Falling for London: From reporter to raconteur

Falling for London: From reporter to raconteur

Posted on November 1 by Sean Mallen in Non-fiction, Recent Releases
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After a long, satisfying career writing two-minute television news stories, the seed for my first book was planted on a memorable day as I embarked on the job of a lifetime.

 

It was April 2011.  I had just landed my dream promotion:  London-based Europe Bureau Chief for Global National.  The taxi was waiting to take me to the airport to begin my posting, my first major assignment to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  As I said my goodbyes, my wife Isabella handed me a present.  It was a journal with a green leather cover.

 

“If you’re going to put us through this, you’d better write a book,” she said. 

 

She had always believed in me as a writer and saw before I did that the London posting was a rich source of material.  It was a perceptive, wise, and under the circumstances, extraordinarily generous gesture.

 

As readers of Falling for London: A Cautionary Tale will discover, Isabella and our 6-year-old daughter Julia were adamantly opposed to moving to London. Who could blame them? I was asking them to make a huge sacrifice, to step away from family, friends, school, career—all because I happened to land a cool job.  

 

Someone looking from the outside might focus on the amazing opportunity and the great adventure of living abroad. For some who land these kinds of jobs, it is an unalloyed great thing. But in many, many cases, not enough attention is paid to the others affected by the move.  

 

Lucky for me, Isabella and Julia decided to come to England, and in the process made the whole experience so much richer.

 

In London we learned a term: “trailing spouses”. As an international crossroads, a magnet for people from around the world, the British capital likely has more such partners than any other city on earth – thousands of them.

 

They are remarkable people who give up much and set aside their own careers in order to support their spouses.  We met many of them:  a talented chef from Calgary, an ex-lawyer turned food writer from New Jersey, an opera singer from Australia and a teacher from Toronto (not to mention the producer-director of documentary films and television programming: Isabella). 

 

In London and other foreign postings, they are the ones who must build a new life and often band together in impromptu mutual support societies to help each other get through the experience.  Our friends, many of whom we met through Julia’s school, made all the difference for us – with much credit to Isabella for diligently cultivating these relationships. 

 

Yes, my job allowed me to cover some amazing stories and visit some fascinating places. As a family, we squeezed a decade’s worth of European travel into two years. They were all tremendous experiences – but what mattered most were the people we met. 

 

There were many bumps, challenges and missteps as we adapted to life in London. We laugh about them now and I hope readers will get a few chuckles as well. 

 

Falling for London is a memoir told through my eyes, but I hope by the end readers will also develop an understanding of the journey taken by the two most important people in my life.

Sean Mallen

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 5, 2017
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Sean Mallen

Sean Mallen is an award-winning journalist, who covered stories across Canada and around the world for three decades. He is also a widely published travel writer. Sean lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter, all of whom desperately miss London.