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The Women of Brewster Place

(Brewster Place #1)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  19,816 ratings  ·  954 reviews

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 women in America. Vulnerable and resilient, openhanded and open-hearted, these women forge their lives in a place that in turn threatens and protect

Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 30th 1983 by Penguin Books (first published June 2nd 1982)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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Years ago I read Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. Told from multiple points of view, it discussed a young woman from the north returning to her older female family members on a southern island in search of the spiritual inspiration she needs to sustain her for the rest of the year. I decided that for my annual participation in an A to Z author challenge, one that I choose to read only female authors, that I would revisit Naylor's work. First published in 1982 and winning national awards, The Women of ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, short-stories
This short story collection had all the makings of a book that I should not like. So I'm still trying to figure out how it ended up on my list of best short story collections.

The first story contained no less than ten clichés. And every story after that had something that I could see coming from pages away. I was literally thinking, please don't let this play out the way I think it's going to play out. And it always did.

I have never been, nor will I ever be, on the men-ain't-shit bandwagon. Ne
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up
This is Gloria Naylor’s first novel, published in 1982 and set between the 1940s and the mid-1970s. It is a series of seven interconnected stories about mainly African American women who have reached a low point and have ended up in Brewster Place, where the apartments are run down and the landlord does as few repairs as possible. This is a tale of the dispossessed, but also a tale of female bonding based on a shared oppression. Most of the women are black, but there are two
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-writers
What a book. Gloria Naylor has a way of creating an atmosphere, heck, a whole cosmos, within these few pages (my book counts 192), that it makes you wonder if she truly was human. I don't think I've read a debut novel as impressive as this one.

In The Women of Brewster Place, Gloria Naylor invites her readership to take a look around the neighbourhood of Brewster Place in which mostly poor Black families are situated. By tracing the lives of seven different Black women back to their origin, Glor
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gloria Naylor should be included on more reading lists than she is now. I do believe more authors borrowed from her structure of linked characters than they would care to admit. I especially enjoy how she writes African American settings and places transcendent enough to be characters in the novel. I recommend watching the movie after reading this, or if you’re like most people who have seen it, watching it with this book as a companion read. I’ve never imagined saying this, but I enjoyed the en ...more
Gabrielle Grosbety
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Women of Brewster Place follows the stories and journeys of several women living at Brewster Place as they experience heartbreak, loss, healing, and hope. Each short story is an individual narrative, however some of the women’s stories come to intersect crucially and impactfully in nurturing friendship and steadying love, especially in times when they face trauma and tragedy.

It was equally as joyful and heart-wrenching, depending on the individual circumstance, to partake in these women’s
Nidhi Singh
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

They came together, propositioned, bargained, and slowly worked out the consummation of their respective desires.

Naylor’s construction of Brewster Place’s beginnings seems like a plaintive evocation of a story that already lives in the crevices of a bygone past. Or the tale of someone who has lived their years and finally taken respite to talk of their unholy beginning that was marked for a cramped existence in this world. They gradually established their space and mellowed into an old age. Gra
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oh man, those last few stories though.
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I fell in love with the recently-departed Gloria Naylor through these interconnected stories. Lesser writers leave clichés leaden and unexplored on the page; here, the stereotypes of African-American women's lives are transfigured into fresh truths—joyous and tragic—about race, gender, class, and sexuality: story-truths that go deep, speak volumes. ...more
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Addition to review added at bottom.
The Women of Brewster Place is absolutely phenomenal!

Of course it's phenomenal because Gloria Naylor wrote it and her writing is nothing short of amazing. This is an absolutely perfect read for me. I didn't rush through it because I wanted to enjoy it. When I grow up, I want to write like Gloria. Her stories are enthralling. Her writing style is so figurative and spot on your mind immediately has these vivid images of who these characters are how they flow
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Women of Brewster Place is a powerful collection of intertwining stories surrounding the women who live in an urban housing development. Through seven lives we see decades of history - what brought them to the Place, coming north (the city isn't expressly named, but a few geographical clues in the text make the reader think it is New York) looking for opportunity, love, acceptance and social action.

Exploring the nature of relationships between friends:
Sometimes being a friend means mast
“A pigeon swept across her window, and she marveled at its liquid movements in the air waves. She placed her dreams on the back of the bird and fantasized that it would glide forever in transparent silver circles until it ascended to the center of the universe and was swallowed up.”

Really good books create a world that you live in for a while and then never forget. This is a really good book. Each story in this collection focuses on a particular woman, but expertly woven together, they make a wo
Robert Sheard
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the September selection for my online Backlist Book Club. So glad I finally got the chance to read it. It reminds me of Zora Neale Hurston.
I remember The Women of Brewster Place as a tv movie that my mom and aunt would watch almost everytime it came on tv. I didn't learn that it was a book until a couple years ago and immediately bought it.

