15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Books by ex-celeb assistants are springing up like dandelions -- of course, who can blame the poor people, after having to be all-around gofers to people who can afford anything and everything? Heather Howard treads well-worn paths in "Chore Whore: Adventures of a Celebrity Personal Assistant," but manages to add some wonderful comic flourishes to a rather loose storyline.
Corki Brown is a hardworking widow, with a teenage son. She also works as a simultaneous "chore whore"/assistant/mommy to three different celebs: a sweet-natured star, Jack-Nicholson-style lothario Jock Straupman, and bratty Lucy Bennett,. Corki's job: Do the messy, the urgent, and the bizarre, like going shopping for someone else's condoms.
Then Lucy's personal and professional lives start to unravel. Her son starts causing trouble at school, while Jock's house is robbed of his "special" DVDs featuring trysts with underage girls, and Lucy becomes infatuated with a raging cowboy actor with a penchant for foursomes. Finally Jock and Lucy go too far -- worried mom Corki won't be used, abused, and taken for granted anymore.
Celebrities need not sweat -- while dozens are name-dropped, Howard doesn't dish dirt with any names included. It's really not even clear that Jock and Lucy are based on just one person each. But it is obvious that Howard has based Corki's nightmarish experiences on her own -- picking up the underwear of a one-night stand, because the maid won't? Ew.
Howard does a fairly good job with the comic elements of "Chore Whore," upping the absurdity factor to the max. But the multiple storylines are only loosely connected, and it's sometimes hard to keep all the maids, celebs and amours straight. And the whole matter of Corki's husband being alive or dead is brought up, then dropped.
But Howard does make some deeply likable characters, and she gives them a lot more depth than most "Devil Wore Prada" characters have. While we may despise Lucy and Jock, they have good points and human weaknesses. And while Howard never gets specific about why Corki's son is rebelling, she lets us see what happens when Corki has to play "Mom" to everyone except him.
"Chore Whore" runs along the same track as other such books, but Howard does provide some humorously human foibles for her bosses-from-hell. A fun light read.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2006
Chore Whore is just the kind of book you want when picking up a fictionalized tale about celebrities. Great gossip, snarky commentary, and some truly scandalous dish on some barely disguised A-list stars by someone in a position to know what she's talking about.
Our heroine, like the author herself, is a celebrity assistant who works for a wide variety of A-list actors and musicians. The neurotic main character Lucy (Jennifer Aniston? Angelina Jolie? Laura Dern? all of the above are people the author has worked with) and her Billy Bob Thornton-ish husband is the most delicious to read about. Other fun characters in the book include a Jack Nicholsonish character who involves our heroine in a blackmail scandal and a relatively nice celebrity who actually treats the heroine well. You will finish the book genuinely liking and empathizing with the main character, as well as learning some hilarious gossip about real-life celebrities.
I don't know if this book REALLY is, as it claims to be, "98 Percent True," but it is definitely 100 Percent enjoyable. Recommended.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2005
This was a fun read! I was at a book signing given by the author where she said that the book was 98% true and only the names were changed to protect the guilty. Knowing that this book wasn't just a purely fictionalized account of life as a celebrity personal assistant, I was up till 2 a.m. on a work night reading it! I couldn't stop laughing and sighing for poor Corki. Corki Brown's (aka Howard's) wild experiences working for Hollywood's elite and her comic delivery of the goods were as refreshing as a southern California ocean breeze. I particularly loved the description of the wedding Corki Brown had to arrange in Greece. I felt like I was there. I'm hoping they will make a movie of this book. The wedding scene in Greece where all Hell breaks loose would be brilliant on screen. I'd also love to see another book about how Heather got into the personal assitant business to begin with. I enjoyed Chore Whore much more than the Nanny Diaries.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2007
First of all this book IS a novel. The author did work as a 'personal assistant' in Hollywood, but for obvious reasons, the novel format is used because there would be law suits if real people were mentioned. Real people ARE mentioned: Jennifer Anniston, Meg Ryan, Angelica Houston etc, but only peripherally ie. seen at a restaurant, attended her client's dinner parties and so forth. Corky Brown, the main character and 'chore whore' of the title, is a 40 year old woman of colour with a son to support. She is trying to raise her son and do her work in a way commensurate with her own morality and beliefs. Naturally this is impossible to achieve when your clients are superwealthy, engaging in group sex and expect you to clean up their physical and emotional messes with discretion! At one stage her son catches her lying for one of her clients and takes her to task for it and the reader feels the dilemma that Corky is caught in.
