In the standard accounts of the Beatles' rise, she's usually written off as the impressionable and clueless young thing who ensnared John in marriage after getting pregnant. Her own version is very different: They were young and madly in love and good for each other until fame, drugs and a bizarro performance artist named Yoko Ono swept him away. In person she has survivor's radar and a sweet, knowing demeanor that seems anything but clueless....I'd much rather hear this version of John than the saccharine pop culture John, the one that plays with the soundtrack "Imagine."
Her portrait of John is loving but candid. There are some fond moments: the scene of the boys dressed in black suits, like undertakers, at the wedding is hilarious, and John's joy at seeing his baby son Julian for the first time is heartwarming. But he could be vindictive, controlling, cynical and egocentric, she says. He insisted that she dye her hair blond to look like Brigitte Bardot and became furious when she cut it too short. Later on he bullied her into taking LSD even though it made her sick.
Then, as the madness of Beatlemania overtook him, he shut her out altogether. He hit her only once, she says, in a jealous rage early on after she danced with his best friend, Stuart Sutcliffe. It took him three months to apologize, and it never happened again. But the verbal abuse, the mocking and the demands never ceased, she says, although she confesses that she was far too passive and forgiving, inevitably shying away from confrontation for fear of losing him....
One living person who won't care for Cynthia's account is Yoko, who comes across as manipulative and vindictive or just plain oblivious. The book will confirm every Beatles fanatic's worst image of the woman many still blame for breaking up the world's favorite band.
Yoko changed John, made him fragile and precious and needy, cut him off from family and friends, according to Cynthia's version. "He was a different man when he was with me -- much more gregarious and all encompassing. John was never really precious when I knew him, never fragile."
October 3, 2005
"The impossibly wild, angry, infuriating, talented, cruel, funny, magnetic young rebel who would love and torment her and eventually cast her aside."
That would be John Lennon, according to this WaPo article on the occasion of Cynthia Lennon's hot new memoir: