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People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.” People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.”Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions a People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.” People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.”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.


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People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.” People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.”Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions a People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.” People magazine included The Restaurant Critic’s Wife on their Great New Fiction list and hailed it as “thoroughly entertaining.”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.

30 review for The Restaurant Critic's Wife

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣

    2 swans stars The one thing I strongly dislike about this book is Sam, the restaurant critic. And if he bares any resemblance to the author's husband (also a restaurant critic), I'm not a fan of him either. "My mom basically took off," he finally said. "She had some issues with being a wife and mother." I'm sorry, that does not appease my contempt for him. He is self-centered and obsessed with his work. And blames his wife, Lila, when anything goes wrong. And of course it's Lila that has to comp 2 swans stars The one thing I strongly dislike about this book is Sam, the restaurant critic. And if he bares any resemblance to the author's husband (also a restaurant critic), I'm not a fan of him either. "My mom basically took off," he finally said. "She had some issues with being a wife and mother." I'm sorry, that does not appease my contempt for him. He is self-centered and obsessed with his work. And blames his wife, Lila, when anything goes wrong. And of course it's Lila that has to compromise because he's such a oh-so-famous critic. He exploits his family and feels no remorse in using his children. Somehow, 80% into the book, Lila decides that Sam is a good man after all, and suddenly he's not paranoid anymore. And this sudden change feels forced and fake. On a different note, what I appreciate the most about this book is Lila's authenticity when it comes to motherhood. Having a small child is not easy. Having a small child and a newborn... that I can't even begin to think how hard it is. Lila struggles with the changes in her life as she was good at her job. But now she has to raise two children, stay indoors, avoid the neighbors and making friends (because oh, dear!, somebody might recognize almighty Sam). Honestly, if the author had thrown in a few murders, we would have had a good old-fashioned psychopath. When I started reading the book, I wanted to like it. Unfortunately, it seems that I'm not compatible with the restaurant critic. *I thank Elizabeth LaBan, Lake Union Publishing, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Megan Johnson

    This books wasn't what I was expecting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but whatever it was this wasn't it. The book is the story of a young mother who is married to the city's most well known restaurant critic (dream job!) Not only does this mean their lives are constantly a balance of food and family, but it also means that the way they live their public lives is watched by those within the food community. As Sam, the husband, works his way through the restaurants, Lila goes about raising h This books wasn't what I was expecting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but whatever it was this wasn't it. The book is the story of a young mother who is married to the city's most well known restaurant critic (dream job!) Not only does this mean their lives are constantly a balance of food and family, but it also means that the way they live their public lives is watched by those within the food community. As Sam, the husband, works his way through the restaurants, Lila goes about raising her children all the while trying to find some true friends. But when everyone seems to be related to someone who owns a restaurant, Lila quickly learns that what her husband has to say about those restaurants might affect who she can consider a true friend. Honestly, I was initially attracted to this book due to it's bright color...and of course that dream of being a restaurant critic. I think because of the "girly" pinks and yellows of the text I was expecting something a bit more "chick-lit-y," but instead found this to be a much more in depth story. The characters were all well done although I found myself sometimes unable to keep straight which neighbor was which as there are just so many names. But for the most part, I found that even the less likable characters were endearing in their own ways. If you're familiar with my reviews, you know this goes a long way with me as I tend to enjoy books with strong characters the most. I'm giving it 4 stars although I was stuck between 3 and 4. Ultimately, I decided to bump up to 4 although I simply don't think this story is one that will stick with me for very long. Was it enjoyable? Sure - especially if you love food! (And there ARE a lot of food references in here!) But I don't foresee myself giving this one too much thought after I begin my next read. Thank you to both Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a free advance copy of this book in order to create this honest review. Rating: 4 Stars Would I recommend to others?: Yes, especially if you love food. WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dee Montoya

    ***3.5 Appetizing Stars*** (ARC Kindly provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review) Food critics are usually very enigmatic characters. We've seen them being portrayed in movies and books as temperamental and even eccentric people who are totally obsessed with food and fresh ingredients. I'm a bit of a foodie myself, so any time I come across a story that has any type of culinary aspects, I'm naturally drawn to it. The Restaurant Critic's Wife was a lovely read. I enjoyed reading the ta ***3.5 Appetizing Stars*** (ARC Kindly provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review) Food critics are usually very enigmatic characters. We've seen them being portrayed in movies and books as temperamental and even eccentric people who are totally obsessed with food and fresh ingredients. I'm a bit of a foodie myself, so any time I come across a story that has any type of culinary aspects, I'm naturally drawn to it. The Restaurant Critic's Wife was a lovely read. I enjoyed reading the tale of Lila Soto, as she embarks on motherhood for the second time in a new city, while trying to keep her husband's identity hidden. Lila used to be part of the corporate world. She had a great job she loved, and was great at it. Now she finds herself in a new city, where her husband moved them to start a new job writing for the paper. They have a toddler girl, Hazel and a newborn baby, Henry. Lila doesn't know anybody in town and has to work very hard to keep her husband's identity hidden. She can't make friends with anybody that is even remotely tied to the restaurant world, because it could jeopardize the credibility of her husband's restaurant reviews. Lila's job was to solve problems; she was the best at handling any type of crisis in the hotel company where she worked, a real magician when it came to sorting through even the worst situations. But now at home she is struggling. Taking care of the household and handling her young kids, all while hiding the identity of her husband, is getting to be too much for her, and every day she misses the well put together girl she used to be. If you are a mother then you will be able to completely relate to Lila's story, while having a laugh with all the crazy shenanigans her husband was constantly pulling. The story is written with a lot of charm and familiarity and while I enjoyed it, I wish there was a bit more excitement in it. I felt like I was kept at a simmering point throughout the entire story; the plot never really took off. The relationship between Lila and her husband lacked romance. I can understand and even appreciate the effort the author made to keep it as realistic as possible in comparison to how a real marriage is. But in the end I found myself getting bored at times, and unable to completely connect with Sam's character. I loved Elizabeth LaBan's writing style and sense of humor and I look forward to reading more books from her in the future. PS. The food descriptions in this book were not only delightful but completely appetizing. I noticed how I was always getting hungry while I was reading this book. So keep snacks close by while enjoying this book. ; )

