Violet Baumgartner — devoted wife, fiercely overprotective mother and stalwart member of the community — pens her annual Christmas greetings with celebratory flair, but not without due humility ... In her funny...debut novel, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners, Minnesota writer Gretchen Anthony makes good use of Violet’s glowing accolades as a counterpoint to the dysfunctional family’s discord ... Part social farce, part family drama, this openhearted...novel shows an often wrongheaded, annoyingly intrusive but caring matriarch and her family willing to have the difficult, honest conversations needed to work through their misunderstandings and reach harmony.
Many of us have been on the receiving end of those humble/bragging holiday letters. Violet Baumgartner’s letters are the humble/braggiest, detailing the accomplishments of her distinguished scientist-husband, Ed, and their brilliant daughter, Cerise, not to mention her own work on behalf of Faithful Redeemer Lutheran Church. Her perfect life all comes crashing down—literally—at Ed’s retirement party, when the discovery that Cerise is expecting causes her to faint ... Anthony’s debut gently pokes fun at her characters while affirming the supreme importance of family, whatever form that family might take.
Anthony’s enjoyable debut depicts the dysfunctional, touchingly flawed Baumgartner family of St. Paul, Minn. As Violet Baumgartner sits down to write her annual Christmas letter, she thinks back on 2017, a year in which most of the excitement comes from her husband Edward’s retirement party, where a family friend, Kyle, reveals that Violet’s daughter, Cerise, is pregnant in front of the hundreds of guests. Thirty-year-old Cerise is a lesbian, and her desire to keep the identity of the father a secret sparks rampant gossip ... Anthony paints a complex portrait of a matriarch struggling to give up control over her daughter’s life, and strengthening her family in the process.
....Violet embarks on a quest from her recovery bed to unearth the identity of her grandbaby’s father, risking her own relationship with her daughter in the process. Violet also inadvertently discovers many secrets about the members of her family and her community during her investigation, which threatens to further derail her overly quaint existence. This is a complicated novel full of subtle humor, multidimensional characters, and unexpected twists ... An intricately satisfying story about love and understanding that is full of both nostalgia and surprising optimism.