Finding Dorothy

Finding Dorothy

A Novel

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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"--
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, ©2019.
ISBN: 9780525622109
Characteristics: 351 pages ;,25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 16, 2021

Very entertaining story involving the role of Maud Baum in the making of "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939. Though the author does use some literary license, the story is largely based upon true events. It was very interesting to learn about the history of the writer of the Oz series behind the iconic film. Recommend. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Apr 04, 2021

What an unexpected delight this book was. The majority of the book deals with the early life of Maud Baum, daughter of a suffragette, who marries a traveling showman, L. Frank Baum. It delves into the years leading up to the writing of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and also jumps up to 1939 and the filming the much beloved movie. There are little bits of their lives written into the book and its characters. Maud and Frank had a tough life early in their marriage during the turn-of-the-century years. Childbirth was scary! Chicagoans will love references to the World's Columbian Exhibition and the Great White City, which gave so much inspiration to Frank.

Dec 29, 2020

This is one of those books that the premise appealed to me enough to put it on my to-read list, but I kept putting off reading it because I wasn’t in the mood for a book about Hollywood. Well I finally got around to reading it and was pleasantly surprised that there was minimal time spent in Hollywood and I liked the small glimpse into the movie making process of this iconic film. The majority of the book, however, is about Maud and Frank’s early life together. They were both unconventional people and were devoted to each other. I didn’t know much about the Wizard of Oz author, but he was a very imaginative and multi-talented man. His creative mind was able to see what would be possible in the future with developing technologies. Had he lived longer I could have seen him giving Walt Disney some stiff competition. I found this to be a very interesting and enjoyable story.

Dec 26, 2020

We follow the life of Maud Gage Baum, wife of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' author L. Frank Baum, from her girlhood to marriage to the movie’s filming many years later.

One snowy winter I read most of the Oz books when my then gynecologist discovered I was a Kansas girl. He had lots of children and these books were favorites. Work friends gave me the EmilyEm nickname, a version of my surname and Auntie Em’s. So, when I saw that this historical fiction had been published, it was a not-to-be-missed title for me. Very fun, although it lags a bit in places.

Dec 18, 2020

Another well written book by Elizabeth Letts (The Eighty Dollar Champion, The Perfect Horse). This historical novel was very interesting, and it provided a good background to the beloved 'The Wizard of Oz' film. The background of the making of the film gives a new perspective on this classic. I applaud Maud Gage Baum for her courage and determination, and Elizabeth Letts for her fine research and writing.

ontherideau Sep 12, 2020

Nicely done story with the background of The Wizard of Oz. So many steps along the way, family struggles, hard times, a man with a dream and the woman who loved him.

Feb 02, 2020

You don’t need the Scarecrow’s brain, the Tin Man’s heart, or the Cowardly Lion’s courage to know that FINDING DOROTHY is a special book. It takes the reader on a magical, entertaining journey that explores the story behind the classic book and movie, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ. As seen through the eyes of author L. Frank Baum’s fearless wife, Maud, and told in 2 alternating timelines, FINDING DOROTHY explores Maud’s early life with her family and husband (1871-1898) and later her relationship with the young actress, Judy Garland (1938-39). Early on, the reader learns that Maud was brought up ahead of her time in terms of her education and views on women’s rights. She is a compelling protagonist who, over the course of the novel, shows herself to be a strong-willed daughter, devoted wife, loving mother, supportive sister, and protective friend. The majority of the book follows the ever-practical Maud and her dreamer husband Frank from early love and marriage, through periods of hardship and tragedy, to ultimate success. Their mutual bond and respect for each other throughout their marriage is especially touching. Author Elizabeth Letts does a remarkable job weaving fact and fiction within the storyline, including the real-life people, places, and events that may have inspired Baum to create his WORLD OF OZ. Readers like me, who never read Baum’s beloved book, will be surprised to learn that some details were changed for the movie, such as the color of Dorothy’s shoes. I highly recommend reading the Afterword at the end of the book for further information and explanation. FINDING DOROTHY is a terrific, heartwarming story that fans of historic fiction and old Hollywood will enjoy.

Jan 17, 2020

For all who enjoy historical fiction, I found this book and author, Elizabeth Letts, to be trustworthy. Her narration of Maud Gage Baum's life proceeds in small increments of time between Maud's life in 1800's and the making of the movie The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Some books with time changes seem chaotic or confusing, but Letts writes very smoothly, all the while incorporating little details of the 1800's. Both educational and entertaining; I may now read more books by L. Frank Baum.

Jan 04, 2020

A magnificent journey taken through the eyes of Maud Baum, the wife of the author of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".Toggling back and forth between her life and her time on the movie set at MGM, we learn how the elements of the story came to be of which many are surprising. Well researched, the fictional element is minor, so the outcome is more of a non-fiction story. It's always intriguing to learn of a famous author's life and in this case, Frank Baum was truly a wizard. Upbeat, loving and visionary, putting family above all else, he broke new ground with the iconic story which to this day, is till one of the best. Highly recommended for all ages, cultures and those who embrace the 'over the rainbow' magic of Oz.

Dec 01, 2019

I loved this book, the way it was written, the characters - you felt that you were right there. Cried at end too!

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Feb 02, 2020

“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 for a moment, we taste the sublime.” - p. 334

Feb 02, 2020

“Oh, Kansas isn’t the state of Kansas,” Maud said. “Kansas is just the place you’re stuck in, wherever that might be.” - p. 191

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top