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John by Cynthia Lennon
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John (2005)

by Cynthia Lennon

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I was only in 5th grade when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan but by 6th grade, I was crazy about them. When they came to Portland, OR, my mom would not let me go see them perform because the tickets cost too much money. ($6.00) Since I grew up during Beatlemania, this book brought back my own memories and filled in many questions about John and the group. The book has an introduction by Julian, John's son by Cynthia, which adds credibility to Cynthia's rendition of their relationship. I always had a dislike for John's bitter attitude and sarcastic unkind tone about people and life. This book explains how he became the man he was. This is a must read for us " '60's" kids who loved the Beatles and anyone else who is interested in the history of contemporary music. You also get a clear picture of who Yoko Ono really was and is. The narrator is easy to listen although she wasn't as enjoyable as other narrators I've heard. Well worth the time. ( )
  gaillamontagne | Oct 29, 2014 |
"In theory, the disclosures of Lennon's loyal partner from 1958 to 1968 cannot fail to be valuable. On the page, the potential withers. "
"Like most memoirs, John is being marketed as a story told "for the first time", but Beatles scholarship is a thoroughly strip-mined quarry and the scope for fresh discoveries is meagre."
Michel Faber, The Guardian, Saturday 8 October 2005
I haven't read any other books on him, and although "John" is poorly written I felt I was getting a pretty clear picture. Cynthia's writing is also not clever enough to disguise her own preoccupations, character faults and dodgy bits of gloss - which just made it a bit more real. ( )
  doujoji | Mar 10, 2013 |
Let’s get the sad, disgusting part out of the way first. John Lennon was, like so many who went before him and those who will surely follow, simply a hypocrite. The 20th century’s secular deity whose mantra was “All you need is Love” abandoned his own son, Julian - his six year old son. Scoot down Jim Baker, and make room for one more. Now that the ugliness is out of the way, let’s move on.

John, Cynthia Lennon’s account of her relationship and marriage to John Lennon, was a quick and easy read. The forward is by Julian which seems to lend it some credibility straight away. Also the fact that it was written 25 years after John’s death, allowing much of the hype to melt away, adds strength to the idea that Cynthia simply wants her side of the story to be heard. I would imagine that had money been the primary motive, putting her story in print in the early 1980’s would have been much more lucrative.

I’ve read a great number of books about the Beatles or its individual members over the years, and despite her seat in the eye of the storm, I don’t think Cynthia adds anything truly new to the record. However, I think her voice offers flesh and blood and feeling to those who, like herself, woke up one morning to find their seat next to John had taken center stage in the eye of the hurricane that was Beatle mania. Even John’s aunt Mimi, often a very unlikeable woman, gains some sympathy in the crushing fame that followed in the wake of the lads from Liverpool. Of course the most tragic figure in the tale is John and Cynthia’s son, Julian.

Only six when his parents divorced, and still very young when his father was murdered, the tragedy is compounded by the fact that not only did a boy lose his father, John turned into the man he hated above all others, his own father. John’s slow but unstoppable drifting into his own father’s footsteps is at times harder to grasp than Julian’s pain at the repeated loss of his father.

Cynthia does a few things in the book that I really like. The vast majority of the book deals with the good times she and John shared, and the love they had for one another. She makes this quite real. While there is nothing flattering about Yoko in Cynthia’s account, she does not make Yoko the devil. At times she makes John’s relationship with Yoko seem almost like a byproduct of his drug use rather than love. While that may be too dismissive of the love John and Yoko clearly felt, Cynthia lays the responsibility for this tragedy squarely at the feet of its author – John.

Life rarely gives us “happy ever after”, and I take comfort that Cynthia allows us “at least we ended up OK”. In my mind this in line with another spiritual maxim sung about by the fab four “and in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make”. ( )
  lanewillson | Jan 27, 2012 |
I got this book when I was a guest of the View in New York City. It took me a while to read it but after I did I thought it was a good book. So many people think of John and Yoko and don't even remember Cynthia. When she was on The View she was very personable and added to the understanding of who the mastermind behind The Beatles truly was. ( )
  RonShore | Oct 28, 2011 |
Cynthia Lennon seems almost simultaneously apologetic and unforgiving of her first husband (and first love), John Lennon. She steers the book through John's life, as it pertains to her and what she perceives, rarely going deeply into events now as she did then. The book starts tragically, and goes on till the end. There are bright points, though, and anecdotes on every page (at least). Wanting to set the story straight, so to speak, Lennon lets it all out, displaying John's outbursts against her and their son Julian, put-downs, drug use, and affairs. Then towards the end, there are the slew of attacks between Yoko Ono and everyone else.

