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I Am Charlotte Simmons [Paperback]

Tom Wolfe
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

20 Oct 2005

Dupont University - the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition... Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from Sparta, North Carolina, who has come here on a full scholarship. But Charlotte soon learns that for the upper-crust coeds of Dupont, sex, Cool, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.

As Charlotte encounters Dupont's elite - her roommate, Beverly, a fleshy, privileged Brahmin in lusty pursuit of lacrosse players; Jojo Johanssen, the only white starting player on Dupont's godlike basketball team; the Young Turk of Saint Ray fraternity, Hoyt Thorpe, whose heady sense of entitlement and social domination is clinched by his accidental brawl with a bodyguard for the governor of California; and Adam Gellin, one of the Millennium Mutants who run the university's 'independent' newspaper and who consider themselves the last bastion of intellectual endeavour on campus - she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of her difference and of her very innocence. But little does she realize that she will act as a catalyst in all of their lives.

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I Am Charlotte Simmons + A Man In Full + Back to Blood
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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (20 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099479028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099479024
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Wolfe was born in 1931. He has written for The Washington Post and The New York Herald Tribune and is credited with the creation of 'New Journalism'. Between 1984 and 1985 Wolfe wrote his first novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in serial form for Rolling Stone magazine. The novel was published in 1987. It was number one of the New York Times bestseller list for two months and remained on the list for more than a year. He is the author of sixteen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. He lives in New York City.

Product Description


"A firecracker of a novel... A pyrotechnic delight just as dazzling as The Bonfire of the Vanities" (Sunday Express)

"Brilliant... Not just a rollicking comedy of campus misbehaviour but a blistering indictment of contemporary standards" (Mail on Sunday)

"Exaggerates and deflates the pretensions of America's future ruling class in hilarious style" (The Economist)

"These are Wolfe's most memorable characters and this is his best book yet" (David Isaacson Word Magazine)

"Exuberant, lovingly crafted grotesquery" (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

Another unputdownable novel from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full, both bestsellers.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as the rest 15 May 2006
By Beca
I love Tom Wolfe's novels - whenever I need true and utter escapism, they never fail to deliver what I am looking for, and this book is no exception. Once again the author skillfully provides insight into the lives of a vivid and varied range of characters, all centring on Charlotte Simmons, the first year university student struggling to cope with the culture shock of leaving behind small town life. At times the empathy I felt with Charlotte overwhelmed me and (much as I usually berate those who make statements like this) found myself marvelling that a male author could emulate such an intrinsically female viewpoint so effectively.