  4. 5 out of 5

    Agi

    The Restaurant Critic's Wife - this book sounded absolutely just like my cup of tea, so I didn't hesitate to request it on NetGalley. There were restaurants and food involved, and I do like some good food in my books! I was also thinking, with one of the main character being a restaurant critic, we can expect some brilliant anecdotes. I start reading every book full of hope that I'm just about to discover the next gem for my bookshelf. Unfortunately, in the course of reading this novel, I was loo The Restaurant Critic's Wife - this book sounded absolutely just like my cup of tea, so I didn't hesitate to request it on NetGalley. There were restaurants and food involved, and I do like some good food in my books! I was also thinking, with one of the main character being a restaurant critic, we can expect some brilliant anecdotes. I start reading every book full of hope that I'm just about to discover the next gem for my bookshelf. Unfortunately, in the course of reading this novel, I was loosing my hope. I couldn't help but asked myself what this book is about and what was it written for, because - shortly - it describes a year in life of Lila, Sam and their two children. Almost every page was full of their daily activities, which included nursing Henry, going out eating, nursing Henry, falling out, nursing Henry, looking for a place to nurse Henry and nursing Henry. I was sure that when I'm going to read about nursing Henry again, I'm going to start screaming. You know, books are about something, there is plot, there is a plan, the story is taking us somewhere, there are twists and turns - which I didn't find in this book. It started and it ended, and that's all - it could easily be written about me, my daily routine, me bringing my daughter to kindergarten every day and fighting with my husband. What made the reading even more complicated for me was the fact that I didn't warm to the characters at all. Lila was a woman who had no idea what she wanted, Sam... Oh God, please don't let me start on Sam. He was egoistic, childish and focused only on his work, and I had a feeling that either everything is like he wanted it to be, or it's not right, and he wanted to decide about his wife's life as well, and I don't know if he was so focused, or so short - sighted that he didn't see how many things he's cutting his family from. Lila wasn't allowed friends because of his work. Lila wasn't allowed to go to work because of his job. Lila must have to come with him to all the restaurants - because of his job. Oh no, I had this one wrong - Lila must have to come to the restaurants he was testing only when SAM wanted her to come. His dressing - ups were on the verge of absurd and the way he took himself and his job seriously only made me roll my eyes and dislike him even more. He was so frustrating with his obsession about keeping quiet about his job, and I couldn't understand why couldn't he just write under different name? Why not only say people that he worked in a paper, without specifying what exactly he was writing about? Why make Lila's life a hell with constant nagging and not letting her go back to work and only promising they're going to talk about it? He made Lila's job sound so, so unimportant in comparison to his own job and I hated it. And basically forbidding her to have friends and life other than taking care of the children. Yes, I wanted to punch him. In the face. So shortly, the whole book is about Lila debating if she should come back to work and about Sam getting more and more paranoid about his job. Am really very disappointed, have expected a totally different story, maybe focusing more on the restaurants and testing itself. I kept reading hoping for something to happen, for something to change my mind about it but sadly, it didn't happen. Also, the writing style couldn't win me over. It was dragging on and on, and even though it was easy to follow, it didn't keep me hooked. The never - ending river of words didn't draw me in, as for me there was nothing significant to the story, and eventually I found myself skimming through some of the paragraphs. The storyline was weak in my opinion, and the characters were annoying. So yes. As opposed to the people mentioned in the Acknowledgements, like Jennifer Weiner, who loved this novel, and other people who SO GOT Lila's story, I didn't get it. Copy provided by publisher in exchange for a review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Judy D Collins

    What a fabulous front cover design. Depicting the upscale white tablecloth dining experience, with the child’s eating utensil. A balance of two worlds into one, similar to the overall novel's theme. Elizabeth LaBan delivers a witty and modern contemporary look at today’s domestic dual working career couples; parenting, their choice of friends, identity, and how sometimes careers can jeopardize our social, professional, and family life—life can be a major collision course. The bad with the good What a fabulous front cover design. Depicting the upscale white tablecloth dining experience, with the child’s eating utensil. A balance of two worlds into one, similar to the overall novel's theme. Elizabeth LaBan delivers a witty and modern contemporary look at today’s domestic dual working career couples; parenting, their choice of friends, identity, and how sometimes careers can jeopardize our social, professional, and family life—life can be a major collision course. The bad with the good- the balancing act. A RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE is filled with delicious guilt-free literary humor while exploring the struggles of motherhood, relationships, marriage, and some juicy restaurant reviews. Culinary delights—catering to today’s most discriminating taste palettes, epicureans, and foodies. LaBan is the author-wife of real, Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan, and her tale follows a young woman adjusting to motherhood, life in a new city, and living with the fact-crazed, anonymity-obsessed restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Record. “It's really fiction, insists LaBan, whose protagonist, Lila, meets government reporter-turned-restaurant writer Sam Soto in New Orleans. They move to Philadelphia - a path that the LaBans took in 1998.” Fans of Jennifer Weiner, Sarah Pekkanen, Jane Green, and Amy Hatvany are going to fall in love with this gem! Loved the opening of each chapter with a glowing, or not--review from Sam Soto. Lila Sota, previously had a great job, a fabulous degree, and lots of travel as a corporate hotel crisis regional manager. She thrived on problems. No problem too big to solve. Her position was essential, and she traveled the world, a pro at crisis management. She loved the power of her suitcase—representing travel, adventure, and not being tied down. She loved her life. She even broke off an earlier relationship, when things started getting serious. She could not consider marriage or children, and being tied down. She did not want to lose her independence. However, later she met “the man”, changing her ideas about settling down. Sam, in New Orleans, while away on business. Slowly he became more important to her, and for the first time, and a baby on the way, she felt this was the “one”—she could share her life with and settle down. As the novel opens, the couple Sam and Lila are married, where they reside in a friendly suburban neighborhood. Colonial Court (so funny I often stay at a boutique hotel on Florida’s west coast-same name), with their three-year-old daughter, Hazel (A diva, a riot, and a handful) … hilarious! Lila has another baby on the way. They have moved from New Orleans to Philly, due to Sam’s job. He is a food critic and works for the local paper. He takes his career VERY seriously. Lila has left her power job, to stay home full time to take care of Hazel, and the soon to be baby. After the baby arrives (Henry), she is mounted with the demands of two children, feels cut off from neighbors and friends, living in a new neighborhood, due to her husband’s position. She has desires of going back to work, feeling important, with a sense of purpose. After the second baby is a little older, she has an opportunity to return to work--her old boss, allowing her to work on a contract basis part-time. Of course, Sam wants NO part of this. She often gets publicity--too risky with his job. She makes decisions to do what she feels is best, and does it. (without discussing) She wants to try it out. However, Sam has issues. His mom left them, at an earlier age due to her unhappiness, after he was born. He wants his wife to be fulfilled. A constant struggle—with his insecurities. Plus Lila has her own mom’s need for a professional career pushed on her. Lila’s struggle to balance the demands of husband, kids, and job—plus Sam’s job--overwhelming--her former crisis management skills are tested. What is a more crisis-ridden position, than a mother? However, they have a big problem. Sam needs to maintain anonymity. He has to dress up in all kind of disguises, to drop into the restaurants so that one will recognize him. He drags Lila to all the fancy spots day and night; however, if he wants to review a particular dish, she cannot order what she wants. Sometimes he wants her to drag the kids, which can be embarrassing when you are breast feeding and have an opinionated, temper throwing, vocal, four-year-old. Plus, for a test, sometimes Sam carries in Mac n cheese in a box and asks the restaurant to prepare it. Total buzz kill; taking away the entire pleasure of the overall dining experience. From family members, friends, and colleagues – everyone is "used" as part of this charade. However, there are some cool creative restaurants-especially the one with snow sledding. Due to the sensitivity of his job, he refused to allow Lila to socialize with her neighbors, have friends, or have their daughter attend birthday parties--she could be tasting their food. She is not even allowed to stop in for a quick bite at a restaurant she likes—a gossip columnist will document what she eats and how much---after her husband gave them a bad review! Gals, you are going to LOVE Lila!. She pushes ALL boundaries. She is smart, sassy, driven. Living proof, you can be in a marriage and have differences of opinions. You can disagree. Most married couples would give up –walk away, with these high pressures. Not, Lila---she is tenacious and does not allow her husband, or obstacles to get in her way. Besides, even though Sam has his eccentricities and obsessions, he is preoccupied; you cannot fault him—he is passionate about his position as a restaurant critic—taking it to the extremes sometimes; however, in the end, he loves his wife and family. Neither walks away from troubles and pressure—which is easily done in today’s society. A very good example you can have careers, a family, a marriage---it takes the drive of these two, and the love to get you through it. Stay in the fight—without giving up your dreams. “Life without love is useless.” What a fantastic book! No one is just one thing. People can have two sides. A balance. There will always be another crisis. One can only hope, the good outweighs the bad. Loved Sebastian, the gay waiter. I would like to see a continuation and a series, with more from this character. He is too good to end. A friend we all want. Plus love Lila, her job, and the funny Hazel. Enjoy the cool, unique restaurants, food, and reviews. Sure there could be more stories from the Desperate Housewives--Wisteria Lane (Colonial Court) neighborhood to follow. Summary: Furthermore, the author is married in “real life” to a restaurant critic with two small children--- with the insights and expertise to enhance the fact/fiction realistic events further. I had to laugh, thinking how in the heck did LaBane manage to convince her husband to write this novel-- while at the same time, trying to manage his reputation and keep "under the radar"? Maybe she has some of Lila’s spunk. Just do it! Ask for forgiveness later. Love it. It works. 5 Swans (Stars)! A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. JDCMustReadBooks

