Linden Hills

Linden Hills

by Gloria Naylor


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A world away from Brewster Place, yet intimately connected to it, lies Linden Hills. With its showcase homes, elegant lawns, and other trappings of wealth, Linden Hills is not unlike other affluent black communities. But residence in this community is indisputable evidence of "making it." Although no one knows what the precise qualifications are, everyone knows that only certain people get to live there—and that they want to be among them.

Once people get to Linden Hills, the quest continues, more subtle, but equally fierce: the goal is a house on Tupelo Drive, the epitome of achievement and visible success. No one notices that the property on Tupelo Drive goes back on sale quickly; no one questions why there are always vacancies at Linden Hills.

In a resonant novel that takes as its model Dante's Inferno, Gloria Naylor reveals the truth about the American dream—that the price of success may very well be a journey down the lowest circle of hell.

"One is quickly beguiled…so gracefully does Miss Naylor fuse together the epic and the naturalistic, the magical and the real."—The New York Times

"With Linden Hills, Naylor has constructed a place for herself among leading contemporary writers of fiction."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Every page contains a brilliant insight, a fine description, some petty and human, some grandiloquent."—Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140088298
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/28/1986
Series: Contemporary American Fiction Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 426,766
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.66(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Gloria Naylor grew up in New York City, where she was born in 1950. She received her B.A. in English from Brooklyn College and her M.A. in Afro-American Studies from Yale University. Her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place, won the American Book Award for first fiction in 1983. Ms. Naylor is the author of three other novels: Linden Hills, Mama Day, and Bailey's Cafe

