A Can of Sunshine

Christine Leunens

Selected as ‘Best Books of the Year’ by NZ Herald
Selected as ‘Best Books to Give And Receive This Christmas’ by NZ Herald

Can of Sunshine

A new novel starring a woman, her mother-in-law and a dog. Alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, Leunens’s characters are vividly drawn they become your family. Nancy was not expecting to marry both Michael and his mother, the extraordinary, excruciating, witty and ominipresent Edith. Nancy specifically told Edith they didn’t want a dog but she brings an old smelly bulldog for her granddaughter Chloe’s seventh birthday anyway; Nancy and Michael finally get away to Fiji and who should appear? Did Edith fake her heart attack to get her son to choose her over Nancy once again? Through joy and tragedy Edith remains a powerful presence in Nancy’s life and in the end it is Edith’s example, the way she embraces life to the very end, that gives Nancy the strength to be herself and love life again.

‘A compelling read that will resonate with any mother or daughter-in-law who wouldn’t necessarily be friends, if not for their common ground.’ NZ Herald

‘We meet three generations of women in the first few pages… these women are in-depth characters… the dialogue is superb… everybody should pick up A Can of Sunshine by Christine Leunens.’ Bookenz, Plains FM

‘Is the rivalry between the proverbial mother-in-law and daughter-in-law really necessary or is it just an urban legend? It is this family relationship that is at the heart of A Can of Sunshine by Christine Leunens, with all the contradictions, emotions and vicissitudes that two people connected only by affection for the son/husband may face in the course of a lifetime… Christine Leunens tells the story in a masterful way as she sheds light on this swinging relationship…
A Can of Sunshine is a novel about love, loneliness, and the joys, sorrows and conflicts that life places before us. But it is also and above all a novel about three generations of women, each of whom finds, in a different way, strength within herself to stand up and fight back, to recover and reinvent a life even when everything around them seems to indicate that there is no way out. A book about hope for the future.’ Flaneri

‘Dedicated to those who detest the predetermination of social roles, and who want to investigate the complicity of the soul of every woman.’ Le Nuove Mamme

‘The often charged mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is explored by American-born author Christine Leunens in A Can of Sunshine. Now living in the Manawatu, Christine’s new novel looks at how the idiosyncratic mother-in-law proves to be both a blessing and an occasional curse for a solo mother. Nancy is an American living in New Zealand and when her world is turned upside down she needs the help of the interfering Edith. The mother-in-law in the novel, Edith, is actually quite a complicated character once one gets to know her; ultimately she’s a lonely soul and she’s struggling with getting old.’ Arts on Sunday, National Radio

‘The story has appeal and intelligence.’ New Zealand Listener

‘Christine Leunens spent four years working on a doctoral thesis, whose subject was mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relations, and it’s indeed this theme, rarely explored, that is at the heart of this novel. With great finesse, Christine Leunens dissects the moving relationship between Edith and Nancy with their awkwardness, their fall outs, their tender moments too, and delivers a sensitive novel that… is also of great intelligence and remarkable originality.’ Book of the Weekend, Radio Classique


  • RSVP Publishing New Zealand
  • Editions Philippe Rey France
  • Meridiano Zero/Odoya Italy

Material: finished copies (258pp)