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Finding Dorothy
by Elizabeth Letts


Overview - 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.  Read more...


 
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More About Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
 
 
 
Overview
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.

Advance 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)

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780525622109
  • ISBN-10: 0525622101
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Publish Date: February 2019
  • Page Count: 368
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.25 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Women
Books > Fiction > Biographical

 
BookPage Reviews

Finding Dorothy

BookPage starred review, February 2019

It’s shocking to imagine that, while remarkably successful in its time, The Wizard of Oz now ranks more than 2,000 slots below Garfield: The Movie in terms of domestic gross revenue. And while MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer insisted that he was in the business of making money rather than magic, bestselling author Elizabeth Letts’ latest novel, Finding Dorothy, uncovers both in abundance on the set of the 1939 film.

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 true that Oz author L. Frank Baum’s widow spent time with Judy Garland on set. And it’s from this point of departure—California, not Kansas—that Letts leads us down a parallel pair of yellow brick roads. One traverses the courtship, marriage and adult life of Maud Gage Baum, suffragette’s daughter and modern woman. She became the wife of a dreamer, a man not always financially successful but deeply committed to providing for his family and madly in love with his wife. The second road takes us into the golden age of Hollywood, where fate and opportunity conspire to make Judy Garland a superstar. Maud arrives on set to try to ensure that her husband’s vision is preserved, but she realizes that the more immediate task at hand is to take Dorothy/Judy—their identities in many ways inseparable at this point—under her wing. 

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”: “Maud knew, right then, that Judy had done it. She had captured the magic that Frank had put into his story, sucked it from the air and breathed it back out through her vocal cords. Maud felt in her heart that Frank must have been listening.”

Let’s see some smug, wisecracking Hollywood cat do that.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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