days were spent getting groceries, dropping off laundry and being called upon to whip up a gourmet dinner party on a moment's notice? And all for people who take you completely and utterly for granted? That and much more is part of the daily grind for Corki Brown, the heroine of Chore Whore: Adventures of a Celebrity Personal Assistant. And she's had enough.

Being a celebrity assistant seemed like a dream-come-true opportunity when Corki was an eager and energetic 22-year-old lured into the job by the prospect of rubbing elbows with Hollywood celebrities, traveling the globe and being her own boss. Now in her early 40s, she is a single mother struggling to make ends meet. And she is exhausted. After years of going to great lengths to make some very temperamental and idiosyncratic celebrities happy, Corki is sick of being stepped on.

Chore Whore is the story of a turning point in Corki's life as she grapples with the decision of whether to continue her hectic but established lifestyle, or to chuck it all and start a new life for herself and her son. Debut novelist Heather H. Howard writes from personal experience. With 20 years as a celebrity assistant to the likes of Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Aniston under her belt, Howard knows the dirty underbelly of Hollywood all too well.

In the vein of popular novels like The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, Chore Whore is a clever exposé of a seemingly glamorous world that turns out to be anything but glittering. What particularly distinguishes Howard's novel, however, is the fully fleshed out narrator who inhabits that world. Guided by Howard's witty and engaging voice, what starts off as a celebrity exposé quickly becomes a story very much focused on character. Readers will love Corki not just for what she reveals about the dark side of sunny Los Angeles, but also for who she is.

Iris Blasi is a writer in New York City.

 

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