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The Women of Brewster Place

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  12,179 ratings  ·  340 reviews
“The most refreshing voice in the black idiom since readers first discovered Toni Morrison.” – CLAUDE BROWN, author of Manchild in the Promised Land

IN HER HERALDED FIRST NOVEL, Gloria Naylor weaves together the stories of seven women living in Brewster Place, a bleak inner-city sanctuary, creating a powerful, moving portrait of the strengths, struggles, and hopes of black

Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 30th 1983 by Penguin Books (first published 1982)
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This was a nice little read, I see the T.V. movie did not stray too far from the book with the ecception of the ending. The book presented a good range of different kinds of women and how they interacted directly with one another. What I loved most about Gloria Naylor's writing of this book was her ability to inject humor in just the right places and timed just perfectly. I recommend this book for a nice weekend read.
Read this one for school a couple years back. Goodness, this was one of the most depressing things I have ever read EVER. It follows the stories of several black women and their journeys toward self discovery. What I did like was our main character, Mattie Michaels. She was strong and loving. She took care of herself and her son all by herself at such a young age. Though she did make a pretty dumb decision in the beginning of the book, overall she was the voice of wisdom and reason for the rest ...more
The Women of Brewster Place is an touching collection of stories about six ladies that all deal with abandonment issues of either men, friends, family and abuse. For centuries women has always been secound class citizens to men and or less superior and in this novel Gloria Naylor depicts the issue at hand. Brewster Place is a run away home for women who want to escape from the harsh realities of home in hopes of a better more effecient life. In one of the six stories told in this novel Mattie is ...more
The Women of Brewster Place was an intersting novel to read. It represented the life of women today and then and the struggles many of them faced and still are facing. Gloria takes each woman and places them in the same home, Brewster Place. This place was not a pretty one; it was broken down, tiny, clustered, dirty, and dangerous. Brewster Place is last resort for many people and/or the only affordable place at the time. Each woman have a story. They all have a story to tell in where it explain ...more
I really like that this is a novel told in seven short stories, each focused on a different women but with the overlap that comes of them all living and interacting in the same place. That structure, where related things come together piecemeal to form a whole, is really appealing to me. I also like the women of the story, who all have their own struggles with various form of oppression, violence, you name it but manage to stay distinct and interesting characters.

It's a little odd to me how basi
Danielle Franco-Malone
I seriously loved this book of interconnected short stories about women whose lives eventually bring them to the same low income housing development. One of the best books about race I've read. Sometimes I am disinclined to embrace books that are a series of chopped up short stories, as they can lack the continuing narrative that makes a book really compelling, but this was totally an exception. Each short story was so poignant and beautifully written, and I appreciated how the characters featur ...more
Chris Blocker
A gorgeous novel with compelling characters and several interesting plot lines. I enjoyed most how Naylor effectively utilized symbols which could very easily have been cliche.
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor was an amazing novel. The concept of seven women from different walks of life all coming together in one neighborhood worked out to be a very good story.It is also amazing how Naylor ties every short story back to the rest.She shows off a very sophisticated writing style. She had characters like Mattie, who ended up in Brewster Place after she got pregnant and Ceil,who lived in Brewster all her life because she was raised by her grandmother.The author ...more
This novel is a bit of a blast from the(none too distant) past. It is so thorougly wedded to time and place(s) that reading it today feels slightly jarring in places. (Say what? A couple of gay women living together ignites outraged gossip and scandal?) But then, we're talking about the very early 80's, and things were different then, and even a hell of a lot worse in the post-war period of Mattie's tale.

With that in mind, these women's stories are tinged with a purplish hue (as in Alice Walker'
Jamya Cannon
Wow. This book had a lot of moral values that were in between the lines of the story. There were several stories put together. One was of a woman named Mattie Johnson who had a bad son and was in jail. She had given him everything growing up and he took her love and kindness as a way of not listening to her. He took everything into consideration. Another story was of a woman named Cora who had many kids. As a child she had many dolls and wanted real babies so she decided to have one at a very yo ...more
My purpose for reading this book was to see how the book differed from the movie. I’m glad I decided to give it a try. The book is always better. I absolutely found myself unable to put this book down at times. I absolutely loved Naylor’s style of writing, it was amazing. She is a magician with words.

I loved all of the characters but Mattie was my favorite. I found myself laughing out loud when Sophie was digging through the trash and found the chocolate chip cookie boxes of “The Two”.

