Mazo de la Roche B. K. Sandwell - Essay

B. K. Sandwell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It is just 25 years since that excellent American magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, having offered a very large cash prize for the best novel submitted to its editors during a year, decided to award that prize to a young author with the romantic-sounding name of Mazo de la Roche [for her new novel Jolana]….

[It] always comes as something of a shock when an author who not merely got born in Canada but still lives there scores a first-class hit in one or other of the two larger English-language countries; and I shall not readily forget the sensation caused by the announcement of Miss de la Roche's prize….

And then to our amazement she did not do it again, not of course in the shape of another gigantic prize, but at least in the shape of another highly successful novel about the same family as the first one, the first prize one; and this was followed by a whole series of novels, until the Whiteoaks family has become one of the great imaginary families of the world, something like the clerical families in Trollope or the rather less religious families in Balzac, and is known not only to the English-speaking world but also to vast numbers of others who can read about it in translations….

When it became obvious that the Jalna series could not be written off as a lucky accident but would have to be accepted as one of the great literary creations of the second quarter of the century, some...

(The entire section is 546 words.)