Books Read in 2019

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
I spent the entire day engrossed in Elizabeth Letts’ new book, “Finding Dorothy”. I couldn’t put it down. Excellent story. I know enough about the making of “The Wizard of Oz” that this fictionalized (tho well researched) account filled in a lot of blank spots. And any story with Judy Garland as a bit player is even better.  I knew Elizabeth when she was a midwife but she is now a full time author.  This is the third of her books I have read.  She does her homework and researches extensively, which helps make her books so interesting.  (Check out "The Eighty Dollar Champion" which I loved)

The story is told through the eyes of Maud Gage Baum, widow of L. Frank Baum, who wrote the book.  It begins with her first visit to MGM during the filming of the movie and switches back and forth tracing Maud's life as the daughter of one of the country's leading suffragettes, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and her friends (like Susan B Anthony).  Maud was to be the first woman in her family to attend college, but she left school to marry the charismatic actor, Frank Baum.  The book follows Frank's many attempts to support his family, and along the way we see the bits and pieces of his life which become incorporated as big parts of the book (Maud's fear of scarecrows, for example).

If I have any complaints about the book it's that the success of the Oz book seems precipitous, from obscurity to overwhelming success within a couple of pages, but it was probably necessary to condense the story.

Maud's friendship with the young Judy Garland is fun to read, though it's difficult to know how much is based on fact and how much is conjecture.  But who cares?  It reads well and Maud's main desire is that this young actress get the "Dorothy" that her husband created accurately.

It's a great read for a lifelong Judy Garland fan and even though Wizard of Oz was never my favorite Garland movie, it did make me want to put on my copy of the movie and watch it again

Pax by Sarah Pennypacker
This was my granddaughter's choice for our next book club discussion.  It's a young adult book, the story of a young boy (Peter) and his pet fox.  When the father (a widower) joins the military, he has to leave Peter in the care of the boy's grandfather, and the fox (Pax) can't go along, so the father leaves him somewhere in the wilderness 300 miles from the grandfather's house.  The fox, who has known only humans, spends time trying to find his boy and the boy, miserable without his pet, runs away from home to search for the fox.  It's a sweet story with lots of adventure for both.  The ending, while bittersweet, was inevitable.

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