Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
CDN$ 20.69
  • List Price: CDN$ 33.00
  • You Save: CDN$ 12.31 (37%)
FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev Hardcover – Mar 19 2013


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
CDN$ 20.69
CDN$ 14.01 CDN$ 4.56

Join Amazon Student in Canada



Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 19 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547391315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547391311
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #428,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.ca
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 33 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Very moving...a must-read! April 25 2013
By mz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As I read over some of the reviews, I am wondering if we're all reading the same book. That one person said there was too much detail may have never researched eras before good records and computers were developed. (I myself spent over 2 yrs. researching my father's experiences as a POW in WWII and everything I could extract was excruciating: confusing, twisted, contradicting and time-consuming.)

It was the wealth of precious detail that made the story come alive in "Lina and Serge" and put us in the front row. We are so lucky Mr. Morrison not only had access to valuable material but that he could put it together in such a coherent and flowing manner. When he would make a bit of an aside, instead of leaving it there, he would fill in a bit of background enough to satisfy one's curiosity then get right back on track. No long disconnected tangents to needlessly disrupt the train of thought. I thought it very tightly constructed with nothing superfluous. It is a fugue of sorts, many different themes and ideas engage each other, at least they did for me, in my head.

I myself was engulfed by the story. I was on my laptop at the same time, looking at the character's images and their surroundings so I could envision them even more. I looked up the gulag near the Arctic Circle that took Lina four days to reach by train. I felt I was there with Lina: her frustrations were palatable and her fears almost too much to bear. I know I couldn't have survived what she did. I have my own troubles these days and I have infinitely more than she did, I am luckier than her in so many ways. It frightened me to the core imagining myself in her shoes (and the millions of others destroyed by the war and the Soviet regime).

It is disturbing to feel you haven't much control over what goes on in your life and yet this story puts my life in perspective within that same flow of history. It's painful to look back and see how you could have done better, how we could have thought more for ourselves, instead of going along with the crowd, heeding our intuition. Lina was all too human in this regard, to her demise. But when you're in a situation you get thoughtlessly caught up, - it's easy ignore all the little signs because you don't want to believe the worse, what they might signify, how every interaction can affect others in the smallest of ways. This doesn't get you off the hook however.

And while I wanted to close the book because it was too close for comfort, I read it straight through. I couldn't put it down, I couldn't look away. I didn't feel superior to her in any way, only luckier and more grateful. Yes, it made me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable and I felt engrossed. I felt it as they were devastatingly swept away into a world not of their making or their wildest nightmares. They are no different than any of us and we are all susceptible to the forces they succumbed to.

The older I get, the more it becomes so incomprehensible what we do to one another and I think Morrison's work lays this directly at our feet, telling us quietly in an underlying fugue to "Take a moment, wake up, just look." while telling us a fabulous story. Did Lina ever consider, I wonder, as she was being tortured, her own feelings about Jews? Maybe that is one message from this book, to see our own behavior in context, - to see how our behavior dovetails into those who commit atrocities, how we contribute to that mindset. People who commit terrible acts are not "out there", they are us. What is important after all, what are we leaving in our wake in our everyday lives?

I thought of other women of Lina's era, Simone de Beauvoir and Frida Kahlo, two very powerful and talented women who also had to deal with great men as Lina did with Serge. I don't know that "great" men want equally strong women around in the end, those with their own need, talent and determination. And these men...how great were they that created such despair and pain around them?

And in his position, how do you deal with a mate who might just not be all that talented? Do you use them, shun them, do you run from them, do you try to help them and does that embarrass you? Prokofiev dealt with all of that. What kind of a man was he that he thought his youngest child would forget about him when he disappeared?

I do know from personal experience that a man (and woman) is not his music. His music can be of the spheres and he can be a louse. His music can be, well, not so good, but he can be a hell of a person. We can look back and regret but we must keep moving forward and learn from these mistakes and see we are all more alike than we are different. That is what I got from this book and I look forward to reading his other work.

If you liked this book, other favorites of mine are "Sophie's Choice", fiction by William Styron, "The Liberation Triology", non-fiction by Rick Atkinson (both if you're interested in WWII) and "Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted", non-fiction, by Justin Martin (if you like the turn-of-the-century era).
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Interesting and tragic life of the woman behind a great composer Jan. 30 2013
By Alan A. Elsner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is the tragic story of a moderately-talented woman raised in Brooklyn who became the lover and then the wife of one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Sergei Prokofiev, and paid a huge price. Lina, as she was known, was born to a Spanish father and Russian mother, both singers who never really achieved fame. She was a phenomenal linguistic and attractive young thing who dreamt of a career in opera but seemed to have lacked both the talent and the determination to succeed. Her few performances nearly always turn out to be disasters and she seemed incapable of amassing a repertoire or carrying off any music that was complicated.

