Tag Archives: food critic

A Table for Two

Restaurant Critic's Wife

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife: A Novel by Elizabeth LeBan (Lake Union, $24.95, 306 pages)

What we have here are the confessions of a restaurant critic’s wife done up as a rambling narrative. Lila falls in love with Sam Soto whose dream it is to be a newspaper food critic. I kid you not.

It all began back in New Orleans where Sam was a political reporter for the local newspaper. Lila is a high-powered hotel special events troubleshooter who loves her job. Sam captures her heart through her stomach. He cooks for Lila making yummy breakfasts and, well, you get the idea. Pretty soon they are a couple.

Sam catches his big break, but at the Philadelphia Herald. They move for Sam’s work. Lila enjoys socializing and being part of the community; however, Sam’s worldview is vastly different then hers. Alas, the life of a restaurant critic is filled with incognito dinners, no close friendships and keeping a low profile, which makes for quite a difficult lifestyle for Lila.

The frustrations and travails that follow are the heart of the story. Both Lila and Sam must face their issues and decide whether life is to be lived in secret or in the community. Only the real wife of a food critic could have written this novel. Clearly, Ms. LeBan has drawn from her own experiences to create such a believable tale. It’s impossible to determine where her life leaves off and her imagination begins to work.

Restaurant Critic's Wife back

Well recommended for foodies and folks on vacation.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Coming Up Next…

A review of The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance by Thomas McNamee.

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The 30-Second Commute

The cover notes on this book prime the reader for a hilarious book (“…makes you snort your latte out of your nose.”).   In reality it is full of exaggeration and whining about the “seemingly impossible struggle” to make a living with so many activities each week that barely pay peanuts.   Ms. Dickison expects you to believe that she has pursued and mastered various and varied jobs/careers including catering, freelance writing, doctor’s assistant, blogger, and music and food critic.

The book needs a black box on the cover, to read:   “Warning: May not be comprehensible to persons over 45 years of age.”   Each segment of the book is headed by a song title.   You know you’re in trouble when only two of the 50 are remotely familiar.

The writing style is frantic and scattered as the author chatters on about her formative years in Toronto.   These reminiscences are interspersed with what she hopes are pearls of wisdom for want-to-be writers, primarily food critics.   The reader wonders about her restaurant reviews, as the elaborate ruses that she uses to justify pigging out on exotic and quite disgusting foods are too much to swallow.   The shock value is minimal.   Whatever.

ECW Press, $19.95, 191 pagesCommute large

This review was written by Joseph Arellano.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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