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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,348 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
Affectionately combining both the idyllic and 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 ...more
ebook, 232 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by New Canadian Library (first published 1912)
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Jun 21, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
This 1912 comic novel is available for free download in many electronic formats. Search by the title and the word “ebook”.

Everything I know about normal life I learn from mass media. For example, if I am to believe my TV, normal friends drop by with cake and gossip. My friends, by comparison, recommend that I read Important Modern Novels (IMNs) that, being modern and important, are filled with madness, adultery, Nazis, animal cruelty, violent death, and so forth. They never bring cake.

I flatter
Devin Bruce
Oct 18, 2008 Devin Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Canadians; literature students; fans of wit.
I have a hard-to-explain love of the writing of Stephen Leacock. It started when I read a short story of his when I was nine or ten, and fell in love with the way he wrote. Stephen Leacock is decidedly NOT something the average ten-year-old would normally like. But he could write about the most banal thing, like going to the dentist, and make it seem like an exciting adventure, and that's part of the joke. That style is put to good use in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, where the narrator wa ...more
May 25, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never has a title captured a book more perfectly.


I found that sunshine in a small, tatty orange Penguin book, still shining.

I didn’t know who Stephen Leacock was when I spotted my little book but his name rang a bell, and when I investigated later I found that he had a place in Stuck-in-a-Book’s 50 books you must read but may not have heard about. That was a very good sign.

A little more research uncovered the fact that Stephen Leacock was a teacher who tried a
Jan 15, 2014 Dylan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Only in Canada could Stephen Leacock become a renowned humorist.

That’s not entirely true – Leacock was supposedly one of the most popular humorists in the English-speaking world way back in the early 1900s – but that Leacock is, to this day, considered one of the foremost Canadian humorists does not speak well of Canadian literature. As a footnote in Canadian history, I could understand Leacock, but as the paterfamilias of Canadian comedy with the most prominent national comedy award named after
Raymond Bial
Jan 21, 2014 Raymond Bial rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My daughter gave this book to me for Christmas and what a treasure it is. I had never read of any of Stephen Leacock’s work, and his writing is delightful. As a humorist, Leacock has been described at the Mark Twain of Canada—but he is that and more. He is not as acerbic as Twain and some other American humorists. Leacock’s humor is sweet, loving, refreshing, and refined. The illustrations in this edition are amusing as well and the book design is lovely. Most of Leacock’s works are also readily ...more
Darcy McLaughlin
Leacock is one of those writers that as a Canadian I've heard of many many times yet never took the time to look into. I had seen many comparisons between him and Mark Twain, who is a writer I greatly enjoyed so I figured this would be right up my alley.

It was, in a way. There are certainly humorous moments in some of these stories that genuinely made me chuckle, and there is definitely an edge of satire that runs throughout. There are also many moments that were too dry for me, and I found it a
Mar 20, 2012 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadia, 2012
Wonderful. There's something about the writing of this book that's just infused with joy. Something akin to Robertson Davies or Mark Twain. Leacock manages to turn everyday people's everyday lives to adventures. It's one of those books that should be completely boring but isn't. It's the type of book I wish was ten times longer than it is.

It's told in an episodic nature, and each episode focuses on a different character, yet all of the characters recur throughout the book and they're all highly
Czarny Pies
Sep 27, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs
Recommended to Czarny by: My sister
Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is a Canadian national treasure. Like all works of this master humourist it is extremely funny. Lovers of literature might be appalled by this book for how frivolous it is. The characters are one dimensional all being essentially designed to set up the punch line at the end of the chapter. Leacock has the Panglossian outlook that his Orillia (a charming town in Southern Ontario) is the best of all possible towns peopled by well-intentioned people with nothing b ...more
May 29, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005
Going through some papers, and found some scraps worth sharing before they hit the recycle bin. The first are some notes I took in the summer of 2005 when I was contemplating a return to school. I have since gone back and completed the long sought-after degree.

Stephen Leacock, Canadian humourist extraordinaire, continues to amaze even 60-some years after his passing. No wonder our award for work in funny, capital L literature bears his name.

