The Restaurant Critic's 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.


Even for those who aren't foodies, this was a really fun book that showed a lot of growth.


Each chapter begun with a partial review of a restaurant, and the language was fantastically over the top. I don't commonly read food reviews so maybe this isn't abnormal, but I enjoyed these immensely and felt that they really added to the chapters.


I really enjoyed how there was a lot of focus on Lila's growth as a character and a person, and ultimately on how she found her place in life in a new city with two small children. I came into this book thinking it would have a lot more romance to it, but surprisingly, the plot focused much more on Lila's growth than on a growing romance.


Lila's continual pursuit of her career was really an inspiration. There were some fun scenes where she managed crisis scenarios that happened, mainly in the hotel chain she had previously worked at. It was intriguing to see how she had evolved since meeting her husband and how important her career had been and would be to her--she had a total fixation on her suitcase, which was a representation of this. There was an underlying message about work and the way people play different roles as life progresses.


The setting of Philadelphia worked really well for this book, and as Lila and Sam had just moved there at the beginning of the book, there were some hilarious and heartwrenching moments with Lila struggling between making friends and maintaining her husband's anonymity. Simultaneously, the community around them had its own pros and cons and ultimately also showed Lila's growth.


Small children can be a nuisance in books, but I loved the way LaBan portrayed Lila's three-year-old daughter Hazel and all of her friends. There was a highly entertaining birthday party amongst other antics.


I really appreciated that this book focused on a lot of deeper issues and really looked at how life changes us not necessarily for the worst and highly recommend this.