The book is set in northern Minnesota and takes place during much of the twentieth century. Eveline is a young woman who meets and falls in love with Emil, a German immigrant ten years her senior. After they are married, Eveline joins Emil in Evergreen, a town out in the wilderness. Emil is a taxidermist and makes a good living. When the couple learns that Eveline is pregnant, they are delighted.
But then Emil’s father back in Germany falls ill and Emil feels obligated to see his dad before it’s too late. The year is 1938. We know what happens soon after that. Emil cannot return home as quickly as he’d hoped.
Although Eveline plans to return to her parents’ home with her new baby while Emil is away, she ultimately decides to stay in Evergreen. And that decision will forever change not only her life, but that of generations to come.
Evergreen reminded me of Rebecca Makkai’s The Hundred Year House (Viking, 2014), another novel that came out this summer. This book also takes place in the Midwest and spans the decades of the twentieth century.