I did, however, feel marginally disappointed with the ending, which felt rushed and each character dealt with a little too easily. But don't let that put you off - this is well worth buying.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but still better than the rest 15 Jun 2006
This may not be Tom Wolfe's best book ever, but even when he's not firing on all pistons, his prose is more turbocharged than most novelists half his age. 'Charlotte Simmons' has received its share of brickbats, though you can't help but think that Wolfe has actually gone out and done something that other writers don't even bother with: he's actually done some legworks, like Dickens, Balzac and Trollope before him. Five stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written tripe 23 Feb 2006
By Roy Brookes VINE VOICE
I have read all of Tom Wolfe's works. He is one of those authors whose books I buy on faith. However this one was a let-down. Yes, he can write but the subject matter and the characterisation in this book were just too weak. There were some funny bits - the Japanese car called a "Bitsosushi" for example - but ultimately I was left with a sense of frustration because Mr Wolfe did not do enough with any of the themes and sub-themes he introduced. The characters were unsympathetic and as for the "heroine" - I wanted to shake her warmly by the throat - she was such a wimp. Her moping after her first sexual encounter drove me up the wall for several chapters. All in all, not Mr Wolfe's best book by a very long way. I hope he does better next time.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER TRIUMPH BY TOM WOLFE 5 Nov 2004
By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER
How does one describe the release of a new work by Tom Wolfe? It's an event, an eagerly awaited occasion and, in this case, a triumph. In preparation for his story of Charlotte Simmons Mr. Wolfe visited numerous campuses throughout the country, talking, listening, observing with his telling eye for nuance and detail. Of this experience he has said, "....I went to a lot of fraternity parties, and this is where age comes in. Most people had absolutely no idea who I was, I was just this old guy at the party. I was too old to be a drug enforcement agent, so I was not a threat. That worked very well...In my mind anyway this is both the story of a young woman in a difficult, new environment and also a depiction of the American University today."
Of course, that is precisely what this story is about, but no one could write it as has Mr. Wolfe. Charlotte leaves her small Blue Ridge Mountain town believing that as a freshman at Dupont University she will expand her mind, increase her mental acuity. She is both brilliant and beautiful. But rather than finding young people with similar lofty goals she meets wealthy, blase students much more interested in sex, beer, and drugs.
In an unfamiliar environment, longing to be accepted, Charlotte soon finds herself abandoning her lofty ideals in order to be a part of this intriguing new life. That's far from the end of her story, but you should read it from beginning to end in the words of Tom Wolfe.
Sure to be compared to Mr. Wolfe's groundbreaking "The Bonfire of the Vanities," "I Am Charlotte Simmons" is one more sterling achievement by one of America's foremost writers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Falling flat 2 Nov 2009
I've worshipped Wolfe for years. He is a master of stuttering, sparkling polemic, the poster-boy for the New Journalism (i.e. journalism that reads like a novel or short story) and pretty much unrivalled in that sphere. He has also been known to turn out a truly great satirical novel (Bonfire of the Vanities). But "I am..." reads... well, rather as you would expect a very long novel by an ageing satirical journalist to read, and I found it a disappointment. It feels like an early novel (say something by Fanny Burney) in that almost all of the characters are cardboard cutouts - entirely two-dimensional personifications of a particular character trait. The exception is Charlotte herself, and I can just about go along with her violently contradictory mixture of high-mindedness, resolution and fallibility - but oh my word she's unlikeable; as, indeed, is every single character. This, more than anything else, is what makes the whole thing such a drag -- it's simply too long a book, no matter how readable, to fight through if you can't care a rap about any one of the protagonists. On the purely technical side, it abounds in irritating Wolfean cliche ("loamy loins" being my personal least favourite example) while almost entirely lacking the fizzing, syntax-mangling exuberance of his earlier writing. And Wolfe's contention that American academia is nothing but a writhing snakepit of sex, substance abuse and cruelty would be fairly amusing in an article such as those in "Mauve Gloves and Madmen..." -- polemic is meant to be exaggerated and monotone, after all -- but in such a long novel it simply invites irritated rejection. After all, someone must occasionally do a little bit of work? Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
A highly entertaining and yet slightly depressing book about the US education system. It is dreadfully scathing of pretty much everyone and everything and I hope to goodness it is... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Mr Gordon Davidson
4.0 out of 5 stars Shooting fish in a Barrel
Just read 2 of Woolfie's books back-to-back, or should that be front-to-back-to-back. OMG I'm beginning to think like him. Read more
Published 1 month ago by William Herron
2.0 out of 5 stars not good
Too long, somewhat trite, sterotype characters and plot, feels like it was written to a contract price from his publishers! And I am a fan. Read more
Published 3 months ago by paul, Ireland
4.0 out of 5 stars A rollocking yarn, but lacks a more satisfying conclusion
Tom Wolfe is one of my favourite writers. I loved The Right Stuff (his best book, in my view) and enjoyed Bonfire, and A Man in Full also. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Thomas H. Burroughes
2.0 out of 5 stars not for anyone under 65
And not for any woman. Wolfe doesn't try to make his people real, they are vehicles for satire/prejudice. Read more
Published 12 months ago by terence dooley
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
About 1/2 way thru and getting a bit bored by it but will plough on. Lacks the insight of Bonfire or A man in full.
Published 21 months ago by the boss
3.0 out of 5 stars Wolfe to the Slaughter
It's a little bit long and that means hard to take in one go... yet this faux-avuncular expose' of contemporary college life at a top American university kept me going back until... Read more
Published on 10 April 2009 by Alex Brunel
4.0 out of 5 stars Hectic college lifestyle
It seems odd that Tom Wolfe, would attempt to write the college story from a female perspective. However, his daughters have recently graduated from college so I suppose he was... Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2008 by J. Cronin
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to his usual standard
This book is not as good as his previous work but if you like Tom Wolfe (and I do) you will still enjoy this. Read more
Published on 22 Jun 2008 by Prospero
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration
I want to say that I really enjoyed the book. But there is something that the book gave me, more than any self help book or similar... Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2008 by Gregory Babayans
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