The author is very capable in her writing, putting to print a lifetime of love and pain in a way that puts the reader at the same table with Cynthia Lennon, as if sharing tea time together. Many familiar names appear in this work—people that are die-hard Beatles fans will know them all—with excellent background on everyone included within the text. A must-read, but all told, the reader will have to decide for themselves if Cynthia's detractors are correct in blaming her for trying to get an income out of John's name. Surely, by the end, one can sympathize with her, sensing that hindsight about Ono's influences were undermining, and John was fragile and not a prototypical idol of purity for his fans. ( )
1 vote jimcripps | Sep 23, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This slightly desperate book sets out to prove two points. First, that John Lennon really did love the author, his first wife, Cynthia; and second, that he treated her badly. It certainly makes a strong case for the latter but often at the expense of the former.
 
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Till min son Julian och Johns systrar Julia och Jacqui, som alla tre har fått leva med smärtan av att vara en del av Lennonlegenden.
Och till min make Noel, med kärlek och tacksamhet.
For my son, Julian, and for John's sisters, Julia and Jacqui, all three of whom have had to cope with the pain that being part of the Lennon legend imposed

And for my husband, Noel, with love and thanks
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I tio år delade jag mitt liv med en man som under sin livstid var en stor gestalt och efter sin död blev en legend.
For ten years I shared my life with a man who was a huge figure in his lifetime, and who has become a legend since his death.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307338568, Paperback)

This isn't Cynthia Lennon's first book about her legendary ex-husband. A Twist of Lennon--a slim volume that John tried to suppress on grounds of libel--came out in 1978. But now, 25 years after his death, she finally feels ready to tell the "full and truthful story" of their life together. Why? In his foreword, son Julian writes of their being "dismissed or at best treated as insignificant bit players" in the story of John's life; it's Cynthia's goal, with John, to set the record straight. She does make a case for being more than just "the impressionable young girl who fell for him, then trapped him into marriage," and it's moving to read, in his own words, of John's love for his son. And while there's nothing new in her account of the Fab Four's rise to fame, as the greatest success story of the rock era, it's a legend that bears retelling. But most salient of all are Cynthia's sketches of pain, regret, and intimidation. John was indeed a brilliant, loving man, but he was also "passionately jealous," "verbally cutting," sometimes abusive, and often neglectful. (It is hinted that his behavior may have paralleled that of the woman who raised him, his Aunt Mimi.) Unfortunately, Cynthia's "response to John's provocative and cruel behavior was to stick by him more solidly than ever...[feeling] that if he could trust me and believe that I loved him he might soften."

It's not this dysfunction, however, but rather John's use of LSD, on which she blames the emotional "chasm" that led to the failure of their marriage. And though the Lennons' divorce comes relatively late in the book, the pages that follow are by far the saddest, as they chronicle John's increasing distance from and neglect of his former family--especially Julian, who would only see his father three times after he moved to New York in 1971. It's no surprise that Cynthia lays much of the blame for this at the feet of Yoko Ono, who is described as controlling and insensitive, especially in the wake of John's murder. But even though there's a lot of bitterness and resentment in these pages, it's not overwhelming, being offset by Cynthia's fierce love for her son and her continuing affection for her ex-husband. A full picture of John Lennon's life will never exist as long as Ono judges herself unable to write about their time together, but John goes a long way toward improving the situation. --Benjamin Lukoff

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:46:56 -0400)

When she was eighteen years old, a girl named Cynthia Powell met a boy named John Lennon and they fell in love. Their ten-year relationship coincided with the start of the Beatles phenomenon--from Liverpool's dockside clubs to the dizzying worldwide fame that followed. Here, Cynthia recalls those times with the loving honesty of an insider, offering new insights into the life of John Lennon and the early days of the Beatles. She tells of the breakdown of their marriage and the beginning of his relationship with Yoko Ono in detail, and documents the difficulties that estrangement from John--and his subsequent death--brought for herself and their son, Julian.--From publisher description.… (more)

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