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Imagine This: Growing Up with My Brother John Lennon Paperback – 24 Jan 2008

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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: 14.1 x 2.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sherunkle VINE VOICE on 5 Jan. 2008
Format: Hardcover
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 By Ish on 29 Mar. 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard D. L. Sargent on 28 Mar. 2007
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 By Steve Cann on 31 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
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 of her mother, who has all-too-often been the victim of unfair & untrue misrepresentation by many who have written (or even made films) concerning her famous brother's life.

Julia's a very talented writer, & has really brought her lovely mother to life to me through her honest & heartfelt words. She shares her precious childhood memories here (often tinged with tragedy & loss) in a very intimate & moving way, as we gradually move from the 1940s & through her life's journey to the present day.

This is very much Julia's story (where John is a side-character) & charts her own life, seeing her much-loved brother (& her relationship with him) through her own eyes. We finally learn the truth of John's lovely mother, & the tragic fall-out that her sudden & untimely death caused to those closest to her.

I found the whole book very touching & inspiring, & felt humbled in the way that Julia has always strived to lead a quiet life (very rarely revealing to others her claim to fame, or basking in her brother's reflected glory when she so easily could have done).

She has, in a less public way, played her own part in affecting the world in a positive way through humanitarian affairs, helping others through charitable causes, & making life better through her work with disadvantaged young people with whom she feels so much empathy.

This has been such an honest, touching & illuminating read, and I thank Julia so much for sharing her precious memories with us.
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