  6. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Ard

    I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Sigh. I don't think I've ever been this disappointed by such a well-written book. On a technical level, The Restaurant Critic's Wife is nearly flawless. Ms. LaBan's style flows nicely and her descriptions, while a bit heavy-handed at times, are effective. She even does a good job at piecing various elements of the story together. Unfortunately, though, there isn't much of a story for her to work wit I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Sigh. I don't think I've ever been this disappointed by such a well-written book. On a technical level, The Restaurant Critic's Wife is nearly flawless. Ms. LaBan's style flows nicely and her descriptions, while a bit heavy-handed at times, are effective. She even does a good job at piecing various elements of the story together. Unfortunately, though, there isn't much of a story for her to work with. As you'll see in the synopsis provided by the publisher, The Restaurant Critic's Wife is about just that. Lila is married to Sam Soto, Philadelphia's newest and most sought after food critic, and she's having a hard time adjusting to her new life. In less than five years, she's gone from workaholic to a reluctant stay at home mom to a toddler and a newborn, a lonely stranger in a new city. Sam, paranoid about his identity being revealed, becomes increasingly controlling as what little bit of plot there is unfolds, forbidding Lila from returning to work, making friends, or even leaving the house without him. There are several issues that I have with this book. First off, from a storytelling perspective, it's just downright dull. There are entirely too many minor characters that add next to nothing to the storyline. Several of the neighbor ladies could have been combined into one or two characters with no major loss. The woman who is supposedly Lila's best friend in the world is only briefly mentioned, while people she supposedly hates who add nothing to the story are mentioned over and over again. Second, the book could have been much, much shorter. Much of the time is spent on episodic tangents that don't really seem to contribute to the story at large. Pages and pages are filled with the minutiae of Lila's domestic affairs--there are about one hundred detailed accounts of her breastfeeding her son, tons of her daughter whining and wanting to change clothes, a huge chunk of a chapter devoted to her trying to get the kids in the car to go to Sam's aunt's house for tea. I have the feeling that Ms. LaBan wanted to convey the utter exhaustion and tedium that is the stay at home mother lifestyle, and if that hunch is correct, she definitely succeeded. While I applaud her abilities in this regard, it was more frustrating than enlightening. Third, ninety-nine percent of the conflict in this story could be resolved with a few quick conversations and a hug or a handshake. So much of Lila's inner dialogue goes over how frustrated she is by Sam's asinine rules, how much she wants to return to work, how much she wants to make friends, but she hardly ever opens her mouth to have an honest conversation. Granted, Sam is incredibly childish and difficult, so the success of said attempt is questionable at best, but it would have been nice to see her try a little harder to get through to him. Also, I'm still not quite clear on why Sam didn't just operate under a pen name for his reviews, if he was worried about restaurant employees giving him special treatment. The buzz surrounding him didn't seem entirely believable either--I'm no expert, but I found it highly unlikely that non-foodies gave a rat's behind what Sam thought of restaurants, anyway. Most of the places he visited seemed a little high-brow for an average American family. Now, we get to the huge problem I have with this book: Sam. I can't stress this point enough: I hate Sam. Sam is a terrible, terrible human being. For those interested in textual evidence: "Lila, I hear you, but I don't know if you can do it. I'm starting to think that letting you out there is like setting a wild animal free in a city--you just can't help yourself." "I wish I were enough to make you...happy." "[Sam] would probably scold me for leaving the house at all. Sam is despicable. He cares exactly not at all about Lila's well-being or happiness. He moves their family across country without really caring about her opinion, he keeps her from going back to work even though that's what she really wants to do, he forces her to isolate herself from her neighbors and pretty much everyone else she befriends because heaven forbid, someone might know someone who is somehow connected to a restaurant and everything will be ruined. He doesn't even like her taking the kids out for lunch. This is a woman who has gone through a lot of life changes and is now caring for two children, one a nursing baby, completely on her own--a woman who is a prime candidate for postpartum depression--and he cuts her off from everyone who might be able to help her out. Honestly, I kept waiting for Lila to snap and stab him or something. Instead, she's almost constantly frustrated at him but often forgets her feelings because she remembers how charming he was when they first met, or she sees him smiling at their children. Because, you know, that makes the emotional abuse just dandy. Their conflict is finally "resolved" by Sam magically understanding Lila around the same time she comes around to the idea that his paranoia is justified. She actually blames herself for someone STEALING A PICTURE OF SAM FROM THEIR HOME to circulate around the local restaurants. She decides not to go back to work full-time, because he was right about that too, somehow, and instead she begins doing some maybe possibly part-time freelance work. Here's the thing: I don't have a thing in the world against stay at home mothers. I actually have a lot of respect for them, and wouldn't mind having the option myself some day. But I'm not okay with a woman being strongarmed into staying home, just because her husband says so, without really talking to her or trying to understand what she wants out of life. Some women really want to work out of the home after they have children, and that deserves equal respect, especially when there are financial problems in the household. Ahem. The Restaurant Critic's Wife was a total disappointment, doubly so because of how well the actual writing was. The two star rating is for Ms. LaBan's skills in that arena alone; otherwise, it's a solid .5-1 stars. Avoid if possible. It will only break your heart.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Boring, blah, and blech. Got halfway through and realized I didn't like the characters or the plot. He was overbearing and paranoid. She was miserable and too reluctant to talk to him about it. And there wasn't near enough food discussion. On to something better. Boring, blah, and blech. Got halfway through and realized I didn't like the characters or the plot. He was overbearing and paranoid. She was miserable and too reluctant to talk to him about it. And there wasn't near enough food discussion. On to something better.