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Imagine This: Growing Up with My Brother John Lennon [Paperback]

Julia Baird
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Jan 2008

Until now, the true story of John Lennon's childhood has never been told. John's sister Julia has herself been on a personal journey that has made it possible only now to reveal the full extent of the pain and difficulties - as well as the happier times - living inside John Lennon's family brought.

Julia reveals the various strong, self-willed and selfish women who surrounded John as he grew up. John was removed from his mother at the age of 5 to live with his Aunt Mimi, and here Julia shows for the first time the cruelty of this decision - to both mother and son, she sheds a new light on his upbringing with Mimi which is often at dramatic odds with the accepted tale. John's frequent visits to his mother and sisters gave him the liveliness, freedom and love he sought and allowed him to develop his musical talents. The tragic death of their mother, knocked down outside Aunt Mimi's house by a speeding car when John was 17, meant that life for him and his sisters would never be the same again.

Poignant, raw and beautifully written, IMAGINE THIS casts John Lennon's life in a new light and reveals the source of his emotional fragility and musical genius. It is also one family's extraordinary story of how it dealt with fame and tragedy beyond all imagining.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (24 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340839252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340839256
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 438,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A tragic story . . . also a tenderly evoked memoir of a Liverpool childhood' (The Independent)

'Honest and poignant, this enjoyable read offers fans a new perspective on their idol' (The Sun)

'A moving account of the Beatle's childhood by his half-sister . . . fascinating' (Observer Music Monthly)

'Philip Larkin's much-quoted lines about sex being invented in 1963 "between the end of the Chatterley ban/ And the Beatles first LP" stand corrected here. Perhaps life was dull in Hull and Coventry, but on this account there was plenty of passion in Liverpool' (The Irish Times)

'A poignant powerful tale that throws new light on the Lennon legend' (The Scottish Sunday Post)

'An unusual treat' (Aberdeen Evening Express)

'His sister's important new account chronicles the pivotal childhood years that provided the source of both Lennon's rich creativity and personal vulnerability' (Good Books Guide)

Book Description

An extraordinarily moving and honest memoir by John Lennon's sister revealing for the first time the often painful and lonely childhood that was to have such reverberations for his and her own life.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sad childhood of John's little sister 5 Jan 2008
The flood of biographies of the Beatles and their friends and families shows no sign of abating. Most of them repeat much of what we already know, with the occasional new insight or anecdote. This book stands out from the rest. As another reviewer puts it, this is "worthy in its own write [nice allusion!] as an autobiography of Julia Baird". Her story of her childhood would hit home even in an alternate universe where the Beatles had never happened.

We have long known that John was brought up by his Aunt Mimi, and that his mother's death in a road accident cruelly ended his chance to form an independent relationship with her. This book portrays as never before the stern matriarchy of the Stanley family, in which "keeping up appearances" was paramount. Although John's mother (Julia senior) was adored by her sisters, they came to see her as the black sheep of the family, and this contributed to the fractured, unhappy life of her and her children.

Julia Baird tells us about the sunshine as well as the shadows, and her love and admiration for her charismatic mother and brother are very evident. However, without stating the obvious she leaves us in little doubt why John, once plunged into the goldfish bowl of Beatlemania, had his own share of relationship problems.

Much of the book hinges around Mimi's alleged moral hypocrisy. According to Julia Baird, Mimi on her deathbed said she was frightened of dying because she had been so wicked. In her own biography of John, Cynthia Lennon (who is just as well-qualified to judge Mimi) quotes Julia's allegation, so it rings true.

Hopefully it is some small consolation to Julia Baird that her mother's name lives on in John's touching ballad "Julia" and in Julian's name too.

As in many accounts of John, Yoko is depicted in less than flattering terms.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open, honest, & excellent! 29 Mar 2007
By Ish
I recently finished reading this book and found it to be (what I consider) a truthful account of what John & his sisters life was like as children and the life-long affect it has had on them. Most books written about John 'gloss' over the early years with Aunt Mimi, Uncle George, his mother Julia and his sisters. We have always read about the puritanical Mimi and the fun, beautiful,carefree Julia. Ms. Baird however, introduces us to everyone through her eyes and in doing so, offers the reader a very rare insight into their lives and the emotional rollercoster they had to ride. With great clarity we can sense the raw, heart wrenching pain they experienced in losing their mother and ultimately, their determination to survive.

As stated in the previous review, the only other account that we have of John that is written with complete honesty are those written by Cynthia Lennon; 'A Twist of Lennon' and 'Lennon'.

