CanLit Challenge Book #20: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock
Filed under: CanLit Challenge — Ibis at 3:34 pm on Thursday, March 22, 2007

Book 20, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912) – Stephen Leacock
From the back cover:
“Affectionately combining both the idyllic and the ironic, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is Stephen Leacock’s most beloved book. Set in fictional Mariposa, an Ontario town on the shore of Lake Wissanotti, these sketches present a remarkable range of characters: some irritating, some exasperating, some foolhardy, but all endearing. Painted with the skilful brushstrokes of a great comic artist, the delightful inhabitants of Mariposa represent the people of small towns everywhere.

As fresh, funny, and insightful today as when it was first published in 1912, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is Stephen Leacock at his best — colourful, imaginative, and throroughly entertaining.

Other useful links:
the Wikipedia article on Stephen Leacock
the Wikipedia article on Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
the Wikipedia article on the fictional town of Mariposa
the Wikipedia article on Orillia, Ontario, the model for Mariposa
a biographical sketch on Stephen Leacock at the National Library of Canada’s website
recent article in The Winnipeg Free Press about the Leacock family

My thoughts:

I was prepared to like this book but not to love it — my general feeling about the companion book, Arcadian Adventures. However, I found myself liking this one even more. The first chapter/sketch was a little slow and not so humourous but I found it improved immensely from there on in. Of course everyone talks out The Marine Excursion (i.e. the chapter about The Mariposa Belle) and yes, it was laugh out loud funny, but I think my favourite story was about The Reverend Mr. Drone and the Beacon on the Hill. Of course the ever-resourceful Mr Smith to the rescue again! I thought it bogged down a little in the election parts (to have it just a bit shorter would have been fine) but still amusing and apropos to today’s politics. I also really enjoyed the final chapter, with its nostalgia and poignancy. I’ll definitely read more of Leacock and at least parts of this book will be joining my list of all-time favourite humourous lit.