#BookReview: The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

Reviewer: Samantha

the restaurant critics wifeSummary:

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.


This was another title that I listened to via Audible. I had been eyeing this book for a while and when it came time for a new audiobook, I looked over the reviews and listened to the audio sample and decided to purchase it. I enjoyed the cover and I’m a fan of foodie fiction titles, so I thought this would be a good fit for me. This book wasn’t quite the foodie fiction novel that I thought it might be initially – we follow Lila and her husband Sam is a restaurant critic. We do get interesting looks into his career of trying out restaurants, critiquing the food and the staff and the ambience, and those were fun to read about. We meet Lila as she struggling with her life – just having a new baby (her second) not able to work, and trying to live in secrecy. Sam doesn’t want anybody to know his job and doesn’t want his wife to make friends for fear of finding out what it is he does. Lila is lonely, sheltered and going a bit crazy, understandably so in my opinion. She toys with the idea of going back to work in the hotel business, even doing some jobs in secret from her husband and keeping budding friendships under wraps.

I did have quite the issue with Sam. He seemed to have no real regard for his wife, even after she was honest with him about how low she was feeling having to live such a sheltered life. I appreciated her for standing up in her beliefs, but then toward the end – after Sam did and said some pretty terrible things to her – she found something she could blame for his behavior and her demeanor completely changed, and I was pretty disappointed by that. I was rooting for her and who she appeared to be throughout the majority of the book, and then there was such a strong change to her character that it caught me a little off guard.

In all, I think this book was very well written, good descriptions and did keep me interested while listening on walks with my dog. But it always felt like there was something just out of reach. Sam was not a likeable character at all, Lila turned into someone else at the end, and some of the supporting characters and scenes didn’t feel necessary and made the book longer than I think it needed to be. It was a decent read, but nothing that made me overwhelmingly excited.

3.5 stars

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