Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

Title: The Restaurant Critic's Wife
Date Published: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 313
Format: Hardcover
Source: TLC Book Tours


Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions about how exactly she ended up here.

In their new city of Philadelphia, Lila’s husband, Sam, takes his job as a restaurant critic a little too seriously. To protect his professional credibility, he’s determined to remain anonymous. Soon his preoccupation with anonymity takes over their lives as he tries to limit the family’s contact with anyone who might have ties to the foodie world. Meanwhile, Lila craves adult conversation and some relief from the constraints of her homemaker role. With her patience wearing thin, she begins to question everything: her decision to get pregnant again, her break from her career, her marriage—even if leaving her ex-boyfriend was the right thing to do. As Sam becomes more and more fixated on keeping his identity secret, Lila begins to wonder if her own identity has completely disappeared—and what it will take to get it back.Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable fictional character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist to ever walk the earth—in this magical novel about the bands we join in life and the power of talent to change our lives.

I am a huge foodie so when I saw that this book was available for review I jumped at the chance. It was a blend of two of my favorite things, books and food. With that said, while I did enjoy the book I did have a few issues.

Lila and Sam Soto live in Philadelphia, and Sam is the food critic for the newspaper. Lila used to be a successful business woman, but after having Hazel and Sam taking his job as a food critic, he convinces her to stay at home. Not because he wants her to be a stay at home mom necessarily, it is more that he doesn't want his identity being revealed. Lila can't imagine working while she is the mom of a toddler and pregnant with their next child, so she agrees, even though she loves her job.

The book centers around their relationship, and I have to say I really loathed Sam's character. He was so selfish and obsessed with his career, not really focusing on his wife and her needs. Everything in their life focused on the fact that he had a review to do, and NO ONE could know who he was. She wasn't supposed to make friends with people in the neighborhood, or anywhere really, because he was afraid she would let it slip who he was. I also didn't like how she went along with it. 

I wanted to love this book more than I did. The writing and character development was good so I gave it 3 1/2 stars. The plot was good as well, I just didn't connect with the characters, even though I thought they were well written. I felt that Sam was totally selfish and Lila just continued to put up with it, which I couldn't stand.

Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children. She is also the author of the young adult novel The Tragedy Paper, published by Knopf, which has been translated into eleven foreign languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, published by Quirk Books, which has been translated into seven foreign languages.

She teaches fiction writing at The University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Newsday and The Times-Picayune, among other publications. She also ghost writes a weekly column, and has ghost written two books.

She has a master’s in journalism from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s in English from Trinity College in Hartford. Elizabeth was an NBC Page, worked at NBC News in New York, taught journalism at a community college in New Orleans, and was a reporter at a number of small to mid-sized newspapers including The Riverdale Press before she began writing books.


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