Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners
A formidable matriarch learns the hard way that no family is perfect in this witty, sparkling debut novelDearest 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.

Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners Details

TitleEvergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 16th, 2018
PublisherPark Row
ISBN-139780778307860
Rating
GenreFiction, Holiday, Christmas, Humor, Contemporary, Audiobook

Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners Review

  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    As I was reading this I kept picturing Violet as Hyacinth Bucket, from Keeping up appearances. Of course Violet isn't as amusing, in fact, she considers it her life's mission to head off any oncoming disasters. She takes this very seriously indeed. Now her Richard is retiring, yes they both have a Richard, and they hope to travel. But you know what they say about the best laid plans, and Celeste, their grown daughter has just thrown her a big curve. No where is it in her plans, or her Christmas As I was reading this I kept picturing Violet as Hyacinth Bucket, from Keeping up appearances. Of course Violet isn't as amusing, in fact, she considers it her life's mission to head off any oncoming disasters. She takes this very seriously indeed. Now her Richard is retiring, yes they both have a Richard, and they hope to travel. But you know what they say about the best laid plans, and Celeste, their grown daughter has just thrown her a big curve. No where is it in her plans, or her Christmas letters, does it make room for a daughter who is a lesbian, and her partner Barbara. Not only that but something even more unexpected is afoot, and how is she going to come to terms with this?An entertaining read, a nice break from some of the other books with weightier subjects that I have read lately. Interesting characters, an amusing plot for the most part. Needed to see of Violet ever does come to terms with her life as it really is. Just wish it had been a little shorter, I had quite enough of the story by books end.ARC from Netgalley.
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  • DJ Sakata
    January 1, 1970
    Favorite Quotes: Barb was steeped in the classics, but the only literary references Cerise knew came from the mandatory hours spent next to her mother watching Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. All that time invested and the only things she had to show for it were a decent British accent and a canny ability to let her thoughts wander behind open eyes.If the Hesse family were birds, we’d be California condors… No, members of the vulture family and nearly extinct.He watched as his soon-to-be-former boss Favorite Quotes: Barb was steeped in the classics, but the only literary references Cerise knew came from the mandatory hours spent next to her mother watching Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. All that time invested and the only things she had to show for it were a decent British accent and a canny ability to let her thoughts wander behind open eyes.If the Hesse family were birds, we’d be California condors… No, members of the vulture family and nearly extinct.He watched as his soon-to-be-former boss, a toad of a guy who kept his dermatologist busy with retinol treatments and mole removal, straightened the pin tethering his Dolce & Gabbana tie to his Burberry shirt… I hope you croak, Richard wanted to say. I hear that’s what toads do.My Review: I loved this book from the start and was soon smirking as I relished the smartly written and clever humor, which quickly led to giggle-snorting and then on to full-on laughing aloud, which occurred several times before I finished. I adored the full slate of fascinatingly quirky and odd characters, but the winner, by far, of the most expertly crafted and deftly depicted character sweepstakes was the petty, shallow, and highly manipulative Violet. Violet was a meddlesome helicopter parent who was ridiculously intrusive, arrogant, judgmental, and an exacting perfectionist with everything she did, whether it was controlling the various committees she spearheaded or in keeping her home surgically clean. Violet’s to-do list was never-ending as she was constantly scheming and often had several going at once, although in her rationalizations it was always for the betterment of her family; her inner musings were comedic gold and highly entertaining. The storylines were ingenious and highly eventful while the writing was laced with insightful observations and packed with lip twitching levity. I couldn’t put my Kindle down, as I couldn’t wait to see what outrageous situation would pop-up next. I was stunned and awed to realize this was the author’s debut; it was a delight to read and a treasure to have discovered. Gretchen Anthony is definitely one to watch and has a new fangirl.
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  • ABookwormWithWine
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 / 5Evergreen 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 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5Evergreen 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.
