When I was in sixth grade, The Diary of a Young Girl was required reading at my school. I remember how touched I was by the wise words and astute observations of Anne Frank, who was about my age when she went into hiding in the Annex. When I learned that she had received her first diary on her 13th birthday, I asked my parents for one, too. Hers was named “Kitty”; mine was “Constance.”
Three decades and dozens of diaries later, I had the privilege of viewing “Kitty” up close during a visit to the Annex in Amsterdam. It was surreal to stand in the bedroom where Anne had penned her musings, gaze into the bathroom mirror that had once reflected her youthful image, and climb up to the attic, where she and Peter would gaze up at the stars through a hole in the roof. When I got back to my nearby B&B, I described this moving experience in my brand-new journal. Soon after, there was a lot more to write about, and my diary became a trusted confidante and comfort.
I was traveling single and solo as part of my overseas “Odyssey.” The first night at my accommodation, I met fellow boarder David, who was in town from London, waiting for a local job to come through. I had been teaching English in Budapest and was waiting for my classes there to begin. He and I immediately bonded over our “outsider” status, and I soon sensed a strong mutual attraction. After spending much of the week sightseeing throughout the city together, David’s job came through, and he invited me to stay longer in Amsterdam at his new flat. I was tempted. My heart longed to see where this budding romance would lead—I hoped to the altar. At age 43, I was looking to settle down with The One, as was David. Certainly, the universe was sending a sign!
Anne Frank's diary "Kitty"
As I considered David’s offer, I was reminded by a Hungarian musician friend that auditions for our chorus’s three-week tour in Israel were the next week. Although I was eager to participate, that meant leaving David just when we were getting to know one another. What to do? Alone in a foreign city with no to confide it, I picked up my pen and began journaling. If it was true, as Anne Frank once claimed, that “paper has more patience than people,” then sharing my innermost thoughts with the pages was a better alternative than phone conversations with faraway friends.
After writing several diary entries, I realized that I wasn’t going to surrender a lifelong dream to visit (and sing in!) Jerusalem. If David was The One, there would be countless future opportunities to be together. I told him of my plans, and after spending one chaste night at his place, left Amsterdam for the audition.
Upon returning to Budapest, events didn’t unfold as hoped. David sent a few gushing emails at first, but I wasn’t prepared for his stone silence after. I left for the tour and found solace in celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land and yes, journaling.
Without going into much detail (more in my memoir), I did see David the following spring, when he invited me to visit him in Amsterdam. This time, he was more forthright about his long-term intentions, which jived with mine. Yet, after another chaste stay, more deafening silence ensued. It was a disheartening mystery. When summer vacation came and went (he had promised to visit me in Budapest), I knew I had to move on. Or rather, my trusty diary broke the news to me gently.
Once I gave up any romantic hopes of a relationship with David, I met The One while traveling alone in Finland. This time, my diary insisted I not return to the States a few weeks later, as originally planned, but stay put and get to know my future husband. I listened. He and I married a few months later.
I describe these and other romantic encounters in my recently released book, Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding. While writing the manuscript, I often referred to my long-ago diary entries to jog my memory or to fill in details. I even wrote the Amsterdam chapters with David in diary form, a small tribute to Anne Frank, the young girl who inspired me and generations of other passionate and most grateful journalers.
Linda Jämsén is participating in a WOW! Women On Writing Tour of her book Odyssey of Love
A Summary of Odyssey of Love:
When Linda doesn’t receive the marriage proposal she had long been expecting from her boyfriend on her 41st birthday, she reluctantly visits a psychic, Angelica, who predicts that Linda will soon leave him for a romantic and music-filled Odyssey in Europe. There, a “Russian icon” will lead to her future husband, a “tall man with glasses.”
Skeptical at first, but eager to explore her Eastern European roots and reignite her passion for music, Linda moves to Hungary, the land of her idol, composer-pianist Franz Liszt. In Budapest, she reinvents herself as an English teacher and joins a chorus. Soon, she’s performing at the Liszt Academy of Music and Tel Aviv’s Opera House.