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I gave this book 2.5 stars, but rounded it up to 3 stars on Goodreads. Unfortunately there is no Denis Leary character to tell these two characters about themselves like there was in the movie, "The Ref." Seriously though, there were parts of this book that were very good, but the main protagonist (Lila) is a martyr and just insufferable at times along with her husband (Sam) who gives a new meaning to the word self-absorbed. I should be rooting for the character of Lila. A young Please note that I gave this book 2.5 stars, but rounded it up to 3 stars on Goodreads. Unfortunately there is no Denis Leary character to tell these two characters about themselves like there was in the movie, "The Ref." Seriously though, there were parts of this book that were very good, but the main protagonist (Lila) is a martyr and just insufferable at times along with her husband (Sam) who gives a new meaning to the word self-absorbed. I should be rooting for the character of Lila. A young mother of a toddler and pregnant with her second child, she feels at loose ends after moving from New Orleans to Philadelphia. Lila who was a fixer for a huge hotel chain (no I can't remember her title, and I am not looking it up) feels adrift in a new city with nothing to do all day but stay at home with the kids. It doesn't help that her husband is obsessed with keeping his identity as a restaurant critic secret, which includes him in disguises, not answering to his own name, and insisting that Lila keeps her identity a secret too. Instead of rooting for Lila though, I was over her a good 15 percent into the book. Here's the thing, Lila acted passive aggressive, and downright jerky throughout this book. She was having serious issues with Sam's demands and she should have sat down and explained what was going on. Also a few times Lila actually knew that Sam's fears about his identity were realized, and she just didn't tell him about it. Case in point, Lila runs into a college friend at the playground. Once she realizes that her friend and her husband own a restaurant, Lila turns a blind eye to the constant ways that her friend is trying to use her in order to get a great review. I know I would hate being wrong in this instant too, but she doesn't even own it. And most of the book is just Lila wishing she had chosen different, but then being glad she didn't, and just sitting back and watching her husband act like an ass. Lather, rinse, repeat. The author does try to show why Lila's former job would come a calling, but if anything it showed that she was also sneaky and lying about things, which correct me if I am wrong. Is that a good thing to do when married to another person? Sam is a hot mess. Seriously. I hated this character from beginning to end. LaBan does show some earlier instances of Sam and Lila prior to having kids and when they were living in New Orleans, but he just came across as weird and once again obsessed. Him insisting on Lila staying out of the paper and being angry at her for eating at places were he gave bad reviews to, ugh. I don't even know the way around that. Sam is shown as caring, but only as it doesn't affect his job. He even gets the kids in on his reviews by coming up with different ways to taste the restaurants he goes to. And LeBan does try to shed some light onto Sam and why he acts the way he does, but none of it rings true. And guess what, your mom bouncing on you does not equal you get to act like a jerk and or like you don't know how human beings act around one another. The other characters in this book were not worth writing home about. I think that LeBan would have been better served cutting out the whole side-plot with Lila's ex (it added nothing) and the waiter she met at one of the restaurant's (it was weird). So my problem with the plot is, is this for real? Are people going around trying to identify restaurant critics? The way this book acted was that these people were America's Most Wanted or something. I just didn't get it. We also had a gossip columnist at Sam's newspaper reporting on Lila. I just laughed at that. Sure, even though newspapers are slowly dying out, we have one reporter mentioning where the wife of one of his co-workers are eating? Nothing about that rang true at all. The writing at times was good. For example, we get snippets of Sam's writing at the beginning of every chapter which showed that he definitely had a way with written words. And it's apparent that the writer knows something about food based on how she describes certain dishes. But the interaction and dialogue between most of the characters was lacking. I did laugh at one particular part where Lila visits Sam's great aunt though. That entire piece had me doubled over cracking up and feeling really bad for Lila. The flow wasn't great though. I think the flashbacks to Sam and Lila in New Orleans didn't really work with the book. And once Lila let's Sam know what she wants to do and how his work is affecting her, seemed to keep getting repeated until almost the very end. The setting of Philadelphia would have been great if we actually had the characters out and about more. Instead we just stayed focused on the street that Lila and Sam lived and the next door neighbors. These neighbors also made me wonder if every street in America is just "Desperate Housewives" with another name? The way the book ended was on such a weird note that I have no words for it. Oh wait I do, odd, puzzling, confusing, and head scratching.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    This book is hard to review. I liked the writing but there wasn’t any story. Lila and Sam are married and have two kids, a three year old and a new born. I thought the fact it was very different to anything I’d read before (I have never read a book where someone is a Food Critic before) that I would love it, I didn’t. One of the waiters at a restaurant was my favorite character, he was sweet and helpful and just what Lila needed in a friend. Sam annoyed the life out of me, if I could of threw th This book is hard to review. I liked the writing but there wasn’t any story. Lila and Sam are married and have two kids, a three year old and a new born. I thought the fact it was very different to anything I’d read before (I have never read a book where someone is a Food Critic before) that I would love it, I didn’t. One of the waiters at a restaurant was my favorite character, he was sweet and helpful and just what Lila needed in a friend. Sam annoyed the life out of me, if I could of threw the book in frustration I would’ve (I was on my ipad) He dictated what she couldn’t do couldn’t work because her job may require to be in the media couldn’t have friends because they may owe restaurants, could only come with him to his job when he decided. He makes weird choices that made me go what the heck? I would still read more from Elizabeth but hopefully there is action in the next book. I would like to thank Net galley and the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Finkle

    This was a great book about a woman's struggle to balance career and motherhood. Lila was a very successful crisis manager. A career she continued even after getting married and giving birth to her daughter, Hazel. After her husband's job causes them to relocate to a new city and she becomes pregnant again, she leaves her job to be home with her young children. Soon she finds that her husband's job as Philly's much followed food critic is crippling her social life and desire to return to work. T This was a great book about a woman's struggle to balance career and motherhood. Lila was a very successful crisis manager. A career she continued even after getting married and giving birth to her daughter, Hazel. After her husband's job causes them to relocate to a new city and she becomes pregnant again, she leaves her job to be home with her young children. Soon she finds that her husband's job as Philly's much followed food critic is crippling her social life and desire to return to work. There are lot of relatable ups and downs as many working and non-working mothers can relate to. Friendships are tested and so is the marriage of Lila and Sam. I really enjoyed this light hearted, endearing story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lorilin