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  • Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
    January 1, 1970
    Every family has one of ‘those’ relatives…that aunt that is the center of all things or the uncle that dominates all conversations. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if they ever learned the lesson that the universe doesn’t actually revolve only around them? Well, this comedic sitcom like novel gives a delightful glance at just that. Violet Baumgartner is a beloved member in her community and Queen of the Baumgartner Realm, Overseer of the Kingdom of her own Creation! She has her hands in charities, Every family has one of ‘those’ relatives…that aunt that is the center of all things or the uncle that dominates all conversations. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if they ever learned the lesson that the universe doesn’t actually revolve only around them? Well, this comedic sitcom like novel gives a delightful glance at just that. Violet Baumgartner is a beloved member in her community and Queen of the Baumgartner Realm, Overseer of the Kingdom of her own Creation! She has her hands in charities, fundraisers and events with her church. She has raised her daughter Cerise, who is now an adult, and been proudly by her husband Ed’s side through his career. Violet does not only talk the talk, she embraces everything with enthusiasm and perfection. Her image in the eyes of others is very important to her and always has been so. For thirty years she has written Christmas letters, ‘The Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners’ and never sent them out but filed them in boxes chronologically like a diary. In these letters she could truly express her love for family or share her thoughts when times were hard, but no one ever got to read them or knew about them. Ed Baumgartner is going to retire, and Violet is planning the biggest party event yet. Invited are their friends and family and everything is glitz and glamor. Until…one of the guests holds a speech of well wishes and reveals unknowingly a secret that shocks Violet so much, that she falls on her head and gets a concussion. (The whole scene was rather comical actually and only the beginning of things to come). Cerise, Violets daughter, is making a nice life with her partner Barbara with a steady career and a place to call home. She is used to her mother’s little drama and exaggerations, unlike Barb, who comes from ‘good stock’ but has no relations really with her parents. The two of them have wonderful news to share with the family, which creates a whole new commotion at the Baumgartners. Eldris, her husband Richard and their son Kyle, have been the Baumgartners closest friends since the kids were little. But lately, some funny things are going on…..Richard comes and goes at odd hours and Violet nudges Ed to keep an eye on his friend and what he might be up to. In the meantime, the Feds show up and take Kyle into questioning about some missing boxes and materials from his company…. All the while Richard is exchanging wads of cash in dark alleys and treating Eldris fancier than ever. So what is happening to these people going into retirement? What is up with Kyle? Will Violet be able to concede to the changes happening around her that she cannot change? Read it to find out! ***This is a witty satire and fast read. The shenanigans in this novel are ridiculously funny and I almost guessed it to be British. But no, this is all happening in Minnesota, US! Who would have thought? If you enjoy a lighthearted entertaining book with just a smidge of mystery in it that culminates to an ending of self-reflection and love, then YES, give this book a try. It is a mingled, discombobulated family drama wrapped in a cushions of love and Christmas letters!I received a digital copy of ‘Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners’ from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you!More of my reviews here: https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Ahh this is the perfect read to indulge in before the craziness of the holiday season begins, if anything it’ll make you feel better about your own family because The Baumgartners are crazy in a fun way and you will definitely laugh at some of their antics AND there are a few scenes that had me hysterical, which is always a bonus!Violet is the matriarch of the family and she was insane in the best possible way. She’s a classic Midwesterner but she has her own unique quirks and above all else she Ahh this is the perfect read to indulge in before the craziness of the holiday season begins, if anything it’ll make you feel better about your own family because The Baumgartners are crazy in a fun way and you will definitely laugh at some of their antics AND there are a few scenes that had me hysterical, which is always a bonus!Violet is the matriarch of the family and she was insane in the best possible way. She’s a classic Midwesterner but she has her own unique quirks and above all else she adores her family even if she is over the top and extremely overbearing. You also see the perspective of Cerise, her only daughter and then Richard, her best friends husband. Interspersed between chapters are various forms of correspondence that were so fitting to the plot, this was my favorite aspect as it was so telling. The entire cast of characters was just a fun group of normal people caught up in some wacky situations and while I could most sympathize with Cerise, Violet was my absolute favorite simply because she was so wacky.This was a family drama that was just plain fun, there was a tiny little mystery that I sussed out really fast, but that wasn’t a huge part of the story anyway, it was more about family and how they pieced themselves back together after falling apart. It also had a few tender moments between the hijinks and was written in a really heartfelt manner and had a good overall message about love and loyalty.Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners in three words: Humorous, Quirky and Sincere.
