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The Valley of the Moon

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,455 ratings  ·  129 reviews
A road novel 50 years before Kerouac, The Valley of the Moon traces the odyssey of Billy and Saxon Roberts from the labor strife of Oakland at the turn of the century through central and northern California in search of beautiful land they can farm independently.
Paperback, 404 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Hard Press (first published 1913)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,455 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: topshelf
If you were to read any book by Jack London, this is the one. Especially if you are twenty something and live in the San Francisco East Bay Area. The book may have been written almost one hundred years ago, but all the issues are still very real and very applicable. It is a moving story and very refreshing.
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
Jack London is one of my favorite authors, and this is his only book that I just did not like at all. It's sort of set up as a novelized agrarian treatise, but it's also rather contrived, trite, and dull. Big disappointment. ...more
Here now is my Sock Puppet Theater script for this book:

Saxon: Hello.
Billy: Hello. I enjoy talking about my ancestors, and how white they were, and what good stock they were, and how much they suffered.
Saxon: I enjoy talking about how they came here before these other dirty immigrants, and are therefore way more awesome. Also how my form and figure reflect the old stock.
Billy: We should get married, and talk about this all the time.
Saxon: Yay!
Daniel Villines
While relying on fiction for historical information is a risky business, good contemporaneous fiction can preserve the substance of its characters at the time of their existence. I would consider The Valley of the Moon to be such a book in that the nature of its two main characters, Saxon and Billy, are honestly preserved. For the last hundred years, they have been frozen in time, coming to life in the eyes of the reader every so often.

And the reason why I think this book’s characters are import
Chris Shank
Jan 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Jack London never fired blanks. There isn’t a book of his that I’ve read where he isn’t trying to mortally wound a lazy convention, a notion taken for granted, or what often passes for common sense. London’s exhortation is always, in my words, “Think! Act! Live to the fullest!” He believes in the power of the will and body, and despises those who fear their own breath fogging the mirror. One of my favorite lines from his works, “I'd rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live ...more
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I bought the book on a camping trip to see Jack London's home in Sonoma county. I'm just reading it now, and am about halfway through. I'm impressed with how well London writes from a female perspective, though there is a certain lack of depth. That said, it is fascinating to read a book set in Oakland in the early 1900s, reading about familiar places and streets is great for the imagination. Jack London's opinion of the world comes through clearly in each character, and you can recognize his ab ...more
Kristie (fabk)
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book in highschool and absolutely fell in love with it. Definetly a good read!
Re-read in 2013. Loved it as much this time around as the first time around! The characters and their journey really spoke to me!
Rebecca Rosenberg
My favorite of Jack London's novels-- an autobiographical depiction of Jack and his wife Charmian leaving working on the Oakland docks to live in idyllic Sonoma Valley. ...more
Betsy D
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many people associate Jack London with Call of the Wild, The Sea Wolf, White Fang, and of course the short story “To Build a Fire.” Most do not realize that he wrote some 50 books and hundreds of short stories and essays. The Valley of the Moon was written in 1913, three years before he died at the age of 40.

The first part of the book takes place in Oakland during troubled economic times and labor strikes playing havoc on many people’s lives. Billy and Saxon are the main characters who are n
Perry Whitford
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Working class, proto-Beat Generation epic, fifty years before Kerouac and company, set in Oakland during the first years of the 20th century.

Saxon Brown, who works in a laundry sweatbox, and Billy Roberts, a teamster and occasional prizefighter, have a whirlwind romance then struggle to get by against a backdrop of the tensions between capital and labor, which result in strikes and hardships.

