Vienna-born Hausmann has loved, lost and traveled—and she describes 41 short lessons she’s learned along the way.
Composed of 10 primary sections (“Essential Elements,” “Affairs, Sex and Love,” “Professional Life,” etc.), each part of this memoir includes four short anecdotes with the author’s analyses of the experiences and occasional, special “relearnings,” denoted by yellow sticky note graphics. A first, stand-alone segment opens with the tragic loss of her husband, which left Hausmann with two children and unsure of how she “would and could be a mom and a dad at the same time…living in that vast void which had just opened up.” But rising to a challenge is clearly one of Hausmann’s many strengths, and she rallied to support her family. She worked (first in Europe, then in America) in film, publishing, transportation, construction and education. Determination, a sense of adventure and old-fashioned grit were evident early on; she traveled through Austria and Moscow by bus when she was in her teens and across the Trans-Siberian Railway in her 20s. Hausmann is open to learning and credits many sources—talk show host Charlie Rose, Oprah’s Master Class and the Kama Sutra (rejected due to balance issues; “I read the Cosmopolitan to find better information,” she notes) have all informed and guided her. Hausmann acknowledges English is her second language, and readers may find some awkward word choices distract from the charm of her memoir. Her description of “flying drivers’ exchanges,” with one bus driver slipping behind the other as they cross Russia at 60 miles per hour, is just one of many brow-raising events that would have benefitted from stronger editing. But positive messages (“Just Smile!”), appreciation for others, environmental awareness and gratitude (the Red Cross receives special acknowledgment and a portion of book sales) are all part of Hausmann’s credo, and her first-person account is honest and interesting.
A unique life well-lived, but the telling isn’t quite ready for prime time.