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A new novel (plus a recipe) from Elizabeth Berg: Once Upon a Time, There Was You

Monday, April 4th, 2011

berg_elizabethDear Reader,

It’s that time of year again, near-spring, when I’m one step short of going out and tugging on whatever shoots of green I can find. I am heartened by the sight of robins everywhere, even if the buds on the trees remain tightly closed.  Spring is an exercise in having faith and learning patience: It will come, when it’s ready; and then I can engage in my favorite practice of sitting on the front porch and watching  dogs walk by with their people.

On April 5, Random House will release my new novel,  Once Upon a Time, There Was You. This is the story of a long-divorced couple who are thrust together again after something terrible happens to the only thing they still have in common: their 18 year old daughter.  I wanted to see what happened if you put two people who used to be in an intimate relationship, but now are estranged, back together. Would they remember what they used to love about each other? Would they see all over again what they hated? Might they get back together again?

The other day, I was doing an interview for this novel, and I told the woman interviewing me that I was struck by howOnce Upon a Time There Was You many times I’ve heard people—both men and women, but mostly women—say they walked down the aisle knowing it was the wrong this to do, but they did it anyway. The interviewer paused, then said, “That’s what I did. And I got divorced. But then we got back together.” Bingo! I thought, what changed in those two people that made them able to be with each other in a way they could not be before? What does marriage require, really? What does the act of loving honestly and fully require? That’s the kind of thing my novel looks at.

It wouldn’t be a book of mine if it didn’t also celebrate female friendship. And there is, as usual, a mix of humor and pathos. But there is also something brand new, which is suspense. An element of real creepiness. But I’ll just keep you in…well, suspense about what that is.

I recently read a quote by Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach that I loved, which says, “An interesting book is food that makes us hungry.” I hope that’s what my book does. In addition to being an enjoyable read that makes you laugh and perhaps tear up a little, too, I want it to make you think, to make you wonder, to take a look at your own life in new ways. If that happens, we’ll both be satisfied.

Thank you for reading this letter, thanks for buying my books, and most of all, thanks for making the dream of a 9-year old with crooked bangs and a heart full of longing to share what she felt inside,  come true.



A Recipe for Readers

Mexican Chicken

2 eggs

Green salsa (Frontera’s tomatillo, if you can find it)

¼ t. salt

1 cup fine bread crumbs (I use whole wheat)

1 t. each chili powder and ground cumin

¾ t. garlic salt

14 t. oregano

3 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts

4 T. butter

6 cups lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 cup sour cream

4 green onions, including part of green top, thinly sliced

12 cherry tomatoes, cut in wedges

2 limes, cut in wedges

1 ripe avocado

Put butter in shallow baking pan and put in 375 degree oven to melt. In shallow bowl, beat eggs, then add salsa and salt. In large ziplock bag, mix breadcrumbs and spices. Dip breasts in salsa mix, then shake with crumbs; repeat. When butter has melted, add breasts, turn to coat, and bake for  about 35 minutes.

To serve, arrange on lettuce; garnish with sour cream, onions, tomatoes, lime wedges, avocado, and more salsa, red or green. Makes 4-6 servings.  Great with cornbread!


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