Finding Dorothy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Just when you thought you knew everything about the Wizard of Oz, along comes this book that looks into the lives of L. Frank Baum and  his wife Maud.  Frank was a dreamer and Maud was a no-nonsense woman whose mother was a token player in the women’s rights movement. I really enjoyed the two timelines:— one that followed Maud and Frank’s early courtship and marriage, and the other timeline that showed the making of the movie and Maud’s friendship with Judy Garland , and Maud’s involvement in making sure Frank’ s vision was followed. There were very many golden nuggets in this book. I highly recommend it to any, especially those who love the Wizard of Oz.
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As a giant Wizard of Oz fan, I loved reading this book! Getting a brief look into Judy Garland's life and the few advocates she had for her were eye opening. For how much money the movie made you would have thought that her life was worry free. I think MANY others will enjoy this book as well for the inside look into how the magic was created.
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I have many pleasant memories from my childhood. However, there is one that is confusing. I was not a fan of The Wizard of Oz movie, yet I regularly watched it on TV. I think that a comfy seat on the sofa next to my grandmother, a bowl of freshly popped popcorn and an extension to my bedtime made watching a wicked witch, flying monkeys, and a tornado, okay.
I never read the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. All I knew came from the 1939 movie. It surprised me that my interest in Oz was piqued by the offer to read the “historical based” novel Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts.
Finding Dorothy is an account of the life of Maud Gage Baum, wife of Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Maud had an interesting life. She was raised by a well known suffragette. Bright and assured, Maud enrolled in Cornell University, where she was one of the early female attendees.
At Cornell, Maud roomed with Josie Baum, sister of Frank Baum. Their attraction is mutual and marriage is the next step despite her mother’s initial objections. Frank has the creative imagination and lofty ideas but these do not translate into a solid base for raising a family. Fortunately Maud was a strong-willed determined wife and mother whose can do attitude helped her meet the challenges that a harsh South Dakota environment threw her way.
Life changes when the Baum’s move to California because of Franks poor health.
Maud becomes the guardian of Frank’s legacy when Hollywood determines that Oz would make a wonderful movie. Though now in her 70s, Maud fights to preserve the story that her husband had written. Along the way she also becomes a protector to the young Judy Garland who is mistreated by the film studio and sadly and painfully by her mother. Maud shows no fear as she fights one last battle to ensure what we watch on the big screen is what her husbands imagination conceived.
Finding Dorothy is not a research project full of footnotes and citations. It is the work of a writer who explored a topic with skill and affection and wrote a novel that gives great insight into how an iconic American entertainment movie came to be. Frank and Maud would be grateful and proud. I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. #NetGalley #FindingDorothy
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If you love the Wizard of Oz as I do you will love this book! Imaginative in the writing it is interesting to think of what it was like to make the movie. It has also inspired me to read the original stories. Highly recommend!
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This is such a beautiful book. It is in part a double biography (of both Lyman Frank Baum and his wife Maud Gage Baum) as well as a look backstage at the filming of one of the most iconic films of all time. And of course it's fiction, with a beginning, middle, and end to the story (it's surprising how many books don't have this essential aspect).

We learn early that Maud is the daughter of a suffragette who championed hard for women's rights and Maud was going to have every opportunity possible, including going to a boys high school and a prestigious college (Cornell) - which was certainly not common in the late 1800's. And like many college students, a new world opens up to her as she meets and interacts with people of different backgrounds.  It is through connections at college that she meets "Frank" (Lyman Frank Baum) and her life changes forever.

In many ways, Maud puts her own suffragette convictions aside to stand beside Frank, performing on stage with him and his touring acting company. We see Frank not only through the eyes of a wife who is in love with her husband, but through the eyes of a smart, reasoned woman who doesn't necessarily get caught up in the act of doting on her husband.

Tragedy befalls the company and they lose everything, and it's off to the next adventure that Frank has in mind. And when disaster strikes, they are off again. We see that despite failure after failure for Frank's ventures, that Maud sees in him a quality of unapologetic positivity and ultimately a sacrifice of his own ideals in order to put his family first (with a little prodding from Maud).

