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

4.4 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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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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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: 5 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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I was bit torn about this book because, since it's written from different point of views, there are some women that i like more than others and some stories I am more attracted to than others. I bought this book because I needed it for my class at my university, but I found it slightly confusing and the timelines were difficult to figure out without outside help. For one thing, these women are all completely different, which I get is part of the novel's premise, but it almost feels like they are all forced to coexist together in the book without clear delineations between which character is related to which and there is a lot going on that is very confusing if you do not have someone to guide you. There are some scenes in it that made me slightly uncomfortable, but it is not banned from any school that I know of, so it must just be me. I like the cover of the book because it attracts me to this lady and I want to know her story, but I don't even know who she is supposed to be in the story or if she's even in it at all. I do like one character though who I think redeems this novel significantly even though she is only in it for a short period of time. It is the young lady who buys her apartment and her mom shows up to visit her and leaves her money because she does not have a phone, even though she has to hide it because her daughter refuses to accept it. I think this sweet but complex mother-daughter chapter makes up for the more dissembled and disconnected novel.
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