The Restaurant Critics Wife – 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.

It’s has taken me the whole of the book to decide whether or not I actually like Sam Soto. He is the restaurant critic, the main man, the one with the dream job and the high expectations, he is the one who writes the reviews.

Lila Soto, the Restaurant Critics Wife, is my favourite character, she portrays the reality of everyday living, her whole existence is beautifully written, her story woven through the chapters. We feel for Lila, we understand her frustration, woes and downtime. Strive for her to hold her place in the world, find herself again, be the restaurant critics wife without being the woman he wants her to be.

I like the fact that Lila’s daily life is true to the reality of living as a mother with small children, how the difficulties of going from one child to two makes the difference and being a home bound mother really does have an impact.

Lila is lonely and feels confined to her husband’s rules, which she understands, but believes they still seems harsh. A good wife wants to do the right thing by her husband, which we see examples of throughout the novel but just how quick are wives prepared to sacrifice and suffer for the sake of a husband’s word.

The sub characters written into this story revolve around the Soto family, some slightly stronger than others and a couple individual in their own way but all are memorable for the part they play in the script and no matter how insubstantial that may be it is a required part to ensure the story continues.

The Restaurant Critics Wife is an easy read, tackling very real issues and one I enjoyed reading over a couple of days and would recommend to others. An original story and a great piece of work.



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