The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBanThe Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan
Published by Lake Union Publishing on January 5, 2016
Pages: 306
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours for review consideration.
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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.



I’m so glad I signed up to read The Restaurant Critic’s Wife for its TLC book tour, because this book broke me out of (yet another) reading slump. It was such a nice, relaxing read! Very easy to lose yourself in it, this is a “just a few more pages…” type of book.

After leaving a high-powered career in hotel crisis management, Lila Soto is trying to adjust to life as a stay-at-home mom in a new city, while attempting to maintain a level of anonymity due to her husband’s job as a restaurant critic for the local newspaper. Their attempts at anonymity put a huge strain on Lila’s happiness—and her marriage. I couldn’t help but wonder: Why didn’t her husband, Sam, write under a pseudonym? Problem solved! Maybe this was explained in the book and I missed it, but regardless, their situation dredged up a host of issues women grapple with regarding the balance between career and motherhood.

“…I picture myself the way I used to be: professional, well groomed, fast on my feet. I can’t help but wonder if this is going to be it for me: former hotel executive, reluctant mother of two, and the restaurant critic’s wife.”

Lila has really kind, wonderful people around her. Neighbors, family, old friends, even her former boss are an enormous support system. And her husband is sweet and caring—well-meaning, but often a little clueless. Despite all of this support, Lila struggles with having settled down. Even though her life is good, that can’t fill the hole left by leaving her career behind.

This book is full of imperfect but realistic characters. It also features a realistic marriage: two independent lives blended together, with spouses who are figuring out how to maneuver around the hangups they brought into their life together.

“His tone calms me, but I feel like I am on a roller coaster, one minute thinking, This is good, the next minute thinking, This is bad; How did I get here and how do I get off? Are all marriages like this?”

Lila’s quest to maintain her own sense of self, and find balance between her career and her life at home, is where this book really shines. The Restaurant Critic’s Wife feels like a light read, but it never downplays the importance of its themes. If you’re looking for a good choice for your book club, you’ll have plenty to discuss with this one without feeling bogged down. Very satisfying read.

“Nobody is happy if they’re cut off from other things they love.”



Be sure to check out the other stops on this TLC Book Tour. The publisher is offering one copy of this book to one of my lucky readers! This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only, and will run through January 10, 2016:


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  • I’ve heard great things about this book!

  • This one caught my eye since I’m a foodie, but I love hearing that it also covers themes of marriage and motherhood and maintaining your identity through it all. I tend to love books with those themes. Adding to my TBR!

  • I love books that take place in my hometown! Great review! As a Philadelphian, I am well aware that the author’s real-life husband takes his job as a food critic very seriously. He’s seems like quite a character. I’m curious to know how much of this book is based on reality!

  • Jennine G.

    Sounds like a good one just from your description of how you enjoyed it!

  • HeatherTLC

    This does sound like a great book club book – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  • This sounds awesome. You know me and foodie books. TBR it is!