Cover image for Falling for London : a cautionary tale / Sean Mallen.
Falling for London : a cautionary tale / Sean Mallen.
Publication Information:
Toronto : Dundurn, [2018]
Physical Description:
338 pages ; 23 cm.
"A posting in London - it seemed like the perfect position. But the reality was far from perfect. It was more like the crumbling ceiling in his overpriced, crappy London flat. A veteran award-winning journalist for Global TV News, Sean Mallen was thrilled to be appointed Europe Bureau Chief. He was given three weeks to move to London to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and he had to be prepared to travel the world to report on fascinating news events. One catch: his family said no. His tearful wife and six-year-old daughter warned him that they couldn't move to another country and that he would have to give up the chance of a lifetime. Falling for London is the story of how he convinced them to go, how they learned to live in and love the world's greatest (and ruinously expensive) city, and how his dream came true in ways he could have never expected."-- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
070.43092 MAL Book Adult General Collection

On Order



When Sean Mallen finally landed his dream job, it fell on him like a ton of bricks.Not unlike the plaster in his crappy, overpriced London flat.

The veteran journalist was ecstatic when he unexpectedly got the chance he'dalways craved: to be a London-based foreign correspondent. It meant living in agreat city and covering great events, starting with the Royal Wedding of Williamand Kate. Except: his tearful wife and six-year-old daughter hated the idea ofuprooting their lives and moving to another country.

Falling for London is the hilarious and touching story of how he convincedthem to go, how they learned to live in and love that wondrous but challengingcity, and how his dream came true in ways he could have never expected.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this humorous if overlong memoir, Mallen reflects on his time in London as a foreign correspondent for the Canadian Global News network. Mallen got the position in 2011, and though it was his dream assignment, Mallen realized he'd have to uproot his reluctant wife, Isabella, and their first grader daughter, Julia, from their comfortable lives in Toronto. As he struggled to balance professional challenges (he would travel throughout Europe and the Mideast covering, among other things, the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square) with the demands of his wife and daughter, Mallen recognized his own shortcomings and the sacrifices his family made on his behalf: Isabella, the "trailing spouse," reminded him of the career she left behind in Canada, and Julia, who will need to adjust to a new school and make new friends. The family encountered bumps over the course of their nine-month stay as they dealt with disdainful British landlords and an apartment with a roof that caved in. Mallen shares the highlights as well, such as taking his family to London's best museums and on weekend jaunts throughout Europe. Mallen entertains in this glimpse into the life of a foreign correspondent and his Canadian family's experience living abroad. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.



CHAPTER ONE "This ... is London." -- Edward R. Murrow Murrow was the prototype for a foreign correspondent. Froma distance, his heyday during the war seems hopelesslyromantic. Under fire with the rest of London, living intensely, drinking,smoking, working all hours. He drank with Churchill and romancedthe PM's daughter-in-law. His resonant voice and powerful wordsevoked all the life-and-death drama of a struggle for existence. His browseemed permanently furrowed in passionate commitment to his calling. What young broadcast reporter would not want to be Murrow? Many apply, but few are called. After more than twenty years of local and national TV reporting inCanada, I had thought my time had passed. Overlooked several timesfor foreign postings, I was resigned to a comfortable and largely satisfyingjob covering the Ontario legislature, complete with my own modest,no-budget, political affairs talk show, which had won a few awards. As I approached my midfifties, it seemed that my next move wouldbe into public relations -- perhaps making a bit more money than myjournalism career had ever offered. I would think sometimes that maybe it was time to grow up andget a real job before some new boss young enough to be my kid called me into his office to advise that he did not like my face on TV anymoreand was calling security to escort me to the door. Then the lightning bolt struck. In early 2011 our London correspondent departed in favour of ananchor job back home. Do I apply one more time , I wondered? "Go ahead," said Isabella. "Don't let me stop you." For as long as we had been together she had known I wanted to liveand report from abroad, with London my top choice. She had neverliked it, never wanted it, but equally did not wish to be my obstacle. When I announced that I was going to Kosovo for a week in 1999to report on the aftermath of the war, she wept fearful tears when I leftfor the airport. When it seemed I was headed to Pakistan in the weeks after 9/11,she was inconsolable. As it turned out I never went anyway. That was all before we had Julia. She was now in Grade 1, attachedto her friends and her nanny. We had a circle of close friends and relatives.Isabella had a job she loved, producing and directing an onlinedesign show. We had just committed to a major kitchen renovation,adding enormously to our debt, but finally finishing off our house. Life was pretty good. I sat at my desk at Queen's Park, staring off through the window.My stomach contracted. Should I do this? If I get it, how will we do it?Am I just too old for this?Time to grow up and get a real job?Fuck it. Not going to get it anyway. Give it one more chance and thengive it up. I applied, pouring my heart into the email to the show's producers,just as I had for so many other jobs before where I came close butmissed. The job interview was by phone, with me sitting in a desertedhallway of the legislature on a quiet day when most of the politicianswere away. They asked me how I would get into Libya to cover thecivil war. "Well, I would just go to the border and start asking people foradvice," I said confidently. I had absolutely no bloody idea how I would ever get into Libya if thetime ever came. And Isabella would certainly hit the roof if I ever tried. The producers were kind and genial. I respected and liked themboth. But this felt different from all the job interviews I had had before-- all those times when I knew I came close but was not the choice. They clearly wanted someone younger, more ready to go into warzones. Someone more conversant with Twitter (I would tweet once a weekto a tiny list of followers to advise them of the subject of my talk show). That's it, game over , I thought. In a way, it was a relief.At least I tried. *** A federal election was looming and I was angling to turn my provincialprogram into a national talk show during the campaign. But I wasabout to be banished to an early morning Sunday time slot that wouldmake it impractical. The producer who did the London job interview was among theexecutives I was lobbying to win a Saturday evening time. He sent anemail asking me to give him a call. It was mid-March 2011. "Hi. So, do you think we can find a time for this show?" I askedwhen he picked up. "Well, we're going to take it off your hands because I want to sendyou to London." A beat. I was the speechless broadcaster. "Well ... uh ... good thing I'm sitting down," I finally mumbled. "I feel really good about this decision," he said. "I've advised thevice-president and your boss that I'm making the offer and frankly theywere both surprised, but also happy for you." Naturally they were surprised. I'm the one who never got thesejobs. My head was spinning. I looked out the window that overlookedthe front lawn of the legislature from our fourth-floor perch. Thered-tailed hawk that nested in the tree at our level was ripping apart asmall animal that had made the mistake of straying into its territory. Excerpted from Falling for London: A Cautionary Fairy Tale by Sean Mallen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.