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The Jalna Series; or, The Whiteoak Chronicles by Mazo de la Roche

Content last modified August 1995

Introduction

The Jalna series consists of sixteen novels that tell the story of the Canadian Whiteoak family from 1854 to 1954, although each of the novels can also be enjoyed as an independent story. In the world of the Whiteoaks, as in real life, people live and die, find success and fall to ruin. For the Whiteoaks, there remains something solid and unchanging in the midst of life's transience--the manor house and its rich surrounding farmland known as "Jalna." The author, Mazo de la Roche, gave the members of her fictitious family names from gravestones in Ontario's New Market cemetery, and the story itself balances somewhere between fact and fiction. Critics think events in the novels reflect de la Roche's dreams, moods, and life experiences. As the daughter of a traveling businessman, she may have seen the Jalna estate as the roots she never had, while the character Finch, from Finch's Fortune, is thought to be a reflection of herself.

Following is a list of the novels of the Jalna series in the order in which they should be read according to the Fiction Catalog, Twelfth Edition (1991). It is often a source of confusion that the publication date of the first book in the series is 1944 while the novel with the earliest publication date, 1927, is listed as the seventh book. The explanation offered by Ronald Hambleton in The Secret of Jalna (Paperjacks, 1972) is simply that de la Roche did not write the series of novels in order. As he states: "Mazo was so sure of her secret world that she did not have to write the story in order of time; she could jump backwards and forwards in time with the confidence of a creator." Hambleton also writes that de la Roche once told a friend that she "had the whole story in her head from beginning to end; all she had to do was just write it down." In any event, the confusion over chronology has certainly not diminished the popularity of this family saga. The Jalna series has been translated into more than twenty languages and has been produced in many editions. On numerous occasions, portions of the series appeared in adapted forms on radio, television, and stage. The entire saga was liberally adapted for television by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and aired beginning in 1971.

All editions listed are available from NLS network library collections.

Building of Jalna

In the first book of the Jalna series, Adeline, an impulsive bride with an Irish temper, and her husband, Captain Whiteoak, select Lake Ontario as the site of their home. The building of the house, the swimming and skating parties, and the jealousies and humor of the family are described. 1944

RC 11754

FD 11754

BR 4569

Morning at Jalna

Now the mother of four children, Adeline finds her Canadian household involved with a family of Southerners who are members of a secret Confederate resistance movement in the U.S. Civil War. 1960

RC 13280

FD 13280

BR 4575

Mary Wakefield

A young English woman is hired by Ernest Whiteoak to be a governess to Philip's motherless children. When Philip falls in love with her, his mother does all she can to prevent the marriage. 1949

RC 18924

BR 5045

Young Renny

Renny, the head of the Jalna household, is depicted as a boy whose impatience with an English cousin creates some amusing incidents. 1935

RC 11182

BR 5032

Whiteoak Heritage

Fortunes of the Whiteoak family after World War I. Renny returns home to find his one-time love still unforgiving and his brother still involved with an older woman. 1940

RC 17085

BR 2766

Whiteoak Brothers

Matriarch Adeline has reached her ninety-eighth year, and her grandson Renny is the head of the Jalna household. This volume deals with the family's unfortunate investments in a fake gold mine. 1953

RC 17410

BR 5033

Jalna

The family home of the Whiteoaks now includes a formidable old lady and assorted aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers. 1927

RC 11761

FD 11761

BR 4977

Whiteoaks of Jalna

Finch, the awkward, misunderstood musical genius of the family, finds growing up difficult. Events reach a climax when his eccentric old grandmother dies and leaves her fortune to him. 1929

RC 7346

FD 7346

BR 5034

Finch's Fortune

The fortune left Finch is still a bone of contention in the Whiteoak family. Renny is holding aloof, the rest are eagerly grasping at help. On a visit to England, Finch is subjected to the bitterness of hopeless love. 1931

RC 11797

FD 11797

BR 5044

The Master of Jalna

Renny attempts to carry on the family tradition after the death of his grandfather. He faces a financial crisis in the effort to keep the estate intact. 1933

RC 11795

FD 11795

BR 5035

Whiteoak Harvest

Renny and Alayne Whiteoak reach a marital crisis with tragic undertones. An old uncle returns to Jalna, and later young Wakefield, after a stay at a monastery, comes home. 1936

RC 11796

BR 5036

Wakefield's Course

The continuing saga of the Whiteoak family from the spring of 1939 to the fall of 1940. Focuses on Wakefield, a successful actor, and his bittersweet love affair. 1941

RC 17411

BR 5037

Return to Jalna

This episode begins with World War II and shows the brothers coming home from the war and settling down, soon with children of their own. 1946

RC 6512

BR 5143

Renny's Daughter

Renny's daughter travels to Ireland and becomes involved in a frustrating romance. 1951

RC 9615

BR 2806

Variable Winds at Jalna

In this episode of the family saga, Renny's daughter, the young Adeline, plans to marry her Irish lover, much to her father's displeasure. Meg and Finch find new loves, and old Nicholas dies, leaving various legacies. 1954

RC 18762

BR 5038

Centenary at Jalna

Traces the activities of the Whiteoak family in the mid-fifties, a period climaxed by the one hundredth anniversary celebration of the oldest of the family residences. An alienated brother, a neurotic child, and a reluctant bride-to-be star in this episode. 1958

RC 6511

BR 5043

Compiled by Ellie Friedman
Revised by Joyce Y. Carter

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Posted on 2014-12-02