In three years of research, Norman has turned up an extraordinary amount of new information about even the best-known episodes of Lennon's folklore: his upbringing by his strict Aunt Mimi; his allegedly wasted school and student days; the evolution of his peerless creative partnership with Paul McCartney; his Beatle-busting love affair with a Japanese performance artist; his forays into painting, literature, and drugs.
The book's numerous key informants and interviewees include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, Sean Lennon, whose moving reminiscence reveals his father as never before, and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candour about her marriage to John.
I have been listening to this story every morning for the past month on my way to work through the centre of liverpool. I pass the Cavern, the statue of John and the seat dedicated to Eleanor Rigby. The combination is absolutely magical. The narration is clear and correctly paced and the story told in such detail that 40 years of life needs to be spread over 2 unabridged volumes.
I would thoroughly recommend this audiobook to anyone who, like me, missed out on this generation.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I loved this audiobook, from the first minute to last. An unbelievable detailed and informative biography of the messed up genius. Listening to this has rekindled my love for the music of the best band ever .
I have always loved The Beatles but was never that much of a Lennon fan - particularly his solo/Plastic Ono work. And I don't know why I downloaded this book. But I'm so delighted I did. It's more than a personal history, it's a social, political and cultural history too, beautifully written and fast-paced - despite its size.
Thankfully it's no fan-worship either. Lennon is portrayed as a cruel, nasty, spiteful, self-centred piece of work. But also a man who could be generous, charming, funny, talented and a forceful free-thinker. A compelling person who could enthral and appal in equal measure.
Phillip Norman has clearly made a herculean effort with his research. His writing is fresh, entertaining and crackles along. Although there are a couple of moments when he lunges into extremes "It was surely the most (whatever the circumstance).... in the history of the world ever.''
Russell Boulter's reading is sublime. He uses a variety of voices (I love his Aunt Mimi & Paul McCartney - and he even has a decent stab at Rolf Harris at one point!)
As Lennon might say: 'You know, I loved this book.'