This book
Glen Engel-Cox
A riveting first novel that dares to write about the stuff of melodrama, and yet never slips into sentimentality. It accomplishes this because the stories are all too real. The tragedy of these women's lives we see even today in the news and on the streets around us. These are the kinds of stories that make up a revolution, except the revolution has passed. The revolution had a dream at its center: a world where all had the same chances. But that dream has been on hold--deferred, as the Langston ...more
Demiere Lee
Astonishing, ferocious, a standout among books written in the Af-Am fiction! What I found endearing about this novel was Naylor's complex writing style and how the seven vignettes from seven different perspectives resonate with us all, regardless of race or creed or gender. I've watched the television adaption of this incredible novel and although equally outstanding (I mean come on Jackée, Robin Givens, Oprah Winfrey, Lonette McKee AND Lynn Whitfield-A+in every sense of the letter!) the book wa ...more
Sep 10, 2008 Tricia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Tricia by: my sister
Great book - a look into a poor urban neighborhood and the lives of several women who live there, how they got there, and how they are intertwined. I suppose this book is probably assigned often in women's studies or African American studies classes, but the themes are universal: connectedness to one another, hopelessness and hopefulness, tragedy, redemption, loss. Haunting, sad, yet hopeful. I didn't always love the writing (the dialogue, primarily), but overall a good read.
Includes that great Langston Hughes poem:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore--and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat? Of crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet.?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?

Another gem:

Lorraine found herself surrounded by the most dangerous species in existence--human males with an erection to validate in a world that was only six feet wide.
Martie Nees Record
Brewster Place is a fictionalized urban-housing development that black people (who are, in truth, ''nutmeg,'' ''ebony,'' ''saffron,'' ''cinnamon-red'' or ''gold'') have inherited from a succession of other ethnic groups over the years. The difference is that while the Irish and Italians used it as a jumping off place for the suburbs for the black women (black men have only minor roles) it was the end of the line fighting a hostile world with love and humor. It wasn’t until I finished the book di ...more
Eleanor Cowan
A Forever Classic!

The Women of Brewster Place can be read every few decades, a favorite life-long book.

At my first reading, I was a struggling single mother like Cora Lee, and her fierce motivation to improve the quality of her life for herself and her children moved me deeply. I recall exactly where I was, waiting for a metro at the La Salle station in Montreal, when a certain passage filled me with such emotion I wept quietly because I'd just read a perfect articulation of my life situation w
Eleanor Cowan
A Forever Classic!

The Women of Brewster Place can be read every few decades, a favorite life-long book.

At my first reading, I was a struggling single mother like Cora Lee, and her fierce motivation to improve the quality of her life for herself and her children moved me deeply. I recall exactly where I was, waiting for a metro at the La Salle station in Montreal, when a certain passage filled me with such emotion I wept quietly because I'd just read a perfect articulation of my life situation w
I've always wanted to read more literature by African-American writers. I found love, lessons, truth, pain, heartache and so much more in here.
This is definitely a book I'll be going back to.
Loved the tv movie and loved the book!!! Everyone probably has met (or been) one of the women in these stories.

Here's my favorite scene between legendary Cicely Tyson and Robin Givens:

Mrs. Browne to daughter Melanie (now Kiswana): "It broke my heart when you changed your name. I gave you my grandmother's name, a woman who bore nine children and educated them all, who held off six white men with a shotgun when they tried to drag one of her sons to jail for 'not knowing his place'. Yet you needed
I have no idea why it took me so long to finally read this. It was beautiful and sweet and hard and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Jan 13, 2012 Samantha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Samantha by: Jen Burke
A little book with rich characters and a nice weaving together of women's stories. Really enjoyed it.
Tanmayee Thakur
Thanks to my lovely lovely friend Anvi Doshi that handed me this book and said "Gloria fucking Naylor" and i did not understand her love at first but as i read the last words of this book the most magical thing happened.. you know how when it gets cold and you feel this wave going through your body and you just kind of shudder in response? That is exactly what happened. And if a book can get your body to react, well, i don't need to say more.