    It's fall, and Lila and her family have just moved to Philadelphia, so that her husband, Sam, can start his dream career as a restaurant critic. In order to make his dream possible, however, Lila has had to quit work and stay at home with their two young children. While she--of course--loves her babies, a part of her longs for her old life, the one in lively New Orleans with a blossoming, high-stakes career and fewer family responsibilities. To make matters worse, Sam has made her promise that s It's fall, and Lila and her family have just moved to Philadelphia, so that her husband, Sam, can start his dream career as a restaurant critic. In order to make his dream possible, however, Lila has had to quit work and stay at home with their two young children. While she--of course--loves her babies, a part of her longs for her old life, the one in lively New Orleans with a blossoming, high-stakes career and fewer family responsibilities. To make matters worse, Sam has made her promise that she will keep a low profile (to him this means having no friends at all) in their new city so that his secret identity as a critic won't be compromised. The book follows Lila's family, and especially Lila's relationship with Sam, over one year as they attempt to find balance in their new roles. Truthfully, I thought I was going to love this book. The premise intrigued me, and I really enjoy novels about food, restaurants, and chefs. (Kitchens of the Great Midwest is one of my favorite books of 2015.) And author LaBan can write! In the first few pages, she creates memorable and relatable characters who are engaging and have depth. LaBan's writing is descriptive, but never verbose. She's thoughtful, calm, and observant, but not tedious. This book had all the right ingredients to be something great. The problem is that all this goodness never goes anywhere! I read the book on my Kindle, and the first 90% (!) is the same issue played out over and over again. The basic scenario is this: Lila is bored and lonely, but Sam doesn't want Lila to make friends with ANYONE, lest his identity be discovered. Lila never confronts Sam; she just tries harder to be invisible...but then also secretly tries to make friends. And then Sam yells at her. So she promises to be more careful. But then she secretly tries to make friends again. And then Sam yells at her...again. And this goes on for hundreds of pages. I think this book could have been much stronger if it had been about half as long. (A part of me wonders if LaBan was so fixated on the idea of following Lila for a whole year, four full seasons--fall, winter, spring, and summer--that she added more fluff just to keep that vision going.) More troubling, in my opinion, though, is that Sam, as a character, becomes downright ridiculous by the end of the book--which means the story itself kind of becomes ridiculous, too. I still don't understand why Sam insists on all the intense secrecy and disguises. I mean, he exists, right? He has a family and lives in a house in a neighborhood. People are going to find out who he is; there is no stopping that. It was never believable to me that he (as a non-abusive man) would tell his strong and capable wife that she isn't allowed to have a job or ANY friends. And I especially could not believe that this strong and capable woman would just accept being treated that way. The more I read, the more the relationship between Lila and Sam became less and less plausible. In short, while The Restaurant Critic's Wife initially showed promise, the story and the characters became too contrived. I kept turning pages, hoping for more, but it just never came. Even the ending, which did offer a bit of action and resolution, was unrealistic and disappointing. If you are looking for an enjoyable food-related novel, do yourself a favor: skip this one and check out Kitchens of the Great Midwest instead.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I loved this book! I have always wondered what it would be to be a restaurant critic. After reading this delightful book, I don't think I'd be so good. The story is about a family who move to Philadelphia so that the husband, Sam, can take a job with the paper as a restaurant critic. Sam, to be honest, drove me crazy - in a good way. He was literally intent on remaining incognito. I'm sure he drove Lila, his wife, crazy too! Between the family - they have one toddler and one baby - and all the n I loved this book! I have always wondered what it would be to be a restaurant critic. After reading this delightful book, I don't think I'd be so good. The story is about a family who move to Philadelphia so that the husband, Sam, can take a job with the paper as a restaurant critic. Sam, to be honest, drove me crazy - in a good way. He was literally intent on remaining incognito. I'm sure he drove Lila, his wife, crazy too! Between the family - they have one toddler and one baby - and all the neighbors and other characters, I was enthralled. The story was so realistic and moved so well along that I couldn't put it down! Highly recommended. I received this book from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jacqie

