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The Valley Of Decision

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  283 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Originally published in 1942, The Valley of Decision was an instant success, and its story of four generations of the Scott family—owners and operators of a Pittsburgh iron and steel works—has since captured the imagination of generations of readers. Absorbing and complex, it chronicles the family’s saga from the economic panic of 1873 through the dramatic rise of American ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published December 31st 2015 by University of Pittsburgh Press (first published January 1st 1942)
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Sep 20, 2010 Moppet rated it really liked it
Recommended to Moppet by: Florence King
This 1942 novel was a Florence King recommendation, and she has yet to let me down. The Valley of Decision, the story of a Pittsburgh steel mill-owning family from the 1870s to the 1940s, is an epic, sweeping saga - a bestseller in its day, filmed in 1945.

The book opens on the day the well-to-do Clarissa Scott employs Irish teenager Mary Rafferty as a maid. Mary lives to see Clarissa’s great-great-grandchildren, and over the intervening years it is Mary who, elevated to housekeeper/companion, be
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Pittsburgh, steel mills/iron works, unions, wealthy families, servants, 1800's....a great story about Pittsburgh.

The book has something for history buffs and also those readers who are interested in the lives of the people during that time period which stretches from the 1800's to December 1941...the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.

The book talks about the steel mills...specifically the Scott Iron Works...and how they grew and how the lives of its owners and workers were totally immersed and devoted
Sabina Tagore
Apr 24, 2014 Sabina Tagore rated it it was amazing
I have waited long to review this book. I read this book more than ten years ago but lost the copy and couldnt remember the title. However, I always wanted to write a review for this book and its outline was formed ten years ago in me and has stayed for these many years, simmering as it were on the back burner of my mind!

One of the characters in the book, a music composer, is asked by his wife (Claire in the book, 3rd generation member of the Scott family whose life the book chronicles)to write
Apr 11, 2012 Elisabeth rated it it was ok
My reactions to this book were twofold. On the one hand, the writing is very good and the historical setting of the Pittsburgh steel mills detailed and interesting. I had to admire the skilled way Davenport handles a huge cast of characters, weaving their storylines together over several generations and making even the smallest supporting players stand out so you remember them when you encounter them again. On the other hand, the pervasive immorality of a number of characters, including some we' ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
They don't write them like this anymore. Published in 1942, this is the story of an American steel mill family in Pittsburgh, that starts right after the Civil War and ends with the start of Pearl Harbor. The central figure in the book is the sixteen year old Irish maid that goes to work for them for the next 68 years. A very good read.

One very interesting item in my copy of the book (that is totally falling apart) on the 2nd page under the copyright it says "This book is manufactured under war
Jun 27, 2009 Gconnolly rated it it was amazing
As I am currently reading The Kennedy Women I have been reminded of this book that I read ages ago but that continues to be one of my all-time favorites. Though Valley of Decision is historical fiction, it seems so real to me that it almost could be biographical. A really great story of a young Irish girl who comes to the household of the Scott family, the owners of the iron and steel works of Pittsburgh in the late 19th century, at 16 as a maid. Her sixty-eight years of service to the Scotts sp ...more
Apr 11, 2009 Nancy rated it liked it
May’s book club selection, a long, long book. I loved the epic story of the Scott Family of Pittsburgh. The central character was Mary Rafferty, who came to work for the Scotts in her teens and became inextricably entwined in their lives and business for many generations. The story spans from 1873 until 1941. I wasn’t able to attend the book club, but heard that almost everyone liked the book, though several commented on the length of the book.
Jul 27, 2013 Gaylen rated it it was amazing
Probably read this 15 or more years ago and have been meaning to reread it. I thought it was one of the best books I'd ever read. Will be interesting to see what I think now!
Jul 02, 2008 Janna rated it really liked it
I found a very old hardback edition of this book tattered on the shelf at Grandpa's. I read it and loved the story.
Andrea Marilyn
Apr 23, 2014 Andrea Marilyn rated it it was amazing
I have waited long to review this book. I read this book more than ten years ago but lost the copy and couldnt remember the title. However, I always wanted to write a review for this book and its outline was formed ten years ago in me and has stayed for these many years, simmering as it were on the back burner of my mind!

One of the characters in the book, a music composer, is asked by his wife (Claire in the book, 3rd generation member of the Scott family whose life the book chronicles)to write
Kurt Keefner
Aug 13, 2011 Kurt Keefner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
This is a wonderful book about a family and a steel mill. But it has a larger theme, too: the importance of having a purpose. And it makes a decisive claim: to have a purpose means being part of something larger than yourself.

All through the story we see how people reach their potential by looking out for their family, working for the mill, fighting for their country. There is an element of self-sacrifice to all this which I do not like, but it's not preachy or treacly.

The novel is masterfully
Jul 22, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
Even thought the three sections of the book are titled with the names of members of the Scott family, the book's main character is Mary Rafferty, a maid in their household. This book follows three generations of the Scotts, steel mill owners in Pittsburgh. If you knew the city of Pittsburgh or a lot about Czech history I think this book would really appeal to you.
The story starts in the late 1800's and ends as the US is bombed at Pearl Harbor. It's an amazing story as it was published in 1942.
Feb 03, 2014 Carol rated it liked it
Liked it but didn't love it.

