Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts is a well-researched historical novel. It is a story about family and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I have seen the movie but have never read L. Frank Baum’s book, which is a central narrative in the novel.
Letts’ novel features Matilda Joslyn Gage, heavily involved in the suffrage movement, and her daughter Maud. Against her mother’s wishes Maud drops out of college and marries Frank Baum, an actor.
The contrast between mother and daughter is striking and yet they are both strong women. Matilda devotes her efforts to promoting the rights of women, writing articles, attending conferences and speaking.
Maud focuses her energy on supporting her husband and his dreams through good times and bad. She manages the family finances. The experiences that Maud and Frank share are the foundation for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Letts highlights the mother-daughter relationships as Maud and Matilda resolve painful issues. Truth telling and forgiveness are essential factors. The importance of family is threaded through the novel.
I read Letts’ novel with interest. The author described the issues that faced women at the beginning of the 20th century. The importance of family relationships while navigating hardship is a part of the story.
A theme that is prevalent in the development of the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and later the movie, is a yearning to see beyond hard circumstances, beyond life as we know it. Letts includes vignettes of Judy Garland during the production of the movie, alluding to her troubled life. As I finished the book I felt some sadness.
The answer to the deep longing that the characters experienced was not attained. God has placed a longing in us that can only be satisfied by a relationship with God. The Bible shows us that through faith in Jesus, who has completed the work of salvation, we can have a relationship with God.