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Random House Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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Finding Dorothy
A Novel
By (author): Elizabeth Letts
9780525622109 Hardcover English General Trade FICTION / Historical / General Feb 12, 2019
$37.00 CAD
Active 6.4 x 9.6 x 1.2 in 368 pages Ballantine Ballantine Books
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.

Story Locale: Hollywood, 1939; South Dakota, early 1900s

AUTHOR’S MOST RECENT BOOKS ARE TWO NONFICTION BESTSELLERS PUBLISHED BY BALLANTINE: The Perfect Horse spent a total of 5 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and 4 on the extended list in combined formats; The Eighty-Dollar Champion was a #1 New York Times bestseller and spent 14 weeks on the bestseller list and 34 weeks on the extended list in combined formats.

BASED ON TRUE EVENTS AND EXTENSIVE RESEARCH: The novel takes readers behind the scenes of the beloved film and book, the inspiration behind its famous characters and story.

THE WIZARD OF OZ IS THE MOST WATCHED FILM OF ALL TIME according to the Library of Congress. The film and the novel that inspired it are at the heart of this story.

THREE MAJOR 2019 ANNIVERSARIES: 80th anniversary of the release of The Wizard of Oz film (August 25, 1939), 50th anniversary of Judy Garland’s death (June 22, 1969), 100th anniversary of author L. Frank Baum’s death (May 6, 1919).

OZ-RELATED CLUBS AND EVENTS, such as the International Oz Club, the Judy Garland Club, the annual Yellow Brick Road Festival in Sedan, KN, the annual Wizard of Oz festival in Judy Garland’s hometown of Grand Rapids, MN, and many other yearly events nationwide.

AUTHOR’S INSPIRATION: An Oz fan from childhood, Letts reconnected with the books when she read them to her young son. Fascinated with Baum’s quirky background, she began to research his life more deeply, and came upon a photo of Maud Baum and Judy Garland together. That was when she knew she had a story.

Elizabeth Letts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion and The Perfect Horse, which won the PEN Award for Research Nonfiction, as well as two novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning. A competitive equestrian in her youth, Letts rode for California in the North American Junior Three-Day Eventing Championships. She lives in Southern California.

Author Residence: Rolling Hills, CA (Los Angeles area)

Marketing: Advance reader’s edition

Digital advertising

Online marketing outreach

Social media campaign

Targeted email marketing

Random House e-newsletters and websites

Major book club outreach

Library outreach



Publicity: National/local review and feature print attention

National/local radio attention

Digital review and feature attention

NPR campaign



Author Website: elizabethletts.com

Author Social Media: FB: bit.ly/2d0VhKF T: bit.ly/2cY2aR3

“A breathtaking read that will transport you over the rainbow and into the heart of one of America’s most enduring fairy tales and the hardscrabble life that inspired it. Gripping, fascinating, Finding Dorothy is a novel for anyone who ever stared in awe as Oz came to life onscreen, and wondered what other secrets lay hidden behind the curtain. A dream of a book you’ll want to savor and share!”—Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours

“In some ways reminiscent of Jerry Stahl’s excellent I, Fatty, Letts’ Finding Dorothy combines exhaustive research with expansive imagination, blending history and speculation into a seamless tapestry…. It’s a testament to Letts’ skill that she can capture on the page, without benefit of audio, that same emotion we have all felt sometime over the last 80 years while listening to ‘Over the Rainbow.’”BookPage (starred review)

“Old Hollywood is its own kind of Oz in Finding Dorothy, complete with false dazzle and complex combinations of threat and allure. But what really satisfies here is the unlikely friendship between L. Frank Baum’s unsinkable widow, Maud, and the young Judy Garland, on the vulnerable cusp of fame. It’s an alliance that seems touched with magic and serendipity and something even more transformative, true understanding between women.”—Paula McLain, author of Love and Ruin

“Beautifully researched and written, Finding Dorothy pulls back the curtain on a fascinating relationship behind the making of The Wizard of Oz.”—Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls

“A woman with a heart, a brain, courage to spare, and a girl’s sense of wonder—this is the heroine of Elizabeth Letts’s sparkling, touching novel. Maud Baum is the daughter of a suffragette and the wife of a dreamer, but she is also a force to be reckoned with in her own right.”—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue

“Readers looking for an inspiring true story will be delighted…. [Letts] again crafts a tale of fortitude and triumph over adversity…. Fans of the Oz novels or film will be enchanted. This is a great fit for readers of Christina Baker Kline and Lisa Wingate, and will surely be a popular choice for book clubs…. [A] well-researched novelization.”Library Journal

“Maud [Gage Baum] is a fascinating character, and this is a poignant, absorbing tale of the life and love story that led to the creation of a beloved classic.”Booklist

“Historical fiction fans will rejoice. With meticulous research and vivid detail, Elizabeth Letts explores both Maud’s life story leading up to the writing of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and her determination to see that the film remained true to her husband’s vision as it was made in 1930’s Hollywood. Letts takes readers on an unflinching journey between hardship and hope, with a catch-your-breath ending.”—Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphan’s Tale

“More than just a behind-the-scenes pee at the making of The Wizard of Oz, Finding Dorothy is a heartfelt look at the origins of a beloved story told, through the eyes of the woman closest to its creator. From capturing the pioneering spirit of a family settling out West to the fight for women’s suffrage, and the vulnerability of a young Judy Garland on the threshold of stardom, Finding Dorothy is filled with pitch-perfect wonderment.”—Renée Rosen, author of White Collar Girl

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