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Linden Hills 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One word for Linden Hills-Wow! Naylor used simplicity to create complexity. Gloria Naylor was able to hit the nail on the head in a sense. She challenged the idea of living in the 'perfect world', that society tends to ground itself on. Society fails to see that they are living in an 'earthly hell'. Naylor raises the point-we tend to value material things,yet we have nothing at all because in the process we lose our souls in the midst. Now, is that truly heaven? I think we can agree it is anything but that. Naylor also descibes a different hell we don't think we live in, inactuality we do live in self-inflicted hells. She points out something, we tend to make an earthly hell out of things by being fake and not being real, even stooping so low as lying to get ahead. Linden Hills provides a good depiction of 'making it.' Black people didn't have much ,but Linden Hills was the epitome of 'making it.' Upon reading, many will find theirselves in the characters of Linden Hills. Naylor leaves the reader craving for more...but that can be seen as a strategy of hers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent portrayal of social class, Linden Hills provides pain and pleasure, entertainment and excitement to describe and discuss the issues within social class. With Linden Hills being the upper class society and Putney Wayne being the lower class society, Naylor discusses the ups and downs of each class and the facades that each class wears. It truly depicts each class in its purity. Tupelo Drive is the place to be. Once you've hit Tupelo Drive you've made 'it'. This is what everyone in Linden Hills dream of, for Linden Hills is only a symbol of success, but Tupelo Drive is like the highest level of success. It is the most desirable state you can be in, for many hope to make it there but few do...
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not much of an idea? It was a wonderful idea - colossal. Anything that put the music back in Ruth's voice as she spoke to him. He would go into Linden Hills and work his butt off. Then he'd take the money and buy her and Norm a great gift ¿ maybe even a turkey, too. Ruth wanted him to go into Linden Hills and he would go.Ruth wanted him to go into Linden Hills and he would go. He was just sorry that she hadn¿t asked him to go into hell for her so he could really prove himself.Best friends and fellow poets Willie Mason and Lester Tilson, work their way down through the exclusive, and exclusively African-American, suburb of Linden Hills, doing odd jobs to earn money to buy Christmas presents. But the streets of Linden Hills correspond to the circles of hell in Dante's Inferno, and Willie (who lives in the down-market area of Putney Wayne) and Lester (whose family have lived on First Crescent in Linden Hills since the very beginning) are this book's Dante and Virgil. Lester and Willie's friends Ruth (who during her first marriage lived on Fifth Crescent) and Norman, live in a barely furnished apartment in Putney Wayne and are happy with their lot, and unlike most of their neighbours, they don't aspire to a house in Linden Hills. Those who have already made it into Linden Hills hope to move further down the hill, and ultimately onto Tupelo Drive, just above the moated house belonging to undertaker and property developer Luther Nedeed, whose ancestor bought the hillside back before the American Civil War. Apart from the poets and their friends, the person I had most sympathy for was Reverend Hollis, a resident of Fifth Crescent who employed Willie and Lester to help him get ready for the children's Christmas party at his church. Reverend Hollis feels his faith seeping away, quashed by the emptiness emanating from his large, wealthy and status-conscious congregation, so every year he throws a party for the children of Putney Wayne at his own expense, in the hope of encouraging some poorer people who are full of God's spirit to start attending his church. The oddest person in the book doesn't even live in Linden Hills. Maxwell Smyth has risen to a high position in General Motors despite the handicap of being black. He controls every aspect of his life to the nth degree, including his dietary and toilet habits, dedicating his life to being so perfect that no-one can doubt that he is the best man for whatever job is on offer.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're familiar with Dante's Inferno, this is a fascinating read, but it's a wonderful book regardless. The characters are striking and the story moves quickly. As a reader, you'll be engaged quickly and finish the book wishing it were a bit longer. If I do have criticism, it's that I would have liked a bit more--a bit more detail, and a bit more time on character--but overall it comes together as you'd want it to after some thought, particularly if you've read The Inferno.
eloisepasteur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I struggled with this book. The ongoing anti-education riff annoyed me intensely - a friend claims this is irony but if it is, it misses the mark for me.I find none of the main characters likable, and that makes it hard to read. I found myself feeling sorry for a few of the lesser characters (Laurel and Roberta especially) but that was only in the short term.I came to this book knowing the parallels to the Inferno, but I wonder how anyone could miss them, there are several really strong screaming examples, including the school gates having "Abandon hope all ye..." over them, and the first circle having poets and pagans on it... so it's strongly established before you go down too far. It makes the parallels interesting, wondering how each of the circles will be dealt with, but that's just about the only attraction for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Linden Hills was a very eye opening frame story. It addressed an important isssue of people of the world indulging in all the material things, and not the important issues: morale, family values, and self-love. Through many different characters, Naylor exemplifies how poeple try to achieve the American Dream- make it to the bottom as fast as you can- regardless of the damage and destruction it may cause their soul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gloria Naylor's Linden Hills takes you on a journey of real life adventures. Touching on homosexuality, religion, deception, and social status, Naylor displays easy to understand situations that depict today's society. She uses simple syntax, colloquial diction, and comedy to engulf the reader into her neighborhood, Linden Hills. This contemporary novel doesn't cease to keep the reader on edge saying 'what's going to happen next?' Naylor exhibits great pacing that leads the reader by the hand, step by step through Linden Hills, for the African American who is 'making it'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Linden Hills is an astonishing book that should be recommended to any and everyone. It has style, drama, and satisfaction all wrapped up into one. These mind-boggling situations and actions catch the reader's attention and keeps it. This story is so well-developed that it catches each reader differently. On a scale of 1 to 10, this book would receive a 7.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel touched the inner core of the taboos associated with maitaining one's status in a world superficiality. Naylor addressed many topics that 'progressive and financially secure' blacks are afraid to self-reflect about their role in the materialism of black culture. I enjoyed the subtle and haunting character development and the personal stories of these characters helped the reader grow a deeper connection tothe torment of many bourgoise blacks..
Guest More than 1 year ago
LINDEN HILLS was a very involved novel that bordered on lost and found. I was lost on several chapters and found my way back in the next. The story of blacks who made it and the blacks who hadn't was a good one, however, the point would have been better if it hadn't dragged on for so long with filler chapters and constant talking between the lines. Still, only if you have the time to kill, should you give it a try.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How do you figure that when you are fighting a drug addiction is called Pinks? Well, anyways the books was an okay book. I enjoyed it, and would read it again if neccesary. How would the book be if the boy really wasn't his son? And what if Willie and Lester had never went into Linden Hills but somewhere else, Would Willie have realized that everything that shines is not gold? Overall this was a good book, a little on the psycho side, but good still yet.