Cynthia Lennon writes of her time with John.
Critique for: John
Written by: Cynthia Lennon
Critique by: SG Cardin
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Cynthia Lennon starts her autobiographical tale reflecting on the death of her famous ex-husband, John Lennon and within the first chapter reveals two insights into John’s personality that haven’t really been discussed before in books about the Beatles. It’s a catchy start to a heartwarming, sweet, tragedic tale.
We meet Cynthia as a teenager starting art college. Shortly thereafter she encounters John Lennon. The two make unlikely couple. She was raised in a nice neighborhood to be a “good” girl and John Lennon is a teenage rebel with only one cause – rock n’ roll.
Those around them would think they had nothing in common, but Cynthia points out they had several things in common – they were both short sighted and bonded over losing their parents when they were seventeen. (Cynthia lost her father when she was seventeen, John lost his mother.) Soon, Cynthia and John embark on a relationship. Her love is what John needs. She’s a steady constant in his life, which is filled with uncertainty.
Cynthia is there before John and the Beatles make it famous. She talks of their humble beginnings and John’s family. We learn John’s aunt Mimi, the woman who raised him, is a very totalitarian matriarch who never often showed John small, simple, loving gestures. John also has two younger sisters who adore him, Jacqui and Julia. There are so many sides to John. He’s in love, yet has a fercious jealous side to him. He can be kind and tender, yet John dislikes confrontation severely. An example of this is how Pete Best is told to leave the band. Brian Epstein breaks the news to Pete, and John never sees him again.
Cynthia and John have been with each other four years before their son Julian is conceived. John marries her right before the Beatles begin to take off. As the Beatles ride the wave of fame, Cynthia is by John’s side. It isn’t easy for the couple, but their love sees them through.
The books shifts when Cynthia begins to talk of John’s drug use. It’s his use of drugs that drives a wedge between them. John decline and destruction is sad to read about in such a personal way. The way he cuts Cynthia and Julian out of his life is quick, deliberate, precise, and very hurtful. Cynthia must find her own way, with little financial support from John for her and her son, Julian.
Cynthia Lennon – This is Cynthia’s story. Her voice is sweet and tender. Her honesty and candidness will immediately draw you in. She is quick to point out her own failings and her own strengths.
John Lennon – Cynthia paints a complex portrait of the man. John is talented and vital, yet, because of the way he was raised, he dislikes confrontation. This is probably the best, complete, honest portrait of John Lennon.
PLOT AND PACING
This is a fast paced novel, keeping in line with the fast pace of the Beatles lives. Once I read the opening chapter, I discovered I did not want to put this book down. The beginning draws you in and the reader barely has a chance to catch their breath. Happiness quickly turns to misery, pain, and despair, in much the same manner as the Beatles overwhelming success turns sour at the end of the sixties.
THOUGHTS AND IMPRESSIONS:
This is the first book that almost brought tears to my eyes. It reminded of me of going to the movies, and when the movie is almost done, I discover that I’ve been so “into” it, I’m crying.
Cynthia is such an honest, vibrant, warm woman and it comes across in this novel. The love she and John share is that of couple completely in love. After reading the first 200 pages, there are no doubts for me a Beatles fan, or as a reader, than John truly loves Cynthia in the depths of his soul. She’s brutally candid about what tore her marriage apart – John’s use of LSD. It was a drug she did not like. Taking it scared her. She had a three-year-old at the house and she did not want to take drugs because she knew she couldn’t be out of control for her child’s sake. She’s put in a gut-wrenching position – love of her child or the love of her life. John’s response to her failing to take drugs with him was to go find someone who would – and he found Yoko.
Cynthia offers fresh insights on a musical history that has been practically hashed to death by the number of books written by the Beatles. Her thoughts and impressions on Yoko are not put out there in a mean-spirited way – instead Cynthia presents the facts as is – and lets the reader come to their conclusions.
At the end of the book, Cynthia shares a small anecdote that made me smile. She writes that shortly after John’s death, she received series of letters from a psychic, claiming to have messages from John. They were warm messages and in them, John expresses regret over ending the relationship the way he did. Cynthia would like to believe for just a minute, and myself as well, that John did send them. That was the John Lennon she knew.
This is a wonderful read for those who are true fans of the Beatles – and John Lennon.