But we also see an older Maud.  A Maud who storms into the office Louis B. Mayer who is producing The Wizard of Oz film - her position, she informs us, is to ensure the magic of the books remains.  And we see that same Maud, bolstering and protecting the fragile girl who is trying to find the Dorothy for the film, and we see the Maud giving all the right encouragement to the songwriters to help them find the necessary notes for a special rainbow song.

The writing is beautiful and lyrical which more than makes up for those instances where Maud maybe seems a little super-human and single-handedly saves the film.

And let's be honest ... a big part of the magic in this book is the magic of The Wizard of Oz itself.

Author Elizabeth Letts works in so many nods to the book series and the film, but she does so gently, letting the reader make the connection (and if you only know the film, you will miss some of these).

This is easily one of the best books I've read this year and I highly recommend it.

Looking for a good book? Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts is a nearly perfect read.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Most often we read a book, admire the writing, sometimes keep on gushing about the book for a few days if we like it a lot and then move on. We do not think about the behind the scenes. As in the author and the writing process that went behind the creation of the book. Finding Dorothy deals with that behind the scenes. 
I did not know much about Frank L. Baum. In fact, I knew nothing. Reading this book,though fictional, seemed to have made a connection between me and the legendary author. The wife's struggle to uphold her husband's legacy really touched me. The young actress playing Dorothy in the film adaptation of The wonderful wizard of Oz, her struggle to be a young girl and a professional actress at the same time was beautifully depicted.
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Very interesting take on the woman behind the author of Oz. Part fictionalized biography, and part peek into the making of the film. While some may find it slow at times, this was a gentle, pleasant read.
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An good historical novel on the Baum’s life story along with a lot of tidbits on the Wizard of Oz movie. Those interested in both will find this an enjoyable read.
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Told from the perspective of Maud Baum, L Frank Baum's wife, the story moves between her life with Frank and the making of the movie. She is far more practical than he is but she loves his imagination and ability to create beautiful new worlds.
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Finding Dorothy is a two part story revolving around Maud Baum, wife of L Frank Baum. The concept is that she promised her husband that she would watch over Dorothy so when MGM decides to make the Wizard of Oz Maud goes to the lot. The story is interspersed with the story of Maud and Frank during the years prior to the books. 

The concept was interesting but I just did not find myself drawn to the story. When I was reading one story I wanted to go back to the other. I think that was more for the strong women's rights parts of the story and less because any of the characters were that compelling. I would be interested to know how much was true.

While there is no one specific person or reader I would recommend this too I can see the appeal. So if the synopsis interests you please pick it up, you will probably enjoy it.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC of this book. 
The story of Maud Gage Baum, the wife of Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz. 
What a great, compelling story starting with Maud's life as a child and your girl, continuing with her life as Frank's wife and then her time on the set of the movie. Historical fiction. that brought it all to life with great research and an authentic feel;.
Loved the book.
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I liked this book for the most part.  I particularly enjoyed the parts of the book that focused on Maud's childhood, college years, and life with Frank.  I didn't care for the chapters that focused on the filming of the movie -- they were written well, but I just enjoyed Maud and Frank's story so much that I wanted the entire book to be about them.
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I wanted so much more from this book, as I am a HUGE Baum fan and Garland fan.  Just ok for what it is.  Could have been richer in story, especially with the nostalgia of the 1932 film.   Missed opportunity.
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Historical fiction is hard for me at times, but this one was good!  It kept my interest the entire time, and I loved how the story played out.  Of course The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorite childhood movies, we watched it on TV each year, so that helped a lot.  I loved the historical aspects of this, and learning more about Frank.  This one was well done!  Highly recommend.
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When I was a child, watching The Wizard of Oz was a yearly family tradition.  Armed with snacks, thanks to my father, we settled in to watch, be scared by those flying monkeys, see the world go from black and white to technicolor and hear Somewhere Over the Rainbow. But wait!  Did L. Frank Baum write that song?  No spoiler, he did not. was this movie made?  Who were the actors behind it and who were Mr. and Mrs. (Maud) Baum?  You can find answers while reading this delightful historical novel.

There is familiarity as favorite characters are met on the set of the movie.  Maud worked hard to have a presence there and to be true to the author's intentions for the work.  She also gets to know Judy Garland and comes to understand her history, emotions and pressures.

