Excerpt: 'Promises to Keep,' by Jane Green

"Again, I apologize," he said, the apology sounding far more sincere given that it was delivered in a crisp English accent. "May I buy you a coffee, something to eat, perhaps?"

"Sure." Lila grinned, folding her paper and putting it down. "Apology accepted, and I'd love a grande skim latte and a slice of low-fat cherry berry cake. So where'd you get that accent? Brooklyn?"

And now, at forty-two, Lila knows what it means to fall in love. She understands that it isn't fantasizing about men who are unavailable or unattainable, who will only ever look at her as a friend. It isn't about playing games—not returning his call, pretending to be busy when you are not—in a bid to try to keep him interested, or perhaps get him interested in the first place.

It is about peace. And joy. And happiness. It is about the way her heart starts to smile when she hears Ed's car pull up in the driveway. It is about feeling safe: sure that there are no games, that he will call when he says he will; knowing that when he gazes at her as they sit on the porch, he does not see her as she sees herself: a five-foot-one, dumpy, frizzy-haired Jewish girl with a long nose and double chin. He sees her as Audrey Hepburn.

And when she looks at him, this six-foot-three, sandy-haired, slightly shy, impeccably mannered, self-deprecating English journalist, she feels her heart quite literally burst open with love. It may have taken forty-two years, but it was worth the wait.

Fish Balls


1 1/2 pounds haddock fillet, skinned 1 1/2 pounds cod fillet, skinned 1 1/2 medium-size onions 3 eggs 3 teaspoons salt Pinch white pepper 3 teaspoons sugar (I actually ended up adding much more—am guessing it was around 5–6, but you want it to taste slightly sweet and salty) 1 tablespoon oil 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs or matzo meal


Wash the haddock and cod and leave them to drain.

Peel and chop the onions into 1-inch chunks. Put into a food processor with the eggs, salt, pepper, sugar and oil. Process until the mixture is a smooth paste.

Pour into a large bowl, add the bread crumbs, stir and leave to swell.

Cut the fish into 1-inch chunks and put them into the food processor, half at a time. Process for 5 seconds until the fish is finely chopped. Add to the onion puree and blend by hand.

The mixture should be firm enough to shape into balls about the size of large meatballs. If it is not firm enough, add a little more of the bread crumbs; if it is too firm, add a little water.

Add enough oil (about 1 inch deep) to a frying pan and heat. Carefully lower the fish balls into the oil and fry, turning often over a moderate heat until they are an even brown. Remove when cooked and drain on a paper towel.

They can be served hot or left to cool.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Promises to Keep by Jane Green. Copyright © 2010 by Jane Green

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...