With my busy fall schedule for work travel, I always try to make sure I’m in the area to attend my book club’s October meeting. Lucky for us, one of our members loves to decorate and dress up for Halloween and volunteers to host our meeting. This year’s selection, Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts, lent itself to many choices for fun costumes and themed treats.
Two Glindas, three Dorothys, two lions, three Munchkins, a scarecrow and an Oz guard munched their way down the Yellow Brick Road of cheese on our way to Somewhere Over the Rainbow fruit salad as we escaped the Kansas Twisters of roll-ups and dipped into a bowl of Melting Witch guacamole. Did I say our hostess is a genius?
With our bellies and wine glasses filled, we sat down to discuss the book. We decided Finding Dorothy could have been titled, Finding Maud, but no one would have known who Maud was, or cared enough to pick up the book off a shelf. (Hence, the importance of selecting a book title – What’s in a Name?) The main character is Maud Baum, wife of the original Wizard of Oz book series author, Frank L. Baum. In an adept use of a dual timeline approach, Elizabeth Letts presents the backstory of Frank and Maud in the late 1800s/early 1900s so we can understand the inspirations for his books and Maud’s desire to protect the heart and meaning of the Dorothy character as the movie is filmed in 1938/1939.
There was a good amount of research and historical detail which powered the story to make it an easy, yet informative read. From the workings of Maud’s mother as a preeminent suffragist in upstate NY to pioneer-styled living in North Dakota, to the World’s Fair in Chicago forward to the early days of Hollywood, complete with the issues of drug use by actors and actresses – knowingly or unknowingly – to the consistent abuse of directorial powers and influence of stage mothers, the story weaves the two time periods together in a seamless manner.
The book is timely as well with the recent release of the movie, Judy, a biopic of Judy Garland. The 1938 timeline focuses on the relationship which Maud and Judy developed. As the story progresses, Maud seeks to protect not only the idea of the Dorothy character, but also the teen girl playing the character. We discussed at length the sad demise of Judy Garland which we now know could be in part traced back to the filming of the movie and the demands placed upon her by the producers, director and her own mother.
Overall, an enlightening book, a thoughtful discussion and an evening where we could all escape for a couple of hours into the dreamland of Oz.
#amreading #bookreview #BookClub #historicalfiction #womenfiction
For more history on the suffragist movement and since 1919/1920 is covered in my novel about forward-thinking, and acting, women, check out this post: Votes for Women
Historical fiction is my favorite genre. Plenty of other recommendations here: Book Recommendations
#amwriting #amediting #writingcommunity #bookreviews #bookrecommendations #historicalfiction
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