Instead, she fell in with the young Prokofiev, then trying to make his reputations as a pianist and composer but finding himself overshadowed in America by Rachmaninov and in Europe by Stravinsky. Lina and Serge's on-again,off-again affair proceeds through several different countries with her begging for a wedding ring while the composer, who was wedded first, last and always to his music, enjoyed the physical relationship and the company but was wary of marriage. Eventually, they marry when Lina becomes pregnant with the first of two sons. Did they ever really love each other? Hard to say. One has the impression that both wanted and expected too much from each other.

The book discusses at length their decision to return to the Soviet Union then in the midst of Stalinist terror and show trials. It was a tragic mistake undertaken through a naive misunderstanding of the reality of Stalin's grip on every aspect of the country. Prokofiev deluded himself into thinking he would be safe. He was not. To stay safe from arrest, he was forced to write awful music that he thought would find favor with the regime and kowtow (although he continued to turn out masterpieces as well nearly until the end of his life).

Serge and Lina's marriage broke down and she was left defenseless as he went off with a younger woman, Mira. The author concludes that Serge saw in Mira someone who could help him in his music whereas the self-absorbed Lina could not. "Unlike Lina, who sought attention, especially from her distracted husband, Mira just wanted to be useful, of service," he writes.

The sequel is tragic; Lina is arrested on trumped up charges, interrogated and tortured for several months and then packed off to a labor camp near the Arctic Circle for eight long years. She eventually is released, picks up the remnants of a life and in her old age escapes the Soviet Union to spend her final years in the West.

This book is the result of extensive research and we get tons of detail, almost too much detail, on which Paris parties the couple attended, which boats they sailed on, which clothes Lina wore etc etc. The latter part of the story, which is probably more interesting, is skipped over in a chapter so the description of her life in the camps, perhaps because she herself never spoke about it, is very cursory. The book is written in a rather academic style which can become boring.

Lina emerges from this perhaps a somewhat frivolous, shallow character whose ambition exceeded her abilities but who was then caught up in a situation she could barely understand and certainly not control. She also had an ugly anti-Semitic side to her character, which is not endearing. Prokofiev emerges also as self-absorbed although with more reason to be so, selfish occasionally cruel and politically naive. The author's conclusion that Lina was a tragic victim of her husband's genius and the self-delusion he shared with his nation sounds about right.

Delving into the lives of great composers or artists or writers is interesting -- but what ultimately matters is the work they produced.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Lina and Serge April 15 2013
By Alla S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
If you're familiar with the famous composer Sergey Prokofiev, are interested in twentieth century Russian history, or simply like non-fiction books about love, betrayal, travel, and totalitarian regimes, then you might want to pick this up. This rather deeply researched book, as promised by the title, follows the lives of Lina, an opera singer who has a Russian mother, Spanish father, and a childhood where she ultimately winds up in the U.S., and Sergey Prokofiev, who was Russian-born and traveled to the U.S. as an adult, in a bid to expand his musical career.

They meet when Lina works in a Russian bank in New York, and ultimately attends one of his concerts. What follows is a lot of globe-trotting, with Serge giving concerts in different countries like France and Italy, and Lina following him around. She's in love. Serge, on the other hand, comes across as a cold-hearted gentleman who is solely focused on his career and has many affairs. It is perhaps illustrative of their relationship, when Serge leaves Lina with his mother, who has just traveled to France from Russia and is in a pretty bad shape, after Lina took on the hardship of traveling from the U.S. all the way to France just to be with him, while Serge quickly travels to yet another country for another concert. Not only is she expected to look after his mother, but also to collect any press clippings about him published in the French media. Ultimately, Lina grows tired of this relationship, where she gives and Serge takes, without providing anything in return.

She takes some time off and travels by herself to take some singing lessons from various opera primadonnas. Her singing career is ultimately not very successful. Some of her teachers say the voice isn't strong enough, others say she lacks the drive to build a career. Either way, Lina re-joins Serge, bears him a son, and marries him--her singing career relegated to appearances in Serge's concerts--where, as she is well aware, the attraction is Serge himself. Soon afterwards, they are invited to tour Russia with Serge's concerts, after the Russian government becomes concerned about the plight of their famous citizens abroad, and doesn't want the West "stealing" them. Serge is concerned that if they visit, the government (which, following the Russian Revolution, Lenin's death, and Stalin's ascent is getting more frightening by the moment) won't let them out of the country again. Ultimately, though, attributing it to his homesickness for his homeland, he agrees to tour Russia and takes Lina along with him. Eventually, a nightmare ensues.

