Since the '60s, the Beatlemaniac has proven to be a different breed of rock fanatic, but even the most passionate of the Fab Four's cult eventually grew up to realize that the world didn't revolve around John, Paul, George and Ringo. O'Donnell (Wonderful Tonight) would do well to add that to his many notes. His eight years of intensive research among all variety of resources provide the reader with an overwhelming panorama of what turns out to be a split-second glance into a pretty average summer day. And while O'Donnell's fictionalized portraits of the young Lennon and McCartney circa that fateful July 6 are charming enough, his book is never just about the young Beatles.
O'Donnell has penned an eloquent if slow-going ode to 1957 and everything the least bit relevant-especially the weather. No matter how great their legacy, the Beatles have suffered enough secondhand speculation: they set out to write songs, not history. Their various personas are secure in a handful of movies and books better than this one (listed in O'Donnell's helpful bibliography). Meanwhile, their music continues to arrest the attention of new listeners, just as it did in the band's heyday. This attempt to glimpse the origin of that mystery presumes too much.