With Angelica’s vision in mind, Linda vows to “settle down, not settle for,” but is tempted by romantic close calls: Gabi is gorgeous but too immature; David in Amsterdam fits Angelica’s description to a T, but his British reserve needs some defrosting. Liszt look-alike Ádám has it all, including a wife.
With her teaching and singing gigs ending, Linda flies to Finland for one last trip before moving back to Boston. But is her Odyssey truly over, or is it just beginning?
Follow the tour on the following dates and locations:
September 20th @ The Muffin: We kick off the blog tour over at WOW! Women on Writing's blog, The Muffin, where we interview the author and give away a copy of this amazing memoir.
September 21st @ One Writer's Journey: Join Sue as she features author Linda Jämsén's guest post about how to organize and host a kick-ass virtual book launch event at little cost.
September 22nd @ Create Write Now: Join Mari as she publishes author Linda Jämsén's guest post about what inspired her to start journaling.
September 23rd @ One Writer's Journey: Visit Sue's blog again where she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 24th @ The Faerie Review: Join Lily when she features Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 26th @ Michelle Cornish' Blog: Join Michelle as she shares her review of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 28th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews: Join Lisa as she interviews author Linda Jämsén about her experiences and writing her memoir Odyssey of Love.
September 30th @ Choices: Come by Madeline's blog today and you can read a fascinating guest post by the author about how a visit to a psychic ended up changing her life.
October 1st @ Michelle Cornish' Blog: Visit Michelle's blog again and you can read a guest post by the author about self-publishing versus traditional publishing and why she chose the former.
October 3rd @ Word Magic: Join Fiona as she features Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love and gives away a copy of the book to one lucky reader.
October 5th @ A Storybook World: Stop by Deirdra's blog and read a feature of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love. A memoir you don't want to miss if you are looking for love!
October 6th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog: Visit Beverley's blog and read a guest post by the author about publishing as a debut author in mid-life. Don't miss this inspiring post!
October 8th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog: Come by Beverley's blog again and you can read her thoughts about Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 11th @ What is That Book About: Visit Michelle's blog and read Linda Jämsén's guest post about taking chances in mid-life and finding adventures and true love.
October 12th @ Alanna Jean: Alanna features Linda Jämsén's guest post about top European travel destinations.
October 14th @ Knotty Needle: Visit Judy's blog today and read her review of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 15th @ The Forgotten Books: Join Heather as she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love on her Instagram page.
October 15th @ Balance and Joy: Join Sheri as she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 18th @ Memoir Writer's Journey: Visit Kathleen's website as she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 20th @ Words from the Heart: Visit Linda's blog where she reviews Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
October 24th @ Leslie's Voice: Join Leslie on her blog today and read her review of Linda Jämsén's memoir Odyssey of Love.
Author bio: Linda Jämsén is an American ex-pat writer-musician living in Finland. She grew up in New York, holding a book in one hand while exploring the piano keyboard with the other. Mesmerized by her mother’s playing of the Romantic repertoire, she soon studied piano with her and later graduated with a B.A. in Music from Bard College. Linda is also an avid choral singer and has performed in Hungary, Finland, the UK, and Israel.
During her years in Boston, Linda raised funds for a variety of philanthropic causes and completed the graduate management course at Radcliffe Seminars/Harvard. However, longing to return to her musical roots, in 2001 she moved to Budapest, land of her musical idol, Franz Liszt. There, she volunteered for the Music Academy in his name and received a CELTA certificate from International House, where she then taught English as a foreign language. Her musical, romantic, and travel adventures abroad inspired her to write Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding, her literary debut.
Linda lives on an island in Helsinki with her husband, the “tall man with glasses” from the memoir, and their treasured Russian icon. A sequel, Triptych, is in the works.