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John Paperback – August 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307338568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307338563
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (393 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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283 of 299 people found the following review helpful By Beatles Fan on October 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have been a John Lennon fan since I was about six years old. I have read alot of books about him, and was always fascinated by him. This book by Cynthia is by far my favorite. I admit I have never been one to like Yoko, so I could come off as bias. I always felt really bad about Cynthia but never fully understood what had happened. I cant say for sure what she writes is true, but the pain that was caused at times had me disgusted with John.

In the beginning the book is wonderful. It provides really good mental pictures and shows a John Lennon that we havent seen before. Reading about their college years and younger days was fascinating. To see John more human was refreshing. We see a side of Mimi that has never really been written about. Cynthia seems to still be affected by her. Although Mimi is presented as nasty, rude, and demanding, you still feel she was loved.

Hearing about John during his first years of fame was really great too. It is neat to be able to see sides of him that we havent before. Although always on the edge, he is seen here as a loving man who desperately misses Julian but continues to mess up. The letter shown in here that John writes home is sad, and showed he was very vulnerable.

You begin to feel the tension as John spins more and more out of control. You feel the sadness and you can understand how both of them felt. That is one thing I really enjoy about this book. Althought written from Cynthia's perspective, she strives to explain John's also and understands they were both vastly different in many areas. It showed to me that she still loves John to this day.

The book gets pretty sad to read as John plummets. The chilling way in which he dumps Cynthia is almost hard to read.
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132 of 138 people found the following review helpful By R. DelParto VINE VOICE on October 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As anniversaries are celebrated and observed, more information referencing the Beatles are released. However, works by immediate family members or those closest to individual band members may become less. The release is quite fitting in that it coincides with what would have been John's 65th birthday and 25 years since his death. As with any event in history, having the opportunity to read accounts from those who witnessed the events bring us much closer to understanding who the individual was and debunking any myths or rumors that have existed through out the years and laying them to rest. In this case, Cynthia Lennon attempts to show the truth about John Lennon. What makes her biography or memoir so unique is that she examines her relationship with John Lennon from his pre-Beatle days as a college art student in the late 1950s up to her bitter divorce in 1969 as well as the John's post-Beatle years. Her story shows the change and transformation of John Lennon to readers, and the emotions and guilt that she experienced as she went through the process -- the coming to terms with her loss and being at peace with what happened.

JOHN is not a book about the Beatles or their music. Cynthia guides the reader through a chronology of her life with stories about how she met John Lennon and relating events that pertained to her own personal life, her long-time friendship with her girlfriend, Phyllis McKenzie, and her mother, who were always there to support her through trying times. The most interesting aspect of the book is the love-hate relationship between Cynthia and John's Aunt Mimi, and more in-depth information about John's sisters, Julia and Jacqui.
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By J. Bouffard on March 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
By the time the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, I was madly in love with them and their music. Paul McCartney was the love of my 13-year-old life, so it never bothered me that John Lennon was married and had a child. To my friends who were ardent Lennon fans, this fact was unacceptable. There were times I wondered how John's wife, Cyn, felt about all of this. After reading her memoir, entitled John, that question has been answered -- along with many others.

First and foremost, the reader should pick up this book expecting to read about love, happiness, frustration, pain, hurt, anger, tears, and conflict -- all of the things you would find in any relationship that is put under a non-stop eye of media scrutiny. No matter what you've read about the Beatles over the past 43 years, this story is different because it's told by someone who wasn't in the machine that made the Beatles a success. We've all read stories about John, Paul, George, and Ringo as told by everyone from their roadies to their contemporaries. Now we get to hear from the woman John married first and who was an unsuspecting participant on the ride of insanity known as Beatlemania.

When I began this book I was looking forward to hearing Cynthia's side of the story. I knew there would be some bitterness against Yoko, some anger towards John, comments on the use of drugs, cashing in on her marriage to him, and perhaps some self analysis in the process. She is only human and the journey of writing this book had to be a painful one for her, even all these years later. Yes, all of that is in her book. She is honest in her narrative and admits there have been times she's cashed in on the Lennon name to support herself and Julian.
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