Two bits of brilliance from the preface of Sunshine Ske
Nicola Mansfield
Apr 15, 2014 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful hardcover collector's edition of this Canadian classic which has been profusely illustrated by the comic artist commonly known as Seth. Starting with a lovely gold foil dust jacket, moving on to pull-out flap page with a mosaic of inch+ square portraits of each character mentioned throughout the stories. Plentiful illustrations form the front and end pages and each story has several accompanying "decorations" with at least one being a two page spread. The presentation of the ...more
Sep 14, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gently humorous portrait of a small Ontario town is more loving than satirical, but the author invites the reader to share with him the knowledge that Mariposa is a little less special than its inhabitants believe. The best minds of Mariposa may not know what happened the night of the bank robbery, but Leacock and his readers can figure it out. This is gently whimsical rather than laugh-out-loud funny, but you will enjoy the quiet non-events of these old-fashioned Canadians.
Nov 19, 2012 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable little book -- nothing, absolutely nothing, comes anywhere near it in terms of accurately capturing life in small-town Canada. It's also laugh-out-loud funny, but yet also at times poignant and bittersweet. And though written over a century ago now, it still has a very modern sensibility and point of view.

Since 1947, the annual winner of the Canadian award for humour writing has been awarded the Stephen Leacock medal. This book is the best place to find out why.
I read this for a Canadian Lit class. It was okay, a sweet portrayal of a small town. I particularly liked the chapters on the town "ship" and the town's bank robbery. The sarcasm, satire and exaggerated humour here is wonderful and comparisons are wonderful. It bothered me though that there wasn't really a story. I understand that it was a collection of sketches about of the town but still, there wasn't any 'meat' to it. Still an interesting, light-hearted read though.
While this is considered a classic of gentle humor in Canada, I found some of the stories quite harsh. The characters I felt the most sympathy for were Mr. Smith, the corrupt local saloonkeeper and politician with a heart of gold, and for Mr. Drone, the incompetent, pompous reverend who wished he could have been an engineer. I was struck by how people in the town of Mariposa, having little to do, loved listening to long political speeches. How different from today.
Aug 09, 2008 Lesliemae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: prairie folk and other assorted country life
Recommended to Lesliemae by: Andrew Lesk
Shelves: canadian
Coming from a small centre (Saskatoon), I appreciate the flavour of this book. At times I laughed out loud at small town antics and world view. Laughing out loud is a feat in itself for a book to accomplish. However, by the end chapters the laughter had turned bittersweet. No more laughing now that the author has made me feel as though I've lost part of my soul to the materialistic and capitalistic machine that I now operate in.

Daniel Kukwa
Mar 13, 2014 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-lit
It certainly has a surplus of witty, wry & dry humour...and it feels exceptionally contemporary at times, with its purposefully naive irony. But it's not the contemporary feel that draws me to this book.

The small town, Edwardian, pre-war life was the template for millions of Canadians. But those Canadians are all but gone, replaced by Canadians like myself...vibrant, urban, immigrant-stock that look upon Stephen Leacock's Mariposa not as a touchstone to the past, but as an exotic slice of wh
Apr 05, 2008 Nadine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
Another university read that I really enjoyed. I took a Canadian lit class and was surprised how much I really enjoyed a lot of the books. That was a number of years ago and at the time I wanted to get rid of the books so I could get a bit of money, but I'm wishing now that I had kept them, because I'd really like to read them again. This book specifically reminded me a lot of home.
This Canadian classic contains twelve chapters, each describing a person or event in the mythical town of Mariposa in the early 1900’s. Leacock pokes fun at small town ways, but he seems to do it without any malice. Much of the humor is understated, so deadpan voices that I almost missed some of it. I kept thinking that if a man like Garrison Keillor got hold of this material, it could be laugh out loud funny.

