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March 23, 2016

Loved It: The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth La Ban

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: June 5, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Source: Publisher
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.










Talk Supe


22 comments:

  1. I will have to put this on my library list. General Fiction is usually hit/miss for me but this sounds like it would be a hit :)

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    1. The drama is very subtle but the implications and emotional turmoil runs deep. I hope you like it

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  2. I don't often read general fiction anymore, but this looks interesting. I could certainly identify with Sam in a way. And nom, food porn.

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    1. Sam is quite the character, he mostly stayed in the background yet his job dictates their lives.

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  3. I do like food porn, even if it makes me hungry every time

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    1. This book inspired a lot of dinner meals for me.

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  4. The title of this one caught my eye earlier and it looked good. Glad to get your review thoughts on it. I think I'd like it in the right mood.

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  5. Very creative presentation! And the situation for the wife in this story sounds all too familiar for some of us...I went through it, broke free from it...and lived to tell about it. Of course, being a woman with a career, young children, and being a single mom has its downside. But I would do it all over again.

    Thanks for sharing...and here is MY BOOKISH THURSDAY POST

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  6. I have a feeling I'd be hungry a lot while reading lol :D

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  7. Ok...now I'm hungry. You know I like my food porn lol

    This story sounds lovely too.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  8. Sam does sound like an intriguing character, but I don't know if I could be as forgiving...

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  9. I love these type of books. A bit of chick lit combined with food. Sign me up!

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  10. Ooh this sounds quite interesting! I like that Sam isn't a bad guy, per se, but that he doesn't quite see how he's making his wife and family suffer. Intriguing!

    -Lauren
    www.letsgetbeyondtolerance.blogspot.com

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  11. First, that quote...reminds me of the steak dinner I had for my anniversary last Friday...topped with garlic butter and sauteed onions and mushrooms. YUM!
    I love the sound of this book, Braine. I think I'd find it very relatable as I've gone through something similar. Plus, I like that it's an emotional buildup rather than a dramatic blowup. I think that's realistic, too. :)

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  12. This is on my TBR, and I can't wait to read it.

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  13. I hadn't heard of this before but I like the sound of a book about a wife and mom that stays home and finds her worth.

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  14. This sounds really good. I love a good foodie book, but I am pleased by the story it told about the family, careers and their lives. Fantastic review my friend :)

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  15. It's fun when you get to hear about the food they eat in a book and it sounds like this one is a fun culinary experience. I am pretty sure I would enjoy that part as I always like mentions of food in books.
    And that's even better you also got invested in the characters their lives. The plot surrounding Sam and how he's so passionate about his work as food critic he goes a bit too far in it, does sound interesting and a bit creepy and annoying as well. Great review!

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  16. When I read the synopsis, I thought that there must be a lot of mouth-watering food descriptions in it, lol. I'm not sure I could read this without wanting to constantly stuff my face, haha!

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  17. Many in this genre are a hit and miss for me, but I kind of went through a little what she ponders about life LOL so this may be hit!

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  18. I really liked this one as well. I enjoyed the dynamic between Lila and Sam and while not a super deep read, it did make me think of how I envision others in the scope of their relationships.

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  19. Oh gah. I'm trying to eat less lately. Damn having to be good and needing to drop some pounds. So I'll be avoiding this one like the plague. lol

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