But I didn't read it because I was scared. I never watched the tv movie but I remember my mom and aunt talking about how depressing it was. As a child I couldn't understand why they would watch something so depressing. Now as a adult I love to watch and read depressing things but I was still a b
Aug 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Review to come but a favorite!!!
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is a powerful novel made up of inter-connected short stories. As is my wont, I'd planned on reading one or two interspersed with other novels. Instead I read them straight through. The women are all different and come to the street called Brewster Place by different means and for different reasons.
Brewster Place became especially fond of its colored daughters as they milled like determined spirits among its decay, trying to make it a home. Nutmeg arms leaned over windowsills, gnarled ebony
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor was first published in 1982. It tells the stories of seven African-American women living in poverty in an unnamed norther US city during the 1970s. The book is told in interlocking, connected short stories, with each one focusing on a different woman. Naylor weaves their relationships and their neighborhood together with each new story. The place is bleak and sad but their lives are rich, real and full.

Mattie Michael is the matriarch of Brewster Place
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is an excellent novel-in-short-stories, first published in 1980 but still well-loved today, about a group of African-American neighbors on a hard-luck dead-end street in an unnamed northern city. It’s an accomplished work of literature: the stories are well-structured and dole out information at exactly the right pace, building suspense even as the reader begins to suspect what’s to come. The prose style is strong and the dialogue pitch-perfect and fun to read. The characters feel real and ...more
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful writing. My third time reading it and it is just as memorable.

Check out my gushing review on my site a few years ago: Black Woman Writer Warrior Reading List
Rating this book was hard for me because I had so many opinions (some even which contradict itself). I was leaning more towards 2 stars for several reasons. For me, this book was a little too simplistically written. I like more of a challenge. I didn't like that it was written in seven stories. I couln't tell at first rather they were supposed to be short stories or if they would tie together at the end. That was a bit confusing at first.

Also, it was very feminist. I'm not big, as Morrison says
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
*exhales dramatically*

Y'all this novel/collection of intertwined short stories blew me away. It wasn't so much the stories themselves (although I enjoyed them- the last story nearly took me out even though I saw it coming), but the way they were written. MY GOODNESS! I hope to revisit it again and again.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-favorites
An award winner for a reason.

Linden Hills is now towards the top of 2020 must-reads list.

More fleshed out thoughts to come.
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
Jai Danielle
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wonderful exploration of black womanhood in America. Last year I managed to only read books written by/about women of color, and though I plan to diversify my reading this year, I'm glad I chose to start 2016 with Naylor and the women of Brewster's Place. 4.5 stars. ...more
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely enjoyed this book! It went deeper into the stories of these ladies and we were truly able to know them, especially Etta Mae and Cora Lee.
Mel Bossa
A candid and beautiful novel told in seven stories. A celebration of women's strengths and struggles as they love, reminisce, hope, envy, hate, deny, anger, and rejoice in the confines of the thin walls of Brewster Place.

There is a key scene in this novel when a woman loses her child and is cleansed and comforted by an older woman the morning of the baby's funeral. It was one of those poignant and lucid pieces of writing one remembers forever.

There's a raw, almost amateurish feel to this novel
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read this book, nor watched the miniseries. I enjoyed the structure of interconnected short stories, telling the lives of 8 women all connected by place. Brewster Place is the last or only resort for a group of African American women without a lot of resources, who have been abused or abandoned (in some cases, both), by the men in their lives. These are mostly strong women who survive, but have to endure unspeakable tragedies and acts of violence. The lack of any worthwhile male in t ...more
Bryan Alexander
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read The Women of Brewster Place for a very particular reason. My son, 17, was reading it for his high school English class, and was deeply affected by the book. He found it enormously depressing, like many of the books he's had to read. I'd known of Brewster Place for years, but hadn't read it, and, as a recovering English professor, decided to remedy that while helping my son think through the novel.

He was right. It is a massively sad novel.

The Women of Brewster Place is about what the title
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the December selection of the Spilling Tea Book Club. I got the meeting date mixed up and found myself having to read this in less than a day. Thankfully it’s only 192 pages.

I hate reading old yellowed copies of books so the fact that I am giving this 5 stars is a testament to the quality of the writing of this book.

Gloria Naylor wrote this book in the early 1980’s…it’s a series of linked stories about 7 women who live in an urban housing project called Brewster Place. It won a National
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought I read this book when it came out, but of course have no memory of it nearly 40 years later. So I wasn't prepared for the absolute heartbreak I felt while reading. Naylor may be the first contemporary author to write a book with connected stories, in this case, the residents who live on Brewster Place. Connected stories of seven (actually eight) women, we learn about their lives and what brought them to live on the street. Their stories are not for the faint of heart, there were times ...more
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Gloria Naylor was 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 included Linden Hills, Mama Day and Bailey's Cafe. In addition to her novels, Naylor wrote essays and screenplays, as well as the stag

Other books in the series

Brewster Place (2 books)
  • The Men of Brewster Place

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August has arrived with plenty of interesting destinations for the discerning summer reader—from spooky offshore islands to an...
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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. ” 38 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.” 16 likes
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