Jalna, novel by Mazo de la Roche (Toronto, Boston and London, 1927). The first of 16 books about the Whiteoak family, Jalna is the book which determined the course of de la Roche's career. Jalna shows de la Roche's genius for keeping her readers engaged in the improbably fascinating developments in her characters' lives. The novel has been described (and dismissed) as escape literature, as romance, as soap opera and as an "Upper Canadian dream," and there is some truth in all these epithets. The Whiteoaks are, indeed, an impossibly romantic and imperialist concoction; Jalna is too preposterously the British dream of a country estate, set down intact in Ontario; the intertwining affairs (and names) of Renny and Alayne, Eden and Pheasant do anticipate the TV melodrama of As the World Turns; and yet Jalna has proven magically readable for generations, not only in English, but in French, German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Czech, Polish, Finnish and Portuguese.