One of those MS vagaries: text from my Excel sheet was truncated to 255 characters. See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/281517 for the reason. Apparently, the driver guesses the maximum length of a column by looking at the first 8 rows of the Excel sheet. The MS article tells how to change this number, but does not provide a workaround. My (ugly) workaround is: modify the Excel sheet by inserting an extra row at the top that contains more than 255 characters. A subsequent read will identify the column as bigger than 255 characters and read ALL text in the sheet.