I think she has been careful to cover the identities of her main clients, although real names are frequently dropped in relation to them. Is Tommy Ray Tommy Lee Jones?? Who knows. I read this book in a couple of hours and did enjoy it. It got me thinking AGAIN about the emotional and moral vacuum the super rich seem to inhabit and the legions of support people who are trying to cope on very minimum wages in a city like Los Angeles. It all works out for Corky in the end. She seems a genuinely good person, with great skills who has spent most of her life struggling on a minimum wage, her work mostly taken for granted or unappreciated. It was nice to see her vindicated. She applies for a job as Jennifer Anniston's main assistant in the book and makes the final cut, turning the job down at the last minute out of loyalty to her oldest client (who then turns on her in a most spectacular fashion). You wonder how things might have turned out if she'd taken a job with this actor who the author makes a point of telling the reader is known as a fair and good employer.
Women like Corky survive by reaching out to friends around them, supporting them and in turn being supported by them. Corky's friendships are the most uplifting part of this book. Friends and family, the ties that bind, are what makes a crucial difference to all of our lives especially when things go pearshaped. I think that this is what the reader takes away from this book, underneath the glitter that is Hollywood.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2005
Heather H. Howard's debut novel CHORE WHORE is a fun and frenetically paced new entry into the world of Chick Lit books. It's a humorous "former assistant tell-all book" --- think THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and THE NANNY DIARIES.
Problem is, I'm not a chick.
So what drew this guy to this gal book?
As they used to say in Hollywood --- it's all about a good story.
Howard's story is Corki Brown's story, and vice versa. Corki is the heroine of CHORE WHORE. She's a 40-year-old woman with a 10-year-old son working as a personal assistant to Tinseltown's top stars. Howard, the author, worked for everyone from Tom Cruise to Jennifer Aniston and also has a 10-year-old son.
Like most of America, celebrities fascinate me. I cannot get enough of them. I read way too many magazines, watch way too much E!, and like being near the stars. Sort of. I live in West Hollywood, California, where much of CHORE WHORE takes place, and I've spotted Matthew Perry at the movies, Adam Sandler parallel parking, and Denzel Washington eating breakfast.
When we mere mortals see these glamour gods in everyday situations, we like to think that they're just like us. But they're not. Theirs is a world of gated mansions, Hermes backpacks, and iPod party favors. In CHORE WHORE, Howard pulls back the curtain of celebrity with a wink and a nod and lets us peek at the quirky lives of the stars. She lets us in on the not-so-secret secret that the stars are more messed up than we are.
Like many Chick Lit books, Corki is searching for something in her life. The twist is that she's actually looking for her life. As a personal assistant, Corki must cater to every crazy whim of her demanding clients. Her days are spent scouring Los Angeles for ridiculous items --- from extra large condoms to vintage toilet seats. But she's so busy mothering these spoiled stars that she has no time for herself and her son Blaise, who is acting out at school to get her attention.
Howard really nails the tiny details of La-La Land and the harried life of a personal assistant. The first 50 pages are a hectic blur of chores on top of chores. You feel like you're riding in the passenger seat of Corki's trusty eight-year-old SUV named Betty as she battles the maddening local traffic to complete her inane and mundane tasks. Imagine spending every day of your life running errands. Howard has more than imagined it --- thanks to her two decades of experience, you sense that some of the chores Corki must perform aren't too far from the truth.
For example, she opens the book with, "Today is December 18, Steven Spielberg's birthday. Although not formally declared a national holiday, in Hollywood, California, and its environs, it is celebrated as one." Everyone has to get Spielberg that special gift and one-up their rivals. Do the stars buy their own gifts? No. Their low-paid assistants must come up with a unique idea to wow the acclaimed director. Corki is known for her creative gift problem-solving skills and she comes up with a seaworthy solution. This first scene is like a good movie trailer --- it introduces the main characters and the plot in a memorable manner. You find out that Corki is a personal assistant, her life is tough, and celebrities are very insecure.
