A Faulty Memoir

 

Cynthia gamely plays the part of the reticent ex-wife breaking silence, so her earlier autobiography, A Twist of Lennon–quite a lot of which is recycled here– is never named. She admits to having given “a couple of interviews” over the years, but eventually the number multiplies and she alludes to her regular chat spots at Beatles conventions and on TV. Given longer to reflect, she might have owned up to the features in Hello! and Q, too.[…]As the whole world knows by now, Lennon was a complex character, brutal and humane, crazy and wise, conflicted as hell. Cynthia, a Nice Person without imagination, is simply not equipped to analyse the man who wrote “Imagine”. Her memoir’s stated purpose is to counteract the way she’s been airbrushed out of history, to prove that her marriage to John was not the irrelevance he claimed it was. Instead, she paints herself even further into the background, with prose so characterless and bland it might as well have been produced by a half-asleep hack.

Michel Faber, The Guardian, October 9, 2005.

Cynthia feels that history has unfairly allocated her a minor part in the story of the Beatles, a sort of Pete Best in a frock, ruthlessly discarded and forgotten. “In the film Backbeat, I was portrayed as a clingy, dim, little girlfriend in a headscarf,” she complains. And yet, in her depiction, she comes across as a clingy, dim, little girlfriend, albeit not in a headscarf. […]

This is Cynthia’s second biography of John Lennon, yet the first, she insists, to tell the ‘full and truthful story’. As a counterbalance to the myth preservation practised by Yoko, the high priestess of the Lennon cult, it does its job. But it is a job that has been done many times, and in greater depth, before. The popular image of the second Mrs Lennon as a weird, calculating control-freak is placed under no threat in these pages.

For all her continuing attachment to her first husband (she has since married three times), Cynthia offers no original insight to the complexity of his character. There is, though, plenty of detail of his various failings as a partner, father and human being

Cynthia and John were together for almost 10 years. During most of that time, he was away touring and his primary relationship was with the other band members, in particular Paul McCartney.

John and Cynthia’s inevitable parting of ways was vividly foreshadowed the year before when the Beatles visited the maharishi in Bangor. In a dash to make the train, John left Cynthia stranded with their luggage. As she stood crying on the platform, she reflected on the state of her marriage: “John was on the train, speeding to the future, and I was left behind.”  Judging by this book, a part of Cynthia appears to remain on that platform, still clutching the baggage from her past.

 

 

Not A Word

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Cynthia Lennon was not allowed to speak one word to the press during the first American tour.