Cover Image: Sunniland

Sunniland

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Member Reviews

Against a factual historical background, the novel tells the story of a fictional young geologist, Jerry MacDonald, who is sent to Florida to set up a new oil drilling operation in the Everglades to support the war effort. His new wife Maria accompanies him and one strand of the book tells of their life in a remote small town, experiencing an everyday existence far removed from the New York they are used to. I found this interesting, although the other inhabitants of the town often verged on the stereotypical. I wasn’t so interested in the technical details of oil exploration and drilling and felt there was just too much of this for the general reader. Those with more interest in the subject will enjoy this more. Then when it came to the other main strand in the story, I’m afraid I lost interest altogether, as it all becomes a bit Boy’s Own Adventure with spies and German U-boats and shooting and other nasty ways to die. I appreciated learning the largely forgotten facts about German U-boats in the Gulf of Mexico, something I knew nothing about, and where they sank over 100 tankers, but this wasn’t really a book for me. I didn’t connect with the MacDonalds who seemed very wooden characters, and the “adventure” aspect failed to engage.
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At first I did not see the connection between rigging an oil well in South Florida and the German U-boat campaign of World War II. In fact, for the first half of the book, it was centered more on the process of drilling for oil, interspersed with very descriptive detail of life in a small Florida town in 1943. Descriptive enough that I felt as if I was there. 

Halfway in is where the connection finally starts to take shape, and that’s when the story starts to get really interesting. But you have to stick with it - I was tempted a few times to start skimming, but reading this book in its entirety pays off.

Thanks to NetGalley for the copy of this book. This review was cross-posted to Goodreads.
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