The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

All posts tagged The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Blog Tour/Social Media Blast – Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Published April 4, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A richly imagined novel that 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–from the family’s hardscrabble days in South Dakota to the Hollywood film set where she first meets Judy Garland. 

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

What did I think?:

When Ella Patel from Quercus sent me a sampler of Finding Dorothy a month or so ago and asked me to report back what I thought and whether I would be excited to read the finished copy, I was all over it like a rash. Not only do I adore historical fiction and stories about strong, independent women but The Wizard Of Oz was (and probably still is) one of my favourite films and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it. The prospect of finding more out about the wife of the author who wrote The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Maud Gage Baum was too delicious to pass up and I was eager to report back to Ella that I was raring to go in reading and reviewing Finding Dorothy. A big thank you to her and to Quercus for the complimentary hardback in exchange for an honest review.

Elizabeth Letts, author of Finding Dorothy.

In essence, this novel was everything I would have hoped it would be. We follow our female protagonist Maud from a very young age as she learned how to become a woman, how to fight for the same level of education as men and how important it was for women to finally get the right to vote and start to make a real difference in the world. Her mother, Matilda, a staunch campaigner, public speaker and feminist has an inner strength and determination that shines through in her youngest daughter, Maud.

Maud goes away to study in a time where women were not encouraged to do so after some firm insistence from Matilda that she should make the most of the opportunity, and it’s fair to say that she struggles slightly. Unfortunately the expectations of society and her peers at the time regarding how a woman should behave weigh heavily on her, but in the end she makes the right decision for her own individual happiness, whilst not changing any of her personal beliefs. Enter L. Frank Baum and his Wonderful Wizard Of Oz.

Theatrical release poster for The Wizard Of Oz, released in 1939

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_(1939_film)

You might be forgiven to think that it’s only when Maud meets Frank Baum that the story kicks into gear. For me, that was certainly not the case at all. I was fascinated by Maud’s early life, her suffragist mother, the clear differences between her and her older sister, Julia and how even though she was raised to be headstrong and unyielding (especially when it came to men), there was also a softness and gentleness to her nature that endeared me to her immediately.

I felt like I could connect with Maud and understand her as a person and I could certainly sympathise with her internal battles, particularly as a young woman about what or whom she really wanted to be in life. I adored her loyalty to her mother, her dogged determination to make Matilda proud and her worries that she would disappoint her if she made what might have been seen as the “wrong” choices. As it was, it only proved that Matilda had raised a young woman who was able to take charge of her own thoughts and feelings and make an informed decision to quiet the warring factions of her mind.

As well as Maud’s early life and her marriage to Frank, this novel also explores a present day thread, (which is still historical for the reader) but occurs when Maud is an older woman, visiting the set of The Wizard of Oz in the 1930’s to ensure the film makers are being faithful to the narrative of the original novel and to her husband’s memory. Personally, I can’t remember how many times I’ve read a historical novel told across dual timelines and preferred the historical to the contemporary thread. Not the case with Finding Dorothy – I thought BOTH were absolutely fantastic. It was particularly poignant to watch Maud meeting the characters, viewing the sets and worrying herself sick over a young and very vulnerable Judy Garland. Everything she wrote about I could picture so clearly from the film and it provided some fascinating, thought-provoking and quite startling insights.

This is definitely the sort of story you read, think deeply about and then feel spurred on to find out more and more from other sources. Finding Dorothy has only fuelled this hunger within myself, particularly when it comes to the life of Judy Garland and if anyone has any recommendations, I’d be so grateful to hear them! If you’re a fan of The Wizard Of Oz or just enjoy beautifully written and compelling historical fiction, I can’t hesitate but encourage you to pick up this novel. It’s well worth it and has been a wonderful, unforgettable reading experience.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

 

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

ELIZABETH LETTS is an award winning and bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction. The Perfect Horse was the winner of the 2017 PEN USA Award for Research Non-fiction and a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller. The Eighty-Dollar Champion was a #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2012 Daniel P Lenehan Award for Media Excellence from the United States Equestrian Foundation. She is also the author of two novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning, and an award-winning children’s book, The Butter Man. She lives in Southern California and Northern Michigan.

Find Elizabeth on her Goodreads page at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/568672.Elizabeth_Letts

or on her website at: http://www.elizabethletts.com/

or on Twitter at: @elizabethletts

Thank you so much once again to Ella Patel and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Finding Dorothy is published on 4th April 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour/social media blast for some amazing reviews!

Link to Finding Dorothy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40265841-finding-dorothy?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to Finding Dorothy on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Dorothy-behind-Wizard-incredible-ebook/dp/B07NCZWNST/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=finding+dorothy&qid=1554318836&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Advertisements

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2014 – The Round Up

Published January 11, 2015 by bibliobeth

images (5)

2014 was the second year that Chrissi and I rolled out our Kid-Lit challenge. Again, it was a really fun thing to do which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Please see below for the links to my reviews and check out Chrissi’s blog HERE for her fabulous reviews.

