Elizabeth Letts's enchanting historical novel, Finding Dorothy, beautifully combines the 1930s story of a beloved film with the real-life story of a woman in the late 19th century.
In 1938, 77-year-old Maud Baum, widow of L. Frank Baum, wheedles her way into the production of The Wizard of Oz, based on her husband's famous book, determined to keep the movie in line with Frank's vision. On set, she hears a song about a rainbow that she knows Frank would love, yells when she sees Emerald City painted green and meets a 15-year-old girl named Judy, whom she is determined to protect, since she couldn't protect the real Dorothy.
In a parallel narrative, Maud is a 10-year-old child in 1871 New York State. Her mother, Matilda, is a well-known suffragist and friend of Susan B. Anthony (Auntie Susan, to Maud). Maud grows up to be a strong, independent woman and one of the first female students to attend Cornell University. She meets Frank, they marry, travel far and wide with Frank's theater company and later settle in South Dakota to raise their family.
The author moves back and forth between the two stories, often directly connecting the dots between what's happening on the set of the movie and the details of Maud and Frank's lives that made their way into The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Seeing these connections is delightful and the behind-the-scenes look is fascinating, but Maud's life story is just as compelling as the Hollywood one. --Suzan L. Jackson, freelance writer and blogger at Book By Book