Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners

Gretchen Anthony. Park Row, $16.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-7783-0786-0
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. Soon after the party, Violet collapses over the stress of the event and, during her convalesce, Cerise begins to get closer to her mother. But having her daughter around the family more doesn’t fix Violet’s concerns. Meanwhile, Violet begins to realize that her perfect image of the family might have been distorted, and the truth might be more beautiful than her carefully constructed facade. Anthony playfully uses different point of views to reveal many perspectives on the family, and the interspersing of Christmas cards from years past and news clippings adds texture. Although a subplot involving Kyle and his fiancée is left frustratingly incomplete, the evolution of Violet and Cerise’s relationship satisfyingly leads to the revelation of long-held secrets. 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. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2018
Release date: 10/16/2018
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-7783-0841-6
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