Many of the characters in the stories have an exaggerated sense of importance. Others,
Sep 21, 2008 Illusha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Canadians
Although I personally did not Leacock's humour to be particularly funny, and thought most of the stories were somewhat anti-climactic, I must say that 'Sunshine Sketches' definitely grew on me as I progressed through the book. Indeed, I could not help but buy into the beautifully-crafted sense of nostalgia that Leacock draws on in the book's conclusion.
Jan 21, 2014 Joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know that I expected it to be as funny as it is. The story of the riverboat and the account of the election in particular had moments that made me laugh out loud. I like that despite the often cynical tone the book still radiates affection for its little town. They should have made me read it in school. I hope they make other kids read it.
Richard Piet
Mar 31, 2010 Richard Piet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few books can make me laugh out loud. This is very Canadian in delivery. I have been out of Canada for about 16 years now. When I read the CBC news online, it seems like all of Canada is a small town. I just remembered this book and the joy it gave me.

If you live in a small town or will visit one, give this a read. It is light and fun.
Bart Williams
Aug 23, 2007 Bart Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, esp. Canadians
A lot of eople would pigeon-hole this as small town humour. But Leacock's aim is to show that people are alike eveywhere. This is an hysterical yarn about a fictional Ontario town, its trials an tribulations, and the sinking of the Miraposa Belle. If you ever have wondered what makes Canada Canadian, or just want a good laugh, read this.
Matt Jarvis
May 29, 2014 Matt Jarvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this wonderful book far too quickly, but it brought me many smiles, a few chuckles and even a couple of thigh slaps. Stephen's humour is charming. I couldn't help but think it was similar to Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide), in the best possible way.

Highly recommended if you're a human being that likes to smile. :)
Feb 14, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
I had to read this for one of my university classes about a hundred years ago, but it's stuck with me since then. Growing up in a small town, myself, I could relate to a lot of the themes, and could even imagine characters in the book living in my town.
Jul 20, 2011 Sara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book. It was slow. It was boring. It didn't seem to have much of a point. It was a guy, telling stories as if you were sitting in front of him, going back and forth and here and there. I hated it.
Oct 15, 2013 Martha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2013, ebooks
Hilarious, completely tongue-in-cheek, and a perfect ending.
Dec 15, 2015 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler) ...more
Paula Dembeck
This book is a collection of stories about a fictional small town Leacock called Mariposa. Although largely believed to reflect Leacock’s experiences in the town of Orillia where he had his summer home on Brewery Bay, Leacock contended that Mariposa was not a real town, but a collection of seventy or eighty of them scattered across the Canadian landscape.

Leacock felt all small towns had similar looks, with small square streets lined with maple trees and the ever present churches and small hotel
Zheng Tao
Jun 02, 2014 Zheng Tao rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to pick up something light but brilliant!
Recommended to Zheng by: Dr. David Bentley, UWO
This is now one of my favourite non-depressing/uplifting pieces of literature!

Leacock's satire is remarkable because it completely ridicules the people in it, but at the same time, it does so with fondness and with an uplifting sense of humour. Sketch III, "The Marine Excursion of the Knights of Pythias" is brilliant...that juxtaposition between the tragic and the trivial. Just getting into it, I was indignant, it took me some time to piece it together and I was laughing hysterically by the time
Beth - ;)
I remembered reading this while in high school back in the '50s. Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) was a well-known humorist in his day and the Sketches are thought to be loosely based on the town of Orillia in central Ontario, as least that is what my high-school teacher said and I would agree. Published in 1912 and set around that time, it consists of little vignettes of small-town life, the saloon owner, a riverboat cruise on the local river, the courtship of the judge's daughter by a local bank cl ...more
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“The writing of solid, instructive stuff fortified by facts and figures is easy enough. There is no trouble in writing a scientific treatise on the folk-lore of Central China, or a statistical enquiry into the declining population of Prince Edward Island. But to write something out of one's own mind, worth reading for its own sake, is an arduous contrivance only to be achieved in fortunate moments, few and far in between. Personally, I would sooner have written Alice in Wonderland than the whole Encyclopedia Britannica.” 6 likes
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