The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth La Ban is a great take on how each individual reacts to what each believe is living the dream. Lila Soto has a master’s degree, but she has chosen to be a stay at home mom. This has worked pretty well but when they move to Philadelphia, her husband, Sam is suddenly taking his job just a bit more seriously. He is a restaurant critic, and while always just a bit eccentric, Lila believes he may be taking it too far. Striving to protect his credibility and with his entry into a new market, he is determined to remain anonymous.
His new direction hinders the lives of both Lila and the children. She wants to meet new friends, but Sam is sure that they will find out his identity and it will ruin his career. Lila loves him but she is beginning to feel as though he has gone over the edge. Trying to follow his wishes about his anonymity and still make friends, she begins walking a tightrope of decisions.
When she finds out she is pregnant again, she finally loses her patience, leaving her questioning all of her decisions. These include taking a break from her career, her marriage, and even breaking up with her ex-boyfriend after meeting Sam. As Sam grows more fixated, Lila wonders if her own identity has begun to disappear. She is determined to discover herself and do whatever it takes to get back on track to a life of substance.
La Bar has given us an interesting look at life that seems both bizarre and funny on the outside, but creates pain and hurt on the inside. Her characters are both amazing. With Lila, a woman feeling lost and losing her identity but clinging to her remembrance of love, and her husband Sam who feels threatened by the overall populace and is concerned about his own secret job getting out. For him he feels it makes him a target for those looking for good reviews plus those unhappy with his assessment.
Though it all she keeps a thread of humor that keeps you chuckling at times. However, you can also understand the disbelief his wife and children feel at some of his antics. It is charming and warm with bits of the way we as humans must find to come together in spite of our differences.
If you enjoy romance and family with just a bit of zany action and incredible food, you will find this to be a fun and surprising read. La Bar takes you on an unexpected and crazy ride, one you will not soon forget.
This would be a great book for a reading or book club with a great deal of discussion for debate.