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  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    January 1, 1970
    This holiday-themed novel focuses on a small group of friends, particularly the Baumgartner family, whose matriarch, Violet, includes a family letter in her annual Christmas cards showcasing her family's accomplishments and happenings over the past year which are interspersed throughout the story. The story centres around Violet who, unfortunately, I found to be overbearing, manipulative and annoying who gets stuck on one issue regarding her daughter for too much of the book. She quickly became This holiday-themed novel focuses on a small group of friends, particularly the Baumgartner family, whose matriarch, Violet, includes a family letter in her annual Christmas cards showcasing her family's accomplishments and happenings over the past year which are interspersed throughout the story. The story centres around Violet who, unfortunately, I found to be overbearing, manipulative and annoying who gets stuck on one issue regarding her daughter for too much of the book. She quickly became a caricature of a busybody matriarch - one that could easily give lessons on passive aggression for she has honed it into an art form.The bones of this book were good, but it didn't come together for me. More time needed to be spent developing characters (Ed and Barb, in particular) and giving readers a mystery they can sink their teeth into. Instead, I think this book was trying to be too many things and it became convoluted. It's a Contemporary/Women's Fiction with a mystery that is too obvious, has a fairly strong Christian theme and an attempt at humour which didn't quite get there. Unfortunately, I felt the book was predictable and too slowly paced which lead me to skim much of the last half of the book. Overall, this light family drama was a miss for me but readers who enjoy a lighter read with a Christian theme about the sometimes complicated bonds between mothers and daughters may enjoy this book.Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I was excited to read this, hoping it would be as good a holiday read as last year's Seven Days of Us, and I was delighted when I found out it was set in Minnesota, but while I did like it, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. It is, at it's heart a story about a mother (Violet) dealing with her daughter's pregnancy and impending motherhood, and a daughter (Cerise) learning how to grow up and out of her mother's rather controlling (but loving) clutches. There is also a whole zany cast of I was excited to read this, hoping it would be as good a holiday read as last year's Seven Days of Us, and I was delighted when I found out it was set in Minnesota, but while I did like it, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. It is, at it's heart a story about a mother (Violet) dealing with her daughter's pregnancy and impending motherhood, and a daughter (Cerise) learning how to grow up and out of her mother's rather controlling (but loving) clutches. There is also a whole zany cast of other characters including Cerise's partner Barb, Violet's husband Ed, friends Richard and Eldris, and their son Kyle. There were some great moments in the story, especially in the last quarter or so--I loved the over-the-top humor of the pre-baptismal dinner and the baptism, and the ending was very sweet with both Violet and Cerise coming to a more balanced understanding of their relationship. But some parts of the story dragged, and I got a bit aggravated by how controlling Violet was and how annoying Cerise could be. And personally, I am just not as interested in all the new motherhood stuff as some readers might be. Not my favorite, but definitely has some funny moments, and may be worth reading if you really like humorous family dramas, especially about relationships between mothers and daughters.*I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee
    January 1, 1970
    Pretty funny parts in this book I must say!! Gave me the "Meet The Parents" vibes! Actually lol'd a few times! If you like family drama with hysterical moments I say check this one out!! Maybe wasn't as christmassy as I expected, but pretty funny!
  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    This book reads like a Baby-Sitter's Club book for grownups but without a single likable character. It's a passive-aggressive treatise on the pitfalls of the passive-aggressive strategy known as "Minnesosta nice." Despite the blurbs, it bears NO resemblance to a Wes Anderson movie. (If that's what you're looking for, try Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Raculia, which is also just ok, but much more Wes Anderson-y.)
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  • Frosty61
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. This story about an overbearing mother who writes a 'brag' letter each Christmas didn't quite live up to expectations, but was still entertaining. It started out strong as we get a taste of how Violet perceives her life and those of her family/friends. She thinks of herself as superior and expects her version of perfection from those around her. She's heartily disappointed in the world but her annual Christmas letter is outrageously positive (and full of fabrication). The story lagged 3.5 stars. This story about an overbearing mother who writes a 'brag' letter each Christmas didn't quite live up to expectations, but was still entertaining. It started out strong as we get a taste of how Violet perceives her life and those of her family/friends. She thinks of herself as superior and expects her version of perfection from those around her. She's heartily disappointed in the world but her annual Christmas letter is outrageously positive (and full of fabrication). The story lagged in the middle as Violet's narrow mindedness became tiresome - hence 3.5 stars. However, the last third of the book was great - funny and filled with some twists to wrap things up nicely.
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  • Ericka Seidemann
    January 1, 1970
    Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners has a family of cracked characters just trying to do their best for one another, and often failing.Violet Baumgartner is the quintessential formidable matriarch. She loves her family fiercely, but sometimes that fierceness can be smothering. She is a busybody and a perfectionist who is obsessed with tradition, but every annoying thing she does is done out of love. Her husband, Ed, is just trying to endure her frenetic antics while he’s stuck at home adjust Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners has a family of cracked characters just trying to do their best for one another, and often failing.Violet Baumgartner is the quintessential formidable matriarch. She loves her family fiercely, but sometimes that fierceness can be smothering. She is a busybody and a perfectionist who is obsessed with tradition, but every annoying thing she does is done out of love. Her husband, Ed, is just trying to endure her frenetic antics while he’s stuck at home adjusting to retirement. And their daughter, Cerise, has a secret she’s been waiting to share that just erupted unexpectedly at her father’s retirement party. Throughout the story are Violet’s annual Christmas letters that are often as earnest as they are snarky. Throw in Violet’s best friend whose marriage is crumbling and the other child, a son, who’s being investigated by the feds, and you have a cocktail of crazy for the holidays.The crisis in Evergreen Tidings leads to some hilarious family blow-ups worthy of “Arrested Development”. I couldn’t stop reading even though the book was shaking in my hands from laughter. Underneath it all, however, are some tender insights about how familial roles change with time. Definitely pick this up in time for Christmas. It’s one you’ll want to re-read every year.Many thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Hanover Square Press for the review copy.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- A formidable matriarch learns the hard way that no family is perfect in this witty, sparkling debut novelDearest 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 o I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- A formidable matriarch learns the hard way that no family is perfect in this witty, sparkling debut novelDearest 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.I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A DEBUT NOVEL - IT IS TOO FRICKING GOOD. Every year I write a parody letter of my mom and dad's Christmas letter as they spend weeks editing it and making it sound "correct' - I email my version to people who don't get the real letter and I may end up publishing these parodies in a blog someday :-)That aside, I loved this book: the characters were well fleshed out and I truly enjoyed the journey they took in this book. well-crafted, This is going to be a book club pick for sure!I cannot wait for the second book from Gretchen Anthony --- I, of course, assume that she has more stories in her.5 sparkly stars!
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  • Caryn
    January 1, 1970
    Full review and giveaway on my blog: http://www.thebookwhisperer.org/2018/...
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    DNFUnfortunately, I had to abandon this book mostly because one of the main characters, Violet, was driving me crazy. She didn’t seem like a real person but rather a construct of the overbearing mother type. While I wanted to find out what happened in the story, that feeling wasn’t enough to continue on reading about Violet. This just wasn’t for me.
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  • Me
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from the publisher free of charge in return for an honest review. This book is a satire of those smarmy, boastful Christmas letters that some families send. The characters are realistic, likable or at least tolerable (like some relatives in the best of families) and others are hilarious. The plot surrounds a Minnesotan matriarch who has the "perfect" family, tons of volunteer positions and attempts to throw the best parties. She covers all of this in her annual Christmas let I received this book from the publisher free of charge in return for an honest review. This book is a satire of those smarmy, boastful Christmas letters that some families send. The characters are realistic, likable or at least tolerable (like some relatives in the best of families) and others are hilarious. The plot surrounds a Minnesotan matriarch who has the "perfect" family, tons of volunteer positions and attempts to throw the best parties. She covers all of this in her annual Christmas letter, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners...At her husband's retirement party, a secret is revealed, that differs greatly from the surreal family that she likes to project to the community. I fond it to be quite the page-turner with a few plot twists near the end. This will make a great pre, during, and after holiday read and reminds us that blood is thicker than water and no family is perfect.
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  • thewanderingjew
    January 1, 1970
    Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners, Gretchen Anthony, author, Donna Postel, Andi Arndt, Eric G. Dove, narratorsThe book takes place in Minnesota. Minnesota is unique. With extreme weather a certainty, the citizens usually depend on, and help, each other. Basics are stressed, rather than the material life. Additionally, there is an unwillingness to voice an opinion which might offend outright, so there is often a great deal of passive-aggressive conversation with a pull me, push me kind of n Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners, Gretchen Anthony, author, Donna Postel, Andi Arndt, Eric G. Dove, narratorsThe book takes place in Minnesota. Minnesota is unique. With extreme weather a certainty, the citizens usually depend on, and help, each other. Basics are stressed, rather than the material life. Additionally, there is an unwillingness to voice an opinion which might offend outright, so there is often a great deal of passive-aggressive conversation with a pull me, push me kind of narrative. Minnesota is a place where people avoid confrontation, where people obey the rules, have faith in G-d, and are more concerned with family life than most other things. Violet Baumgartner is an overbearing and a bit over-confident wife and mother. She is busy planning a party for her husband Ed’s retirement and her sense of herself is enough to make one smile. She is authoritative and somewhat of a know it all. When the results of all of her hard work and planning for a beautiful sendoff for Ed actually go terribly awry, the consequences that arise are revealed with a wry wit that feels just short of slapstick comedy. The warts of life are exposed vividly. Cerise Baumgartner has recently returned home after years away at school. With her, is her friend, Barb Hesse. Barb is really more than a friend, but Violet, Cerise’s mother, pretends that they are simply roommates. When Violet unexpectedly discovers that Cerise is pregnant, she decides that it is her right and duty to find out who the father is in order to make sure the child’s future is secure. When Cerise won’t reveal the intimate details of her pregnancy, Violet decides to try to discover them for herself. At this same time, she wants to make sure that everyone she knows believes that she is thrilled with the relationship between Barb and Cerise. She doesn’t want wagging tongues, but she knows the tongues will wag anyway. Violet is very controlling and intercedes herself into their lives, but with her knack for expressing herself, she makes her interference seem reasonable. Cerise concedes to her wishes, and mayhem is certain to follow. While Violet is dealing with all this stress in her life, her friend Eldris confides in her about her troubles. Although she is planning the wedding of her son Kyle, she is a bit overwhelmed because the FBI is investigating his business venture. At the same time, her husband Richard has suddenly begun to disappear for long periods of time without explanation. He, like Ed, has recently retired. Eldris and Violet, unbeknownst to Ed, plot to use him to try to find out where Richard goes when he is MIA. Havoc ensues.The little tidbits that are revealed throughout the book are alternately heart-warming and humorous as the character’s innermost thoughts are revealed. They each have their own set of fears and insecurities that they keep hidden from public view. Although Violet seems to be consumed with the effort to move all the people in her life like chess pieces, in order to ensure that they make the right decisions, she also has her doubts about many things that are out of her control. Violet, though, is a piece of work, and by the end of the book, she will have endeared herself to every reader as she tries to exert her influence over everyone.This novel is partly epistolary with the inclusion of the Xmas letters that Violet wrote yearly for about four decades. These letters are what truly reveal what has happened, in Violet’s life and the life of the Baumgartner family, but they also reveal the lives of other families and explore the way they all deal with their experiences. Violet can be over solicitous and overly involved in the lives of others, but she is convinced that she has been called upon to use her effort to benefit others, that it is her duty to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. So many books today are about social issues. Most are written in a way that makes some readers feel uncomfortable. This is not one of them. This book contains both laugh out loud and chuckle softly moments. It also inspires thoughtfulness about the difficulties that we all face in life and the methods that we use to deal with them. Life’s conflicts, large and small, are handled so adeptly that it is impossible not to find some pleasure in their resolution while reading this novel. They are delicately described by the author so that they are revealed realistically and without judgment. The author always adds a touch of humor to relieve any tension that might be created. The novel brings up almost every experience a person might encounter in life, but even when it touches on a doleful subject, it is done with such a light touch that the reader is never forced to share the sadness but rather looks from afar and becomes as resilient as the characters do, as they adapt to each situation, most often with grace.The author shares many subjects with the reader, like ordinary day to day events, parent/child relationships, husband/wife relationships, relationships between partners in same sex marriages, misplaced suspicion, infidelity, retirement issues, family conflicts and the unplanned debacles that often just arise. All aspects of parenting and child rearing, with its dangers and its pleasures, are examined. The reader is challenged to examine their own thoughts on relationships. In the end, like a bird, one has to know when the child is ready to leave the nest and make their own decisions, right or wrong. The reader is left with the optimistic view that life will go on, even after retirement.
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  • Karen Germain
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Harlequin- Hanover Square Press for providing me with a copy of Gretchen Anthony’s novel, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, in exchange for an honest review.PLOT- Cerise Baumgartner is pregnant with her first child and her parents are thrilled. Thrilled and very involved, especially Cerise’s over-bearing mother, Violet. Violet likes Cerise’s girlfriend, Barb, but is left feeling concerned and nosy over how the child was conceived, a personal issue that neither Barb nor Cerise Thank you to Harlequin- Hanover Square Press for providing me with a copy of Gretchen Anthony’s novel, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, in exchange for an honest review.PLOT- Cerise Baumgartner is pregnant with her first child and her parents are thrilled. Thrilled and very involved, especially Cerise’s over-bearing mother, Violet. Violet likes Cerise’s girlfriend, Barb, but is left feeling concerned and nosy over how the child was conceived, a personal issue that neither Barb nor Cerise is willing to disclose. As Violet tries to interfere with her daughter’s life, she has other concerns to contend with, such as her recently retired husband, Ed, who doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. Her best friend, Eldris is also going through a crisis. Eldris’ husband, Richard, has lost his job and is acting very secretive. Their son, Kyle, who is also Cerise’s best-friend and the would be godfather to her baby, is being investigated for domestic terrorism. To top it all off, Violet is desperate to please Barb’s parents, who, at least on paper, seem to be the perfect family.LIKE - Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners is a delightful novel. It’s funny and has a lot of heart. I appreciated the complexity of Violet and how the truth of her character unfolds. She is quite a lot to handle early in the story, but Anthony does a fine job of teasing out the details of her inner-life and I finished the story with a very different impression of Violet. One of the overriding themes of the story is love and despite the many flaws that the characters have, there is a lot of love to be found.I think most people have a Violet Baumgartner in their life. She is a force of nature, but also someone who is very sensitive and hides it behind her controlling behavior. She loves fiercely, but also drives people away with her take-charge attitude. I have relatives that are so similar to Violet, that it was very relatable. I could easily understand Cerise’s reaction to her mother and I’ve been in her position. I’m a big fan of the Christmas card letter. I even save my favorites that are sent to me, certain families have a way with words. I enjoyed the way that Anthony used Violet’s Christmas card letters to give us backstory about the Baumgartner’s life. It really works well with the story. Although I finished reading Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, in February ( on a snowy afternoon), it is definitely an ideal book to read during the Christmas season. It will put you in a holiday mood. The disastrous dinner party scene at the end really made me laugh. I also found that Anthony had some great plot twists that I did not anticipate.DISLIKE- Nothing to dislike. Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners is not a life-changing read, but it is a very cozy, charming story.RECOMMEND - Yes! If you are looking for a family drama with a strong dose of comedy, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners is a great pick. I throughly enjoyed it. It’s a feel good story that will give you the warm fuzzies!Like my review? Check out my blog1
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy of the book. You guys! This book! I freaking loved it! Anthony had me laughing out loud from start to finish, and it was a perfect weekend read. I’ve already started pushing it on people, and now I’m pushing it on you. You’re welcome.One of my favorite subject matters in books is family dysfunction. Maybe that sounds morbid, maybe that sounds twisted, but I love it. I. Love. It! I love getting a glimpse behind the curtain. There’s dysfunction in Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy of the book. You guys! This book! I freaking loved it! Anthony had me laughing out loud from start to finish, and it was a perfect weekend read. I’ve already started pushing it on people, and now I’m pushing it on you. You’re welcome.One of my favorite subject matters in books is family dysfunction. Maybe that sounds morbid, maybe that sounds twisted, but I love it. I. Love. It! I love getting a glimpse behind the curtain. There’s dysfunction in every family, in my opinion. It’s part of life. None of us are immune to it. And yet, being able to sit back and get lost in the chaos of someone else’s insanity always feels like an escape. So Evergreen Tidings was right up my alley.The characters in this book were everything I could’ve hoped they’d be. You’ve got the hoity-toity mothers who can’t bear for anyone to even think something about their lives may be anything less than perfection, their husbands catering to their whims because it’s easier than trying to argue with them, and their children who don’t fit the mold. And of course their personalities all come up against one another and insanity ensues.I loved that this family dynamic had me both laughing and cringing with equal levels of enthusiasm, and that with every page turn, you could feel it building to some incredible boiling point. And when the plot finally hit that pivotal scene? I almost dropped the book from laughing so damn hard. It was such a fantastically hilarious scene, and it felt like I was right there watching everything play out in the room right in front of me. (Have I mentioned that I freaking loved this book?)And despite all of the humor and chaos that Anthony wove into this story, there was a palpable sense of love and loyalty between the members of these families. Yes, it was funny, and yes, I was reveling in the fact that I was able to witness this from afar and wasn’t literally in the midst of the insanity, but it was also heartfelt and a true testament to the bonds that exist between family members, regardless of whether those bonds are biological or hand-picked. So while this book is going to have you laughing out loud, it’s also going to tug at your heartstrings a bit. I definitely recommend adding it to your TBR ASAP.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    This is a humorous look at the strong matriarch who views her family as perfect and wants to make sure that the rest of the world is aware of their perfection. Each section is tied together by the Christmas letter that she wrote that year - boasting of all of the achievements of her husband and daughter and their perfect lives. As the novel begins, she is planning her husband's retirement party with only the best food to impress their guests. Due to a surprise announcement at the party, Violet' This is a humorous look at the strong matriarch who views her family as perfect and wants to make sure that the rest of the world is aware of their perfection. Each section is tied together by the Christmas letter that she wrote that year - boasting of all of the achievements of her husband and daughter and their perfect lives. As the novel begins, she is planning her husband's retirement party with only the best food to impress their guests. Due to a surprise announcement at the party, Violet's world comes tumbling down around her. She knows that there is no way that the shock of finding out that her unmarried daughter is both pregnant and a lesbian will allow her to keep up the facade of her perfect life. So she decides that she will take over control of her daughter's life and pregnancy so that she can be the best grandmother in the world and make everyone else envious of her again.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. Even though Violet would be an easy person to dislike - and I have known some 'Violets' in my life - I thought she was funny and emotional and really cared about her family. Unfortunately she cared more about what the world thought of her family which was an unhealthy situation. I enjoyed the quirky interesting characters in this book and the way that they handled Violet as their mom, wife or best friend.This was an impressive debut novel and I'm anxious to see what Gretchen Anthony comes up with for her next novel. Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Kate ☀️ Olson
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publisher for this free review copy!Let me start by letting you know that despite the cover, title and my inclusion of this book on my "Christmas" shelf, it's not actually really all that much of a holiday story. It's set over a much longer time period and involves almost everything else besides much holiday page-space. So, this is definitely one that can be enjoyed anytime during the year :-) I loved the same sex marriage angle and the same sex parenting storyline, and fully enjoy Thanks to the publisher for this free review copy!Let me start by letting you know that despite the cover, title and my inclusion of this book on my "Christmas" shelf, it's not actually really all that much of a holiday story. It's set over a much longer time period and involves almost everything else besides much holiday page-space. So, this is definitely one that can be enjoyed anytime during the year :-) I loved the same sex marriage angle and the same sex parenting storyline, and fully enjoyed the Minneapolis, MN and the Scandinavian Lutheran down-home feel. Anyone who has ever received one of THOSE holiday letters will be able to relate to the title and holiday letters spread throughout the book!NOTE: There is one fairly major subplot that I honestly feel like could have been eliminated entirely, which is why I knocked this down from a 5 to a 4........I couldn't get over the superfluous nature of that part of the book.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    If family drama combined with slapstick humour sounds like a fun read to you then you will enjoy this book. It was light, often silly, quite funny, and a nice break from the darker books I usually read. I'll never again read or write a family Christmas letter without hearing Violet's opening line in her Minnesota accent saying "Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners." It lagged a little in the middle but overall was fairly engaging.I listened to the audiobook version and I think that was a good If family drama combined with slapstick humour sounds like a fun read to you then you will enjoy this book. It was light, often silly, quite funny, and a nice break from the darker books I usually read. I'll never again read or write a family Christmas letter without hearing Violet's opening line in her Minnesota accent saying "Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners." It lagged a little in the middle but overall was fairly engaging.I listened to the audiobook version and I think that was a good choice for this story. I loved hearing Violet's accent come to life and it added a lot to the characters. I wasn't sure what a Minnesota accent would sound like but I soon as I heard it I recognized it!
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Hilarious and well-written book about one uber-determined matriarch and her (small) family. Violet Baumgartner is absolutely over the top and insane--by design, of course. The author could've made the relationship between her and her daughter Cerise more fraught, and I liked that she didn't. There is a lot of love in this family, despite the craziness, and Cerise is never really the "woe is me, I grew up as the only child in this craziness" type, which I appreciated. The ending is somewhat predi Hilarious and well-written book about one uber-determined matriarch and her (small) family. Violet Baumgartner is absolutely over the top and insane--by design, of course. The author could've made the relationship between her and her daughter Cerise more fraught, and I liked that she didn't. There is a lot of love in this family, despite the craziness, and Cerise is never really the "woe is me, I grew up as the only child in this craziness" type, which I appreciated. The ending is somewhat predictable, but mostly satisfying. I won't call it a "plot twist" but there's a revelation about Violet toward the end that makes her quite endearing. Perfect holiday read--in the vein of Where'd You Go Bernadette. (Though definitely not a "holiday book"--would be fun any time of year).
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    The adjectives were over the top. “Orphaned shoes” being one that needed to be edited out of the book. This book examines two families as they deal with an lgbt couple involving a pregnancy. They try to add muster over who is the father, but it’s really easy to figure it out. The drama was not realistic and a bit crazy. Granted I’m sure lgbt families could go through something similar but this was an extreme. Humor fell flat or was too over the top. Honestly this book was more 2.5 than a 3 but I The adjectives were over the top. “Orphaned shoes” being one that needed to be edited out of the book. This book examines two families as they deal with an lgbt couple involving a pregnancy. They try to add muster over who is the father, but it’s really easy to figure it out. The drama was not realistic and a bit crazy. Granted I’m sure lgbt families could go through something similar but this was an extreme. Humor fell flat or was too over the top. Honestly this book was more 2.5 than a 3 but I received this book as a giveaway so I thought it’d be better to give it a better ranking than 2 stars. Additionally it seems that some people do like this while others don’t so 3 Stars gives it a fighting chance.
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  • thefourthvine
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, I was hoping for something funny and involving Christmas letters, and I got — something involving Christmas letters, kind of. And also a lot of drama and characters I mostly didn’t enjoy reading about. And no real humor to speak of. I — did not enjoy reading this. (I didn’t hate reading it, either. It was just ... kind of a null experience, pretty much.) But, hey, one of the key plotlines is lesbians becoming parents, and they stay together and everything at the end (uh, spoiler?), so it g Okay, I was hoping for something funny and involving Christmas letters, and I got — something involving Christmas letters, kind of. And also a lot of drama and characters I mostly didn’t enjoy reading about. And no real humor to speak of. I — did not enjoy reading this. (I didn’t hate reading it, either. It was just ... kind of a null experience, pretty much.) But, hey, one of the key plotlines is lesbians becoming parents, and they stay together and everything at the end (uh, spoiler?), so it gets an extra star for that. Married lesbians without tragedy! Always a bonus.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    Every year Violet Baumgartner carefully pens a letter outlining the achievements and goings on in the Baumgartner family. And this most recent year was a doozy! Ready to announce the extravagant party for her husband's retirement, Violet could never have predicted exactly how that event would turn out. In its aftermath, she struggles to maintain control and a facade of calm but six months later that's proved to be almost impossible. A midwestern family saga filled with warmth, humor, and more th Every year Violet Baumgartner carefully pens a letter outlining the achievements and goings on in the Baumgartner family. And this most recent year was a doozy! Ready to announce the extravagant party for her husband's retirement, Violet could never have predicted exactly how that event would turn out. In its aftermath, she struggles to maintain control and a facade of calm but six months later that's proved to be almost impossible. A midwestern family saga filled with warmth, humor, and more than a little awkwardness, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners proved to be the perfect book for me to gobble up in the midst of what's been a truly hectic few weeks!The book begins in June with police and bounces back to Violet's penning of the annual holiday letter just before the previous Christmas. Narrators include Violet herself, who's preoccupied with both her husband's retirement party and the charity gift drive she's running for her church; Violet's daughter, Cerise, who's got a surprise she's waiting to spring after the party; and Richard, the newly laid off husband of one of Violet's friends. Through their eyes, the six months leading up to the start of the book play out, building the drama and humor every step of the way. And amongst the narration are missives and letters from the Baumgartners's past, illustrating the family happenings and accomplishments throughout the years. I thought this was a truly fun read perfect for anyone craving a little bit of feel good this fall!