Overall, it's an interesting story. My only pet peeve was the history-book type dryness of the text in some parts--e.g. and then Serge goes there, on this date Lina does this, etc. As a reader, I'm not as concerned with the timeline as with the storyline itself. It wouldn't matter to me if some dates are skipped over, if they don't change the story in any way except making the reading drearier. However, I realize this is a difficult thing to do with non-fiction, which strives to be as complete as possible. In general though, I think the author did a very good job with his subject matter.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Yet Tedious At Times April 1 2013
By Crabigail Cassidy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This book looks at the relationship of composer Serge Prokofiev and his first wife Lina Codina. It is an interesting and not exactly flattering portrait of the couple, but as is often the case in contentious relationships the conflicts add dimension to the story as it unfolds. In this case, incredibly bad judgement also contributes to this tale of Lina with and without Serge.
Lina was the daughter of two singers who were not apparently all that successful or driven. Lina aspired to be an opera singer, but her attempts to establish a career in her own right were unsuccessful and possibly even disastrous as perceived by professionals. She conducted a long term affair with Prokovief and the relationship might have gone nowhere except that Lina became pregnant with their first child. Lina was described as sacrificing her musical aspirations for her husband. I'm not sure that was completely accurate as there was no real indication that Lina had much of a career or potential for one. Prokofiev was somewhat the stereotype of a great artist. He was self-absorbed and could be considered caddish. At times their relationship seemed very much one sided. Throughout this book I was never able to ascertain in Serge truly loved Lina. They certainly enjoyed the parties, travel, and acclaim that was showered on Prokofiev while in the West..
In an incredibly naive move prompted by Serge, the Prokofievs returned to the Russia. Stalin was in power and Lina had reservations about the move. As it turned out, the Communist regime viewed Prokofiev's work as bourgeois and in order to remain in favor Prokofiev composed mediocre pieces for public consumption while continuing his serious work in private. The end of the Prokofiev marriage was abrupt. The mercurial and self-absorbed Serge left Lina for another woman named Mira Mendelson. With the help of a friendly Soviet government, his marriage to Lina that occurred in France was dissolved and he married Mendelson. Cast adrift, Lina started making inquiries about returning to the west. Of course, the authorities learned of her intentions and had her tried and convicted in about 15 minutes and she was sent to a work camp in Siberia. After Stalin's death, like many in the same predicament Lina was released and in an ironic twist of fate was awarded half of Prokofiev's estate with his other widow Mira. In what must have been poetic retribution, Lina managed to be restored to her rightful place but only after Prokfiev's death. Lina eventually left Russia and relocated to the West.
I liked this book but found it detail heavy at times as trivial detail regarding the Prokofiev's social activities were beaten to death. The writing style was as one other reviewer stated 'academic'. I concur.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Sad Tale Feb. 12 2013
By Walter P. Sheppard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Morrison tells the grim, depressing, horrendous story of Lina Codina. She had the misfortune to fall in love with Serge Prokofiev when he was in the West in the 1920s. It's not clear that he really loved her, but he married her when she became pregnant with their first son. When the blandishments of the USSR convinced the composer to return permanently to Russia -- a serious misjudgment -- the couple moved to Moscow. Serge was pretty much self-centered and eventually left Lina to live with another woman, Mira Mendelson. A helpful Soviet bureaucracy declared his marriage to Lina in France not to have been legal, and he married Mira. Lina then wanted to move back to the West, and that upset the authorities. She was arrested and, after a series of questionings and accusations, sent to a Siberian labor camp. After Stalin's death and the end of World War II, she was reprieved. Prokofiev was dead by this time and in a miracle of Orwellian logic, Lina and Mira were both declared his widows and shared the estate. Eventually, Lina returned to the West.

Morrison's style is somewhat dully academic. He tends to go into more detail than necessary; for example, the reader really doesn't need to know about each of the parties Lina and Serge went to in Paris, the clothes she wore, or the names and biographies of her principal interrogators after she was arrested. The book is for readers who are highly interested in Prokofiev and want to get acquainted with the dismal consequences of a most unattractive side of his personality.


Feedback