A must read for anyone who has not tried African Amer
While a bit melodramatic at times, this was tragic and beautifully written. It reminded me a lot of Suzan Lori Parks' play that we read in African American Lit senior year in college. These women! They only have each other! Gloria Naylor created these makeshift families out of the tenants who live in these dilapidated buildings in the projects in the 70s. There was so much heartbreak and sadness and life in these characters. I was really moved by Cora Lee's story with her load of kids, and "The ...more
Laura Kraay
Naylor pieces together seemingly disparate and isolated voices into a cohesive piece. She develops both characters and place - as place soon becomes a character and defining trait. I come back to this book because it feels me with joy and sorrow. Between the pages, I learned more about what it means to be human. I also developed an appreciation for other people and their stories - ones I will only know once they choose to let me in. I am thankful Naylor chooses to let readers into Brewster Place ...more
Nov 01, 2014 Emily added it
At first glance, The Women of Brewster Place appears to be a mottled mix of stories, a pastiche of pasts and presents strung together by a single crumbling building. Each woman’s tale packs such an emotional punch that it can be difficult to see beyond each chapter’s individual assault of feelings. Surges of elation are quickly met with sobering revelations, creating a novel that embodies the clichéd description of “emotional roller coaster.” As a result, each character’s story initially emerges ...more
Do you know what this reminded me of? It's like the character back stories featured on the TV show Orange is the New Black, brief glimpses about how all these individual women came to be in unfortunate circumstances, only in this case the women live in a dead-end city tenement instead of a prison. It's moving and elegant and a quick read. One chapter called "The Two" deserves a trigger warning - an atmosphere of hatred against two lesbian women eventually leads to rape and murder.

This won the N
Mar 21, 2014 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
This is a great book, with the exception of the ending. It was anti-climactic, and it didn't provide any closure for the reader. I understand that the author was being symbolic, but the effect was flat and lifeless and false. It's a shame that the ending was so dull because the rest of the book had kept me hooked throughout. If the end had lived up to the promise of the rest of it then this review would have been a full five stars, no question. As it is, the bad ending can't diminish the excelle ...more
A classic! That's the impression I received while reading this book. Gloria Naylor is a genius in her narration, word choices, and tone of characters in this book. Naylor beautifully describes and depicts the lives of these seven women and captures the readers into every story with ease.

The book and movie were very similar. Although there were slight variations in the movie, the book and movie did a fantastic job in covering this story.

This book details the lives of seven women who find themse
Diana George
The novel The Women of Brewster Place, by Gloria Naylor is a story about nine women who experience different adversity in their lives. But become all connected by living in the same complex called Brewster Place. Many of the women who became close and attained friendships with another could not understand the doings and actions of the other women in the complex. I believe that what connected these women internal was their struggle through selfishness. They all experienced different type selfish ...more
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Ben's death 4 27 Apr 24, 2014 05:42AM  
African-American ...: The Women of the Brewster Place; Starting September 1st 37 14 Sep 18, 2013 08:55AM  
  • Your Blues Ain't Like Mine
  • The Hand I Fan With
  • Mama
  • Homemade Love
  • Tumbling
  • The Wedding
  • Coffee Will Make You Black
  • Brown Girl, Brownstones
  • The Street
  • I Wish I Had a Red Dress (Idlewild #2)
  • Will You Die for Me?
  • Call Me Crazy: A Memoir
  • The Warmest December
  • Just As I Am
  • for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought
  • Third Girl from the Left
Gloria Naylor is an African-American novelist whose most popular work, The Women of Brewster Place, was made into a 1984 film starring Oprah Winfrey.

Naylor won the National Book Award for first fiction in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place. Her subsequent novels include Linden Hills, Mama Day and Bailey's Cafe. In addition to her novels, Naylor has written essays and screenplays, as well as the
More about Gloria Naylor...
Mama Day Bailey's Cafe Linden Hills The Men of Brewster Place: A Novel 1996

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“Time's passage through the memory is like molten glass that can be opaque or crystalize at any given moment at will: a thousand days are melted into one conversation, one glance, one hurt, and one hurt can be shattered and sprinkled over a thousand days. It is silent and elusive, refusing to be damned and dripped out day by day; it swirls through the mind while an entire lifetime can ride like foam on the deceptive, transparent waves and get sprayed onto the conciousness at ragged, unexpected intervals. ” 20 likes
“Brewster Place became especially fond of its colored daughters as they milled like determined spirits among its decay, trying to make it home. Nutmeg arms leaned over windowsills, gnarled ebony legs carried groceries up double flights of steps, and saffron hands strung out wet laundry on backyard lines. Their perspiration mingled with the steam from boiling pots of smoked pork greens, and it curled on the edges of the aroma of vinegar douches and Evening in Paris cologne that drifted through the street where they stood together - hands on hips, straight-backed, round-bellied, high-behinded women who threw their heads back when they laughed and exposed strong teeth and dark gums. They cursed, badgered, worshiped, and shared their men. Their love drove them to fling dishcloths in someone else's kitchen to help him make the rent, or to fling hot lye to help him forget that bitch behind the counter at the five-and-dime. They were hard-edged, soft-centered, brutally demanding, and easily pleased, these women of Brewster Place. They came, they went, grew up, and grew old beyond their years. Like an ebony phoenix, each in her own time and with her own season had a story.” 10 likes
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