The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, by Elizabeth LaBan

22 May

26065581Format: e-ARC, 316 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: January 5, 2016

ISBN: 9781477817766

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: 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 review: This is a very hard book to rate. I enjoyed the writing style – and absolutely love the cover – but the characters were very unlikeable, especially the husband. Sam was just odious, dictating that his wife couldn’t have a life, couldn’t make friends without checking if they owned a restaurant first, couldn’t even leave the house when she was going stir-crazy at home with a toddler and newborn. Lila wasn’t much better, though, biting her tongue instead of speaking up, and making some pretty irresponsible choices regarding friends and her secret job. Hazel, the three-year-old, was very obnoxious – but dare I say realistic? – as well. I found I had to keep reading to see if the whole family imploded.

It worried me that Elizabeth LaBan’s real husband was like Sam, so was glad to read in the acknowledgements that he is not. I would pity her greatly if he was, but I suspect there is a ring of truth about some of what she wrote, given the consequences some restaurants suffer from a bad review.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3.5/5

3halfcupcakes

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Writing for the Pop Culture Literate.

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