Mazo de la Roche: Rich and Famous Writer


197 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-894852-20-6
DDC C813'.52





Reviewed by Susan Merskey

Susan Merskey is freelance writer in London, Ontario.


More than 40 years after her death, Canadian author Mazo de la Roche
remains something of an enigma. Best-known for her Jalna series (16
books chronicling the lives of several generations of the Whiteoak
family), she wrote a total of 37 books and collaborated on a dramatic
adaptation of the first two books in the Jalna series. Heather Kirk’s
brief biography traces de la Roche’s family ancestry as well as her
life. Without going into enormous analytical depth, she depicts a
depression-prone woman who might never have completed many of her books
if her cousin Caroline, with whom she lived for much of her life, had
not acted as her secretary.

As Kirk notes, many of the characters in the Whiteoak saga possess
traits drawn from the author’s own relatives. De la Roche also drew
together topographical elements from different parts of Southern Ontario
to create the geographical location for Jalna, the family home. Clearly,
this explains why even readers familiar with the region find it
impossible to pinpoint the house’s exact location.

Like other volumes in The Quest Library series, Mazo de la Roche is
aimed particularly at students in Grades 10 through 12. Kirk’s book
will also be of interest to fans of the Jalna series who want to learn
more about the author. Recommended.


Kirk, Heather., “Mazo de la Roche: Rich and Famous Writer,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024,