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Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated

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For seven years, Alison Arngrim played a wretched, scheming, selfish, lying, manipulative brat on one of TV history's most beloved series. Though millions of Little House on the Prairie viewers hated Nellie Oleson and her evil antics, Arngrim grew to love her character—and the freedom and confidence Nellie inspired in her.

In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, Arngrim describes growing up in Hollywood with her eccentric parents: Thor Arngrim, a talent manager to Liberace and others, whose appetite for publicity was insatiable, and legendary voice actress Norma MacMillan, who played both Gumby and Casper the Friendly Ghost. She recalls her most cherished and often wickedly funny moments behind the scenes of Little House: Michael Landon's "unsaintly" habit of not wearing underwear; how she and Melissa Gilbert (who played her TV nemesis, Laura Ingalls) became best friends and accidentally got drunk on rum cakes at 7-Eleven; and the only time she and Katherine MacGregor (who played Nellie's mom)  appeared in public in costume, provoking a posse of elementary schoolgirls to attack them.

Arngrim relays all this and more with biting wit, but she also bravely recounts her life's challenges: her struggle to survive a history of traumatic abuse, depression, and paralyzing shyness; the "secret" her father kept from her for twenty years; and the devastating loss of her "Little House husband" and best friend, Steve Tracy, to AIDS, which inspired her second career in social and political activism. Arngrim describes how Nellie Oleson taught her to be bold, daring, and determined, and how she is eternally grateful to have had the biggest little bitch on the prairie to show her the way.

302 pages, Hardcover

First published June 15, 2010

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Alison Arngrim

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,876 reviews
Profile Image for Colleen Hoover.
Author 72 books630k followers
March 10, 2018
I once went to prison for a murder I didn't commit. I was only there for 37 days. They had a really cool library (shout out to Daisy, the prison librarian!) and they had this book there. I checked it out on the first day, thinking I'd learn something about character building. But instead, when I opened the book, a big hole was carved out of the pages and a hammer and chisel were inside. It was some SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION shit, straight up. It took me 37 days to carve my way out of the prison cell and escape, but I'M FREE!
Profile Image for Debbie.
683 reviews425 followers
March 14, 2022
Why I chose to read this book:
1. just check out that title! When my GR friend, Jasmine, reviewed this book, I just had to buy and read it ASAP; and,
2. luckily, I didn't have to wait too long, because it's "Memoirs & Biographies Month" for me!

1. Alison Arngrim is one funny lady! Not only does she share memories of her "interesting" real-life family, she would be remiss if she didn't divulge information about her various relationships with her TV family, memorable "Little House" scenes, and the fascinating behind-the-scenes (both on camera and off), all with her hilarious tongue-in-cheek humor! Even my hubby had to laugh whenever I read aloud snippets from this book to him;
2. Arngrim also shares some dark periods in her life, specifically the sexual abuse she endured as a child, and later, when her good friend, Steve Tracey (who played her "Little House" TV husband, "Percival") succumbed to AIDS;
3. memoirs can be tricky in their self-serving way, so I greatly appreciated that everything she reveals, she does so graciously and without a "poor-me" attitude. It's also refreshing to read her overall favorable thoughts about her TV family;
4. she has also included most informative "Where is she now?" chapters as well as eight pages of photos; and,
5. she makes some excellent points about forgiveness and reconciliation.

Except for the odd spelling and grammatical error, this memoir was everything I hoped it would be - basically an informative and, surprisingly, funny look into the woman who created the spoiled, selfish, detestable "Nellie Oleson"!

Thank you, Jasmine, for sharing your review!

A must-read for Little House on the Prairie fans!
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,935 followers
May 2, 2017
This book had been in the massive TBR pile for quite some time when a chance reading of an author's blog jolted the memory of Prairie Bitch back into my mind. I'll have to agree with this author in saying that Joffrey from the television show Game of Thrones does bear a striking resemblance to Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie.

The intro alone of the book was chock full of interesting tidbits. I love how it was explained why the show version of Little House was so different from the book version.

Michael added adventure, excitement, and tears in nearly every episode. Someone once asked him, "So, why don't you stick closer to the books?" He replied, "Have you read them? There's an entire chapter on how to make an apple fritter. I can't film that."

