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John by Cynthia Lennon
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John (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Cynthia Lennon

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4152036,484 (3.65)6
Member:RonShore
Title:John
Authors:Cynthia Lennon
Info:Three Rivers Press (2006), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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John by Cynthia Lennon (2005)

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I have had such a long desire to read this book that at times I cannot believe I actually got my hands on a copy. For years, every time I have gone into a bookstore, I use their self-search kiosks to see if they had this book on the shelves. For years, it was never there. Of course I could always find it online and have it shipped to my door in 5 working business days, but I had gotten it in my head that I needed to go to a physical book store and buy a physical copy. After all the searching I had done, that was the only way I was going to be truly pleased. And then one day this summer, I was in New York City at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side, telling myself that any books I bought now would only add weight to my suitcase on the plane ride home, and I found it. It was the only copy on the shelf, and it wasn't even the cover/edition I had my eyes on. But I had wanted it for so long, I was in New York, and I needed this book.

Worth. The. Wait.

John is amazing. I have had such a struggle in the past with my admiration of John Lennon. Right from the beginning of my love affair with the Beatles, I always called John my favorite. I have no idea why - maybe it was the glasses. But after years of denial of the kind of person he was and the things he did to the people he once loved, I forced myself to admit that he was not the person I had built up in my head. I abandoned him as my favorite and set out to choose another one (right now I pick George because I don't know anything about him yet). Once realising that Cynthia, his first wife and mother of his first child, had written about his life both before and during the rise of the Beatles, I knew I needed to read the book to come to terms with myself and remind myself that the image of John Lennon in my head I had crafted and had resembled something far away from the man he had actually become. And like previously mentioned, it was worth the pain and struggle I went through to track the book down. I don't know if Cynthia had a ghost writer or a helper assisting her in writing her story, but it was very well-written. Sometimes I almost forgot how big the Beatles were during the 60s, just because Cynthia writes from the sidelines of the story and not the centre. It really was an eye-opening book, and now I want to read a book about each of the Beatles, preferably by someone at their sides and not themselves. The pain I felt for Cynthia and Julian was real, and the hatred for John's betrayal with Yoko was heart-wrenching.

If you have any interest in the Beatles, John, Julian, or Cynthia, any interest at all, I would recommend you read this book. I absolutely loved it and would read it again for the first time if I could. ( )
  erinla | Oct 31, 2017 |
This is not the first time I read this, the last time I did. The first time was probably in December 2012, a few weeks before Christmas. I forgot when exactly. Being a huge Beatles fan and a huge admirer of John Lennon, I had been wanting to read this for a while, a book written by Lennon's often ignored ex-wife Cynthia. Now you might assume this is a way for Cynthia to mooch off of John's name and legacy, but you would be wrong to assume that. (Remember that saying about assuming things.) She does talk a little about her life before John, getting into college and then meeting John and how she didn't care for how he looked (he was a kind of teddy boy in those days) and how he'd make fun of her for being "posh" while he had his rough Liverpool accent.

I need to warn any Beatles fans who are reading this for the first time: It does not always paint John in a pretty light. She is talking about John the man, not John Lennon, the legend, idol, and former Beatle. And John wasn't always the greatest of people. He could be mean, he could be cruel, distant, cold. He divorced Cyn, at first on false grounds of adultery on her part, which is untrue, but then withdrawing his claim in favour for her claim, divorcing him for adultery, for he had gotten Yoko Ono pregnant at the time. He abandoned his first son Julian for long periods and only at the end of his life, cut tragically short, did he even start trying to make amends.

When Cyn talks about John's behaviour to Cyn as their marriage crumbles, when he files for divorce, and a little while after, you will believe John is a total ass and a coward for treating the woman he claimed to have loved in that horrible way. And you're right. And it's even worse how he treated his own son. Cyn became his ex-wife, but Julian will always be his son.