But through all the hard times, plucky Saxon, who is proud of the image her name conjures up and of the
Feb 25, 2010 is currently reading it
After spending a long weekend in 'the valley of the moon', I felt compelled to read this book. I'm only a few pages in, but I like it already. ...more
Nadia Zeemeeuw
The first fall of my teens idols. I adored this book so much when I was a teenager that I still can remember the whole passages of its translated version I have been rereading again and again. Finally I decided to reread a book in English. The first two parts gave exactly the same feelings I had before. I liked the Oakland strike section even more. The idea of adult who actually starts growing up is appealing to me a lot these days. I do love how London managed it. But I must admit that his hars ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
I can't believe I tortured myself through 500 and some odd pages! Boring and sappy. How I hate wasting this much investment in a story thinking surely it'll get better but it just gets worse. I stuck with it because the time period's union strife might've been educational but it wasn't other than some realism regarding the brutality, and I thought it'd be fun to read about the SF Bay area back then, but even that lacked in depth. Nothing but a cheesy, too drawn out story about two naive married ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of this book by Jack London until we chose it to read in my book club. I'm glad that we did. The language is often filled with slang of the era in which it takes place, and that was a little hard to get used to at first. I have a problem sometimes with slangy writing. However, the story of Saxon and Billy is, among other things, a love story that starts off with a bang, and then endures through difficulties and hard times. Saxon and Billy end up pursuing a pretty wonderful drea ...more
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
Very boring. Basically the story is a couple's life in Oakland sucks, so they move to Sonoma. ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow how had I waited so long to read this? What a wonderful story. Their life in Carmel and descriptions of Monterey and really all of Northern California were amazing. Read this.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ooh, Mr. Jack London. This book, "the Valley of The Moon. You have done it. Rarely, one might find a monumental book, but this book is majestic. It should be in every American Literature class in every school.
Billy, " one of those rare individuals that radiate muscular grace through the ungraceful non garments of civilization, " and Saxon, pragmatic , wise, demure, and beautiful. Of pioneer stock, both their families having driven across the country with ox team, both working in Oakland, she
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
The first half of this book is compelling. It depicts the brutal struggle for survival in an urban setting back in the good old factory-fire days. And it's timely because it devotes tons of space to characters hanging onto their tenuous heritage because that is all that they have. The guy who owns the shirt factory probably doesn't talk for hours about his Saxon mom who crossed the plains, but our protagonists sure do. They have little else in life of which they can be proud. Dialogue like

Darryl Beckmann
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
London’s redundancy is obvious. He plays with the serious London reader i.e. Charmian never worked in a factory. She is portrayed (by others) as spoiled, self-centered, and self-indulgent. So she was a known run-around, confident in handling men. Brings down London’s marriage and in 1919 writes a heated love letter to another married man: Harry Houdini. Charmian didn’t like butter on her bread, maybe caviar? But to suggest she had a relationship with a 16-year-old on a small dinghy in the Oaklan ...more
David N
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating how people and books come into our lives at the right time. I met a Bay Area transplant at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival who gave me this book. It introduced me to Jack London. Part love story and part road trip, the book starts in working class Oakland. We follow Saxon from picking up boys through her marriage and journey through northern California and southern Oregon. Saxon and Billy are working class and Oakland is only a place to start from. They go to the movies and decide to ...more
Joe Pags
Aug 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
There are very few books I cannot finish. Of the 100 or so I have reported here, perhaps 4 I could not complete. I love Jack London's Seawolf and expect the same of White Fang when I get round to it.
And I know the characters, setting and style are historically accurate and depict the author's vision of realism in that time... but in COVID and the middle of potentially the biggest Civil Rights movement in the last 60 years, the overwhelming "whiteness" of the novel, their problems, their langu
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-1913
I haven’t read that much Jack London and I thought he only wrote nature stories about wolves and people dying in the snow. So this novel took me by surprise, especially the social commentary on working class life. The story is about a factory girl named Saxon who falls in love with a teamster/former prizefighter named Billy. Life is hard, the teamsters’ strikes keep getting busted, the cops are shooting strikers, and all the stress is driving Billy to drink and be brutal to Saxon. But just when ...more
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
News flash: Jack London is a great writer. He's a great storyteller, a great drawer of characters, a artist with natural descriptions, and able to bring any adventure to life by drawing on his own wildly varied experience, in addition to his talent. I believe I would have loved this book under any circumstances, but being a resident of northern California and familiar with all the settings he described, I enjoyed it even more. It also contains some surprisingly prescient commentary on the saluta ...more
Janet Lynch
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I'm a Jack London fan, but the xenophobia, the racism, and especially the male chauvinism in this novel is hard to stomach. I'm a stubborn reader, however, and saw it to its end. I wonder if the main character, Billy, has attitudes much like London himself. Billy treats his wife like a gold brick, and both he and she think her sole purpose in life is to stand by him, be beautiful for him, put up with all his horrible actions, and admire him in spite of it all.

I picked this novel up for research
Chelsea Hite
May 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Purevdorj Damba
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is the most beautiful book that i have ever read.This story is about a new couple, their purpose, adventure, true love and being dreamer.After i read that book i just thought that OMG....if you want something from your heart, even you didn’t see or heard about it,it will truly happen one day but you have to be patient and persistent.
I would highly recommend this book for everyone.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although it seems like a good story book, it really promotes an out-of-the-box thinking and through the naration teaches life lessons on how to turn over your "luck" and life when you don't like its current state.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Not Grapes of Wrath but entertaining and worth reading. A longer version of this review appears at
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Learned a lot about Jack London and loved his writing
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Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, social-activist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

Jack London was a white supremacist and socialist. In his 1901 essay "T

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