Alma Mater

Alma Mater

by Rita Mae Brown


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345428202
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2001
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown series; the Sister Jane series; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; In Her Day; and Six of One, as well as several other novels. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Read an Excerpt

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.

Sweat rolled between her breasts. Light poured into the rooms, the windows thrown open to catch any hope of a breeze. As she placed the carton on top of the old kitchen table, it swayed ever so slightly from the weight.

“Dammit!” a voice complained from outside.

Vic walked to the kitchen window that overlooked a well-maintained yard. A small creek bordered one side of the property, a line of thick pines obscuring the view into the neighbor’s yard.

Vic leaned out her window and listened to the sounds of struggle and fury. She trotted down the stairs, jumped the creek, and emerged through the pines. A young woman perhaps five feet five inches tall, blond, her back turned to Vic, was cussing a blue streak while trying to slide an old dresser from the back of an equally old Mercedes station wagon.

“Need a hand?” Vic’s low alto startled the woman.

She turned around. “You scared the shit out of me!” Her voice betrayed Pennsylvania origins.

“Sorry.” Vic smiled. “I’m your neighbor. Vic Savedge. Come on, we’ll get the dresser out and we can carry it up together.”

“I’m Chris Carter.” The woman held out her hand.

Both women smiled and shook hands.

Then Vic removed the dresser with one pull.

“How’d you do that?”

“Patience. You lost yours,” Vic sensibly replied.

“Guess I did.” Thenshe slyly added, “Anyone ever tell you you’re big and strong?”

“Every day. And it doesn’t get them anywhere.” Vic laughed. “But in your case, seeing as how I have to live next to you for the year, I’ll carry this up.”

Chris struggled to pick up one end. “This thing is awkward.” She blinked to keep the sweat out.

“Put it down,” Vic commanded.


“Just put it down,” Vic repeated. “You go ahead of me and open the doors.”

“You aren’t going to carry that up by yourself, are you?”

“It’ll be easier than trying to maneuver you and the dresser.” Vic hoisted the bird’s-eye maple dresser on her back, bent over, and started up the back stairs of the Olsen house. Chris’s apartment was at the top of that house just as Vic’s apartment was at the top of the DeReuter house. She gladly put down her burden when she reached the top of the last flight, breathed deeply, then picked it up again and headed toward the bedroom. Chris led the way, apologizing with every step. Vic placed the dresser against the wall.


“Thank you. Really. I can’t thank you enough.”

“A Co’Cola would help.” Vic wiped her brow, droplets of sweat spraying off her fingertips.

Chris’s kitchen was graced with newer appliances than were in Vic’s kitchen. She opened the refrigerator door, pulled out a cold can of Coke, grabbed a glass with dancing polar bears on it, dropped in ice cubes, and poured the soda. Then she repeated the process for herself.

“They taste better over ice.”

Vic gulped hers down. “True.”

“Here, you need another one.” Chris popped open another can and poured its contents into Vic’s glass. Her eyes met Vic’s for a second. Vic had green eyes, deep electric green. Set against her black hair, her eyes could be almost hypnotic. “You have the most incred- ible eyes.”

Vic laughed. “It runs in the family. So does the height—my mother’s six-one, too.” Then she studied Chris. “Well, you’ve got brown eyes and blonde hair and you’re petite. I bet everyone tells you you’re pretty, it’s a beautiful combination. Do you listen to them?”

“Never. Do you?”

“No, I don’t want to be known for how I look but for what I do.”

“If we were both butt-ugly we’d probably feel different.”

They laughed; then Vic said, “What year are you?”

“Junior. I’m a transfer from the University of Vermont. It’s a good school, but I never knew how much I hated cold weather until I wound up in Vermont. Fall starts in August. I think you have to be born to it, you know?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been to Vermont. The farthest north I’ve been was to visit Cornell but it was during summer.”

“Same difference. Fall starts there in August, too.” She finished her drink. “Are you moved in?”

“Yes,” Vic said with relief. “I’d just put the last carton of books on the table when I heard you.”

“Was I that loud?” Chris’s hand flew to her mouth, an unexpectedly feminine gesture.


