The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan
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.
Ugh. This book started out with a really negative tone from the first chapter, and unfortunately it didn’t really get any better. Lila is married to Sam, the new restaurant critic for one of the Philadelphia newspapers. And he takes his job VERY seriously. So seriously that he won’t let her talk to anyone or do much of anything for fear that his identity will be discovered. I hated Sam. And I wanted to like Lila, but she drove me crazy. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like weak characters.
Before their move to Philadelphia, Lila was a high powered crisis manager at a hotel chain. She handled everything and was apparently the best at her job. But yet she couldn’t seem to tell her husband that she needed friends or was going crazy spending her days alone with their children. I couldn’t stand it.
I think this story was meant to be kind of comical, and Sam was certainly ridiculous at times with his disguises. But it just made me groan. If it hadn’t been a book club pick, I would have stopped about half way through. I had hoped that the end might make it better, but it didn’t. I wasn’t satisfied at all with the conclusion because there wasn’t really any resolution.
Aside from a few small moments that Lila had with her secret friends or with her kids, there wasn’t much I enjoyed about this book. Although I did find the analysis of food somewhat similar to how I analyze books, so I could kind of appreciate that. In the end, I rushed through the second half of the book just to get it over with.
After finishing the book, I read the bio about the author and found out her husband is a restaurant critic. I really hope he isn’t anything like Sam.
My Rating: 2 stars
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