Howard protects the innocent (real-life stars) and creates a few fictional characters like aging star Jock Straupman to display the worst of the demanding behavior. To add a touch of realism to the story Howard sprinkles real silver screen stars throughout the book. John Travolta, Meg Ryan, Courtney Cox-Arquette, and others attend a dinner party thrown by one of Corki's clients --- two-time Academy Award-winning actress Lucy Bennet. Oh, and Corki also has to cook for this intimate gathering.
CHORE WHORE does have two minor problems. It rambles on a bit in places, and throughout the book Corki wants to get out of this life, but she has no plan. The blurb on the inside flap of the book is misleading. It says, "Corki devises a plan of escape --- to save herself, her family, and ultimately, her sanity." I will not ruin the ending, but Corki doesn't plan it, she falls into it.
Overall, CHORE WHORE is a wild ride through Hollywood with funny insights into the lives of the rich and famous. Before this book, I never realized what personal assistants did. Now I do. They work long hours for low pay with no benefits and they have to perform menial and sometimes degrading tasks for their oftentimes ungrateful bosses. Why do it then? The lure of the celebrity. But I now realize that most celebrities would die without their assistants, and the daily grind of these browbeaten workers makes for a good story in Howard's hands. Following in the footsteps of Chick Lit originator Helen Fielding, the next stop for Howard's CHORE WHORE could be the big screen. How do you think Howard will treat her personal assistant?
--- Reviewed by Sean Doorly
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2005
I enjoyed "Chore Whore" and think that this should be on your beach read summer list. It's a look into the life of being a personal assistant and although it is fiction, the author knows firsthand since she was herself a personal assistant for some twenty odd years.
Corki Brown is a great assistant to many of Hollywood's stars but like Hollywood these stars are fickle and unloyal. Corki does everything except wipe these client's butts at the expense of her 10 year old son Blaise who is constantly crying out for attention in his behavior. Blaise is one of my favorite characters, a little boy that is wise beyond his years but still a little boy which is what Corki sometimes forgets in her never-ending need to please. She works for clients that don't understand the word no, it's foreign to them. What does she get in return for over twenty years of service? Well, no work from clients at a moment's notice, no health benefits, and very little sleep. She's also aging in a town of women that don't want to look over 25. Her main client Lucy lets her boyfriend practically replace her with two girls whose only previous assistant experience is being part of a foursome. I respect the fact that Corki stayed true to her beliefs until the end in not giving her client's lives to the tabloids although that would have been the easy route.
Heather Howard's descriptions are dead on of L.A. and the attitudes that go with it. I suspect Ms. Howard may be fielding movie offers right at this moment. If this does go to the big screen hopefully she'll stay true to all the characters and make sure they're cast exactly like their descriptions in the book.
This book jumps around a lot, you actually feel like you're zooming around town with Corki but I think this was intentional. Ms. Howard really wants you to feel what it's like in the life a personal assistant. These employees feel gratification in pleasing their employers at no cost no matter how degrading the request. I suggest that those thinking of going to L.A. or New York to be an assistant because they think it's glamorous to read this book. You'll find out really fast that all that glitters isn't gold. Good job Ms. Howard!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
It was amazing to realize that people really do do this for a living! You have got to be somewhat crazy, but yet the writer is a funny, intelligent and very sane woman. It is quite an interesting read to learn about just what some of "hollywood" requires these people to do! Holy mackeral.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I always wanted a chore ho of my own, but after reading this book, I can't imagine anyone wanting that job.
Well written, fun, great for bedtime or beach or vacation reading. It wold make a great addition to a cheer-up basket for a friend.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2005
This book is so funny! The main character, Corky, had to keep so many hilarious egos in check while handling some of the nastiest and/or most offensive chores ever (and then using those same hands to cook meals for the celebrities). I really got a sense of the less glamorous side of working with these celeb's. The writer has a great perspective and a good outlook. I enjoyed trying to figure who the real stars were. The book was well written and a lot of fun!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This was a cute book, I picked it up for lazy days but it really sucks you in. Sometimes the author comes off a bit arrogant (considering she wanted the job, and doesn't quit). Best of all, you can figure out the stars shes writing about by doing a bit of fact checking!! Nice peak behind the curtain.