Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Charly

Go To

Charly is a 1980 romantic novel by Jack Weyland based on his 1974 short story of the same name.

Sam Roberts is studying computer science at Brigham Young University. He meets Charlene "Charly" Riley, a witty New Yorker whose parents are moving to Utah. Sam finds her enigmatic but comes to like how she approaches life. Charly also finds Sam's religious beliefs absurd, but she converts to Mormonism after getting lessons from the missionaries. She goes back to New York for school and almost gets engaged to a guy named Mark, though Sam convinces her to postpone the announcement and she has to choose between them.

In 1981, Weyland wrote a sequel to Charly titled Sam. A film adaptation of the book was released in 2002.

Tropes appearing in Charly:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The book expands a lot on the short story, which just covers Sam meeting Charly, her conversion, and almost engagement to Mark.
  • Alleged Car: Sam owns an old Jeep that is either stuck in Two-Wheel Drive or stuck in Four-Wheel Drive.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Charly dies from cancer, but Sam is reassured that they'll be together in the afterlife.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma:
    • Sam's mother tries to persuade her son that she should convince Charly to wait a year before she joins the Church, and he shouldn't see her because she isn't Mormon. Lampshaded by Sam, who tries to convince her this is a Catch-22, but she doesn't understand.
    • Sam also thinks this is what Charly's parents' attempts to convince their daughter not to join the Church are. They argue that since family is so important in the LDS Church, she shouldn't join it, though it's for that same reason Mormons believe temple marriage is so important.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Mark secretly sabotages Sam's attempt at the Engagement Challenge without getting caught. But even though he handily beats Sam, Charly still rejects him and sends him home to Boston.
  • City Mouse: Downplayed. Charly is a New Yorker, but she doesn't struggle all that much in adjusting to Utah culture.
  • Converting for Love: Averted, at least according to Charly, who insists that she isn't getting baptized because she likes Sam.
  • Defiled Forever: Subverted. At first, Sam doesn't feel that Charly could ever truly repent from her past sexual transgressions, but after talking with his bishop and thinking it over, he comes to terms with it.
    Sam: Bishop, I can't marry her. She told me what happened before she joined the Church.
    Bishop Archer: She has completely repented.
    Sam: She's not clean in my eyes and she never will be.
  • Easy Evangelism:
    • At first Charly doesn't believe anything the missionaries tell her, but when she reads the Book of Mormon she's instantly converted.
    • Averted with Mark. Charly tries to get him to learn about the Church but he isn't interested.
  • Engagement Challenge: In order to decide which man to be with Charly devises a competition where she will go on a series of dates with each of them in which they'll do something "family" related (Parents for a Day, shopping on a budget, etc). Mark outperforms Sam, but Charly decides she prefers Sam anyway.
  • Ferris Wheel Date Moment:
    • During Sam and Charly's first meeting, Charly jokingly tells the Ferris wheel attendant that Sam just proposed to him. During the ride, Charly tells Sam she's interested in learning more about the Mormons.
    • They go on another Ferris wheel ride, and Sam convinces Charly not to rush into marrying Mark.
    • Charly convinces Sam to take her on a Ferris wheel one last time while she's suffering from cancer.
  • Human Popsicle: Sam jokingly suggests that Charly do this to Mark while she decides which man she wants to be with.
  • I Work Alone: Sam is reticent of accepting external help. He doesn't want to accept money from Charly's parents and only does so after Charly pressures him to. He tells the ward in South Dakota that he doesn't need help with finishing his home, and only lets them help after Charly again pressures him.
  • Lost Love Montage: After Charly goes back to New York for school, Sam tries to get back into the dating scene at BYU. However, he finds that none of these girls are quite like Charly, so he goes to New York to meet her again.
  • Love Triangle: Charly has to choose between Sam and Mark. She chooses Sam.
  • Meet the In-Laws: Sam learns through a mutual friend that Charly has returned to town with a boyfriend from back East. It's implied to be for this reason.
  • No Full Name Given: Mark is only referred to by his first name and his last name is never revealed.
  • One-Word Title
  • Parents for a Day: To prepare for parenthood, Charly and Sam take a five-year-old kid named Lee to the zoo. Just dealing with Lee's desire for a balloon and ice cream cone gives them a new perspective on family life.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Relationship Sabotage: Mark tries to ruin a date Sam has with Charly by hiring a private investigator to disrupt it.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Mark comes from a wealthy, East Coast family while Sam has a more humble background.
  • Right Through the Wall: In Sam and Charly's Provo apartment, they can easily hear their landlord, his wife, and their four boys. The family makes a lot of noise, especially when Charly's parents come to visit.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Mark. Charly started dating him when she returned to school in New York after she and Sam had a (brief) falling out.
  • Say My Name: Adam says "mommy" for the first time just before Charly goes to the hospital and dies.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: The book starts with Charly's funeral.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Charly gets cancer and dies.
  • Unwanted Rescue: When Charly goes to hear Sam out, she leaves Mark a note explaining that she's "been taken for a ride" and will be back. Mark misinterprets this to mean that Sam has kidnapped her and he sends the police after them.

Tropes appearing in Sam:

  • The Big Damn Kiss: At first Lara tells Sam she only wants to kiss her future husband. At the Southern Utah survival camp, they both agree that they will marry each other and they kiss.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Lara's incredible memory helps her and Sam navigate the trail in southern Utah
  • Damsel in Distress: A rattlesnake gets really close to Lara, and Sam has to keep her calm so that it will go away.
  • Diet Episode: Sam and Jon help Shirley go on a diet and exercise before she meets her romantic pen-pal.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Sam insists to Lara that he isn't angry, but he says that angrily.
  • Missing Mom: Charly, who died from cancer in the previous book.
  • Opposites Attract: Paul, who studies physics, falls in love with Julie, who studies physical education. Lampshaded by Sam, who says he objects to them getting married because they're so different. Paul replies that their differences actually work in their favor.
  • Photographic Memory: Lara has a very good memory, though she uses mnemonic devices to help her do so.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Sam gets jealous of his wife because she's successful in her job while his business is failing. They mostly stop talking to each other until Sam finally snaps and asks why she can't just be a normal wife.
  • Robinsonade: Sam and Lara attend a "confidence-building survival experience" in southern Utah where they kill and eat a ground squirrel, and deal with a rattlesnake.
  • Shipper on Deck: On the way home from Sam and Tara taking Adam to the zoo, Adam starts chanting, "My mommy, my daddy, my mommy."
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Paul and Julie get along soon after they first met and ramble about inane subjects. Julie starts giving Paul a neck and shoulder massage, and Sam believes he's created a monster by introducing them to each other.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Sam gets frustrated when his computer business collapses and Lara continues to excel at retailing. He finally snaps and asks Lara why she can't just be a stay-at-home mother.
  • Stealth Insult: Sam tells Lara he likes her curly hair. After she says thank you, Sam says she probably doesn't have to curl it because she can just "concentrate real hard and it does whatever you want." He says that's one difference between her hair and him before wishing her good night.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World:
    Cathy: Sam, let me tell you something. There are two kinds of people in the Church—those who are the leaders and those who are the followers. And you're definitely one of the followers.
    Sam: Cathy, let me tell you something. There are just two kinds of people in the Church—those who say there are just two kinds of people in the Church—and those who don't.


Video Example(s):


The Singles Ward - Charly

Jonathan takes a break from a singles ward dance activity, and finds a man crying while reading the book "Charly". The man is played by Jeremy Elliott, who starred in the film adaptation of this book.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TearJerker

Media sources: