Prizes (novel)

"Prizes" is a 1995 novel by Erich Segal. It tells stories of three principal characters: Adam Coopersmith (a genius immnuologist), Isabel Da Costa (a child prodigy who goes to win the Nobel prize in physics) and Sandy Raven (a cell biologist who is very bitter after he is betrayed).

The novel deals with the relationships of all the three characters, and how life brings them together.Adam Coopersmith, an Obstetrician and Immunologist, helps in saving the life of Thomas Hartnell, known as the "Boss" in Washington, who is one of the advisors to the President of the United States, and arguably, a man holding more personal power than the President himself. Adam's mentor, Dr.Max Rudolph, takes a slight detour from his ethical conduct and gives an FDA unapproved life saving cancer treatment whose efficacy is proved in his laboratory, to Hartnell. Adam serves as the attending doctor and ends up falling in love with Hartnell's daughter Antonia, who is the Assistant Attorney General in Washington. After the demise of Max Rudolph, who is more of a father figure to Adam than a professional colleague, Adam is broken and finds solace in Antonia's arms. They get married and have a daughter, Heather. However things soon start changing as Adam and his daughter slowly start realising that Antonia is married to her career, and in her list of priorities family figures quite below her work and her father. This slowly leads to a rift between Adam and Antonia, and he is drawn to Anya Avilov, the childless and abandoned wife of a russian emigre Dr.Dmitri Avilov. Dmitri abandons Anya when he realises she is incapable of conceiving, and Adam, the attending obstetrician, rushes to fill in the gap in both his and her life. Eventually, Adam divorces Antonia and marries Anya. Antonia wins custody of Heather, but Heather always remains more attached to Adam rather than Antonia. Adam commits suicide unable to bear the crushing burden of Alzheimers Disease, a few days after he hears that he has won the Nobel Prize.

Sandy Raven is the son of Sidney Raven, a Hollywood producer. Sandy has an inferiority complex about his looks, which gets reinforced over time as he faces the conspicuous lack of a social life throughout his teenage years. He joins MIT to study Genetics. His teenage love, Rochelle Taubman, uses him to get to his father and thereby gain entry into Hollywood. She very conveniently forgets Sandy after she gains contacts in Hollywood. She ends up doing seedy bit parts, and eventually, on the centerspread of Playboy. Sandy is unable to get over this betrayal and turns into a repressed person who is desperate for female company. He falls in love with his lab director's daughter, Judy Morgenstern. His mentor and Laboratory director Gregory Morgenstern, cheats him out the Nobel Prize by not mentioning his contribution on a project. This leads to Judy and Sandy's divorce, but Sandy finds solace in the love of his daughter Olivia, who, in turn studies physics under Isabel later in the book. Sandy finds love in a Japanese woman, Kimiko, and becomes a reputed scientist in Genetics.

Isabel Da Costa is the daughter of Raymond Da Costa, and is a genius with an IQ far above average. Raymond recognises this early on in her childhood and begins to run her life with an iron hand, thereby causing his marriage with Isabel's mother Muriel to go into ruins. They also have a son Peter who is very close to Isabel, and who thinks that Raymond is ruining Isabel's youth. Muriel wants Isabel to have a normal life, and Raymond is stubbornly intent on making Isabel win a nobel prize for physics, to vindicate his own failure in having a good academic career. Isabel is denied all pleasures of a normal teenage life with a punishing schedule in academics, and becomes a post graduate student at Berkeley before she has completed eighteen years of age, owing to her extraordinary powers of comprehension. She falls in love with Jerry Pracht, the son of her Thesis advisor Karl Pracht, in spite of her father's repeated efforts to keep them apart. Jerry is a genius himself, who has quit the pressure of academics and is an ace tennis player. Isabel also longs to rebel against the pressure of being a genius and encourages this relationship on the sly. Her father realises that his hold on her life is detrimental, and gracefully moves out of her life. Isabel goes on to win the Nobel in Physics and strengthens her relationship with Jerry to a commitment.


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