Thank you Julia, for this wonderful glimpse of 'Growing up with John'.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very moving and intimate account of love and anguish, intimacy and permanent longing.

I really enjoyed reading the recent biography of John Lennon by Cynthia. It opened up a substantive and new angle from which "Lennonologists" could view the object of their interest. In particular, there were shadings of Aunt Mimi in a slightly less than a "couldn't put a foot wrong" light. Having read Julia Baird's earlier book on John I was anxious to read this one, especially as there were initial reviews saying there would be much more information on the early years of John's life.

From the outset I wish to stress that this book is not really one for Beatles / Lennon fans who do not want to scratch beneath the surface. Much of the already overly published accounts of the Beatles and their rise to fame are thankfully mentioned in passing. This book has the resounding theme of the woefully premature loss of a beautiful (inside and out) mother and "wife" by her children and her "husband". (The quotation marks are not meant to convey disrespect; only legal accuracy.)

It explores the pain and betrayal of those affected by the stigma of not having had a stable family, and the loss of identity that ensues. I wish to stress once more: it is worth reading this book for the author's own life story; the John Lennon theme is almost an additional merit of its content.

The portrayals of the usually encountered personae from the Lennon history in this book are eye-opening, or even revolutionary. The inclusion of those not normally mentioned helps to build up a clearer picture. I don't want to spoil any of the surprises. Let's just say that anyone wishing to know more about the reasons why John Lennon was the way that he was should not hesitate - buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal story 7 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book, and it's a very personal story about John Lennon's childhood.
It cleared up all sorts of misconceptions for me, and Ms Baird achieved what she set out to do, and that was to clear their mother's name. I certainly felt a great deal of sympathy for Ms Baird, and I hope that by writing about the series of tragedies that blighted her life, she has felt some relief.
It was an eye opener to know what really happened in John's childhood. His sister's account comes across as very honest, and balanced. I didnt detect any bitterness from the author. Just a desire to tell the true story.
It's hard to understand the actions of Yoko Ono towards John's sisters, and I could understand the feelings this would create in Ms Baird's mind. She wanted to hang on to John, her brother, and the house he gave her and her sister was a link with him. They shared a mother and they shared the grief of losing her, and Yoko's attitude seemed callous in the extreme.
I also felt sympathy for John himself. He was basically used as a pawn by his Aunties, and even his father tried to take him away from his mother. Poor boy must have been totally confused and insecure.
This book is well worth reading if you are interested in John Lennon's upbringing and family history. I found it very readable, and it was interesting to see where his musical talent originated.
The saddest part for me was that his mother never lived to see his success.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it - I briefly taught Julia Baird - then Dyson.
Published 1 month ago by ms Patricia Orme
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Interesting from a member of John's family. Had to keep on reading until I finished the book. Also very sad. Very talented guy.
Published 3 months ago by maria baldwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Another from the horse's mouth
I rank this with Cynthia Lennon's "John" as being an honest & thorough account . It doesn't make it "the truth" of course, because the truth will vary with the author's viewpoint. Read more
Published 11 months ago by imogen
4.0 out of 5 stars Imagine this review
I honestly couldn't put this book down. I really enjoyed it. Although a little depressing and rambley at times I would recommend this book very highly. Read more
Published 17 months ago by emily pitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read documenting the life of a musical icon
This book gives an amazing insight to not only John Lennon' s early childhood, growing up in Mendips with Mimi, but also the lives of his sister's, which before reading this book I... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Emma Denison
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleeping sand, silent cloud...
I absolutely loved this book, & found it very hard to put down once I started reading.
Julia has done a first-class job in putting the record straight over the public persona... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Steve Cann
4.0 out of 5 stars Imagine This - Book on John Lennon
I was curious to see what a family member would have to say about John Lennon. His half sister Julia tells her story, much of which is focussed reasonably enough in the early part... Read more
Published 21 months ago by RingoT
5.0 out of 5 stars The real story
I enjoyed watching the film 'nowhere boy' on which this book was based, but the book tells quite a different story. If you are a Lennon fan you must read this book. Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Bolgy
5.0 out of 5 stars A REMARKABLE FAMILY
I have read several books on the Beatles over the years and I have to say this is the best one. It deals with Johns early life and just as importantly that of his family. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2012 by Anthony B. Whittle
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and well-written
This easy to read book is beautifully written. Julia Baird writes clearly and with warmth about the early years spent with her brother John Lennon. Read more
Published on 11 April 2011 by Michael Barrie
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