The Women of Brewster Place chronicles the communal strength of seven black women living in decrepit rented houses on a walled-off street in an urban neighborhood. Mattie Michael, the matriarch of the group, is a source of comfort and strength for the other women. Etta Mae Johnson is a free spirit who repeatedly gets involved with men who disappoint her. Kiswana Browne embraces racial pride and eventually accepts her motherÆs middle-class values. Lorraine and Theresa are lovers; when Lorraine is gang-raped, she is deeply troubled by the attack and murders Ben, who is one of her few supporters and the janitor of Brewster Place. Cora Lee loves her babies, while Ciel is on a path of self-destruction, having suffered a series of personal disasters.
The Women of Brewster Place is a moving portrait of the strengths, struggles, and hopes of black women. At the end of the novel, the women demolish the wall that separates them from the rest of the city Gloria Naylor weaves together the truths
and myths of the womenÆs lives, creating characters who are free to determine the course of their lives, embodying the self actualization tradition of the Harlem Renaissance.
NaylorÆs other books are BaileyÆs Cafe, Linden Hills, Mama
Day, and The Men of Brewster Place. The Women of Brewster Place, her first novel, won the American Book Award for Best First Novel in 1983.
"[A] shrewd and lyrical portrayal of many of the realities of black life . . . Miss Naylor bravely risks sentimentality and melodrama to write her compassion and outrage large, and she pulls it off triumphantly." -The New York Times Book Review
"The most refreshing voice in the black idiom since readers first discovered Toni Morrison." -Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land
"Naylor creates a completely believable, and very frightening, world of degradation, violence and human - very human - courage and sturdiness." Chicago Sun-Times
"Vibrating with undisguised emotion, The Women of Brewster Place springs from the same roots that produces the blues. Like them, [Naylor's] book sings of sorrow proudly borne by black women in America." -The Washington Post