Still, to his credit, John was trying to make up for how he acted toward Julian and he was aware he'd not been there as he should have been. It's not his fault his life was cut short. There's so much that could have happened between them.

And okay, this book did not exactly warm me to Yoko. I know she was not 100% responsible for the break-up of the Beatles, they would have broken up anyway, but she sure did not help with the tension among members. And she was awful to Julian, calling him a badly behaved boy and then later telling Cyn she raised him so well.

This book is really good, but be warned you may not always like what she has to say about John and how he treated her, especially toward the end of their marriage in 1968. John is more than how he's portrayed as an icon for world peace. He wasn't always peaceful toward his own family. ( )
  kyndyleizabella | Jan 23, 2017 |
I am often reluctant to read memoirs from ex-lovers or ex-spouses of someone quite famous. Sadly, in many cases, it is a desperate cry for fame and “look at me, I know someone famous, you don't” attitude. So I read John by John Lennon's first wife with a weary eye. Little of the information was new to me. I had read much about the Beatles during my History of Rock n' Roll college course many years before (and yes, the class was as awesome as it sounds) but it was interesting to read it from Cynthia's point of view. I believe while she was somewhat harsh with the assessment of some people, it showed her emotions and that even years later she feels the hurt. She does not bash John but is honest in their time together (or so we assume she is being honest, John is not around to dispute it) – life was not perfect with the man before, during, or after their marriage. And I have a feeling that she is less innocent than she leads on in the book. If you're looking for just facts about John Lennon and the other Beatles, perhaps this book is not for you. But this a good book written with dignity from the first, and often forgotten, first wife giving a view of Lennon rarely seen in the public eye. ( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Written by the first wife of Lennon, this was meant to show her love and respect for John throughout her whole life despite her own personal hardships. I really was engaged by the book and am glad that I read it as I hadn't heard much about Cynthia's relationship beforehand. This is a female account of John personally and Beatlemania from someone who was there from the beginning. I enjoyed her long descriptions of Liverpool which is a hard city to describe accurately. There is an overall sense of sadness to the book, to my feelings, which is probably the opposite of Cynthia Lennon's intention. She reveals almost all of her vulnerabilities. John is summed up according to her powers of interpretation as a wounded but precocious child having lost his parents at a young age and brought up by his aunt who was never pleased with his efforts to please her. Cynthia concluded that John never had much faith in God due to these abandonment issues which then extended into their marriage. Yoko is not presented as a sane person and it was she who helped John to break up the Beatles so that John could work with her exclusively. Cynthia gives credence to a fortune teller's prediction in 1966 that John would be shot in America. She then alludes to numerology related to the number 9 which came up coincidentally in John's past. This is strange but gives a sense of the suggestibility which Cynthia was prone to. The story of their marriage is one that recurs often in the entertainment world. The marriage breakup is similar to what is described by Valerie Bertinelli's trouble with Eddie Van Halen (Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time). John isn't great writing but attempts to be honest about years past before they have faded entirely from her memory. Lennon's creative method is described in the book as being collaborative with Paul McCartney. From my reading on a few musicians, this is unusual. Most work alone and then collaborate on the finalization of the product. I've only heard of The Clash, OMD and maybe Echo and the Bunnymen doing this. This is a challenging book but worth reading for its feminine perspective on a musical group which has already passed into myth. One of the really strange meetings was at a London party (p. 160) where they met Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. Tate would later be linked to the Helter Skelter song through insane Charles Manson. Lennon was a man who met all the right people at the right time (McCartney, Brian Epstein, George Martin) to become the leader of one of the most popular recording groups ever. Cynthia's book is marked by a felt betrayal by John but she still feels that the love they once shared was real. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Jun 6, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cynthia Lennonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lennon, JulianForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:28 -0400)

The first wife of the English rock musician discusses their courtship, the early years of their marriage, the impact of the success of the Beatles on their relationship, their divorce, and her struggles as a single mother.

(summary from another edition)

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