[A] funny, affectionate debut… Part social farce, part family drama, this openhearted, entertaining 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.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Anthony’s debut successfully mixes realistic emotional responses to big life events with a sense of humor, preventing any single character from becoming a victim or a villain.” —Library Journal, starred review
"Brimming with charm and humor and is the perfect Fall read." —PopSugar
“Overflowing with laughter, emotion, and a bit of mystery.” —HelloGiggles
"Anthony's debut gently pokes fun at her characters while affirming the supreme importance of family, whatever form that family might take." —Booklist
"Stunning... An intricately satisfying story about love and understanding that is full of both nostalgia and surprising optimism." —Kirkus Reviews
"Warm and funny... [with] pitch-perfect dialogue... It would fit nicely under the Christmas tree." —The St. Paul Pioneer Press
“Gretchen Anthony deftly captures all of the passive-aggression, generosity, humblebragging, kindness, emotional restraint, and humor typical to a Minnesota family. A propulsive and endearing debut." —J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Anthony's enjoyable debut depicts the dysfunctional, touchingly flawed Baumgartner family... [and] paints a complex portrait of a matriarch struggling to give up control over her daughter's life, and strengthening her family in the process." -Publishers Weekly
“This delightfully clever debut is a masterfully written, Wes Anderson-esque roller coaster ride through a series of self-made disasters in a hilariously dysfunctional family. Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners hits all the right notes; you’ll double over with laughter, but you’ll also find yourself at times misty-eyed and introspective. I have the feeling this is just the first of many skilled and heartfelt dramedies from the pen of talented newcomer Gretchen Anthony. If you’re a fan of modern film classics such as The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, get ready to meet your new favorite book.” —Kristin Harmel, bestselling author of The Life Intended
“Meddling matriarch Violet Baumgartner doesn’t intend to create drama; she just wants everyone to behave the way they should, which is her way. In writing about this endearing, engaging (and at times, exasperating) family, Gretchen Anthony has created an E-ticket ride of a novel, full of twists and turns, and laughs that don’t let up. Whee!” —Lorna Landvik, bestselling author of Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
“Gretchen Anthony knows what makes the people of the America’s heartland hilarious, lovable, and worth reading about. In Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, we see a family wrestling with change—but unwilling to give up past traditions of keeping secrets and telling white lies without a fight. Anthony is a breath of fresh air, and the Baumgartners will make you roll your eyes and giggle in recognition of the quirkiness of family.” —Ann Garvin, bestselling author of I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
“Gretchen Anthony's debut is a non-stop delight of a novel peopled with characters that are sure to entertain. Violet Baumgartner and her hilarious family are part of a different world—one that once I entered, I didn't want to leave. A literary joy from beginning to end!” —Anita Hughes, author of California Summer
“A brilliant debut! Gretchen Anthony brings her characters—and their many secrets—to life with such warmth, wit, and intelligence you will race to the end, then be sorry when you arrive.” —Julie Lawson Timmer, author of Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
“A fun, heartwarming story about the power of family. I fell in love with the Baumgartners, and I know readers will, too!” —Maureen Leurck, nationally bestselling author of Cicada Summer
A stodgy Midwestern socialite is forced to re-evaluate many of her deeply held beliefs in this stunning debut.
Violet Baumgartner has been crafting an annual Christmas letter for the past three decades, providing detailed updates about the goings-on in the picturesque life of the Baumgartner family. This year's letter is particularly exciting because Violet's doting husband, "dear Ed," is retiring from his lifelong career as a medical researcher. While Ed spent most of his married years toiling away in the lab, Violet has thrown herself into leadership roles in her church community as well as various charitable endeavors. Most of all, Violet has enjoyed raising her now-grown daughter, Cerise. As is her way, Violet has given 110 percent to planning a spectacular formal retirement party for Ed, with every detail choreographed. Unfortunately, when the party occurs, the local celebrity who has come to speak about Ed also reveals during her toast that Cerise and her female partner, Barb, are expecting a baby. Violet is flummoxed that her daughter is pregnant and even more so by the fact that she doesn't know how the baby was conceived or who the father might be. She faints in front of their party guests, cracks her skull, and is rushed to the hospital. Thank goodness Ed is no longer working so he is home to care for Violet, whose slow recuperation leaves her unable to micromanage every aspect of her family's life. Even so, 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.
Violet Baumgartner is proud of husband Ed and daughter Cerise and loves to share how amazing her family is in a Christmas newsletter, smoothing out any imperfections. But the Baumgartners have normal family struggles, including Cerise and Barb's surprise pregnancy announcement, Ed's adjustment to retirement, and an investigation of donated funds to Cerise's work project. Close friends bring more layers of drama and a few screaming fights. VERDICT Anthony's debut successfully mixes realistic emotional responses to big life events with a sense of humor, preventing any single character from becoming a victim or a villain.