“It could have been worse. I could have yelled ‘fuck.’ ”

Vic laughed again. “One of two things would have happened: Every old biddy on the street would have fainted dead or the men would have come running, hoping you meant it.”

Chris wrinkled her nose. “Neither prospect sounds very appetizing.” She took the glass from Vic’s hand. “What year are you?”


“Lucky dog.”

“I guess. I still have to get through it. Don’t count your chickens, et cetera.” She walked over to the sink as Chris washed out the two glasses. “Do you know anyone at William and Mary?”

“Not really. I fell in love with the school and figured I’d make friends.”

“You’re in luck. I have wonderful friends. If you’re really good to me, you can meet them.”

“I’m pretty damn good,” Chris replied.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Copyright 2001 by Rita Mae Brown

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Alma Mater 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Both too long and too short. I kept thinking: Break up with Charley already. The characters are funny and could have lived with them in sequels (are there any?). Instead there is an epilogue.
amberwitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A story in the same vein as Rubyfruit Jungle and Southern Discomfort, merging the homosexual themes of the former with thesouthern atmosphere of the latter.Vic Sevedge is starting last year of her bachelor, with a longterm boyfiend and a large social circle when she meets Chris and falls in love. This is complicated by her father having lost his money, everybodys expectations that she marry her rich boyfriend , and Chris being a woman.Vics family is endearingly excentric, and the southern atmophere created in the book goes a long way to justify the archaic behaviour and perceptions of the characters.This is a nice little story of growing up, describing a romance that is untraditional without becoming too mired down in the details of the romance, instead letting it develop against a backdrop of the Sevedge family saga, in between the crises that their odd family and neighboors causes.The thing I found the most trying about the book was the way Brown writes scenes; describing a charactes action, then tacking on a description of the characters feelings. So during a conversation the reader gets the conversation and the interactions, and the internal emotions/ observations of several of the participating characters.The epilogue seemed rushed, and I wonder what the purpose of letting Vic become one of the "Old Boys" is?The southern excentricity may seem a bit forced and intentionally 'cute', which reduces the storys impact.
shelley582 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I am a fan of Rita Mae Brown, this one left me cold. Ended up in the recycle to the used bookstore box.
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whoizme88 More than 1 year ago
This is a romance novel and I am used to the cat series by Rita Mae Brown, which I really enjoy. This story has just enough, sex, humor, love, and pace to make it an interesting and enjoyable read. Would read others of this type from this author. J. Robert Ewbank, anthor "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Here's another sad example of the decline of Rita Mae Brown, who formerly provided us with many entertaining personalities and stories. As do too many of Brown's recent books, this novel has an uninspired plot, one-dimensional characters, leaden dialogue, and an unrealistic setting. I attended the College of William and Mary during the period covered by this novel, and it was not at all as Brown describes it. We actually HAD heard of feminism and gay rights at that time, few students cared a bit about the football team, no one was expelled for harmless pranks, and no one but a devout Christian would have avoided sex as long as Vic and Charly did. That Vic leaped from apparently not being terribly sexual at all to initiating a bisexual three-way fling with her long-time boyfriend and new lesbian lover is perhaps most absurd of all. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alma Mater was a good got me hot in all of the right places. i enjoyed reading about Vic and Chris's relationship. Their passion is what all lesbians wish they had. i read it all in one's to good to put down. It's a wonderful book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Southern humor and outlandish characters is a stalwart trait of writing by Rita Mae Brown, and her latest offering, Alma Mater, doesn't stray far from it. Set on the campus of William & Mary College, it tells the tale of Victoria 'Vic' Savedge, the statuesque beauty of an old-fashioned Virginia family, where life is lived according to tradition, and daughters 'marry well.' Vic's life is following her mother's plan perfectly until she meets Chris, the diminuitive blonde new to the college. This happenstance meeting turns Vic life upside down, has her questioning everything she has ever known to be true, and before long, finds herself madly in love with this beautiful woman. Once this passion is unleashed, it follows an unpredictable path guaranteed to upset the course of both their lives. Compared to other Brown novels, Alma Mater doesn't quite live up to the enchanting and charming characters of say, Six of One, one of the most entertaining books I've ever read. But as a standalone novel without previous knowledge of Brown's other work, Alma Mater is an enjoyable read.