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Review: Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony


A formidable matriarch learns the hard way that no family is perfect in this witty, sparkling debut novel

Dearest loved ones, far and near—evergreen tidings from the Baumgartners!

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…

Full of humor, emotion and surprises at every turn, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners brings to life a remarkable cast of quirky, deeply human characters who must learn to adapt to the unconventional, or else risk losing one another. This is the story of a family falling to pieces—and the unexpected way they put it all back together.


Where do I start with this book. Oh goodness, the family drama. So glad Violet isn’t my mother. Violet Baumgartner, the matriarch and control freak of the family, seems to want to control everyone and everything. Every year she writes these letters meant to be given to family and friends to share updates about the family for the year. Anticipating this year’s upcoming letter, her husband Ed is retiring from his job which she is more than excited for him to have this moment all to himself. When a huge secret get dropped at the party, Violet’s perfect world gets shattered sending her on a journey that leads to many consequences but unexpected resolutions.

This was an interesting one to read before the holidays. I’m on the fence about a few things with the book. When I first started the book, once the first holiday letter started, I set myself up with some expectations for what I anticipated the book to go like but then we were introduced to Violet. I found myself slightly irritated throughout the book by her controlling personality. It took away from my experience with the book but despite my irritation with her, once the book got going, it turned out to be a nice read. The characters and their moments throughout were funny but I don’t think I’d want to be a part of any of the families in the book. Such drama made an interesting read but had some life lesson takeways were nice to see and the characters evolve through their dysfunction. Overall, the holiday letters, the familial relationships, the secrets and full circle moments give the reader a glimpse into characters that found the an unconventional way to the meaning of family.

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