JANUARY – Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

FEBRUARY – Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll

MARCH – Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

APRIL – The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

MAY – Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

JUNE – The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame

JULY – The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz – L. Frank Baum

AUGUST – The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann Wyss

SEPTEMBER – Swallows And Amazons – Arthur Ransome

OCTOBER – Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

NOVEMBER – White Fang – Jack London

DECEMBER – The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our second year of blogging in Kid-Lit.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2014 and why?
BETH: I am totally torn between three… Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. I was delighted to find that I loved all three as an adult as much (if not more) than I loved them as a child. Little Women is an undeniable classic, Anne is just one of those characters you completely fall in love with and I love the style of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s storytelling.
CHRISSI: Little Women. When Little Women is an option out of books, I’m always going to mention it. Oh yes!
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2014 and why?
BETH: I think it would have to be The Swiss Family Robinson I’m afraid. I was bitterly disappointed with this book and expected so much more from it. Some passages sent me into complete boredom and it felt slightly too “preachy” for my liking.
CHRISSI: I’m the same as Beth for this answer. Unfortunately I found The Swiss Family Robinson DIRE! Such a shame.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book that surprised you the most?
BETH: Perhaps The Magician’s Nephew. This was one of my old favourites from childhood (along with the rest of the Narnia series) and there were whole parts of the story that I had forgotten so it was exciting to re-read and remember them all over again.
CHRISSI: Anne of Green Gables. I hadn’t read it prior to this challenge and I was surprised at how charming it was.
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2013?
BETH: Once again, the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett has made me long to read another of her books – perhaps we can put her on the list for 2016 Chrissi? Otherwise, I think I’m definitely going to read The Making Of A Marchioness this year.
CHRISSI: Oh yes. Let’s read more of Frances Hodgson Burnett! ❤

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2014 – JULY READ – The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Published July 31, 2014 by bibliobeth

236093

What’s it all about?:

Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and a host of other curious creatures come to life as they set out on an exciting quest down the Yellow Brick Road in search of the elusive Wizard. After a cyclone transports her to the land of Oz, Dorothy must seek out the great wizard in order to return to Kansas.

What did I think?:

Growing up, the classic 1939 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland was one of my favourite films and I think at one point I watched it on a daily basis! I was really pleased when Chrissi and I chose this book as part of our Kid-Lit challenge for this year as I’ve never actually read the original book, although the cover art with the Lion wearing the green glasses seems very familiar to me. As I was reading, I realised that the book is quite different in comparison to the film, but I still believe it is a fantastic adaptation. For those who haven’t read the book or seen the film (where have you BEEN?) here is a quick summary of the story.

Dorothy Gale  lives in Kansas, described as quite a grey and dreary place with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry and is fairly content with her life there, despite its monotony. However, Kansas is tornado country and when the cyclone hits Dorothy is unable to get to the storm shelter in time and before she realises what is happening the entire house is whisked away to a new land, Oz. Dorothy awakes to a bright, colourful place where she meets the Munchkins, the little people of the country. To her horror, she finds out that her house has landed on the Wicked Witch of the East and killed her, although the Munchkins and the Good Witch of the North are clearly overjoyed at this turn of events.

All Dorothy wants to do is go home to Kansas and she is told if she follows the Yellow Brick Road she will eventually come to the Emerald City where a great Wizard (Oz) may be able to help her. The Good Witch of the North kisses her forehead as a mark of protection and gifts her the pair of silver shoes that the Wicked Witch was wearing, advising her that they are very powerful and to keep them with her. Along the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy manages to make a few friends and useful allies. They are the Scarecrow, who decides to go along with Dorothy and ask Oz for some brains, the Tin Man who dearly wishes for a heart, and the Cowardly Lion who just wants a bit of courage. The friends have quite an adventure along the way but sadly Oz will not grant their wishes until they bring proof that they have killed The Wicked Witch of the West. It is only then that Dorothy will be able to return to Kansas and her beloved aunt and uncle.

I was slightly wary about reading this book, purely because I have so much love for the film. In general, it did not let me down, although I was a bit surprised about the differences between the two. The first glaring contrast is Dorothy’s new shoes being SILVER not ruby, that they do not meet the Wicked Witch of the West until they are required to kill her and there are a greater variety of creatures that the Wicked Witch sends to try and destroy them. Ah well, at least there’s not so much pressure on the Winged Monkeys, I suppose! Without a doubt this story was destined to become a children’s classic and even though it was written in 1900 I think both children and adults will still get a lot out of it and it will remain popular for many years. I fell in love with all the characters once again and thoroughly enjoyed reading about their adventures as they sought their hearts desire.

Please check out Chrissi’s fabulous review on her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

images (11)

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – the titles for 2014

Published January 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

download (13)

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit is a monthly feature I began with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads last year. We both chose six books each to represent the twelve months of the year and resolved to read and review one a month. We enjoyed doing it so much last year that we wanted to carry on the challenge for 2014, so without any further ado, here are the twelve lucky titles!

JANUARY – Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

FEBRUARY – Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll

MARCH – Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

APRIL – The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

MAY – Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

JUNE – The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame

JULY – The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz – L. Frank Baum

AUGUST – The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann Wyss

SEPTEMBER – Swallows And Amazons – Arthur Ransome

OCTOBER – Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

NOVEMBER – White Fang – Jack London

DECEMBER – The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett