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The Women of Brewster Place (Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series) Paperback – June 30, 1983


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Contemporary American Fiction Series
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 30, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014006690X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140066906
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This new, slightly abridged audio version of The Women of Brewster Place is a good rendition of Naylor's 1982 debut novel, which won a National Book Award. Tonya Pinkins reads and presents the characters very well, catching the lyricism of each woman's story; the range of emotions is a demanding task, and Pinkins responds creatively and sensitively. The recording length captures the essence of Naylor's seven stories, but for those who know the book, this abridgment doesn't fully capture the power of the whole or the full devastation and pride of Naylor's characters. The program will have to be repackaged as the original box won't withstand much handling. This is appropriate for budget-pressed libraries that can't afford the unabridged version (Audio Reviews, LJ 11/15/93).
Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Novel by Gloria Naylor, published in 1982. It chronicles the communal strength of seven diverse black women who live in decaying rented houses on a walled-off street of an urban neighborhood. As the middle-aged matriarch of the group, Mattie Michael is a source of comfort and strength. She recalls her past tragedies in flashbacks. Her close friend, Etta Mae Johnson, is a restless free spirit who repeatedly attaches herself to disappointing men. Embracing racial pride, idealistic Kiswana Browne initially disparages her mother's middle-class values but later accepts them. Mattie saves the long-suffering Ciel Turner from self-destruction after she barely endures a series of personal disasters. Kiswana helps Cora Lee, a young unmarried mother, realize that her many children should not be treated like dolls. Lorraine seeks social acceptance, unlike her outspoken lesbian lover, Theresa. When she is gang-raped, Lorraine is deranged by the attack and murders one of her only supporters, Ben, the kind janitor of Brewster Place. At the novel's end the women angrily demolish the wall that separates them from the rest of the city. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The writing is beautifully fluid and glorious.
Kimberly Brown
I will never think of these women, or even the real life women who suffer these poverties everyday.
Carrie
I had to read it for school, but it turned out to be one of my favorite books!
Barbara Weber

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I remember female classmates telling me that, as a white male, I could never understand this book. In one sense, they were right. I don't read a lot of books by black females. But, in another sense, they were dead wrong.
Gloria Naylor gives lie to the notion that authors and readers must be bound by their self-stereotypes and that persons of diverse racial or economic backgrounds cannot understand each other. This book is beautiful.
Yes, the majority of characters are black women from the ghetto. But, like true literature, this book isn't really about so select a group. The experiences and feelings of these women are transcendent - transcendent because they are "real" persons first and black women second.
For example, Naylor describes the grief a young mother suffers for an infant who has died after sticking its finger into an electric socket. The grief Naylor captures is universal. If mystics have experiences in which they have such joy it makes them feel one with the universe, then Naylor does the same thing here, only with pain.
And isn't this what literature is supposed to do: make us understand ourselves better by showing life as someone else, someone who may be 100% different than us? And by gaining a glimpse that perhaps we are not as different from others as we assumed, don't we join the world a little more?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on August 19, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gloria Naylor's book reads fast, just like life is lived on the little dead end street known as Brewster Place. Really a series of inter-connected short stories, it can easily be read a chapter at a time, cuz each character gets her own chapter. While not all the characters are thoroughly likeable, they all have plenty of redeeming qualities. Focusing not only on the women's trials and tribulations, Naylor also delves into the history and background that came before, contributing to each woman's present situation. These women, mostly abandoned or cast off by the men in their lives, struggle to make a sense of community from a handful of hopes and dreams.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Echo on October 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place is a relatively fast read about the lives of the women who live in a dilapadated housing complex on a dead end street. Naylor's symbolism and writing style makes this not only accessible reading, but enjoyable.
The characters range from unlikable to almost saintly in their descriptions. Although presented as several short stories, they do complete a coherent novel with the same characters throughout. What I enjoyed was that Naylor did not simply focus upon the hardships involved with living in Brewster, but the motivations behind the "cases". I think she did a great job providing us with women from different backgrounds, all ending up in the same place, with different hopes and dreams for themselves.
Men do play a substantial part in the happiness or lack thereof for the characters. Although other reviewers disliked this about the book, I think it is sadly realistic. Part of the culture of the day that this book is set in is that women didn't have the same opportunities, especially without a husband. I think it affects the mindset of the community and in general, the women resent men, but realize they need them, and are angered by that.
I enjoyed this book...and I would recommend it. I found that the descriptions and backgrounds of the women at Brewster Place were very interesting, and gave me some insight to a culture that we prefer to forget about - that is - the women left without husbands (or with "bad" ones...) in a time when women were supposed to rely on these men who abandoned them. It's about finding something within to fill the gaps that society doesn't provide for. The women try to make a community out of a group of unfulfilled dreamers, of a group of people that don't really understand eachother, and become self-reliant women. And of course, get out of Brewster Place.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "eastbaysista" on January 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have loved this book for a very, very long time. I think it shows the same beauty as Toni Morrison's writing but is considerably more accessible to those who don't consider themselves academics or intellectuals. I don't know WHY gloria naylor doesn't get the attention she deserves. While there have been some implications that this is a "man bashing" book, I don't see that at all. I see an honest look at SOME women's lives and SOME women's relationships with men, SOME of whom happening to be quite triffling. This story is not of a universal experience but it does delve into the universal emotions of longing, loneliness, dissapointment and, finally, joy and self-acceptance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By StylishCurvyGirl on July 16, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I saw this movie first, but I still wanted to read the book because supposedly the book is always better. In this case, the book was just like the movie but it was still good nevertheless. This book takes you on a journey of seven different women, each with her own set of problems. The one things that brings each of these women together is Brewster Place, something one would call "the projects". Brewster place helps all of these women come together in the end by taking control of Brewster Place and the violence that went along with it. VERY GOOD BOOK!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Brown on March 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm one of those people who love to follow the book awards. Like the Nobel Peace Prize in literature, the Pulitzer, the Man Booker Prize, and the National Book Award. The books that win these awards are always so amazing that I'm never disappointed. And as a the winner of the National Book Award in 1982, 'The Women of Brewster Place' completely blew me away! The writing is beautifully fluid and glorious. I just couldn't get enough. I read this book in less than 2 days that's how strong it got to me. And even though the book is thin, only clocking in at 192 pages, it is packed full of heart-breaking emotions that run the gamut from disappointment and despair to love and joy and hope!

As a young woman I can remember as clear as day the remarkable t.v. movie that was created from this book. And I have to say as someone who normally believes that the book is always better than the movie, this book is so amazing that nothing is left on the page that doesn't make it to the screen. Even if you've never seen the movie, the writing in this book is so clear and detailed that you can imagine everything that happens as if you're actually watching a movie. It's crazy. I don't think I've ever read a book that is so accessible and believable. Where the characters are people you know or could know. And where places like Brewster Place actually exist.

I loved reading this book. I would recommend it to everyone. Buy it immediately.
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