About the book, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife
Paperback: 313 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 5, 2016)
What could be better than being married to a restaurant critic? All those amazing meals at the best restaurants…pure nirvana, right? Well, Lila Soto, the heroine of Elizabeth LaBan’s charming new novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife (Lake Union Publishing; January 5, 2016), might tell you otherwise. Sure the food is heavenly, but the downsides are considerable—especially being married to a man who is obsessed with his job and paranoid to the point of absurdity about being “outed” from his anonymity. Add to the scenario the fact that Lila has given up her own career to follow her husband’s job to a new, unfamiliar city, and that she is now a fulltime stay-at-home mom—a gig she never aspired to, despite loving her kids—and you begin to see why Lila is doubting every life decision she’s ever made.
Though it Ais not an autobiography by any means, it can’t be overlooked that Elizabeth LaBan is herself married to Philadelphia restaurant critic Craig LaBan. “This book wouldn’t exist without my husband,” she says, “who brings excitement, adventure, love, and great food into our lives every day, and has always been open to my writing a novel about a woman who is married to a wacky restaurant critic. For the record, Craig is not obsessive or controlling like Sam—and Craig did not tell me to say that.” But, even if her main characters are fictitious, there is no denying that Elizabeth draws on aspects of her own life to lend a delicious verisimilitude to the novel.
The Restaurant Critic’s Wife is a charming portrait of the complexities of life that many women face when dealing with their marriages, their children, their friendships, and their careers. All the talk about exquisite food is merely the icing on a one-of-a-kind cake.
Buy, read, and discuss The Restaurant Critic’s Wife
Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children. She is also the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages.
Connect with Elizabeth
This novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, was the perfect novel to begin a new year of reviews. It was well written, engaging, drawn from aspects of the author’s life, but vastly different than her actual story, and most importantly, the characters were all incredibly real with quirks and flaws that made them feel just like those people at the next table over in the restaurant you’ve been dying to try.
From the first, I really empathized with Lila. I’ve got dogs, not kids, but I know all too well what it’s like to find yourself in a life you didn’t really choose, even if there are bits of it that you like, and I also know what it’s like to be in a new place without a support system. LaBan set up Lila’s isolation and need for community incredibly well, and I felt that it was especially poignant when juxtaposed with Sam’s obsession with secrecy and anonymity.
Lila’s mother annoyed me at first, but I think that’s only because some of her points were valid – points I’ve heard from my own mother over the years – trust me: you are never too old to resent that your mother is almost always right.
Overall, this book was a great read. It was meaty without being too heavy, and nicely balanced drama and wit. I haven’t read any of Elizabeth LaBan’s other work, but after reading The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, I really want to.
Goes well with baked brie en croute and a glass of wine.
One person in the US/Canada can win a copy of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife. How? You have two options:
- Follow me on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet MY tweet with the link to this review.
- Leave a comment (make sure there’s a valid email address – no one will see it but me) telling me about the best (or worst) restaurant meal you’ve ever had.
You have until 11:59 PM on Wednesday, January 13th.
Winner will be informed by email or direct message on Twitter (as applicable).
Monday, January 4th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Tuesday, January 5th: Why Girls are Weird
Wednesday, January 6th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Thursday, January 7th: Bibliotica
Monday, January 11th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, January 12th: Chick Lit Central – author guest post
Wednesday, January 13th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, January 14th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, January 15th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, January 18th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Tuesday, January 19th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, January 20th: I’m Shelf-ish
Thursday, January 21st: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, January 22nd: From the TBR Pile
Monday, January 25th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Tuesday, January 26th: Read Love Blog
Wednesday, January 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, January 28th: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, February 1st: Just Commonly
Wednesday, February 3rd: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord
Friday, February 5th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers