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Finding Dorothy : a novel
2019
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Maud (Female), Married, Widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Genre
Fiction
Historical
Topics
Suffragette movement
Life changes
Film history
Wizard of Oz
Actors
Time Period
1939 -- 20th century
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Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Letts's engrossing latest (following Family Planning) is a behind-the-scenes tale of the late L. Frank Baum, author of the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and his widow, Maud. Maud is in her 70s in 1938 when she learns of the Judy Garland-starring film being made, and recalls a long-ago promise she made Frank to take care of Dorothy. The story goes back to 1880 when Maud, the daughter of a women's suffragist, attends Cornell. Maud's roommate, Josie, is Frank's cousin, who serves as a matchmaker for the couple. Although she's determined to focus on her education, Maud is drawn to Frank, who has a fledgling theater company. Despite her mother's disappointment, Maud withdraws from college to marry. Maud reminisces about her life with Frank as she befriends young Judy; Judy confides in Maud about missing her deceased father, about older men's advances, and about being coerced into taking diet pills to remain thin. In addition to being Judy's confidant, Maud vocalizes the necessity of keeping the film adaptation true to Frank's work. Letts expertly illuminates the true story behind the tale beloved by so many readers through history, but best of all is the wonderful depiction of Maud herself. This is a crowd-pleasing, thoroughly satisfying novel. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
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. <p> "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 <p> 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. <p> 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. <p> 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. <p> Praise for Finding Dorothy <p>"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)
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