Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport

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. It also discusses unions and how difficult it was to get them started, and how the classes were more apt to snub each other which gave an indication of how life was in the 1800's.

I was not really expecting the book to be what it was, so don't get discouraged from the title and the subject matter. You will enjoy it. It doesn't get too technical...it is more about the Scott family and their lives through the generations. My rating is a 5/5

The Scott family and their history will keep your interest. The love and loyalty between Mary Rafferty and the Scott family was the main theme carried through up to the last pages of the book.

Mary, the main character, was about the same age as William Scott's daughters when she arrived for service at the Scott residence. Mary was a strong girl who held her poor, working class family together even though she only saw them once a week since she had to remain as a live-in servant at the Scott residence. She along with her brother, who worked at the Scott Iron Works, were the breadwinners since their father had been paralyzed by a mill accident a few years before. As Mary's brother James continued to work long hours each day in the mill he also was desperately trying to get a union started in hopes of better working conditions.

Mary's brother and Paul Scott, the son of William Scott, worked together on an invention to help steel production even though Paul was the owner and James was a steelworker. Meanwhile Paul begins to fall in love with Mary and she with him. This is not an acceptable match of course, and Mary tries to discourage it; but they both know that is difficult.

One of Mary’s MANY duties was her responsibility for Constance, the daughter of William and Clarissa Scott. This was a very trying situation because Constance was a handful. Mary's "side job" was to TRY to keep her in line.

Constance then does something unthinkable, and the family, especially her father, would like to disown her. She moves away, and Clarissa Scott insists that she take Mary with her as her personal servant. Mary and Paul are heartbroken. Mary remains with Constance for four years and then is summoned home....both she and Paul are thrilled.

As the months pass, a strike occurs at the mill, and it wasn't a pleasant affair. Paul and Mary continue to struggle with their relationship. Many good and bad things continue to happen to the Scott family both personal and business.

Life went on for the Scott family, and when the parents were gone, the children were left to live their lives as a distant family.....they didn't get along too well. Constance returned from London for a visit, Elizabeth and her husband were still uppity, and William Scott, Jr. and his wife also felt they were too good for the rest of the family. Jealousy and greed were a large part of this family's structure.

During all of this, the mill was flourishing, and Paul and Edgar were responsible for its success, but accidents and deaths in the mill were occurring and Edgar had other plans.

Relationships were starting to get edgy...especially Paul and Louise's marriage.

Mary held all the characters together and was the "glue" and stronghold that got the family through everything that happened in the lives of the Scott family....all the happiness, heartache, tragedies, decisions, births, and deaths. Every Scott loved Mary as if she had been a family member...she was the matriarch.

The story was wonderful....I admired Mary for her strength and loved how Marci Davenport allowed this female character to hold such a strong position throughout the book. It makes you want to be a part of that family and have the care and love that Mary brought to all of them. And....pairing up Mary and Claire made a power-house ending.

No comments:

Post a Comment