Finding Dorothy

Finding Dorothy

A Novel

Book - 2019
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This richly imagined novel tells the story behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , the book that inspired the iconic film, through the eyes of author L. Frank Baum's intrepid wife, Maud.

"A breathtaking read that will transport you over the rainbow and into the heart of one of America's most enduring fairy tales."--Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours

Hollywood, 1938: As soon as she learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband's masterpiece for the screen, seventy-seven-year-old Maud Gage Baum sets about trying to finagle her way onto the set. Nineteen years after Frank's passing, Maud is the only person who can help the producers stay true to the spirit of the book--because she's the only one left who knows its secrets.

But the moment she hears Judy Garland rehearsing the first notes of "Over the Rainbow," Maud recognizes the yearning that defined her own life story, from her youth as a suffragette's daughter to her coming of age as one of the first women in the Ivy League, from her blossoming romance with Frank to the hardscrabble prairie years that inspired The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . Judy reminds Maud of a young girl she cared for and tried to help in South Dakota, a dreamer who never got her happy ending. Now, with the young actress under pressure from the studio as well as her ambitious stage mother, Maud resolves to protect her--the way she tried so hard to protect the real Dorothy.

The author of two New York Times bestselling nonfiction books , The Eighty-Dollar Champion and The Perfect Horse , Elizabeth Letts is a master at discovering and researching a rich historical story and transforming it into a page-turner. Finding Dorothy is the result of Letts's journey into the amazing lives of Frank and Maud Baum. Written as fiction but based closely on the truth, Elizabeth Letts's new book tells a story of love, loss, inspiration, and perseverance, set in America's heartland.

Praise for Finding Dorothy

"In some ways reminiscent of Jerry Stahl's excellent I, Fatty , Letts' Finding Dorothy combines exhaustive research with expansive imagination, blending history and speculation into a seamless tapestry. . . . It's a testament to Letts' skill that she can capture on the page, without benefit of audio, that same emotion we have all felt sometime over the last 80 years while listening to 'Over the Rainbow.'" -- BookPage (starred review)
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780525622109
Branch Call Number: LETTS E
Characteristics: 351 pages ; 25 cm


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ontherideau Sep 12, 2020

Nicely done story with the background of The Wizard of Oz. So many steps along the way, family struggles, hard times, a man with a dream and the woman who loved him.

Feb 02, 2020

You don’t need the Scarecrow’s brain, the Tin Man’s heart, or the Cowardly Lion’s courage to know that FINDING DOROTHY is a special book. It takes the reader on a magical, entertaining journey that explores the story behind the classic book and movie, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ. As seen through the eyes of author L. Frank Baum’s fearless wife, Maud, and told in 2 alternating timelines, FINDING DOROTHY explores Maud’s early life with her family and husband (1871-1898) and later her relationship with the young actress, Judy Garland (1938-39). Early on, the reader learns that Maud was brought up ahead of her time in terms of her education and views on women’s rights. She is a compelling protagonist who, over the course of the novel, shows herself to be a strong-willed daughter, devoted wife, loving mother, supportive sister, and protective friend. The majority of the book follows the ever-practical Maud and her dreamer husband Frank from early love and marriage, through periods of hardship and tragedy, to ultimate success. Their mutual bond and respect for each other throughout their marriage is especially touching. Author Elizabeth Letts does a remarkable job weaving fact and fiction within the storyline, including the real-life people, places, and events that may have inspired Baum to create his WORLD OF OZ. Readers like me, who never read Baum’s beloved book, will be surprised to learn that some details were changed for the movie, such as the color of Dorothy’s shoes. I highly recommend reading the Afterword at the end of the book for further information and explanation. FINDING DOROTHY is a terrific, heartwarming story that fans of historic fiction and old Hollywood will enjoy.

Jan 17, 2020

For all who enjoy historical fiction, I found this book and author, Elizabeth Letts, to be trustworthy. Her narration of Maud Gage Baum's life proceeds in small increments of time between Maud's life in 1800's and the making of the movie The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Some books with time changes seem chaotic or confusing, but Letts writes very smoothly, all the while incorporating little details of the 1800's. Both educational and entertaining; I may now read more books by L. Frank Baum.

Jan 04, 2020

A magnificent journey taken through the eyes of Maud Baum, the wife of the author of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".Toggling back and forth between her life and her time on the movie set at MGM, we learn how the elements of the story came to be of which many are surprising. Well researched, the fictional element is minor, so the outcome is more of a non-fiction story. It's always intriguing to learn of a famous author's life and in this case, Frank Baum was truly a wizard. Upbeat, loving and visionary, putting family above all else, he broke new ground with the iconic story which to this day, is till one of the best. Highly recommended for all ages, cultures and those who embrace the 'over the rainbow' magic of Oz.

Dec 01, 2019

I loved this book, the way it was written, the characters - you felt that you were right there. Cried at end too!

BPLpicks Nov 11, 2019

In 1939, Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author L. Frank Baum, visited the set of The Wizard of Oz to ensure that the movie stayed true to the spirit of the book. Imagined here are Maud's interactions with the vulnerable young star, Judy Garland, woven together with the memories of her life with Frank and the places, people and events that shaped his magical world of Oz. You don’t have to be a big fan of the Wizard of Oz to enjoy this; it is a story of a resilient and self-sufficient woman living in a time when women's independence was limited. Well-researched and readable; the author’s respect for the subject is evident.

LoganLib_Kylie Oct 21, 2019

The Wizard of Oz as experienced by Maud Gage Baum, L. Frank Baum's (Author of The Wizard of Oz) wife, the daughter of suffragette Matilda Joslyn Gage. Moving effortlessly between time periods, this historical fiction will sweep you away, like the tornado that swept away Dorothy.

Jul 07, 2019

This was a great read - quick read and a very interesting story. I loved the connection with the suffragettes too. I cried at the end also. Highly recommend.

May 29, 2019

Fantastic book. Wonderful characters, interesting time period, fascinating details. It moves seamlessly between time lines. Great to know more about the genius behind The Wizard of Oz and his remarkable wife.

IndyPL_AngieL Apr 11, 2019

“Finding Dorothy” is a fictional account of Maud Baum, the wife of L. Frank Baum (author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” series of books). Told from Maud’s point of view, the book swings back and forth between time periods: from Maud’s girlhood and young womanhood, through her marriage and widowhood, to Hollywood’s MGM studios in the late 1930’s—when Judy Garland and many others were first preparing to film the screen version of “The Wizard of Oz.” Maud feels fiercely protective of her now-deceased husband’s book, and she is determined to see that the movie is properly made based on what her beloved husband envisioned. But Maud can’t help noticing how young Judy is treated on the set, and becomes just as fierce in her protection of the innocent young girl. A great read for anyone looking for a fictionalized version of the events surrounding the making of “The Wizard of Oz,” and the equally interesting story of this quiet but passionate woman.

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Feb 02, 2020

“Magic isn't things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.” - p. 334

Feb 02, 2020

“Oh, Kansas isn’t the state of Kansas,” Maud said. “Kansas is just the place you’re stuck in, wherever that might be.” - p. 191


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