The stories revolve around different residents and events in the town, with an ongoing story which weaves itself though much of the narrative: that of the financial difficulties of their local church, and the hapless attempts of the townspeople to save it. The final solution to this problem is, to say the least, unique.
The book pokes affectionate- never mean spirited- fun at small town life and attitudes. For example, the narrator frequently exaggerates the importance of Mariposa persons and events, seeing them as the hub around which the rest of Canada- and thereby the world- revolves.
Some of the stories are broadly humorous, such as the sinking of the Mariposa Belle on Lake Wissanotti, or the Mariposa bank robbery. Some of the humour is drier, and some is downright bittersweet, as in "The Speculations of Jefferson Thorpe."
Leacock's characters are never one dimensional; they generally have unexpected depths or character traits. One of the best examples of this is the local magistrate, Judge Pepperleigh. Wealthier than the average denizen of the town, he is still every inch a true Mariposan. A roaring, blustering individual when crossed, he is often a figure of fun. Yet Leacock gives us a glimpse of another side of this character when his son dies, and we witness the Judge's quiet pain and dignity.
'Sunshine Sketches' is a book which will make you smile, then laugh, and then suddenly tug at your heartstrings. It ends on a nostalgic note, with the narrator detailing the return by train of the reader to Mariposa after an absence of many years. As the train leaves the city, and the landscape gradually turns from urban to rural, the years fall away. The narrator- and reader- return to the Mariposa of their youth, in memory if not reality.