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I am Charlotte Simmons

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  20,769 Ratings  ·  1,831 Reviews
Tom Wolfe, the master social novelist of our time, the spot-on chronicler of all things contemporary and cultural, presents a sensational new novel about life, love, and learning--or the lack of it--amid today's American colleges.

Our story unfolds at fictional Dupont University: those Olympian halls of scholarship housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic sp
Paperback, 738 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Picador (first published November 28th 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 13, 2007 Elaine rated it it was ok
Wolfe could not seem to decide whether he wanted Charlotte Simmons to be a satire or a legitimate zeitgeist piece. Thus, the characters come off as caricatures to ill effect. Wolfe should take a page from Sinclair Lewis, who somehow managed to write biting satire with still-believable protagonists at the helm. Wolfe could have also gone all out and just made this an absurd piece of literature, but he clearly intended to use this book as a revelation on modern college life.

In Wolfe's defense:
May 28, 2007 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
I came to I Am Charlotte Simmons with trepidation. I had read the reviews that likened Wolfe to a voyeur and questioned his motivation in spending years "observing" typical college students fifty years his junior. It seemed creepy. But when I saw it in the bargain bin, I couldn't resist, and as it turned out, I couldn't put the thing down. Wolfe is a great writer and storyteller, and although there are some weird things about the book, like his linguistic obsessions over current uses of profanit ...more
May 31, 2007 Brett rated it liked it
Any girl who has ever gone through the journey of the small liberal arts big name college will know parts of Charlotte in ways that take them back to times and insecurities that are far better left forgotten. Charlotte, the brain trust of her small town, enters the world of the privledged "it's mine because I'm entitled to it" college student. It should be a coming of age tale, and it is but in the twisted way. Charlotte loses herself and every belief she held to fit in from the first day of her ...more
Jun 16, 2007 Sotoleon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: realists, docu-holics and college kids
I like this book, though it's really looooong.

Some paragraphs go on for a page or two. But once you get into it, the sentences flow and take you to unexpected nuggets of satiric humor and ironic wit. Of course, the dialogue and characterizations are hilarious too.

I would not say that one "loves" or "likes" either Charlotte Simmons or the rest of the characters---which are not prerequisites for the overall quality of a novel---but they ring true. As their psycholoy is revealed, their personaliti
Aug 29, 2007 Pencopal rated it did not like it
Shelves: summerreads
A friend once told me that the band Yes amounted to nothing more than musical masturbation.

I punched him in the face and choked his neck until he relented and said "Prog rock rules."

After reading I Am Charlotte Simmons, I feel bad about treating him that way. Because I see what he meant. I Am Charlotte Simmons amounted to nothing more than literary masturbation.

Tom Wolfe seems to have absorbed everything he could about a number of subjects: college life, collegiate speech patterns, namely, "fuc
Jul 04, 2009 Janine rated it did not like it
This book is...horrible. Something about this novel bothered me the entire time I was reading it. Actually, a lot of somethings bothered me. For one, Wolfe's extreme stereotypical carictures of the characters in this novel are all abrasive and very unrealistic. Secondly, the book is entirely too long--he could have easily cut out at least 200 pages. The excessive length of the book has much to do with the fact that each character makes numerous unncessary very repetitive tirades of their thought ...more
Bryce Wilson
Feb 10, 2008 Bryce Wilson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature

It's no fun writing a hatchet job, much less a hatchet job on one of your heroes. I read Charlotte Simmons about a year ago and hated it, but decided that the generousity of the Christmas Spirit might make it the perfect time for me to read it. Jesus it was even worse.

I love Tom Wolfe, his early journalism is alive as very few works I know. His critism is sharp and cutting and can make a whole school of thought look ridiculous in a clever turn of phrase. His novels are flawed sure but li
Jul 08, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I picked this up at the big garage sale that my work puts on. It caught my eye and I remember being interested in it after reading a review of it when it came out. It's a pretty thick book, over 750 pages, and I didn't plan on reading it for a while. I read the first few chapters when I got home and got very caught up in it. It is one of those books where once you've start reading it, everything else in your life takes a back seat and you can't do anything else but read the book until you're don ...more
Apr 09, 2008 Caren rated it really liked it
This was a great read. Tom Wolfe does an excellent job reporting on college life; you'd almost swear it was written by a contemporary. This book tells the story of a sheltered, back-country girl as she adjusts to college life and confronts the world of wealth and entitlement in her prep-school bred fellow students, the frat scene, the jock scene, academic achievements and struggles, and pains of growing up.

