Historical Fiction Favorite
Biographical HF: Maude Gage Baum, wife of
L. Frank, 368 pages
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. 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 revealing 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.