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
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From Publishers Weekly
There's a lot of cruelty (his) and bitterness (hers) in this book by the late Beatle's first wife and mother of his elder son, Julian Lennon. A rehash of the Beatles' beginnings from the wife's point of view, the book reveals that Lennon was a pretty messed-up guy who preached universal love for the world and ignored his own family. Saddest, of course, is the effect of all this on Julian, who writes the introduction and praises Mum for her courage and love. Three marriages later, though, Cynthia still burns with anger—mostly at Yoko Ono, whom she believes brainwashed John. When asked if she was sorry she'd fallen in love with the singer-songwriter in the first place, she writes, "If I'd known as a teenager what falling for John Lennon would lead to, I would have turned round right then and walked away." If only she had let him be. (Oct.)
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