‘Out Of Oz’ is the final book in the series that takes up where Frank L Baum left off. Written by Gregory Maguire, it is both a lovely tribute to the original and an incredible exploration of the themes of popular culture. It creates a an almost elegiac mood with its look at what not only Dorothy did next but also how Oz is driven with destructive civil war and suspicion. It surely is a long way from the Yellow Brick Road and all those jolly songs of the film of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ and yet it also reflects on that and how we perceive the character of Dorothy and the witches.
It is the return of Dorothy with her annoying musical interludes which causes great trouble in the land of Oz. Poor Dorothy, now sixteen and apparently unmarriageable, is brought back to Oz by the earthquake in San Francisco which she is visiting with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. They are attempting to make her forget her so-called imagined journey to Oz and show her the wonders of the world or at least the USA. Meanwhile, the spawn of Elphaba, the green witch’s son has been hidden away with the marvellous Glinda the Good (not always) and she needs to be well hidden as Oz is once again in turmoil.
This book marks the return of the amazing Gregory Maguire who has shaped and wrought a whole new mythology out of the Frank L Baum children’s books. I might be sniffy about the appropriation of some children’s books (cough! ‘The Hobbit’) but this series has been a pure joy, not least because its spin-off product of the show ‘Wicked’ has been such a breath of air into the land of musical theatre.
On returning to Oz, we meet up with the eponymous Galinda, also known previously as Glinda the Good. A great friend to Elphaba Thropp (the green one), she still mourns her passing. Now living at Mockbeggar Hall, Galinda is the widowed Lady Chuffery, surrounded by a massive entourage. When her life is invaded by troops from the Emerald City, curtsey of Emperor Shell, she keeps only a token few. These include a little girl called Rain, a strange wild child with no affinity with other people. She may be the key to Oz’s future and a treasure to be hidden in plain sight. Galinda is discovering her own unknown resources as she battles to outwit the commanding officer, General Cherrystone, who oversees her imprisonment. She’s the only resistance as her servants drop like flies (there are too many high places in Mockbeggar Hall). While Galinda gets Cherrystone to teach Rain to read, she contemplates how best to remove the threat and save the treasure. With the character of Galinda so beautifully created, we are neatly drawn in by her apparent indifference to the invading army. Much happens before we start to see a pattern and the comedy is skilfully included as part of the tragedy.
In a way I am quite despondent when the story moves on from Galinda but move it must as Rain becomes a traveller with the troop accompanying the mysterious Clock of the Time Dragon, although we and she don’t know where she might be going. With the addition of the Cowardly Lion and other returning characters, we are set for another incredible journey. Dorothy is a mix of both the original little girl and a little bit of Judy Garland, which I found a complete hoot.
I was sad when it ended and didn’t get full closure on what we should hope for Rain but, overall, I enjoyed this return to Oz and would definitely recommend the series and, of course, the show.
(pub: Headline. 579 page hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-7553-4823-7)
check out website: www.headline.co.uk