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St. Martha’s College, Cambridge, had been staggering along on a shoestring for decades. Then alumna Alice Toon leaves her old school a huge fortune. The dons immediately fall to fighting over the spoils. The Virgins, led by Dame Maud Theodosia Buckbarrow, believe the bequests should be spent on scholarships. The Dykes­—fewer in number but better street fighters—want to raise a center of Gender and Ethnic Studies. The Old Women (mostly men) dream of fine vintages to be laid down in a decent new wine cellar. Impasse! They’ve reckoned without the Bursar, Jack Troutbeck. She elects to infiltrate this maelstrom of politics with her own agent, Robert Amiss, a former civil servant with a talent for sorting things out. No sooner does he arrive on the scene where the Virgins are getting the upper hand than Dame Maud is murdered, leading into what Mike Ripley of The Daily Telegraph described as: “An acidly funny romp... Superbly bitchy on the none-too-fragrant groves of academe.”

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