    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I read this book on an overnight flight, and if I hadn't been reading it then, I doubt I would have finished it. I picked the book out because I love food, eating and restaurants and thought it might be a nice change of pace. However, I have several problems with this book: the restaurant reviewing, the marriage, and the main character's own crisis of identity. Apparently the author's husband really is a food critic in I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I read this book on an overnight flight, and if I hadn't been reading it then, I doubt I would have finished it. I picked the book out because I love food, eating and restaurants and thought it might be a nice change of pace. However, I have several problems with this book: the restaurant reviewing, the marriage, and the main character's own crisis of identity. Apparently the author's husband really is a food critic in Philadelphia. If I hadn't read that, I would never have believed it. We are treated to many descriptions of restaurants and food, and they felt... dated. Unsophisticated. For example, in one very nice restaurant the table settings are described and they include silver walnut shaped salt and pepper shakers. I don't think you'll ever see a pepper shaker at a highly rated restaurant, although you are likely to be offered a grind of fresh pepper. Salt shakers are disappearing, too. A lot of the food descriptions read like stuff out of the nineties as far as ingredient combinations or tastes. It's been long enough since I read it that I don't have a great example for you. The husband also seems consumed (HA!?) with catching restaurants out. In the first chapter, he dumpster-dives to prove that tomato sauce served in an Italian place comes out of a can. He also decides that a gourmet macaroni and cheese has cheddar in it and obsesses over that. For him, it seems all about trashing a restaurant and cutting them down to size in order to prove himself. We are also treated to excerpts from his reviews at the beginning of each chapter, which are to set the theme in a heavy-handed way. It seems all about control for Sam in his marriage too. This young couple has moved from New Orleans to Philadelphia, a promotion for Sam the husband but nothing for Lila, the wife, who used to have a career but recently has been staying home with her young daughter. Sam is obsessed (this word keeps popping up) with maintaining his secret identity so no restaurant will give him service any different than any other customer. In "Garlic and Sapphires", Ruth Reichl's memoir about being the NYT food critic, she does go to some lengths, including disguises, to conceal her identity. However, Sam goes further. He insists that Lila make no friends unless she knows that they aren't involved with restaurants, and make no friends in their neighborhood just in case one of these people do own a restaurant. He also disguises himself frequently. Frankly, at one point I thought the plot was going to be that Sam was mentally ill. He has no thoughts about how difficult it will be for his wife to be isolated while pregnant and then with baby number 2, and the only reason I can think of that Lila put up with it was because she was going through post-partum depression and could summon no energy to fight for herself. Then there was Lila herself. Her career had been as a hotel crisis manager, and she was all about the "hotel smell" that she loved whenever she walked in the doors of a lodging establishment. I've never thought much about a hotel smell except to be relieved if there was no bad smell, and it seems a strange thing to take comfort from. Artificial piped in air with fragrance added? I guess whatever floats your boat, Lila. Although she had been a nationally renowned crisis manager, this woman was utterly unable to stand up to her husband or ask for what she needed. I had a really hard time respecting her. Not because of any of the rather poignant mothering episodes- it must be so difficult to be left alone to handle two young children- but because she knew what she needed- to work- and couldn't bring herself to ask for it. This lack of spine seemed utterly inconsistent with her previous life. And it seemed pretty old-fashioned, too. Lila even had her old boss begging her to come back and offering to give her whatever she needed! Sam was worried that she would be "too high-profile" and that he would be found out if she started working again. Did I mention that Sam is not particularly sympathetic? Also, doesn't it seem odd that, even with money troubles, Lila going back to work was right off the table? Wouldn't you think that a traveling crisis manager with a national hotel chain would make more than a restaurant food critic? Anyway, Lila finds a way to mesh motherhood with working. I wonder how many of the author's own issues were worked out in this book, because a lot of Lila's internal monologue went over the same points again and again, and her solution really didn't seem very dramatic, nor would it have satisfied me if I were her. Everything seems fine in the end, Lila has a realization about her husband that I'd had hundreds of pages before, and it all works out. So, the food, the relationships, and the plot solution all disappointed. It would take a lot for me to try something else by this author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Writers are told to write what they know, and Elizabeth LaBan has taken that to heart in her novel The Restaurant Critic's Wife. Like her protagonist Lila, LaBan is married to the food critic for a large Philadelphia newspaper. (Luckily, LaBan says that the character of the critic is much crazier than her actual husband.) Lila is a high-powered executive for a large hotel chain. She specializes in crisis management and public relations, traveling the globe and solving problems with aplomb. After Writers are told to write what they know, and Elizabeth LaBan has taken that to heart in her novel The Restaurant Critic's Wife. Like her protagonist Lila, LaBan is married to the food critic for a large Philadelphia newspaper. (Luckily, LaBan says that the character of the critic is much crazier than her actual husband.) Lila is a high-powered executive for a large hotel chain. She specializes in crisis management and public relations, traveling the globe and solving problems with aplomb. After she breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, she finds herself in New Orleans for work when she meets Sam. Sam and Lila fall deeply in love. Lila becomes pregnant and they decide to marry. They are very happy together, and then Sam gets the opportunity he has been waiting for- a job as a restaurant critic at a Philadelphia newspaper. By now, Lila and Sam have two young children- Hazel, a toddler, and baby Henry. Sam is totally engrossed in his job, taking it very seriously. He is overly protective of his anonymity, believing that if anyone knew who he was, he could not do his job properly. This unfortunately extends to Lila and the children. He doesn't want Lila to befriend any neighbors in case they own a restaurant. Lila's high school friend Maureen lives in town and also has two young children, but her husband owns a restaurant, so they cannot be friends. He also doesn't want Lila to go back to work for the hotel, which Lila desperately wants to do. She felt in charge there, and being stuck at home and not allowed to have friends begins to frustrate her. The one friend she makes is a waiter from a fancy restaurant, Sebastian. He is kind to Lila, and helpful with the children. But Sam flips out when he discovers their friendship because he feels Sebastian may be using Lila to get information. It seems to me that Sam is too controlling and not very understanding of what he is asking of his wife. He acts like he works for the CIA, and that his identity must be protected for national security reasons. The story was really captivating, especially for anyone who is a foodie; the descriptions of restaurants and the food are mouth-watering, and I liked the snippets of Sam's reviews that open the chapters. The characters are interesting and well- developed and I really adored Lila and rooted for her. Even the kids were engaging characters, which is sometimes difficult to do. LeBan also does a wonderful job writing about marriage and parenthood, and the many compromises that must be made to make it all work. Her description of Lila's C-section and its aftermath were dead-on as well. The one thing that felt a bit odd was that Lila was in a few gossip columns, outed as the restaurant critic's wife. How boring are things in Philadelphia that the restaurant critic's wife is constant fodder for gossip columns? I recommend The Restaurant Critic's Wife to anyone who likes a good story about the compromises of marriage, as well as anyone who would like a peek into the world of restaurants.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arlena Dean

    Title: The Restaurant Critic's Wife Publisher: Lake Union Publishing Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: 4 Review: "The Restaurant Critic's Wife" by Elizabeth LaBan My Thoughts... I liked the cover design very tasteful for this story that this author gives the readers. This novel gives the reader a little bit of it all from humor, to motherhood, marriage, to some restaurant reviews, wonderful culinary skills to some interesting foods. This author gives the reader a intriguing story of her life [Lila] bef Title: The Restaurant Critic's Wife Publisher: Lake Union Publishing Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: 4 Review: "The Restaurant Critic's Wife" by Elizabeth LaBan My Thoughts... I liked the cover design very tasteful for this story that this author gives the readers. This novel gives the reader a little bit of it all from humor, to motherhood, marriage, to some restaurant reviews, wonderful culinary skills to some interesting foods. This author gives the reader a intriguing story of her life [Lila] before her marriage and after she met her husband Sam [food critic]settling down in Philadelphia with their three year old daughter, Hazel...and later with a new little one on the way. How life will change for Lila as she thinks after the baby Henry is a little older returning to work however Sam wasn't for that so how will things changed for Lila? Why was this? What had happened in Sam's life that brought on his insecurities? At times I wasn't one of Sam's fans. Sam didn't want Lila to socialize even 'with their neighbors, have friends, or have their daughter to even attend birthday parties.' What was up with all that ...just because he was a food critic? Thank God Lila did had a mind of her own...being 'smart, sassy, and driven' and not letting Sam get in her way. Yes, I do believe that in a marriage one can have difference of opinions and still be in a solid good marriage. In the end well I will stop here and say you will have to pick up this novel to see how this author brings it all out so realistically to the reader. I received this book from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bhanuj

    I received a digital copy of this book from Lake Union publishers through Net Galley for an honest review. The restaurant critic’s wife was a sumptuous read flavored with comedy, suspense, drama, indecision and of course, good food. The book was, in a way, much like a well prepared four course meal. Right from the look and feel of the cover art to the depths of emotional yet funny drama, each chapter felt like peeling a different layer, keeping the taste buds alive. The restaurant critic’s wife is I received a digital copy of this book from Lake Union publishers through Net Galley for an honest review. The restaurant critic’s wife was a sumptuous read flavored with comedy, suspense, drama, indecision and of course, good food. The book was, in a way, much like a well prepared four course meal. Right from the look and feel of the cover art to the depths of emotional yet funny drama, each chapter felt like peeling a different layer, keeping the taste buds alive. The restaurant critic’s wife is the tale of Lila Soto, who moves to Philadelphia along with her husband, Sam Soto. Sam is a Restaurant Critic and wants to give this new gig a chance. But Sam’s preoccupation with anonymity takes him to extremes and pushes Lila into a life of solitude. Lila craves for company, her work and a return to semblance of normalcy. The novel focuses not just on the taxing relationship between a husband and his wife but also tests the waters of motherhood and career. Elizabeth LaBan has put in a lot of work building the characters, be it Sam, Lila or people from their neighborhood. Every single character is penned to perfection. Lila, a devoted wife, who bends over backwards to support her husband’s dream job and tries her level best to secure his anonymity at the cost of her own social life and job. Sam, a food critic, who believes that everything, including his family’s comfort can be sacrificed for his job. The book has a pleasing-to-the-palate humor. I admit to laughing out loud at scenes from review dinners. It is the kind of humor that one finds in Wodehouse novels; light and pleasant. Humor that brings a smile on your face throughout the read. The author penned every scene to its full advantage never once leaving the grounds of reality. The trial and tribulations of a new mother, are shown beautifully. Be it fixing baby seats in car, to visiting aunts, the elements of humor and drama are never under or over done. However I do feel that the author missed one opportunity. Lila has been shown struggling with her kids, getting them dressed, getting them in car seats or getting them to eat properly. It would have been so much fun to see Lila struggling with baby baths too. The writing is very refined. There are no abrupt breaks and words flow like melted cheese. The story is no doubt beautiful but the writing is what makes this novel a wonderful read. I like it how the author portrayed the feelings of young child when she had to share the attention with a new born baby in the house. How Hazel (Lila’s daughter) kept saying “There is no baby.” The story is fast paced. Every single chapter brought some new twist or trouble in the life of Lila. The novel made me laugh and at times, characters like Sam Soto got so high up on my nerves that I wished I could somehow reach inside the novel and punch the guy! For all those with the love for humor, family, protagonist female character and food, dive right in! You can also read the review here: Argumentative Watermelon

