My reviews are rather simple but only because I want to convey my impressions of a story. I leave summaries to the publisher. LOVE Audible!
Charlotte Simmons is one of those young girls we see every single day but never notice. Why? I found this book rather sad actually. I didn't like what it said about the culture of college sports for sure - really quite disturbing that our young men can be so callous. Good listen.
If like me you know and love Tom Wolfe, you know he's a writer who breaks a lot of literary rules. His prose is full of pauses and places where the reader has to imagine sounds. It can take an imaginative reader to get the most out of his books, and I had some hesitation picking this one up, since I was afraid the narrator might botch it. I needn't have worried.
From just making the sound of soothing static (in such a way that it doesn't irritate), to using voices to bring out the delicate racial and social tensions that Wolfe captures so well, to narrating a scene that won Wolfe a bad sex award, Baker endows this book with so much vividness that the characters spring to life when they first come on the scene, and have stayed with me for a long time afterward.
And the book itself isn't bad. Lots of people have called it unrealistic, but I teach at a university and I don't think the characters are implausible. Perhaps they're (as often with Wolfe) archetypes first and characters second, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.
Apart from being an excellent story,i Want to give my credits to the narator of this book.He pinpoints the characters and makes the scene really entertaining.
After slogging through this meaningless tome, I realized how shallow Wolfe made his lead character. It was a poor and wrong characterization of a girl from rural North Carolina. In the end I was amazed that Wolfe completely left out the role of religion in such a persons life. It is extremely unlikely that Charlotte would have left Sparta without a religious thought in her head. Although Wolfe may be godless, rural Southerners rarely are. But he makes his character rather souless and not very sympathetic with almost no moral code of behavior. So Charlotte goes through her year in college with its very tedious situations and never once thinks to seek spiritual guidance of any kind. I'm not particularly religious, but I know people from my region and Charlotte Simmons rings very hollow. The book is a boring waste of time.
I went into this purchase and listen fully expecting to enjoy the ride. I finished the fourt installment last night. What a let down. The reader gives it the "old college try" with the material he has to work with, but nothing can save this material. What parts of the story are worth saving could have been told in 1/10 the time. The main protagonist is believable at times and wholly unbelievable at others. Mr. Wolfe killed my suspension of disbelief no less than three times during this read. Save yourself from this painful, drawn-out and unneccessarily verbose prose. Please, do it for the children. ;)
I went to college in the early seventies so I can't say that I am not surprised by the changes. Wolfe allows you to experience the events along with the characters. His writing is masterful and each chapter is absorbingly interesting. I found myself caught up in Charlotte Simmons' innocence at first, and came to understand her feelings of guilt and dispair. As usual, I came away from a Wolfe novel with a better understaning of the human condition.
The narrator's work is impressive. At first I was put off by his voice interpretations, but soon came to appreciate the magnificant job he did with so many diverse characters. This book is great fun to read and listen to.
Rather than actually creating a captivating account of college life, Tom Wolfe seems more concerned with needlessly trying to shock the reader/listener with profanity and detailed accounts of sexual exploits. Had the profanity and sex actually supported an intriguing story, there would be no need for criticism; alas, the story and characters are entirely one-dimensional and predictable. Additionally, his over-use of the term "solar plexus" only added to my annoyance with the book.
Although the story itself is very enjoyable, the narrator of this audiobook almost ruins the experience. His accents are awful and his intonation grates on your ears. Read the book instead!