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Alma Mater [Hardcover]

Rita Mae Brown
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 30 2001
"Sex makes monkeys out of all of us. If you don?t give in to it, you wind up a cold, unfeeling bastard. If you do, you spend the rest of your life picking up the pieces."
--from Alma Mater

From the bestselling author of Rubyfruit Jungle comes an erotic and heartfelt new novel of sexual awakening, family loyalty, and unexpected first love.

Everyone on the William & Mary campus knows Victoria "Vic" Savedge. The six-foot-tall, raven-haired beauty can hardly blend into the cobblestones? especially on the arm of Charly Harrison, the school?s football star and son of one of Virginia's most prominent families.

Now, at the start of her senior year, Vic's future is mapped out in detail, courtesy of her mother, R.J., and her aunt Bunny. The plan is simple: Vic will marry Charly and settle into the role of a well-respected politician's wife. Though bright and branded by a fiery streak of independence, Vic hasn't really considered any other options. Until she meets a woman named Chris.

A transfer from Vermont, Chris is new to Southern mores and attitudes. Instantly captivated by Vic's beauty and larger-than-life personality, she finds herself drawn to the entire quirky but charming Savedge family. But the young women's friendship is not your basic college-girl variety. For neither can resist their mutual attraction?an attraction that erupts into a passion that will forever change the course of both their lives.

To embrace her true sexuality and sacrifice happiness with a man whom she truly loves are the wrenching decisions that Vic must face. It is a struggle at once terrifying and exhilarating. Just when she makes up her mind, she discovers that fate has its own surprising plan awaiting in the wings.

In her inimitable fashion, Rita Mae Brown brings to life plucky Southern sensibilities and characters grappling with profound emotional issues. A young woman's sudden, intense knowledge of herself?and all the conflicts and physical joys that it entails?are the backbone of this bold and tender love story.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