So much going on in this book, this could have been 5 books. It's a family saga that moves a house maid through several generations of a Pittsburgh steel making family. Drama, angst. scheming, love, hate, world wars, class issues, predjudice.... all in 600 plus pages (paperback). Downton Abbey Pittsburgh!

The descriptive, straightforward writing bogged down the reading for me as I read more contemporary novels and I found myself skipping over passages to find out what
Feb 27, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Mary is a daughter of an Irish immigrant whose family depends on the Scott Steel Mill for its survival. To help her family make ends meet, Mary takes a job in the Scott home and settles into a life of service. Unknown to her on the day she arrives at the Scott's, that decades later she would still be living in this home and be a vital part of their family for generations. Mary is a strong woman whose deep held beliefs help support a family complicated by money and status.The story covers both Wo ...more
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Aug 22, 2007 Mark rated it liked it
I admit I have a soft spot for this book because it's based in my hometown, but on top of that, it's a great ripping yarn about a steel owner's family, the servants that live with them, a feisty union member and on top of all that, has one of the best flood scenes I've ever read in a novel. Set in Pittsburgh in the 1800s, it's written by a woman who went on to be the partner of the son of a founder of Czechoslovakia.
1) Název je divný, podle něj bych myslela, že jde o dílo typu Barbary Woodové nebo Joy Fieldingové.
2) Čte se to jedním dechem, ale není to myslím kniha, ke které by se člověk pravidelně vracel. Kdo má rád ságy, je to kniha pro něj jak stvořená.
3) Je příjemné číst knihu americké autorky která píše o českých reáliích a přitom je zná.
4) Připadá mi, že má autorka o českém národě příliš vysoké mínění.
Layce Parkinson
When I read this, I learned the book is always better than the movie. I used it in high school & college. It's about the growing up of America in the Industrial Revolution. Mainly following a steel mill family in Pittsburgh from it's beginning thru WWII. The movie was a Greer Garson and Gregory Peck love story which was a very small piece of the book.
Feb 18, 2011 Marian rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book especially but not only because the Pittsburgh area is my home. I love books that follow a family from one generation to the next. The author used great insight in building the characters and detailing the events.
Defienitly not my genre. Someone lost a copy in the airport. I picked it up and couldn't get through 2 pages. One of the other reviewers said they "don't write 'em like this anymore." All I can say is, thank goodness.
Apr 11, 2008 Clare rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book shows the disparity between the working class and the steel magnates in the early days of the steel industry in Pittsburgh. I found the story quite interesting, but felt that it was just too long.
Stephanie Cario
Feb 04, 2012 Stephanie Cario rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get into this but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it . A saga of 5 generations of a steel making family- spanning the wars - and with interesting glimpses of Europe at the time as well.
Sep 12, 2011 Muriel added it
Started out I did not care for the main character, Mary. She was too good, and too righteous, and too perfectly overcoming any adversary. But then the story around her unfolds, and characters age, and the book got interesting!
Debbie Moe
Dec 23, 2014 Debbie Moe rated it it was amazing
I first saw he movie and decided to read the book, that was probably 30 years ago. Read it once again years later and am now ready to read it again. Love it. Also read My Brothers Keeper by Marcia Davenport, time to read that one again. You will love them both.
Aug 29, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing
I read this a long time ago and have re-read it every few years since. It's one of the books that has stayed on my shelf through many purges.

What I love about it is the vivid picture Davenport paints of the old Pittsburgh and the forces that influenced its character.
PennsyLady (Bev)
Sep 15, 2012 PennsyLady (Bev) rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully constructed saga of 4 generations of a Pittsburgh iron and steel family.
(the life and times of the Scott family from 1873 through Pearl Harbor)

Absorbing, complex, touching historical fiction
Ann's Booknook
Feb 26, 2013 Ann's Booknook rated it it was amazing
This book, about my hometown is the perfect combination of history, family saga, wonderful characters and romance. Even if you have never been to Pittsburgh, it is a wonderful story about America's past. It certainly stands the test of time.
Beth Harbaugh
Aug 19, 2015 Beth Harbaugh rated it it was ok
This was a book club cook. If it hadn't been I would have returned it to the library after the fifth chapter. It was a histrionic tale of one family and their steel mill. I've read other books from the 1940s that were so much better.
Oct 27, 2008 Melissa rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Amy Wilks
Novel about Pittsburgh's booming steel industry in the 19th century. Story centers around the wealthy Scott family. It's a long book but I did get so involved in it and I have been reading it for months between my other books.
Apr 28, 2016 Julie rated it liked it
The first two thirds of the book were interesting, but the last 200 pages were completely dull. By the time you get to part 3 it felt like the story had already played out.
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American author and music critic. She was born Marcia Glick, daughter of Bernard Glick and opera singer Alma Gluck, later stepdaughter of violinist Efrem Zimbalist when Alma Gluck remarried.

Davenport traveled extensively with her parents and was educated intermittently at the Friends School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Shipley School at Bryn Mawr. She began at Wellesley College but elope
More about Marcia Davenport...

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