Finding Dorothy

Elizabeth Letts. Ballantine, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-62210-9
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.)
Reviewed on: 11/26/2018
Release date: 02/12/2019
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-9848-4604-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-9848-4602-0
Paperback - 565 pages - 978-1-9848-8501-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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