Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Genre: Humor / Contemporary / Adult Fiction
Goodreads Average: 3.62 *as of 12/25/18*
Violet Baumgartner has opened her annual holiday letter the same way for the past three decades. And this year she’s going to throw her husband, Ed, a truly perfect retirement party, one worthy of memorializing in her upcoming letter. But the event becomes a disaster when, in front of two hundred guests, Violet learns her daughter Cerise has been keeping a shocking secret from her, shattering Violet’s carefully constructed world.
In an epic battle of wills, Violet goes to increasing lengths to wrest back control of her family, infuriating Cerise and snaring their family and friends in a very un-Midwestern, un-Baumgartner gyre of dramatics. And there will be no explaining away the consequences in this year’s Baumgartner holiday letter…
Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony is a very humorous look at family and an overbearing mother that just won’t quit sticking her nose into everything.
What it’s about: The Baumgartner family is going through a lot of changes. Ed is finally retiring from his work in research, Violet needs to cut back from her work at the church and in the community due to a head injury, and their daughter Cerise is having a baby… with a woman. Violet has a hard time coping with the way Cerise is choosing to live her life, and her loss of control with her work in the church has her completely worked up. With everything changing, what is Violet going to do?
The part that really surprised me about Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners was that it didn’t have as much of a holiday feel as I thought it would. There are the Christmas letters that Violet writes, but besides that there isn’t actually much mention of the holidays at all. I was a little disappointed since I was expecting lots of Christmas related things, but the book made up for it by being absolutely hilarious.
I loved the set up of the book and how you read the Christmas letters plus other types of media; and you get viewpoints that hop around from Violet, Cerise, and Violet’s friend’s husband Richard. I wasn’t really sure about Richard’s POV and what the point would be at first, but his ended up being one that I really enjoyed.
Violet Baumgartner is the quintessential American woman. She couldn’t wait to leave her job for motherhood (although she loved her job and it was very fulfilling), loves where she lives, loves and admires her husband, and overall just really loves her life. But she is also the definition of overbearing mother/control freak and drives Cerise’s partner Barb nuts. Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners made me laugh out loud so many times and Violet’s antics throughout the novel had me practically in tears. I consider myself lucky not to have had a mother as nosy and controlling as her, but she really does mean well.
Besides the characters, I also really enjoyed the setting and how Anthony brought Minnesota alive in her book. I am from Minnesota so it was wonderful to hear about places I was familiar with and I loved that I also got to support a local author in the process.
Final Thought: If you are from Minnesota you should definitely read Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners for the setting alone, but I highly recommend this novel if you like books that make you laugh and books about family. Just don’t read this if you are expecting a book with lots of holiday cheer because this book is about much more than Violet’s Christmas letters.
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5