Michael's Reviews > John

John by Cynthia Lennon
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May 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir-bio
Read in January, 2009 , read count: 1

While I love the Beatles and have most of their albums, my interest doesn't extend much beyond the music. I decided to read this book after viewing "The US vs. John Lennon" (which was awfully shoddy as documentaries go). I'm well acquainted with much of the standard Beatles mythology, but the film still piqued my interest as someone who was a small child during the period it covered. I just wanted to know how a simple aspiring rock musician became a revolutionary cultural icon, and a book by a woman who was actually along for the ride seemed to be the best place to start. And, I've decided, to finish.

How any fan, relying on other secondhand information, could feel confident enough to argue against the validity of Cynthia Lennon's personal account of her own life and marriage I can't really understand. She makes very few firm speculations about John Lennon's motives, and sticks pretty much to her own experiences and reactions. I found the book to be entirely reasonable and balanced. There's very little mudslinging, and the mild resentment that comes through is hardly uncommon or surprising. It becomes obvious over the course of the book that she's not exactly skilled at addressing dysfunction in relationships, and not improving at it much with age. Still, I felt some sympathy for her concerning her younger years as I read about them, especially given the picture of a "good wife" and the accompanying virtues and duties that her generation had been inculcated with.

I almost never read biographies, but I felt this was a straightforward account of the rise (and fall, unless you consider becoming an acid head a bump in the road) of John Lennon that satisfied my curiosity around the topic. It seems he was as much an emblem of the glaring hypocrisy of the peace movement as anything else.
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