eBook Finding DorothyAuthor Elizabeth Letts – Intimatenights.co.uk
NOW AVAILABLE I FIND MYSELF TELLING EVERYONE ABOUT THIS BOOK My 2019 year of reading is off to a wonderful start partly because of this wonderful book This is such an original story that I couldn t wait to start reading and I was not disappointed The fact that I ve watched this movie over a dozen times improved my experience because when Maud, our main character, is talking about the scenes that were being filmed, I could remember each and every one of them.From the blurb you know that this novel is written from the point of view of Maud Gage Baum, wife of L Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz There are two time frames, one starting in the 1870 s when Maud and Frank are young, married, very poor and raising their family of four boys The other time frame takes place during the taping of the movie around 1939.Maud was the daughter of a Matilda Gage a leading voice for women s rights, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton were frequent visitors in their home Matilda wanted her daughter to be independent, well educated and have a life of her own continuing to carry out her mother s work for women s rights When Maud was introduced to Frank by her college roommate they quickly fell in love Matilda was so upset with Maud marrying a theater man actor that she never spoke to her again after their marriage.Maud and Frank started their marriage living in Dakota starting various start up businesses that never seemed to take off One, a fantastical sounding children s toy store, was said to contain just about any toy that a child could wish for The store did well for some time but when the town fell on hard times Frank was forced to sell the store and go to work as a salesman Maud took in sewing to keep a home for the boys and food on the table During this time she tried to help her sister Julia who had married a hard headed and perhaps abusive husband She lived quite far away but they did visit occasionally and Maud was in charmed and in love with her little niece, who is quite probably Frank s inspiration for Dorothy, right down to the blue gingham dress that Maud sewed for her Throughout all of their hard times Frank always found ways to make things magical for his children with his wit and imaginative play interactions.The second time line takes place during the filming of the movie where Maud tries to keep the leaders of MGM to keep true to her husband s story She befriends Judy Garland whom she quickly sees is being treated terribly Her mother along with the director keep Judy on diet pills so that she won t grow out of the part since she is reaching puberty She is also encouraged to smoke cigarettes to tame her hunger and was even slapped in the face when she couldn t stop laughing in a part of the filming I already knew where this beginning addiction led the singer actress and was ashamed that it was her mother who encouraged this behavior.I did feel a connection to Maud, I liked her ability to always find the silver lining and make the most of what the family had to stay happy Later I loved her strength and tenacity to try to help Judy through the tough times during filming It was interesting learning so many things about the original Wizard of Oz Frank never wanted anything to scare children in his books and there was no wicked witch in his story Oz was supposed to be a wonderland that children could escape to when things were sad or difficult for them Of note is the fact that the studio almost cut Over the Rainbow because they thought it was too long There is much to discover in this book.I encourage everyone to read this book and if by chance you have never watched the movie, please do so, it is a treasured movie icon I received an ARC of this novel from the publishers through NetGalley The book is set to publish February 12, 2019. Elizabeth Letts blends fact and fiction in this fascinating piece of historical fiction that explores the life of Maud Gage Baum, the little known wife of L Frank Baum, the famous author of the The Wizard of Oz The narrative has two timelines, that of Maud and her family from the 1870s onwards, and the 78 year old Maud s presence on the Hollywood film set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939 where she aims to ensure that the movie stays true to her husband s vision Maud is the daughter of Matilda, a well known suffragette, a feminist and mother who ensured that Maud was unencumbered by the limits faced by women at the time Maud is a fearless and independent character, and one of the first women to attend Cornell University, which is where she meets the actor, Frank, when the two are introduced to each other by her flatmate.Maud proves to be her own woman when she marries Frank despite the fierce opposition of her mother Frank is a wonderfully imaginative father, but it is Maud s indomitable strength, optimism and determination that is key to surviving challenging years of penury in South Dakota, where various entrepreneurial ventures collapse Insights of their family and children through the years are to inform Frank s novel and the characters within it, such as Dorothy and the Tin Man These years lay the foundation for the strong willed Maud that we encounter in 1939, she has no qualms about taking on Hollywood executives The young Judy Garland is being mistreated and abused on the film, slapped, fed pills and cigarettes to keep her weight down, all of which is aided and abetted by Judy s ghastly and ambitious mother Maud takes it upon herself to do all that she can to help and protect Judy, but no doubt it is these beginnings that are to contribute to Judy s later life becoming so troubled with her addictions and insecurities.Letts engages in considerable research for her novel, although she does take liberties here and there with history and her characters I found this compulsive reading, particularly the parts that relate to the making of The Wizard of Oz, which I have seen so many times and love, I imagine there are few people who have never seen it Letts characterisation of Maud is wonderful, Maud is a one off, the kind of woman that I was immediately drawn to and found such a compulsive stand out character as the central protagonist