Jalna (novel)

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AuthorMazo de la Roche
SeriesJalna (or Whiteoaks)
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
Publication date
June 1927
Media typePrint
Followed byWhiteoaks of Jalna 

Jalna is a novel by the Canadian writer Mazo de la Roche.

It is the first of a 16-novel family saga about the Whiteoak family. First published in 1927, Jalna won the Atlantic Monthly Press's first $10,000 Atlantic Prize Novel award. De la Roche went on to write about the Whiteoak family for the next 30 years, establishing a place for herself in popular Canadian literature. The Jalna series has been translated into many languages and was adapted for stage, radio, and television. John Cromwell directed a 1935 film adaptation, Jalna. In 1972, it was filmed for television as The Whiteoaks of Jalna.

Jalna is the name of the fictional manor house in which the Whiteoak family lives. The name comes from Jalna, a city in west-central India, where there was a British garrison. In a prequel novel, the house is built by a retired officer of the British army who served in India. Jalna is partly based on Benares, a house in Mississauga, Canada. Benares was built in the late 1850s for a retired officer of the British army who had served in India, James B. Harris. It once occupied a larger estate, upon which de la Roche lived for a time. "Benares" is an alternate name of Varanasi, a city in India which had a British garrison.

The story[edit]

The series tells the story of one hundred years of the Whiteoak family covering from 1854 to 1954. The novels were not written in sequential order. Each can be read as an independent story.

There are similarities and as well as differences in the experiences of the Whiteoak family and de la Roche's. While the lives and successes of the Whiteoaks rise and fall, there remained for them the steadiness of the family manor, known as Jalna. De la Roche's family endured the illness of her mother, the perpetual job searches of her father, and the adoption of her orphaned cousin while being moved 17 times. Her family did work a farm for a few years for a wealthy man who owned the farm for a hobby. Several critics believe that Finch from Finch's Fortune (1932) is a reflection of de la Roche herself. The names of many of the characters were taken from gravestones in a Newmarket, Ontario cemetery.

The Jalna series has sold more than eleven million copies in 193 English and 92 foreign editions.[citation needed] In 1935, the film Jalna, based on the novel, was released by RKO Radio Pictures and, in 1972, a CBC television series was produced based on the series.

The books[edit]

Jalna series (in narrative order)

Film and television adaptations[edit]

External links[edit]