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Alma Mater Paperback – 1 Jul 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc.; New edition edition (1 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345455320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345455321
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.4 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,102,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jacq Russell on 28 Sep 2004
Format: Paperback
there's not much to say except "Read it!"!
The book is definitely easy reading, but still speaks great truths about humanity and about growing up...
However, it's also unbelievably funny and real. You find yourself matching the characters with people you've met -- or at least, wanted desperately to meet people just like her characters!
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By Girly on 17 April 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book in one go - it was a really good read. That is until the last 5-10 pages. Its funny, its descriptive (sometimes drags on a little) its interesting, romantic, erotic etc.. and then it takes some funny surprising twists - a la Jerry Springer. Which is still pretty good.

But then by the end it was like the author just wasn't bothered to write the ending, or she was drained and couldn't think of a suitable one. So what she does is use that very lazy style of narrating by summarising what happens to each character in a quick third-person view. I.e. Lila ends up getting a horse who dies 5 years later etc..

A disapointing ending, a shame really - as most of it was quite good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 41 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Ugh. Save your money and time for something better. 1 May 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Once Upon A Time . . . But No More 18 Nov 2001
By C. Wilcox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I confess. Once upon a time I was a great fan of Rita Mae Brown. Unfortunately, "Alma Mater" provides indisputable proof that her talent is diminishing at an alarming rate. This story of a young woman's coming to terms with her sexuality is inexplicably set in 1980. There is no reference to the culture or politics of the time (do Ronald Reagan & Anita Bryant ring a bell?). The only apparent reason for the trip back in time is so that the characters can indulge in unprotected sex. And even those pedestrian sex scenes can't spice up this tripe. The book follows the life of college senior Victoria Savedge and her family, friends and neighbors, good Southerners all. Ms. Brown has a tendency to create flat characters who are all flawlessly beautiful, who say and do the right thing. She doesn't seem to know the difference between dialog and diatribe. The book is full of lengthy speeches and ruminations on the nature of love, loyalty, fate, etc. Victoria must choose between the expectations of her parent & society or following her own heart (and other parts of her anatomy). This is ground that Ms. Brown has covered previously, and it's not clear why she feels the need to repeat herself. If Ms. Brown spent as much time plotting her novel as she does describing the Virginia sky, this would probably be a different book altogether. As it is, one finds it difficult to care about the characters, especially when their actions and reactions are so unrealistic as to border on ridiculous. Overall, this book feels like a first draft that was never corrected -- an oversimplified plot, cardboard characters, and a rushed and unsatisfactory ending. A story with a lot of potential that follows the most predictable, and sometimes ludicrous, path. So don't waste your time. Read some of Rita Mae's work prior to 1987 if you want to find out what a great writer she used to be.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Rita, I want a refund! 25 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The best Rita Mae book yet. 2 April 2006
By Meredith McLaughlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Other than her mystery series, I've read every novel Rita Mae Brown has written. I read "Rubyfruit Jungle" so many times in my teen years that I'd memorized quite a bit of it. "Six of One" is also one of my favorite reads in any genre. Alma Mater is both of those all grown up. It is all the good parts of those books and more. Set in 1980, two girls at the end of their time in college meet and, in a suprise for both of them, they fall in love. What happens around that and the characters that inhabit their lives makes for an incredible read.

Once I read it, I wanted to be able to read it again for the first time.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Alma Mater is a Letdown 13 Feb 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I like Rita Mae Brown's books and have wished for more of them. Not after reading Alma Mater though. This one is terrible. I don't mean the central theme, although that has been done to death and I'm pretty tired of being enlightened (clubbed over the head) by those who think the rest of the world needs to up on the subject. The writing is what I'm referring to as terrible. It's not up to her usual standard. Was this a manuscript she wrote before Ruby Fruit Jungle and has hauled out of mothballs to meet some writing deadline? Is it written to a junvenile young female reader audience? It seems dated and the writing stilted (not even as good as Nancy Drew). The characters are boring, silly and one dimensional. As far as this being considered a Southern novel, let's just say it is set in the South. Rita Mae has lost her touch with this one. I hope Sneaky Pie's next story will be better. That series has been consistently good and the characters are believable folks. Outfoxed and Riding Shotgun were o.k. too. Come on, Rita Mae! Either do better than this or your books are going to be relegated to a dusty corner in a bargain book store.
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