of the story This is an entertaining read and I thoroughly enjoyed the insights of US history provided in Maud and Frank s story and that of the Hollywood movie business that Letts provides in the narrative Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC. Now, almost twenty years after her husband s death, many people didn t recognize his name, but was there anyone, big or small, who didn t know Dorothy and the Scarecrow, the tin man and the Lion Who hasn t seen the Wizard of Oz Anyone I know that I still watch it at least once a year Finding Dorothy tells the story of the making of The Wizard of Oz and the story of Maud Gage Baum the widow of the Author and her life with her husband, Frank Baum L Frank Baum The Struggles they faced during their marriage, their love, and Frank s writing of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.This book is told in two time lines Maud and Frank s life together and later when Maud goes to Hollywood and is on set and strikes up a relationship with Judy Garland during the filming of The Wizard of Oz I learned many interesting facts while reading this book the ruby red shoes I coveted as a child, were not meant to be red, Emerald City was not green, they almost cut Somewhere over the Rainbow out of the movie and that Judy Garland was slapped, forced to go every other day without food, had to smoke 80 cigarettes a day and took pills to suppress her appetite and then those to help her sleep Judy won an Academy Award for her performance and walked away with a drug problem.Maud was a formidable woman and stood up for Garland and became friends with her Through the course of the filming, when not sticking up for Garland, she was fighting with producers to keep true to her husband s work She was spunky and not afraid to speak her mind and speak up when she saw something which wasn t right She was, after all, the daughter of a famous women s suffrage and feminist activist.This started a little slow for me and I found myself picking up other books, but then it hooked me I appreciated the dual timelines and learning about Maud s earlier life It is a shame that L Frank Baum never lived to see his work made into a movie A former actor and theater man, I imagine he would have been proud of the movie and of his wife for becoming involved and being there during the filming I am finding that I am enjoying reading the Afterword of books and and this book was no exception The Author tells how as a young girl she wanted to be like Dorothy one who could stare down a lion, melt a witch, tame a wizard She also shares history on Frank and Maud Baum and her quest to learn about the movie and her motivation to write this book This is an enjoyable book that I am sure fans of the movie and the book will enjoy I learned a lot and it was fun to see place I know, and have been to, talked about in this book I appreciated how the Author took real people and used real events and facts from their lives to write this book This is a book that has heart and is a lovely tribute to an iconic and well loved movie and the story behind the movie The Story of how the book came to be, the story of a man who dreamed of a better place, full of interesting characters This is the story of dreamers, of actors, of writers, of couples, of family and of Oz.Thank you to Random House Publishing Group Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review The thoughts and opinions are my own. Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts is a 2019 Ballantine Books publication A different and captivating perspective on the magical, Wonderful Wizard of Oz , L Frank Baum, and his exceptional partner in life the irrepressible Maud Baum I had no idea what to expect when I began reading this book, but I must say it was surprising For the most part this is a fictionalized account of Maud Baum s life However, the story alternates between Maud s background and the Wizard of Oz movie set in 1939, where Maud has appointed herself the protector and overseer of Frank s beloved characters However, once ensconced in the studio, it is Judy Garland she feels the most protective of I often explain that when I start writing a book review, all I m really doing is thinking out loud and rambling This book had my mind wandering all over the place, so this review is bound to skip from one random thought to another Two things about the movie, and Judy Garland, were on my mind while reading this book One was a fascinating article about a pair of stolen ruby slippers used in The Wizard of Oz film, which was featured in the Washington Post other thing was that after seeing Rene Zellweger s movie trailer, I was reminded of the tragic turn Judy s life took in her later years This weighed on my mind while I read portions of this book, describing the abuse Judy was subjected to during the filming of the movie I m looking forward to seeing Rene s performance, though But as to my thoughts about this novel I found Maud s character to be an interesting one She is definitely her mother s daughter in many ways She absorbed of her mother s lessons than her sister did and practiced what she preached in an era of time when such behavior was unheard of Yet, when it came to Frank well, he wasn t what her mother had in mind for Maud, but despite his obvious flaws, the two were a passionate couple, despite having opposite temperaments While many misconstrue the meaning of Happily Ever After , this couple did, despite everything, enjoy a long lasting love story On the night of Frank s death on May 16, 1919, Maud imparted in a letter to her relatives, Helen Leslie and Leslie Gage He told me many times I was the only one he had ever loved He hated to die, did not want to leave me, said he was never happy without me, but it was better he should go first, if it had to be, for I doubt if he could have got along without me It is all so sad, and I am so forlorn and alone For nearly thirty seven years we had been everything to each other, we were happy, and now I am alone, to face the world alone Maud did not live a charmed life by any means, but I was fascinated by her life experiences and loved Lett s version of events which gives the reader a few insights on where Frank found his inspiration for his book characters