Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Finding Dorothy is the interweaving of L. Frank Baum, writer of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series, his wife Maud who sees the fruition of his work to the screen, and the behind the scenes making of the movie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the late 1930’s. The story also includes the terrible treatment of Judy Garland during the making of the movie from both the studio heads, director and sadly her own mother Ethel. It delves into how the famous song “Over the Rainbow” was almost cut from the movie. But most important who Dorothy is to the writer, his wife, and to Judy Garland.

This historical novel well researched by author Elizabeth Letts begins with a young Maud running through a neighbor’s yard and being terribly frightened by the scarecrow positioned on a post. This is an example of what I began calling little “Easter eggs” of scenes from the actual movie and how they came to fruition from the Baum’s own lives. The story continues with Maud and Frank meeting and falling in love, Frank an actor with an incredible imagination, and Maud a woman’s rights advocate, realist and the household financier.

During the filming of the movie itself, Maud decides to oversee its making to make sure it stays true to Frank’s book. She soon becomes Judy Garland’s protector and secret keeper. She sees the abuse of Garland from giving her diet pills as to not gain any weight because her costume is too tight as it is, to the mistreatment Garland endured from some of the men and even her mother who either agreed with them, or looked the other way.

This book will be enjoyed by anyone who has read the book series, or ever seen the movie. It gives insight into how the characters were developed and even where some of the infamous lines in the movie came from. Unfortunately it also is perhaps the introduction to a drug addiction which plagued Judy Garland her whole life and was the start of her great sense of insecurity. It delves into the love of Frank and Maud Baum, their family, their losses and their highs, but it is especially about the woman whose strength enabled the story to be told in both book and movie form. I highly recommend Finding Dorothy.
Thank you #NetGalley #Ballantine Books for the advanced copy. Finding Dorothy will be out on February 12.

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