Author: Julia Baird
Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Beatles. I have all their albums, their films, and all of John & George’s solo work. I’ve been to see Paul McCartney live. I have more Beatles t-shirts than I can count. I’m a fan. I’m a Beatlemaniac.
So it was inevitable that this book would come into my possession at some point. Many Beatles/Lennon fans are somewhat aware of his background: Father out of the picture; Being brought up by his strict aunt Mimi; Reconnecting with his mother half way through his teens and then losing her again to a fatal traffic accident. But not too many know about the two younger half-sisters he had through his mother. Imagine This is the oldest sister, Julia’s, story.
I thought this book was okay. Learning more about the family dynamics from the inside was really interesting and, at times, quite heartbreaking. All four of Julia Lennon’s children (John, Ingrid, Julia, and Jacqueline) had quite a rough childhood that didn’t prepare them for the most stable adulthood. Even their immediate family members (the aunts/Julia Lennon’s sisters) were hardly assuring figures. So, as a coming-of-age family story, this book works really well.
However, there’s the John Lennon factor. I got the impression at times that Baird’s relationship with her brother was kind of forced. It’s well-documented that once The Beatles hit it off and John moved his first wife Cynthia and their son, Julian, to London, he had very little communication with the rest of his family, let alone went back up to Liverpool. And while I have no doubt that Baird and her brother crossed paths during their childhood and even bonded for the brief few years John reconnected with his mother, Baird’s insistence that they were always close, even into adulthood, felt more like a ploy to cash in on his name. That’s an awful thing to say but certain inaccuracies with dates didn’t add up at times and the wording did seem as though Baird was trying desperately to make something out of nothing.
I have no doubt though that, after the trauma of losing her mother at an early age and being rejected by her extended family, Baird tried to grab on to any memories of her childhood that she could, including what she’d once had with her older brother, and tried to make the most out of them. And I guess this book is the result of that.
Overall, it’s a good exploration of the ups and downs of one very large family in Liverpool and how trauma can affect the lives of young children. So if you’re looking for something more coming-of-agey or a family drama, this one’s for you. For anyone wanting to know more about John Lennon, the man, though? Best to just read his own books.