and stories The segments where Maud forces herself onto the Wizard of Oz studio set may seem a bit dubious, but the author manages to juxtapose the magical quality of the picture with the darker realities of Judy Garland s life as a young actress at the mercy of a monstrous stage mother, sexual harassment, and the pressure to stay thin and childlike The story is often very bleak, as good times, contentment, and joy are rare occurrences There were times when I felt I needed a little break from reading this book, as a result Not only was it a bit depressing, it was also slow moving at times, and I felt some segments could have been shortened However, I am glad I stuck it out, as it did give me a lot to feel thankful for and an appreciation or the hardships many endured during this time period, especially women However, one thing the author manages to translate in the midst of all the hardships and trials, is that despite the constant difficulties in Maud s life, and the sinister aspects of Hollywood, it is healthy, no matter what your age, to believe in a little magic sometimes Indulging in a little make believe or fantasy can be cathartic Frank s stories were a gift and he intended them to bring joy and pleasure, which they did, for children and adults alike In an age where the bar is set high for authors to create books and write stories which are realistic, girding their creative license and stripping them of the right to simply make up a town, country, or even a name of a restaurant,or take liberties of any kind, insert the improbable or implausible for effect, this story slams home the danger of binding creativity and imagination or shaming those who like to indulge in fairytale romances, folklore, or fantasy of any kind When did encouraging the freedom to dream or fantasize become a cardinal sin Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as historical in the children s library for the time has come for a series of newer wonder tales in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale Modern education includes morality therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.Having this thought in mind, the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written solely to please children of today It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out L Frank BaumChicago, April, 1900 Elizabeth Letts reminds us to simply allow ourselves to sit back and enjoy a good story, and let our imaginations roam freely, without feeling guilty for having indulged in something outside the realm of reality for just a little while Sure, Maud may have lost faith a time or two, but she knew Frank s stories were a gift and that gift keeps on giving, even today.So, go ahead dream a little dream, believe in love, believe in magic, and dare to hope Magic isn t things materializing out of nowhere Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just a moment, we taste the sublime 4 stars 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 YoursHollywood, 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 SecretsBut 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 DorothyThe Author Of TwoNew 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 HeartlandPraise ForFinding DorothyIn 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 Years While Listening To Over The Rainbow BookPage Starred Review NOW AVAILABLE When Maud Gage began her first year of Cornell University, her focus was only on higher learning, and certainly not the boys of Cornell Her roommate is Josie, Josie Baum, and it is through Josie that Maud meets the man that was foretold by a somewhat silly group of young women, Josie s brother L Frank Baum A man who, one day, will write one of those beloved childhood booksThe Wizard of Oz This is the story that is behind the making of both the book, and the now classic film, a film that made its young star into a bona fide Hollywood icon This story is told in two different time frames, one in which Maud is still a relatively young girl, daughter of a suffragette, to her days at Cornell, how she meets the man who will become her husband, his gifts as an actor, their marriage and their life together, which wasn t always easy Although Frank was a man with many talents, they weren t always helpful to them financially.The alternate, 1938, timeline begins with Maud, now a 77 year old widow, visiting the MGM studio following her discovery that they are making a movie of the book her husband wrote, and she is determined to ensure that they stay true to the story he wrote It is there that she meets the young girl cast as Dorothy, Judy Garland, and begins to take her under her wing This timeline is amusing and interesting in the sense that it discloses some of the things that supposedly went on behind the screens What I loved were the little peeks at the stories that went into what would become The Wizard of Oz, even the choice of that title came from an originally innocent comment Little snippets of conversations that led to other choices, some felt authentic, and some perhaps speculated on, but make for a good story Facts that were behind the scenes decisions during the making of this movie really do give this a charming view on the making of this movie.A poignant story that also maintains an optimistic outlook worthy of L Frank Baum, a reminder to hold onto your faith for a better day on those days when life seems unrecognizable Elizabeth Letts is also the author of The Eighty Dollar Champion and The Perfect Horse, and two novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning In her writer s biography she wroteIf you want to know why I m a writer, you d have to thank Mrs Barclay, the children s librarian in the Malaga Cove Library in Palos Verdes, California, and my mother who has read books than anyone else I know, and who carted me to the library from the time I could barely walkAt the age of thirty, she determined to try her hand at writing, and I doubt she s turned back since but still states that reading remains her favourite hobby But this mini bio was what made me want to read this one a movie I loved when I was a young girl.Pub Date 12 FEB 2019Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group Ballantine Books 3.5 I still remember when I first