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Roche, Mazo de la

family jalna romantic whiteoak

(Canadian, 1885–1961)

Mazo de la Roche is best known for her Whiteoaks family saga. Dominated by a fierce matriarch with a parrot, the family, while coming in for its share of romantic drama, is often shown as comic and ridiculous. Jalna (1927) is the best place to start. Introducing the six Whiteoak siblings, it chronicles their romantic entanglements and ends with Grandmother Adeline's hundredth birthday party. After that, it's a matter of working forward through the sixteen books. Finch's Fortune (1931) is about the melancholy, musical fourth brother. The Building of Jalna (1944) recalls the first Whiteoak coming to Ontario. Mary Wakefield (1949) is about the ‘poor pretty flibbertigibbet mother’ of the four youngest brothers; and in Return to Jalna (1949) a younger generation embarks upon adventures of its own. With all its intrigues and reversals, the rambling chronicle of a communal dynasty on a great country estate foreshadowed modern American soap opera.

Catherine Cookson, Rosamunde Pilcher, Vikram Seth. See FAMILY SAGA  CB

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