Release Date: June 5, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Women's Fiction
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.
My only expectation with THE RESTAURANT CRITIC'S WIFE is the food porn I'm sure ill get in spades. Reading this novel is no easy feat when one is trying to shed several stubborn pounds for Summer. Elizabeth LaBan didn't stop at cheesesteaks, she gave us some memorable culinary experiences that's atmospheric and quite unique.
What I didn't expect is how much I got invested in the Sotos, their careers, growing family, and marriage. They're quite normal, very vanilla, their struggles are real and something a lot of us can identify with: Lola is a successful career woman when she met her husband, Sam. Then she got pregnant, got married, and decided to become a housewife to take care of her children and support Sam's budding career as an (infamous) restaurant critic. It didn't take long before Lola started getting antsy and melancholic of her old life. This started to build resentment towards Sam which naturally shook their marriage and family.
For me, Sam is the most interesting element in this story. As The restaurant critic, Sam managed to be a big figure in the story without being loud. Sam isn't overbearing or abusive, Sam is eccentric and passionate about his job, perhaps too passionate. Sam values his anonymity to the point where he'd don costumes to disgues himself, prevent Lila from making friends or discourage her from going back to her high profile work lest Lila leads restaurant owners and critics to Sam's way which the latter feels will compromise his reviews. I didn't dislike Sam, he's annoying for sure and he put Lila in a very frustrating situation, these two have certain handicaps so it's hard to put blame on just one person.
Like I said, Lila's story is not unheard of. A lot of women have gone through this or is currently living her life which makes Lila's struggles universal and relatable. It took a while for Lila to realize that she's not just THE RESTAURANT CRITIC'S WIFE and that marrying Sam and being a stay at home mom didn't diminish her worth nor did it dull her. Lila's highs and lows are moving, her narrative very honest and raw its hard not to be moved by her story. I guess the reason why I love this novel so much is because of its simplicity yet very complex set up. I love how Lila and Sam's marriage was portrayed, the conflict is more of an emotional build-up than a dramatic blow-up. I love the resolution too, it's quiet but the realizations and concessions are powerful statements.
You can tell that this book is part food porn. There's a lot of great dishes mentioned here, but as I'm currently in the mood for American food, I thought a steak snippet is the most appropriate.
This week's food porn is brought to you today in part by
Unconventional Book Views' Thirsty Thursday Hungry Hearts.