opular and prolific Brown (Rubyfruit Jungle, etc.) lavishes her attention and breathless prose on another lesbian coming-of-age tale set in Southern belle territory. Victoria "Vic" Savedge is a gorgeous 22-year-old senior at the College of William and Mary in present-day Virginia. Her parents, Frank and R.J., little sister Mignon and best friend Jinx Baptista all expect Vic to marry her rich football star boyfriend Charly Harrison after graduation. However, in the opening scene, Vic meets Chris Carter, a female transfer student to whom she is increasingly attracted. Their flirtatious behavior deflates any suspense Brown may have hoped to create; it's clear Vic's commitment to Charly is shaky. As she unconvincingly struggles to choose between lovers, Vic ponders with Jinx the roles fate, honor and individual responsibility play in life. During weekend visits to her ancestral home, Surry Crossing, Va., Vic is entertained by the smalltown antics of her womanizing Uncle Don and sex-deprived Aunt Bunny, and the Wallaces, neighboring middle-aged sisters who pathetically vie for their elderly father's favor. Brown's tendency to tell rather than show ("Raised in a judgmental family, Chris had survived by nourishing her sense of rebellion. She didn't know what she was looking for until she met Vic") and filler dialogue ("Sit down. It's my turn to give you a Coke" and "Mother, do you want a refill?" "No, thank you. But you may clean the ashtray") wear on the reader, and the one-dimensional characters and soap opera story line provide little relief. Brown's good-natured humor and exuberant treatment of her themes may satisfy her fans, but she's unlikely to pick up new readers this time around. 8-city author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Brown, the author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries, returns to her lesbian roots in Alma Mater. Vic and Chris are two coeds who meet at William and Mary College and, much to their surprise, are mutually attracted and launch an intense affair. Though Vic is involved with the star football player, and though neither woman has ever considered the possibility that she might not be heterosexual, this life-changing turn of events does not seem to faze either of them. Brown usually excels at offbeat characters, and while she does offer readers an amusing and outlandish supporting cast (thanks to the Southern locale), her latest novel lacks the freshness and believability of her now classic Rubyfruit Jungle. Still, fans will welcome her return to the theme of her earlier work. Recommended for most public libraries.
- Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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If knowledge were acquired by carrying books around, I'd be the sharpest tool in the shed, Vic thought as she carted the last load up three flights of stairs on a hot summer day. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment March 17 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I love the Mrs. Murphy series, but Rita Mae Brown seems to flounder without the helping hand of Sneaky Pie. This book was just plain boring. There was a lot of supposedly "witty repartee" by Vic's family and friends that had nothing to do with the story and appeared to be in there just to show how cute they all were - I found myself starting to skim every conversation in the book. The "quirky" characters came across as demented and strange, and I got tired of all the emphasis on how beautiful Vic and Chris and various others were - I think this was supposed to be some political statement that not all lesbians are masculine and ugly, but she kept making this point over and over, and it got tiresome. Vic made more long, tedious speeches than a politician, and at times the book felt more like a lecture than a story, with some sex scenes thrown in that were also surprisingly dull, given how steamy they were - in fact, very little seemed to happen.
If this is your first Rita Mae Brown book, don't judge them all by this - the Mrs. Murphy series is a million times better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ahh, the Discovery of New Love Sept. 11 2003
Format:Paperback
Rita Mae Brown's latest book shares the story of Vic and Chris, two women who happen upon their attraction to each other. The women meet and become fast friends, and soon, they begin a love affair so explosive it shakes the very core of their sexualities.
The only problem is Vic already has a commitment to her BMOC boyfriend, Charly. As a modern Southern belle, her hand is practically promised to the well-to-do, handsome football player. Although Vic's heart quivers for Charly, it burns passionately for Chris. So what's a girl to do, especially when you are raised with a genteel upbringing? She spends the majority of the novel trying to understand her new feelings and how to break it to Charly.
And in the midst of her discovery is a cast of Southern eccentrics, who add a life to what could have been a dull take on lesbian love. There's her levelheaded parents, Frank and R. J., her bold Aunt Bunny, and her outrageous younger sister, Mignon. Intensifying the madcap is the Wallace family, who take the term "hillbilly" to another level.
The only thing that made the book tedious was Vic's wavering attitude toward ending her relationship with Charly. I kept wondering when she would finally bite the bullet and just be honest with everyone. Although it had a slow start, the book held my interest as I kept reading on. Thanks, Rita, for making me laugh and making me think.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I for some reason wanted to read a particular Rita Mae Brown book (this wasn't it) but forgot which one when I went to the library. So I chose this one off the shelf because I went to the College of William and Mary, a prestigious university. I wish she'd just made up some school, because it embarrasses me that she's supposed to be writing about my alma mater. She has no idea what she's talking about and is way off on a lot of the details, terminology, and layout, which just bugged the heck out of me. Now those of you unfamiliar with W&M may say, "So what?" and not care, but this just shows you that the author did not do her research and thus you have to wonder about the research, thought, and effort that went into the rest of this book and her other books. If you're going to pick a real university as your backdrop, get the details right!
A student with a clean record would not be expelled for dressing up a statue with no permanent damage, even if the statue were a religious one off campus, as it is in this book. On W&M's campus, Thomas Jefferson gets a party hat and balloons every year on his birthday, and a pumpkin on his head for Halloween.
I don't think her depiction of life and attitudes in that part of Virginia is at all accurate, even for 1980, which is when the story takes place. And I seriously doubt there are several new car dealerships in Surry County (if any). The little details can make all the difference, and when they're inaccurate, the entire work suffers.
The characters are not fully developed and I didn't care about a single one of them. The writing was poor and the story fairly predictable. I found myself skipping over large parts of text and skimming a lot. The epilogue crams the resolutions of the characters' lives into a hastily written five pages.
Reading this was a waste of time.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Rita, I want a refund! March 25 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
For years, one of my pleasures has been reading books by Rita Mae Brown. However, I am quite bothered by the laziness that has marked her more recent books, the lack of self-editing, and the lapsing into formula. "Alma Mater" is a particularly dreadful example of the latter.... When I compare any of Rita's recent books to "Rubyfruit Jungle" especially, but even to "Six of One" and its sequels, I just cringe. She definitely knows better, but hasn't had to push herself given that we, her loyal readers, have been snapping up even mediocre stuff from her because we know we will find at least a few lines that amuse us in each work. From now on, I'm reading reviews before I give Rita any more money, and I advise everyone else to do the same--let this be some tough love to coax better work out of a good writer who should not cheat her fans.
Not only is "Alma Mater" poorly designed and populated with weak characters, but the lack of research is readily apparent to me, who attended William and Mary at the same time as the characters in the book. Although this fine institution is located in southern Virginia, it is not some backward, Dixie university, for the vast majority of the students come from suburbs of Washington, D.C., or New York City, and most of the faculty members hold degrees from Ivy League schools. Rita would have you believe that feminism was some foreign concept at W&M in 1980, but that is ludicrous. All of the women I knew there were smart, ambitious, and intent on having careers. Also, W&M has a history of having its statues decorated humorously, especially that of Lord Botetourt, so the harmless prank Vic gets involved in at the local Catholic church would not have led to her expulsion... If anything, the school certainly has more conservative students now than it had in my day. So, Rita, you really got it wrong! Next time, honey, do your homework as well as the W&M students do theirs!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!!!!!!!!
This is truly the best book I have ever read! I could read it over and over again. It is like reading my life story in a book. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2003 by Sarah Bagby
4.0 out of 5 stars halarious grown up book
I got this book thinking mystery, wrong. It is however a truely funny book. I even read some of it aloud to my husband, he loved it, too.
Published on Oct. 22 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars it's really a good'un
Story of my life. I loved this book. I could read it again and again, and I have. It definitely has some hot sex scenes.
Published on May 19 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Perfunctory
This would probably be a 2 star book if anyone else had written it, but since we know Rita Mae Brown can do so much better, I have to give it one. Read more
Published on March 14 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Rita Mae's closet Xena "uber"?
RMB's best since "Six of One," though, as with every Rita Mae novel, there will be times when you want to throw it across the room in exasperation. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2002 by bacchae
3.0 out of 5 stars Certainly not one of her best, but a nice diversion
I agree with the reviewer who referred to this novel as a 260-page coming-out novel. I also agree that it reads more like late 1990's lesbian relationship than 1980. Read more
Published on Dec 3 2002 by F. Mercer
2.0 out of 5 stars "Alma Mater" Doesn't Quite Make the Grade
Author Rita Mae Brown can always write a good story with a very colorful cast of chatracters. I must admit that I am a fan. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2002 by Michael S. Waren
3.0 out of 5 stars Will Vic Choose to Marry Charly or Chris?
Victoria "Vic" Savedge, a tall striking beauty beginning her senior year in 1980 at William and Mary, is dating handsome, football athlete Charly, who comes from a wealthy family. Read more
Published on May 26 2002 by Jill Clardy
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet & fun
This book is not nearly as intellectual or inspirational as some of her others... but fun nonetheless... Read more
Published on May 13 2002 by Miss D. AwesomePants
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