Friday, April 22, 2016


Geoff Ryman
Penguin Books
Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars


A haunting novel exploring the lives of characters intertwined with The Wizard of Oz: the "real" Dorothy Gale; Judy Garland's unhappy fame; and Jonathan, a dying actor, and his therapist, whose work at an asylum unwittingly intersects with the Yellow Brick Road.

My Review

This is a very unusual story that jumps back and forth in time and between a variety of characters, all connected by “The Wizard of Oz”. There was Dorothy Gael, a poor and abused child, growing up in Kansas during the 1880s. Another story introduces Jonathan, an actor dying of AIDS whose love of Oz helped him cope with an unhappy childhood. Then there is the story of Jonathan’s therapist, who discovered early on a talent for helping people and making money. And let’s not forget the young and troubled Frances Gumm, who later became Judy Garland.

This story started off a little slow and I got frustrated bouncing back and forth between characters. Shortly after, I got absorbed by the lives, history and struggles of the characters. Their stories started to flow and intersect. I loved the mix of reality and fantasy, how the characters' lives all connected, and the way they coped with difficult and unhappy lives. At times this was bleak, but it was also a beautiful, imaginative and heartbreaking story.