Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Valley Of Decision” as Want to Read:
The Valley Of Decision
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Valley Of Decision

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  213 ratings  ·  38 reviews
On the eve of World War II writer Marcia Davenport, best known for her biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, spent several years in Pittsburgh, her imagination caught by the drama of American industry. In 1942, Charles Scribner’s sons published her Pittsburgh novel, The Valley of Decision. It was an instant success, and its story of four generations of the Scott family - o ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published July 28th 1989 by University of Pittsburgh Press (first published January 1st 1942)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Valley Of Decision, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Valley Of Decision

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 418)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Moppet
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
...more
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
...more
Gconnolly
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
Jane
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.
...more
Sabina Tagore
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
...more
Andrea Marilyn
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
...more
Nancy
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.
Mark
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.
Gaylen
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!
Carol
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
...more
Janna
I found a very old hardback edition of this book tattered on the shelf at Grandpa's. I read it and loved the story.
Kurt Keefner
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
...more
Nancy
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
Elisabeth
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
Karen
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
...more
Dana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara
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.
Sue
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.
Ann's Booknook
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.
Marian
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.
Melissa
Dec 09, 2008 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars
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.
Muriel
Sep 28, 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!
Stephanie Cario
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.
Clare
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.
Sharon
Loved this book because it was about places I was familiar with growing up. It also was a fictional account of the establishment of the industry in which my family & neighbors worked.
Kris
I read this last summer for the second time, I read it the first time in 1990. A wonderful story taking place during the Pittsburgh steel industry... a true love story!
Victoria
Historical fiction about a Pittsburgh steelmill family. It's a good story and I learned a lot about that what life was like there from the late 1800s up to WWII.
CLM
This book was hard to put down but it made me mad even while I enjoyed it because the heroine was the one who made all the sacrifices and ended up alone!
Melanie
This was such an amazing romantic story. I got lost in this book and plan on rereading it again in the future.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Out of This Furnace
  • The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People
  • ...the Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age
  • The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business
  • Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution
  • Reveille in Washington, 1860-65
  • The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790
  • Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom, 1940-1945
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived In
  • William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic
  • Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department
  • Across the Wide Missouri
  • In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines
  • The Americans, Vol. 3: The Democratic Experience
  • Pittsburgh Noir
  • Everyday People
  • A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration
  • Mary Chesnut's Civil War
78901
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
More about Marcia Davenport...
Mozart My Brother's Keeper East Side, West Side Too Strong for Fantasy Of Lena Geyer

Share This Book