saw The wizard of Oz I was fairly young and it was a little bit scary, and alot magical I deliver it again through my children, and now it s the turn of my grandchildren In fact my two grandaunts and i played make believe, reenacting the witches I m melting scene Great fun.Anyway this story starts with a 77 year old Maude, coming to MGM studios to insist on assisting in the making of the movie The movie of course written by her husband Frank, now dead for over 20 years He had made her promise to take care of Dorothy She meets a very young Judy Garland, who is singing, Somewhere over the rainbow.The story then goes back in time to when Maude was in college, but leaves to marry Frank Their lives wouldn t be easy but they would have four sons together Thought this part was a little too dramatic and a little too drawn out.The Hollywood story, however, did draw me in, so much I didn t know about Judy Garland What a horrible piece of work her mother was, what tragic childhood Anyway, a nostalgic trip down memory lane and the author does relate what was fact, and what was made up for the stake of the story She did do an extensive amount of research Definitely worth reading, just for the memories, which are priceless.ARC from Edelweiss. I m off to follow the yellow brick road to drop off my negativity pick up new marbles for my brain, give my heart a bathand as for courage goes well, it s not an issue as you can see It must be sacrilegious, to say anything less than aw , when it comes to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz But this book was just ok for me Given that I ve read some heavy books recently with another 700 page book I m reading filled with war again drugs and violence I thought there couldn t be a fluffy fun book to read than Finding Dorothy a lightweight pallet cleanser.But I wasn t especially enchanted Oh this book was endearingly sweet at times, but.kick ass Baum wife, Maud, wasn t particularly a warm to connect with woman And.this was her story She had a lot to say.but I found her personality a little off putting The history was interesting but I wasn t blown over by it I like the beginning and ending than the sleepy parts in the middle.Our musical Theater daughter might enjoy this than me She played Dorothy in a big community production growing up If I had to hear those songs Over the Rainbow and Ding Dong the Witch is Dead , much in our house.I might have taken a few runaway mother strike days Don t get me wrong our daughter was a terrific Dorothy with a lovely belting voice.but parents can only take so much of listening to those Disney Songs I swear our daughter had hundreds of songs memorized in her head We heard them for years I hate to be a scrooge but I ve been over everything Oz for years And Maud Baum didn t re inspire any freshness in me I m sorry if I m being a buzz kill to die hard Oz fans I liked the movie and saw it a half dozen times like everyone else.ButI didn t care if I found Dorothy or not in this novel However.If I ever have grandchildren 99.9% doubtful though I promise to do my duty and enjoy The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with them and listen to the children sing all they want. The story behind the story of the classic book and movie Finding Dorothy is the story behind one of the most beloved books and movies of all time, The Wizard of Oz The story is told through the voice of L Frank Baum s wife, Maud Finding Dorothy covers the time that Maud and Frank live in South Dakota, barely making ends meet It was during this time that the couple meets a real life Dorothy who inspired Frank to write the novel The book also covers Maud s early years as the daughter of a suffragette When Maud later is introduced to Judy Garland, who would play the beloved Dorothy character in the movie, she describes how Garland s rendition of Over the Rainbow takes her back to those tough days before the book s big boom Maud and Judy Garland connect despite their over sixty year age difference Maud is a widow at the time of the making of the movie Alternating between the past storyline of Maud s life and Maud and Frank s marriage, there is also the storyline in 1939 on the active film set of the movie During these days, Judy is mistreated by those making the movie, as well as by her stage mother, and Maud does her best to protect her Finding Dorothy feels well researched and authentic Fans of the book or movie will gobble this one up The author is as passionate about the story as many of us are, and it shines through in her writing, especially in the afterword If you are a Wizard of Oz fan, I think this one should definitely be on your TBR I received a complimentary copy All opinions are my own My reviews can also be found on my blog www.jennifertarheelreader.com This is a sweet story of the widow of L Frank Baum, the writer of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz It s told both during the making of the movie years after Mr Baum has passed on and the years of their lives together Mrs Maud Baum, the daughter of a suffragette, is one of the first women to go to Cornell as a coed There, she is introduced to her future husband, the cousin of her roommate She defies her mother to marry this theatre man This isn t a deep tale or an overly impressive story But it is entertaining We hear everything from Maud s perspective and it s definitely her story, not Frank s The movie is so well known, it s easy to picture Judy Garland and the scenes from the movie as they are created You do learn interesting stories involving the origination of different ideas within the story, how the movie differed from the book and about the actors I was pleased to learn that most of the inspiration for the book discussed in the novel is based on fact, as is a lot of the information concerning the movie s production I never felt a connection with Maud I never felt like she came across as a three dimensional character Frank reminded me in some ways of P T Barnum, a fantastic imagination coupled with horrible business instinct So, this will appeal to those who are eager to learn something about the story than those who like an in depth character driven novel My thanks to netgalley and Random House Ballantine Books for an advance copy of this novel.