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Cover image for Finding Dorothy : a novel
Format:
Title:
Finding Dorothy : a novel
ISBN:
9780525622109
Edition:
First edition.
Publication:
New York : Ballantine Books, [2019]
Physical Description:
351 pages ; 25 cm
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. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Holds:

Available:*

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Letts, E.
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Letts, E. Finding
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FIC LETTS 2019
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FICTION LETTS
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Letts, E.
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Letts, E.
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FIC LETTS
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LETTS Elizabeth
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Summary

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.

"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)


Author Notes

Elizabeth Letts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion and The Perfect Horse , which won the 2017 PEN Center USA Literary Award for research nonfiction, as well as two previous novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning . A former certified nurse-midwife, she also served in the Peace Corps in Morocco. She lives in Southern California and Northern Michigan.


Reviews 3

Publisher's 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.


Kirkus Review

The story behind the story that became the legendary movie The Wizard of Oz.Letts (The Perfect Horse, 2016, etc.) builds her historical novel around Maud Gage Baum, the high-spirited wife of L. Frank Baum, who wrote the original Wizard of Oz books. In one of two intercut narratives, the 77-year-old Maud, who'd exerted a strong influence on her late husband, appears on the set of the movie in 1938; there, she encounters 16-year-old Judy Garlandcast as Dorothyamong others. The second narrative opens in Fayetteville, New York, in 1871 and traces Maud's life from age 10: her girlhood as the daughter of an ardent suffragette; her brief time at Cornell Universityshe was one of the first women admitted there; her early marriage to Baum, an actor at the time; and the births of their four sons. Frank, a dreamer, was not so talented at making money, and the family endured a hardscrabble, peripatetic life until he scored as a writer. This part of the story is dramatic and sometimes-poignant, though it goes on a bit. (Read carefully, and you can spot some elements that made their ways into the books and movie.) The Hollywood part is more entertaining even if some of it feels implausible. Maud did meet Judy Garland and attend the premiere of the film in real life. But in the book she tries to protect and nurture Garland, who was at the mercy of her abusive stage mother and the filmmakers and was apparently fed amphetamines to keep her weight down. And while it's true the movie's best-loved song, "Somewhere over the Rainbow," was almost cut at the last minute, the book has Maud persuading studio chief L.B. Mayer to keep it in.Much is made in these pages about the power of make-believe, and while the book falls short of magical, it's still an absorbing read. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Maud Gage Baum, the wife of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum, is the focus of this story of how the famous novel and its film adaptation came to be. Letts (The Eighty-Dollar Champion, 2011) begins the couple's story in the 1880s when Maud, daughter of a prominent suffragette, drops out of Cornell to marry Frank, who at the time runs a floundering theater company. Maud and Frank struggle for years to make ends meet as Frank, a starry-eyed dreamer, proves less than adept at earning a steady income to support Maud and their four sons. Alternating chapters set in 1938 tell of Maud's arrival on set as the book is adapted for the big screen, and of her concern for the film's young star, Judy Garland, victim of an overbearing mother and lecherous studio executives. While some scenes involving Maud and Judy feel implausible, Maud is a fascinating character, and this is a poignant, absorbing tale of the life and love story that led to the creation of a beloved classic.--Martha Waters Copyright 2019 Booklist