Wolfe's writing style is very powerful. I really felt for Charlotte during all her trying
May 28, 2008 Andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: somebody in need of a doorstop
Yawn or cringe? Eye roll? So imagine your grandpa takes you out to the Dog 'n Suds for a root beer float. He goes on to tell you about what life was like at college - not for him but for you. He sprinkles in terms like "phat" and "shorty" and "rad" and "rutting" throughout his tale. Grandpa has been dipping into the Dictionary of American Youth Slang written by the Youth Minister at his church, who has covered the volume in a plain black cover lest it fall into the hands of the few blessed innoc ...more
Chad Wemyss
May 19, 2008 Chad Wemyss rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
"I am Tom Wolfe... " and therefore I can write whatever I want. And people will still buy my over-long, thinly-developed, poorly-constructed tirade against 'kids these days.'

It's called a stereotype, Tom. You should probably avoid making all your characters painfully simple cardboard cutouts of actual people. And I'm pretty sure I've seen all of these before, in EVERY movie and book about "college" ever produced.

To inventory:
- The main protagonist, the archetypical smart girl who's better looki
Dec 03, 2012 Diana rated it did not like it
I got so much enjoyment out of this book. If you attempt to read it as an actual piece of literature (or, God forbid, actually purchase it) you will be incredibly insulted and possibly enraged. I wouldn't even deign to call these characters stereotypes because I think that would be giving them more credit than they rightly deserve. And if you read it as the desperate attempt of an aging writer to remain relevant, it might just make you sad (unless you are already enraged/insulted in which case f ...more
Jul 11, 2008 Jake rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I Am Charlotte Simmons is the latest work by Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of the Vanities). Having seen/heard a few favorable reviews (though I don’t remember where), and needing something to listen too during my commute to work, I decided to give this a shot. After all, it was 50 percent off, and over thirty-one hours long! Entertainment for weeks!

Or not.

I Am Charlotte Simmons is the story of a collection of stereotypes. Whoops, excuse me. I mean, it’s the story of Charlotte Simmons, an impossibly naïv
Amy F.
Aug 01, 2008 Amy F. rated it it was ok
This book kept me turning the pages but ultimately was pretty lame. Also, Tom Wolfe is a perv
La Petite Américaine
Aug 31, 2008 La Petite Américaine rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who care about college
Shelves: sucked, rants

771 pages. Talking about college. How college is shocking for sheltered girls. How college (shocker) isn't really about academia, but sports, beer, sex, and pretty much everything that the university brochures lie about in order to protect their reputations and continue charging $30,000 a year for an "education." This could be written by ANYONE, and in less than HALF the pages.

When a book is bad, and too long, there is a certain point in reading the same shit over and over when your mind ju
Kristin Clifford
Sep 01, 2008 Kristin Clifford rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2014 Nate rated it did not like it
Shelves: unreadable, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 27, 2010 Alison rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: your rich banker uncle who calls himself a feminist yet continues to grab your ass.
Wow. I believe you can write about being young no matter how old you are. However, I don't know if you can write about being young and going to college in 2004, when you haven't been young (or attended college) since the Eisenhower administration.

This absurd novel, which fails as a novel in any convention sense except perhaps self-satire, follows the travails of a beautiful, smart, yet pure-as-the driven-snow hillbilly angel, who emerged out of what sounds like a hobbit hole in Western North Ca
Jan 17, 2011 Molly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago and saw it on my friend's bookshelf today. I had to add it to my bookshelf because I LOVED it. It's about a girl who grew up fairly poor in a small town and she goes off to college. It put right back in college. It was amazing! One of my favorite books ever. All of you have to read it!!!
Apr 19, 2013 Rayroy rated it liked it
Not bad but Tom Wolf is a bit too descriptive wheather he's talking about a college basketball games, frat praties, being locked out of your dorm becasue your roomate is fucking, we get it Tom Wolf college is about NCAA bids and parties, and not about the humanities, college is for privileged upper middle class young adults and high school athletes, a place they can put off growing up for four years. This is more or less true about college, unless you attend a liberal arts college which is a hug ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Adam rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1970-present, prose
Fuck me. I thought everyone was overreacting and being all tight-assed about this book for some reason, and I know one or two people who like this book, so I thought I'd give it a shot, but holy fuck... This book really is an 80 year old white Southern guy's 700+ page rant about kids these days.