Behind and around this, the novel tells the story of Maud and Frank.  I learned so much!  For example, Maud's mother was a committed suffragette and Aunt Susan (B. Anthony) was well known to the family.  I also read about Maud's experience as one of the early female students at Cornell.  Meeting Frank, getting married, Franks' biography, struggling...all of this is present in this book.

Finding Dorothy is an excellent historical novel.  Follow the road to it!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this e galley in exchange for an honest review.
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I love all things Oz and Judy Garland so was thrilled to see this one appear. Always fascinated to read the story behind the story, this book fulfills that and then some. I will watch The Wizard of Oz a bit differently now.
L. Frank Baum was a dreamer which is very apparent when you consider the imaginative world of Oz. His wife, Maud, was the levelheaded, backbone of the family. Upon learning that his book was going to be made into a movie, she went about to see that it was done right. A feminist before her time, Maud was a force to be reckoned with. 
Elizabeth Letts faithfully researched material for this book and it's evident. This is one that I'll re-read just because and I love it when a book has that kind of impact.
I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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I love everything Wizard of Oz.  When this book became available on netgalley, I was thrilled .  What a wonderful piece of historical fiction.  The book is about Maud and L Frank Baum and the story will make you glad you are along for the ride.  I was hooked from the very first word.  Thank you netgalley for the arc, the opinion is my own.
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The Wizard of Oz is one of those timeless classics, and I think every young girl has dreamed of being Judy Garland with those magic slippers.  For all those reasons, I was so intrigued with Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts.

In this wonderfully researched novel, we are provided a look into the lives of Frank and Maud Baum, how their lives together formed the classic novel and the inspiration behind some of those memorable characters.  I also particularly enjoyed the sections with interactions set during the movie filming between Mrs. Baum and Judy Garland.  The descriptions of the movie set were so vivid that I could visualize each scene.  

I was not familiar with the backstory of the Baums and found their history very engaging.  It was interesting to learn more about women's suffrage and life in the Dakotas as well.  

This was a four star read for me that I would recommend to historical fiction fans or anyone who grew up on the Wizard of Oz.  I received this book courtesy of Ballantine Books Random House Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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We all know the story of Dorothy following the yellow brick road to find home. We’ve all seen the movie since childhood, and watched as she fights the wicked witch to earn the right to finally go home. (If you haven’t seen the movie – where have you been??). But do you know the story behind the story? Do you know what prompted L. Frank Baum to write about Dorothy and Toto and all her fairytale friends? That is where the historical fiction novel, Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts steps in.

As L. Frank Baum’s widow arrives at MGM to oversee the making of the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz”, we begin to see how important it is to her to make sure the story is done correctly. And she also brings with her the backstory of the writing of this children’s classic. Elizabeth Letts weaves a wonderful story within a story of the life of L. Frank Baum and his wife, Maud, and all their struggles through the early years until his success as a writer. On the movie set, Maud feels protective of the young actress, Judy Garland, who plays Dorothy and watches over her. She also feels protective of the character too, wanting the studio to portray Dorothy exactly as she is in the books. In-between her visits to the set, we see flashbacks of Maud’s youth through her marriage to Baum and beyond. 

I can’t tell you how much I loved this story. It gave depth to character who I’d loved as a child and an adult and gave even more meaning to the story. The author states that she put as much truth in the story as she could find, and you can see the work she’s put into it. It’s an amazing historical fiction novel that I am sure you will enjoy.
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What a wonderful work of historical fiction, taking an author and series I don't know much about and turning it into a wonderful book. Maud Gage is raised in Fayetteville, New York by a very strong willed mother. Matilda Gage was a contemporary of Susan B. Anthony and worked just as hard, if not harder, for women's rights. I found these early chapters so interesting, and how Maud goes off to college only to abandon it all for love. Yet, her mother has to admire the way she stands up for what she believes in. I've not read the Oz books. At first I didn't think the alternating stories--the second during the filming of Wizard of Oz, where Maud befriends Judy Garland as necessary. But I came to really liking the entire package--the bits and pieces of Frank and Maud's background and how they dovetail into what I know of the Oz story from the movie was so intriguing. From their years in pre-statehood South Dakota to the White City of Chicago, al of the settings and parts of their lives were so well done. From the late 1800's to 1939, a lot changed in the world and it was eerie to see how Frank's imagination took root.
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