Author: Elizabeth LaBan
I received a digital copy of this book from Lake Union publishers through Net Galley for an honest review.
The restaurant critic’s wife was a sumptuous read flavored with comedy, suspense, drama, indecision and of course, good food.
The book was, in a way, much like a well prepared four course meal. Right from the look and feel of the cover art to the depths of emotional yet funny drama, each chapter felt like peeling a different layer, keeping the taste buds alive.
The restaurant critic’s wife is the tale of Lila Soto, who moves to Philadelphia along with her husband, Sam Soto. Sam is a Restaurant Critic and wants to give this new gig a chance. But Sam’s preoccupation with anonymity takes him to extremes and pushes Lila into a life of solitude. Lila craves for company, her work and a return to semblance of normalcy.
The novel focuses not just on the taxing relationship between a husband and his wife but also tests the waters of motherhood and career.
Elizabeth LaBan has put in a lot of work building the characters, be it Sam, Lila or people from their neighborhood. Every single character is penned to perfection. Lila, a devoted wife, who bends over backwards to support her husband’s dream job and tries her level best to secure his anonymity at the cost of her own social life and job. Sam, a food critic, who believes that everything, including his family’s comfort can be sacrificed for his job.
The book has a pleasing-to-the-palate humor. I admit to laughing out loud at scenes from review dinners. It is the kind of humor that one finds in Wodehouse novels; light and pleasant. Humor that brings a smile on your face throughout the read.
The author penned every scene to its full advantage never once leaving the grounds of reality. The trial and tribulations of a new mother, are shown beautifully. Be it fixing baby seats in car, to visiting aunts, the elements of humor and drama are never under or over done. However I do feel that the author missed one opportunity. Lila has been shown struggling with her kids, getting them dressed, getting them in car seats or getting them to eat properly. It would have been so much fun to see Lila struggling with baby baths too.
The writing is very refined. There are no abrupt breaks and words flow like melted cheese. The story is no doubt beautiful but the writing is what makes this novel a wonderful read.
I like it how the author portrayed the feelings of young child when she had to share the attention with a new born baby in the house. How Hazel (Lila’s daughter) kept saying “There is no baby.”
The story is fast paced. Every single chapter brought some new twist or trouble in the life of Lila. The novel made me laugh and at times, characters like Sam Soto got so high up on my nerves that I wished I could somehow reach inside the novel and punch the guy!
For all those with the love for humor, family, protagonist female character and food, dive right in!