Tom Wolfe supposedly did years of research for this book to capture the social reality of college, but I guess he was too busy banging undergrads to really pay attention to what was going on around him b
Apr 15, 2012 Gosia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'd gone through some of the reviews here before I picked it up and I thought they were exaggerated. Nope. This really IS an old fella's attempt to explain you your college experience (assuming you went to college in the last decade).
I have 2 major problems with this book. First of them is the author. What is your deal, Tom Wolfe? I've never read any other book written by him (don't think I will) so I can't say if it's his usual style but is he a control freak? Is he bizzarely proud of his re
I Am Charlotte Simmons was published in 2004, which was the year in which I matriculated at my alma mater. I guess that makes Charlotte and I the same age (except that Charlotte is, obviously, a shadowy, fictional stereotype of someone my age and, thus, not real). Charlotte Simmons is a sheltered, smart girl from a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, who ends up at a top university and is shocked by what she sees there. I was also a sheltered smart girl from a small town in the mounta ...more
Mar 16, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it
Small town naive girl goes to college and sleeps with a frat douche...I'm pretty sure there are about 37 Lifetime movies with the same plot. I'm also not sure if I'm supposed to feel sorry for her or laugh at her? That entire premise is so obvious and cliche. She smugly thinks she's so special and better than all the other people at that school but she's so insecure and pretty judgy for someone who has no friends. When Charlotte sticks to her convictions she's grating and annoying and when she t ...more
Oct 14, 2016 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 05, 2012 Bonnie rated it liked it
I don't post a lot of reviews, but all through my read of "I Am Charlotte Simmons" I knew I wanted to say something.

I had the book sitting in my towering TBR pile for years, picked it up several times before, and never made it past the first 50 or so pages. I have unfair expectations for Tom Wolfe; I assumed that as with all of his other books "Charlotte" would suck me inside the author's head the moment I started reading. It did not. I finally decided it was time to donate the book or read the
The American Conservative
'In I Am Charlotte Simmons, Wolfe gives us a tabula rasa from the Blue Ridge mountains who attends prestigious Dupont University only to find herself caught in the prevailing cultural, moral, and human maelstrom of American college life at the turn of the century. We all walked past buildings at Duke, but Wolfe seems to have seen through them.'

Read the full review, "Bonfire of the Varsities," on our website:
Sam Schulman
Aug 19, 2013 Sam Schulman rated it liked it
From my Commentary review - Tom Wolfe, the Mrs Humphry Ward of our Time.

In his long career, Tom Wolfe has written more pages in order to épater les bien-pensants than any writer now alive. He must be surprised, then, that his latest novel-of-the-decade, I Am Charlotte Simmons—genial, trustful, sympathetic—has already created as much ill will as his earlier waspish commentaries on fashionable politics, art, and social pretension. But so it has. Though I Am Charlotte Simmons is not without its de
Ron Charles
Halfway through Tom Wolfe's enormous new novel about contemporary college life, I finally devised a question to keep my interest piqued: "Is it humanly possible," I wondered, "to write another 100 pages - another 200 pages, another 300 pages - without describing a single surprising event?"

It is.

With "I Am Charlotte Simmons," Wolfe has ventured onto the university campus and sent back reams of hyperventilating testimony: College students are slovenly and crude. They drink way too much. They liste
Jonathan Ashleigh
Jan 07, 2016 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it it was ok
This was far too long. When I am 200 pages into a book, I do not want a 50 page background on a character that probably wont matter anyway. Read The Rules of Attraction or The Sorrows of Young Mike if you want to know about college kids. Tom Wolfe is for people who have a lot of time on their hands.
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Is This Book Deliberately Over the Top? 2 45 Jul 04, 2013 05:57AM  
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Wolfe was educated at Washington and Lee Universities and also at Yale, where he received a PhD in American studies.

Tom Wolfe spent his early days as a Washington Post beat reporter, where his free-association, onomatopoetic style would later become the trademark of New Journalism. In books such as The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe delves into
More about Tom Wolfe...

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“...en route to the final destination, which was always to get trashed, wasted, hammered, crunked up, bombed, wrecked, sloshed, fried, flapjacked, fucked-up, or get plainlong fucked, laid, drained, get some ass, get some head, some skull, a lube job, get your oil changed, get some brown sugar, quiff, goo, pussy...” 12 likes
“Loneliness wasn't just a state of mind, was it? It was tactile. She could feel it. It was a sixth sense, not in some fanciful play of words, but physically. It hurt... it hurt like phagocytes devouring the white matter of her brain. It was merely that she had no friends. She didn't even have a sanctuary in which she could simply be alone.” 5 likes
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