Julia Einstein was a former publicist and a stay-at-home mom. Until one day, her world was turned upside down by the unemployment of her husband, Peter. After depleting their savings account, Julia was forced to leave her three year-old son and return to work. It was meant to be a temporary situation until her husband found a new job. What she didn’t know was that her client, Mary Ford, was a brutal narcissist with bouts of kleptomania. Nor did she know that Peter was a better “stay-at-home-mom” than she ever was, and that her job would no longer be temporary.
If the picture of a baby with a sticky note attached to his bare bum on the cover of the book didn’t throw you off, then maybe Julia’s marriage might. The one thing that irked me the most about Piece of Work is Peter’s character. He seemed too passive and Julia seemed too quick to forgive him. To tear a mother away from her child so that bills could get paid is a very tough decision for any mother to have to make. But, to happily assume the stay-at-home father position without much of a fight seemed a bit unrealistic.
Jealousy had appeared briefly when the annual gingerbread house project that Julia had pictured herself doing for their son’s preschool became the ultimate (and successful) project of her husband. I had assumed that there would have been a battle against wills; the blame game that many households with unemployed members tend to play with each other these days. But, it didn’t happen.
The entire story focused on Julia’s work, her impossible client, how much she missed her son Leo, and this perfect relationship she seemed to have with her husband. I had to consider all of the battles I had with my husband to get a decent job and “support” his children while I continued to work (and especially when I became unemployed). The complacent attitude toward another job search, the jealousy, the anger, and the frustration should have all been a part of Julia and Peter’s marriage. There should have been built-up tension between the two, more squabbling, and definitely a huge fight with awesome make-up sex afterwards. To my disappointment, all was easily forgiven with a quick peck on the cheek and snuggling up in bed after an exhausting day.
My one complaint aside, Laura Zigman is a gifted writer. She drew me in with a unique story, a most hated character, and a complete view of a publicist’s life. Piece of Work is an easy read and reminded me of the great “has-beens” that once graced the entertainment industry. It makes me wonder just how diva-ish certain celebrities really are.