Other Girls
A Novel by Diane Ayres

"The handbook that was presented to incoming students came right out withit: WILLARD COLLEGE FOR WOMEN - it said - WHERE A WOMAN CHOOSES HER OWN DESTINATION..." The ellipsis was included, presumably, to imply that anything could happen."

So begins the saga of Elizabeth Breedlove, a newly-arrived English major who soon discovers that the handbook is more prophetic than cliché. By a rare stroke of luck - or is it? - the naïve and pretty freshwoman has been assigned a choice single room in an upperclass dorm, and the chance to learn the lay of the land from those in the know.

Meet gorgeous sophomore Dusie Hertz, Elizabeth's designated "Big Sister" in Fey House, the Gothic dormitory said to be haunted by a ghost who lives in the closet Dusie shares with her roommate, Pip Collier - an uppity senior with a radical haircut. One look at Dusie and Pip's pushed-together twin beds tells Elizabeth that the legendary ghost of Fey House may be the dorm's only closeted resident... Meet feminist psych professor Dr. JoJo Crews, either revered or feared for her trail-blazing as Willard's first feminist, black or lesbian professor, who, unfazed by an insinuation that she conspired to become Elizabeth's advisor for her own reasons, soon realizes her career might be at stake because of the unsuspecting frosh... And meet Elizabeth's new best friend, Mary Constance McNaught - "Mary Contrary" - who shares her insider's knowledge of the school's reputation as a harbor for "virgins, debutantes and dykes," warning Elizabeth to beware of the infamous "lesbian vampires" and their alluring minions, the "kai-kai."

"What's a kai-kai?"
Elizabeth asks. "A girl who goes both ways until her prince comes along and then she's straighter than your mother."
"No one could be straighter than my mother."

Increasingly involved in the complex relationship between Dusie and Pip, and recognizing the dangerous role being played by Dr. Crews, Elizabeth is drawn, unwittingly and then willingly, into the triangular psychodrama -- ultimately meeting the challenge posed by the competitive Pip, whose reputation as perfect student, champion fencer and lesbian lothario conceals her surprising vulnerability. Armed with sharp foils and barbed tongues, their confrontation results in tragedy and triumph, rocking the lovely, ladylike campus of Willard College for Women to its core.

Capturing everything from rituals of mating and the rules of female
friendship to the issues of rape, abortion and abuse by therapists and teachers, debut author Diane Ayres exposes the joys and dark secrets of women's colleges to the light of day. Disquieting and exhilarating, uplifting and tragic, OTHER GIRLS is at once the story of Elizabeth Breedlove, and of everywoman's passage to self-discovery.