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Finding Dorothy

A Novel
Length: 13 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (86 ratings)

Regular price: $31.50

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Publisher's Summary

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 Yours)

Hollywood, 1938: As soon as she learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband’s masterpiece for the screen, 77-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. 

The author of two New York Times best-selling 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 pause-resister. 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 heartland.

“In 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...that same emotion we have all felt sometime over the last 80 years while listening to ‘Over the Rainbow.’” (BookPage, starred review) 

©2019 Elizabeth Letts (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A breathtaking read that will transport you over the rainbow and into the heart of one of America’s most enduring fairy tales and the hardscrabble life that inspired it. Gripping, fascinating, Finding Dorothy is a novel for anyone who ever stared in awe as Oz came to life onscreen, and wondered what other secrets lay hidden behind the curtain. A dream of a book you’ll want to savor and share!” (Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours)

“In 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 80 years while listening to ‘Over the Rainbow.’” (BookPage, starred review)  

“Beautifully researched and written, Finding Dorothy pulls back the curtain on a fascinating relationship behind the making of The Wizard of Oz.” (Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls)

“Old Hollywood is its own kind of Oz in Finding Dorothy, complete with false dazzle and complex combinations of threat and allure. But what really satisfies here is the unlikely friendship between L. Frank Baum’s unsinkable widow, Maud, and the young Judy Garland, on the vulnerable cusp of fame. It’s an alliance that seems touched with magic and serendipity and something even more transformative, true understanding between women.” (Paula McLain, author of Love and Ruin

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Simple

Great story but written at young readers level. The reader read in a childish manner that was difficult to listen to. Loved learning about Baum’s life and inspiration for Oz

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Storytelling at it's best

Fascinating story that kept me enthralled. Narrator did a wonderful job telling this story of love, devotion and the secrets behind the writing of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ. The story is smooth and interesting. I truly recommend for you will learn a lot.

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What an amazing story!

A beautifully told story of something that is iconic in the experience of Americans. The Wizard of Oz is one of the most viewed movies of all time. Elizabeth Letts has crafted a thoroughly engaging novel based on exhaustive research. Even the author’s afterward is captivating in illuminating the backstory of this movie and of the man who wrote the original book, L. Frank Baum.

I loved every minute of this audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Must read for all Oz fans!

Great work of historical fiction! Bits of movie woven into Baum's pre-book life. Truly remarkable!!

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Delightful read

This is a beautifully told story about the Baums and the making of Oz. Wow!

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Would definitely recommend! Very good!

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book. But it'd been on my to-read list for so long, I figured I'd start it and then, well if I didn't finish it, at least it'd be off my to-read list. To my great surprise and pleasure, I really enjoyed this book. I started out definitely enjoying the Hollywood sections more, but as the story went on, I was enjoying both stories equally and wanted to know what would happen in both. It's well written and a wonderful story about strong and interesting women. If you enjoy the Wizard of Oz, either book or movie, I would HIGHLY recommend you check this one out. It's definitely worth your time.

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Love this!!

It is such a pleasure to know how all the ideas for this story came about. I enjoyed this book very much.

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Is this read for children?

I can't tell if the writing is at a child's level or if it's the performance but I feel like I'm at story time. I like the idea of the story but it's hard to listen to.

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You have to read this!

It all makes since now. I look forward to finding out more about Maud and L Frank Baum.

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Sosizemore

I have just finished listening to Finding Dorothy and I am just mesmerized! I am of the generation that watched The Wizard of Oz on television every year. Knowing the back story makes the book and movie even more magical. I knew nothing of the author or his wife, even though I grew up in the Syracuse area.
This is the story of a man who created magic, often to the detriment of his family’s finances—-and the story of his wife, a woman raised by a woman’s suffragette who taught her to stand up for herself. Finally, it is the story of the making of an iconic movie remarkable for its time.
PS I must post a disclaimer: I was born on Halloween and have just the tiniest bit of the wicked witch in me!