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  • Rose
    January 1, 1970
    I laughed several times while reading this book. Violet Baumgartner writes a Christmas letter every year detailing the life of the Baumgartners. Violet's life isn't what she expects it to be, and so many things pop up in her life that she hasn't planned. They all make for a funny, yet heartfelt, tale of a family trying to cope with growing older, relationships with friends and family, and a growing and unique family. Very enjoyable!#EvergreenTidingsfromtheBaumgartners #GretchenAnthony
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  • Sherrie Howey
    January 1, 1970
    Violet writes a holiday letter every year entitled "Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners" in which she praises all her family's accomplishments in the past year. (all of us have received similar types of letters, right?) Violet is an overbearing mother who needs to "be in the know" about everything in her family and in the community. She is totally focused on how she and her family are perceived among her peers.Violet has planned a retirement party for her husband and a secret about her daugh Violet writes a holiday letter every year entitled "Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners" in which she praises all her family's accomplishments in the past year. (all of us have received similar types of letters, right?) Violet is an overbearing mother who needs to "be in the know" about everything in her family and in the community. She is totally focused on how she and her family are perceived among her peers.Violet has planned a retirement party for her husband and a secret about her daughter Cerise and Cerise's partner Barb is revealed which sends Violet into a tailspin. Violet will stop at nothing to find out the details of this secret and her antics will make you cringe.This is a very enjoyable read about a dysfunctional family. You will laugh out loud in parts but underlying are some deep family issues to which the reader can relate. This was an easy read and a perfect diversion from the hectic holiday season.
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  • Amy Bergstrand
    January 1, 1970
    Evergreen Tidings from the Buamgartners is a funny tale of a modern family. The mother, Violet likes to control the way the world sees her family. The daughter, Cherise can't quite fit that mold. The family is about to go through many ups and downs and changes when the father, Ed retires from his job as a scientist and Cherise will b having a baby with her partner. Violet has a hard time coming to terms with what all this means to her tidy little life that she has created. This is a quirky, funn Evergreen Tidings from the Buamgartners is a funny tale of a modern family. The mother, Violet likes to control the way the world sees her family. The daughter, Cherise can't quite fit that mold. The family is about to go through many ups and downs and changes when the father, Ed retires from his job as a scientist and Cherise will b having a baby with her partner. Violet has a hard time coming to terms with what all this means to her tidy little life that she has created. This is a quirky, funny story that was very well written.
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  • Shauna
    January 1, 1970
    This book was cute. Lots of family drama and silliness. I did get a bit tired of it about two-thirds of the way through and just wanted everything to wrap up. I also got tired of the chapters from Richard's perspective. The author said Richard was her favorite character to write, but to me he came across as bitter and angry and I wasn't into it. But I did love Violet. She was a wonderful, ridiculous Hyacinth Bucket-esque character and I enjoyed reading about her antics. I knew this book wouldn't This book was cute. Lots of family drama and silliness. I did get a bit tired of it about two-thirds of the way through and just wanted everything to wrap up. I also got tired of the chapters from Richard's perspective. The author said Richard was her favorite character to write, but to me he came across as bitter and angry and I wasn't into it. But I did love Violet. She was a wonderful, ridiculous Hyacinth Bucket-esque character and I enjoyed reading about her antics. I knew this book wouldn't completely be my cup of tea, and it wasn't, but it was fun overall.
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  • Stacy
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a long time to get through this one. I was expecting to find more humor but was really just more irritated by the main character and how everyone else pandered to her. I did enjoy some of the more likable characters and some of the mildly humorous situations, but this was not the kind of holiday read I was looking for.
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