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lekeisha The Booknerd

    *3.5 stars* RTC!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Reeves Honey

    The Restaurant Critic's Wife was a well written book where you seamlessly slip right into the main character's life. One day,as I have often written myself,I woke up n a strange state with a strange man and a strange baby! Yes,all those pre internet ,cell phone years ago I was home alone every day with an infant. I had married and become a mother in my mid 30's. So for the first time in my life I was all alone without my peer group for eight plus hours a day. I clearly identified on some levels(not t The Restaurant Critic's Wife was a well written book where you seamlessly slip right into the main character's life. One day,as I have often written myself,I woke up n a strange state with a strange man and a strange baby! Yes,all those pre internet ,cell phone years ago I was home alone every day with an infant. I had married and become a mother in my mid 30's. So for the first time in my life I was all alone without my peer group for eight plus hours a day. I clearly identified on some levels(not the hot shot job part!!!) with Lila who had been a very successful crisis manager for a hotel chain. Pregnant Lila,her 3 year old daughter and her husband move to Philadelphia so he can become a restaurant critic for a big newspaper. Sam is extremely paranoid and over cautious about being recognized. He imposes very strict rules on who Lila can be friends with and where she can go! Lila partly rebels and sees an old friend she knew with a similarly aged child. She also runs into a nice waiter from the best restaurant in town that she has been to with Sam. She is lonely and is happy to run into these individuals. Although there are lots of young mothers and kids on their street Sam has instructed her not to be friendly until she has been assured nobody is in the restaurant business! Throw in a gossip columnist from a local rag who spots Lila around at various times and you have some very tense times between husband and wife. There are some moments when you do want Lila to do something vengeful because of her husband's really selfish ways but luckily for our impulses and hers saner times eventually reign! This would be a good book for a reader friend who finds herself home alone as a new mom after working for years!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Sam Soto is a restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Herald and takes his job very seriously. He has been known to root around in dumpsters, in search of the whole truth about the restaurant he is reviewing. Sam's wife Lila, along with their daughter Hazel, are just mere window dressing when consuming half of the menu during a review tasting. Although Sam tries to stay anonymous Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Sam Soto is a restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Herald and takes his job very seriously. He has been known to root around in dumpsters, in search of the whole truth about the restaurant he is reviewing. Sam's wife Lila, along with their daughter Hazel, are just mere window dressing when consuming half of the menu during a review tasting. Although Sam tries to stay anonymous while working, Lila often gets spotted and verbally berated when patrons and chefs alike do not agree the review. As Sam retreats from the world into complete and utter privacy, he expects Lila to follow his lead. With her career on the back burner and two kids in tow, Lila has to make a decision, to show her husband and the world that she still exists. For someone who is used to handling crisis situations and placating people who are irritated, Lila does not do a very good job with her own husband. Although it did not seem believable that Lila would allow her husband to steamroll her, I still think she is a great main character. Her dilemma about whether to return to work should resonate with a lot of readers, as this is a situation that is probably familiar to many of them. The Restaurant Critic's Wife is a snapshot into what the spouses of the famous or infamous people have to deal with on a daily basis. Evenly paced with great characters, I would recommend this to those who like books with a strong plot and well developed main characters.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karli

    I devoured this book within 24 hours of starting. Lila's life as The Restaurant Critic's Wife is perfect on paper. She's married to a man who brings his work home in the form of meals from the restaurants he's reviewing. When her mom is in town they take her to a lovely restaurant on the newspaper's tab. She and her husband have a beautiful little girl and a sweet baby boy. There is a lot more to life than what can be seen on the surface. This is what LaBan creates in her delicious novel about on I devoured this book within 24 hours of starting. Lila's life as The Restaurant Critic's Wife is perfect on paper. She's married to a man who brings his work home in the form of meals from the restaurants he's reviewing. When her mom is in town they take her to a lovely restaurant on the newspaper's tab. She and her husband have a beautiful little girl and a sweet baby boy. There is a lot more to life than what can be seen on the surface. This is what LaBan creates in her delicious novel about one woman's struggle to find her new path as a career woman turned stay at home mom. Lila has made the move from a crisis manager for a large hotel chain to a new life in a new town and while she tries find a way to establish herself in this new role, her husband Sam is trying so hard to live his dream of being the ultimate anonymous critic that he binds Lila to a lifestyle anyone would find confining. Lila has no friends, and is increasingly losing her husband to the demands of his job - which are both real and imagined. The difficulties of balancing motherhood, marriage and career are real. It's all to easy to lose the sense of true self when faced with the responsibilities of caring for small children, and LaBan successfully explores these feelings and the consequences of trying to ignore them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Babus Ahmed

