The Sun is My Undoing is true blockbuster of a novel

No matter how you look at it, Marguerite Steen’s 1941 novel The Sun Is My Undoing is extraordinary.

Three times average novel length, it covers 40 years, intertwines characters on three continents, and its hero is a slave trader.

Plenty of books tell about how slavery degraded slaves; this one tell how slavery degraded the slave traders. A mediocre writer couldn’t have envisioned this story, let alone written it.

In Bristol in 1760, the old reprobate Hercules Flood dies. His heir, Matthew Flood, sets up as a slave trader like his grandfather, even though it costs him marriage to lovely abolitionist Pallas Burmester.

After selling his first slaves, Matt “marries” his African concubine in a drunken mock ceremony in Havana. He leaves their daughter to be cared for by nuns and goes back to sea.

Years later, Matt’s quadroon granddaughter comes to Bristol to inherit the Flood money. She is shunned by everyone except Pallas Burmester.

When a lunatic slave captured by the British Navy turns out to be Matthew Flood, the news turns Bristol on its ear. I’ll leave you to read the heart-stopping ending for yourself.

The Sun Is My Undoing is a novel you won’t soon forget.

The Sun Is My Undoing
By Marguerite Steen
Viking, 1941
1176 pages,
1941 bestseller #4
My grade: A-

© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Published by

Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

4 thoughts on “The Sun is My Undoing is true blockbuster of a novel”

  1. so happy to read this; this book had an enormous influence on me when I read it as a teenager, found in my parents’ bookshelf. It was probably the first time I ever saw the word or heard of Cuba, which these many years later is my second home. This is a wonderful, sweeping novel and the only reason I can think it was not made into the kind of GWTW saga it could have been is that it was published during World War II, no money.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had the opportunity of reading this masterpiece, though a long, long time ago, its sweet memory still lingers. How do I get a copy to read right away;be it hard or soft copy or both? I am in the Eastern part of Nigeria.


    1. Wish I could help, but I don’t know anything about how one gets old novels in Nigeria. I doubt that you could get a copy to read right away. There were probably not many copies of the novel sold in Africa.

      If you’re willing to wait, you could try Amazon and see if there’s anyone closer than London who has a copy to sell.

      Good luck!


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