    I'm not sure why I picked this book, but it was definitely a departure from my usual reading fare for me. Surprised that I wasn't reading a thriller I ascertained that the book was about a family the patriarch of which is a food critic, who takes his job rather (too) seriously. Going to paranoid extremes to hide his identity in the pursuit of an authentic experience at the restaurants he reviews. His long suffering wife has moved and dramatically changed her lifestyle, leaving behind friends and I'm not sure why I picked this book, but it was definitely a departure from my usual reading fare for me. Surprised that I wasn't reading a thriller I ascertained that the book was about a family the patriarch of which is a food critic, who takes his job rather (too) seriously. Going to paranoid extremes to hide his identity in the pursuit of an authentic experience at the restaurants he reviews. His long suffering wife has moved and dramatically changed her lifestyle, leaving behind friends and family, keeping new acquaintances at a distance should they have any ties to the culinary world. This is quite an undertaking as she has a three year old and is due to give birth any day now. My beef with this read is that nothing actually happens, there are no twists and turns and ultimately it's a glimpse into the life of, well, a foods critic's wife. The book is definitely well written and easy to read, but I found my attention wandering through lack of action. This contemporary fiction book is the sort of book that appeals if you have an interest in food, food critics and raising a family. If kids and preparation of food are your bag then I wager you will find this an enjoyable read, but for me it was just a smidge over unremarkable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    The Restaurant Critic's Wife was a book I had hopes for. I adore any novel related to food, about food, or with references to food. I anticipated this novel presenting a male version of Ruth Reichl and I delved into it over Thanksgiving break. While I wanted to like the narrator, Lila, I became more and more annoyed and totally unsympathetic to her position. Lila once held a high powered corporate job in the hotel industry. She marries a wanna-be food critic (but initially just a reporter). Sam, h The Restaurant Critic's Wife was a book I had hopes for. I adore any novel related to food, about food, or with references to food. I anticipated this novel presenting a male version of Ruth Reichl and I delved into it over Thanksgiving break. While I wanted to like the narrator, Lila, I became more and more annoyed and totally unsympathetic to her position. Lila once held a high powered corporate job in the hotel industry. She marries a wanna-be food critic (but initially just a reporter). Sam, her husband, finally lands his dream job in Philadelphia. As the couple starts their family and Sam embarks on his career, he totally DEMANDS that Lila stay at home and sequester herself, all in the name of his identity not being discovered. Was this book written in the 19th century? He further demands that Lila, as she tries to make friends in this new city, ask any possible acquaintances if they are in the restaurant industry. If the answer is yes, Lila cannot pursue a friendship. I so wanted Lila to reconnect to a former love, take the children and run away from her batty husband.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Helen Dunn

    I picked this up after seeing a photo of the author with Jennifer Weiner, who I enjoy. Elizabeth LaBan is the wife of a well known restaurant critic here in Philadelphia and I bought this book as a nod to supporting the local community. Honestly, I wasn't expecting it to be good and I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed it! The book is about Lila, an executive turned mother of two who is living in a new city with her slightly paranoid restaurant critic husband. She's struggling to adjust I picked this up after seeing a photo of the author with Jennifer Weiner, who I enjoy. Elizabeth LaBan is the wife of a well known restaurant critic here in Philadelphia and I bought this book as a nod to supporting the local community. Honestly, I wasn't expecting it to be good and I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed it! The book is about Lila, an executive turned mother of two who is living in a new city with her slightly paranoid restaurant critic husband. She's struggling to adjust to a new baby, the new city, and a future that might be nothing but motherhood. I really enjoyed all of LaBan's characters, I thought she did a great job of showing the conflict between Lila's past and present and the antics of Sam the critic were funny and sometimes over the top but mostly believable. I'm curious how much of this is actually lifted from Craig LaBan himself! Overall, it's a nice dose of chick lit, an easy read and fun for a Philadelphian who will recognize some of the location details in the book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I'm drawn to books by authors who live and set their novels in Philadelphia. As someone who has lived the majority of her life in the Philly suburbs, I delight in "seeing" familiar places in the books I read. This book's author is married to the real life restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. I also enjoyed this book because I could identify with so much of how the main character, Lila felt about her life as a mother of small children, about making friends and about her marriage. Eliz I'm drawn to books by authors who live and set their novels in Philadelphia. As someone who has lived the majority of her life in the Philly suburbs, I delight in "seeing" familiar places in the books I read. This book's author is married to the real life restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. I also enjoyed this book because I could identify with so much of how the main character, Lila felt about her life as a mother of small children, about making friends and about her marriage. Elizabeth LaBan has a writing style similar to her fellow author friend, Jennifer Weiner whose books I also devour. The Restaurant Critic's Wife will make you laugh, cry and cheer. I recommend it to all who love a good, entertaining tale with relatable characters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I was given this book by Net Galley in return for an honest review. I enjoyed the book considering it's not a normal read for me. The title does fit the book since the book is geared more about what Lila does day to day after giving up her career for her husband. It was an enjoyable story even more so since I do work in and around the location that the characters are based. It was fun trying to figure out which restaurants the author was talking about. What I really liked about this book is that I was given this book by Net Galley in return for an honest review. I enjoyed the book considering it's not a normal read for me. The title does fit the book since the book is geared more about what Lila does day to day after giving up her career for her husband. It was an enjoyable story even more so since I do work in and around the location that the characters are based. It was fun trying to figure out which restaurants the author was talking about. What I really liked about this book is that it wasn't dragged out. The author kept your interest since the story wasn't centered completely around Lila and Sam but around the neighborhood they lived in. Would I read anything by this author again. Sure.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I received an ARC from NetGalley. This was a quick read that was just ok. Nothing much happens in the book, the characters aren't particularly compelling and Sam is a self centered jerk, That said, it was still an interesting glimpse into the life of a restaurant critic it's just that there could have been more. I received an ARC from NetGalley. This was a quick read that was just ok. Nothing much happens in the book, the characters aren't particularly compelling and Sam is a self centered jerk, That said, it was still an interesting glimpse into the life of a restaurant critic it's just that there could have been more.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Awful. I stopped reading it at 29%. Sorry. But the husband sounded like a self centered ass. And how many times must we be told that she has to be careful who she is friends with? I could care less about either character. And ps: a woman so successful in her job and so independent prior to marriage? Wouldn't likely put up with a man like him. Sorry. Not believable. Awful. I stopped reading it at 29%. Sorry. But the husband sounded like a self centered ass. And how many times must we be told that she has to be careful who she is friends with? I could care less about either character. And ps: a woman so successful in her job and so independent prior to marriage? Wouldn't likely put up with a man like him. Sorry. Not believable.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    Three stars might be too much. I did not realize that this was actually written by the wife of a restaurant critic until the end. The author claims her husband is not like Sam. I certainly hope so. I would have kicked him into the next county for starters. What an unlikeable character! The book was somewhat saved by the fact the I could kind of understand Lila's rationale for putting up with him. Kind of. Three stars might be too much. I did not realize that this was actually written by the wife of a restaurant critic until the end. The author claims her husband is not like Sam. I certainly hope so. I would have kicked him into the next county for starters. What an unlikeable character! The book was somewhat saved by the fact the I could kind of understand Lila's rationale for putting up with him. Kind of.

  29. 5 out of 5

    ReGina

    Nice but Not Earth-Shattering Read This is a story that starts on a low simmer and stays there. While the protagonist has some revelations, I wouldn't say there's amazing growth and development. The end also feels hastily written. This is solid mind candy, if that's what you're looking for. Nice but Not Earth-Shattering Read This is a story that starts on a low simmer and stays there. While the protagonist has some revelations, I wouldn't say there's amazing growth and development. The end also feels hastily written. This is solid mind candy, if that's what you're looking for.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sharmystar

    I couldn’t finish this book. I was so disappointed because I really thought I would love it. What did it for the was the narcissist husband. I kept waiting for him to get better. He didn’t so I put the book down half way through.

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