Isn't this the truth? However, if I'm going to compare books to show, the books win - no contest. I loved both the show and book series but I found myself absolutely fascinated with the day-to-day activities of Laura and her family, as well as the amount of food they ate (or lack of food, depending on which book you were reading).

Memoirs are the type of book that I can only read every so often. Many famous people have some sort of dark past they want to chronicle in print, but rarely is it interesting enough to truly hold for the entire length of the book, so the story is often augmented with random uninteresting side facts or a smattering of awkward humor.

I was shocked to find that Alison Arngrim is just as much of a character in real life as the one she played on t.v. There was still a fair amount of darkness and tragedy in her life story (which is not surprising when you're dealing with child stars), but this woman is also a riot. I would love to sit down and have dinner with her sometime.

She isn't a true "bitch" like Nellie was but it's easy to see that she had a blast embracing her bitchy side. To this day, people still come up to her on the street to chastise her. One woman even had a breakthrough moment where she came up to Alison, simply to let her know that she had been "forgiven." I thought the Brady kids must have a rough time now as adults. After reading this book, I'm pretty sure they have nothing on Nellie Oleson.

Interesting little book tidbits :

Saddam Hussein was an avid fan and never missed an episode.

The show (and book) character of Nellie Oleson was based on three different people from the real Laura Ingalls Wilder's life. Rumor has it that one of the three "Nellie" characters had a family in publishing, and because Laura wanted her books published, she decided to cover up this woman's misdeeds and blame them all on Nellie Owens (the first girl whose name was changed to Oleson for the books).

Alison's personal descriptions of some of the show characters :

Carrie Ingalls - Baby Carrie regularly falls into wells, mine shafts, outhouses, etc. and even manages to take off in a hot air balloon. She smiles and gurgles, seemingly up to the age of ten or so, speaking an unintelligible dialect that only her family understands.

Pa (Michael Landon) - He is transformed (from the admirably moral book character) into "The Big Hunk on the Prairie," stripped to the waist, glistening with sweat, and grabbing his wife with a lust not normally publicly displayed in the 1800s.

Grace Ingalls - On first glance, she's a genius compared to Carrie.

Albert Quinn Ingalls - If someone is going to accidentally burn down a building, befriend a teenage rape victim, get addicted to morphine, or come down with a bizarre fatal disease, it's this kid.

Dr. Hiram Baker - He's smart and makes some very impressive educated guesses, occasionally keeping a few of his patients alive. But generally, the poor guy's got nothing. You get sick, you die. Being a doctor in the late 1800's sucked.

The doc Baker description is exactly what I would have written myself if I was doing a cast breakdown. I think Alison and I are kindred spirits.

My favorite parts of Prairie Bitch are most definitely the snippets of Little House info. Her life outside of the show had a few interesting moments but let's get honest. I wasn't reading the book to find out about her real life. I just wanted the dirt on LHOTP.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,846 reviews34.9k followers
November 9, 2021
Library overdrive ebook

OUTSTANDING….a boisterous- generous - raw - big hearted unbelievably wonderful memoir!!!! I mean SOOOOOO GOOD!
5+++++ good!!!!

I dare a reader to begin this - and not want to keep reading more and more and more!!!
…..a PAGE TURNER like nobody’s business. I loved it -
I’m in ‘aw’…..
I had no idea what I was getting into — NONE…
I didn’t watch “Little House on the Prairie”.
I might be one of the few people on the planet who didn’t know who Nellie Olsen was (a brassy, bawdy, bossy, bullying character), on Little House, and I certainly didn’t know who Alison Arngrim was.
I do now!!!

I had gotten a message from my friend Tracy suggesting this book. She didn’t share much — but I loved her enthusiasm and trusted her fully — my library had an ebook copy….
And once I started reading at bedtime I just kept reading throughout the night. Thank you Tracy!!!!

There are some painful jolts in this book —but it’s also written with funny-bone humor and an enjoyable spirit.
Alison learned to mask childhood sexual abuse. Her kick-ass-acting skills — and her TV family was a savior.

This book is packed filled with gripping interest — [personal, the Hollywood culture, and historical details about ‘Little House on the Prairie’ itself]…..

Alison wrote this book thirty + years after being on the show….
Here are a few excerpts that gave me an experience and context of more to come:
“A grown women had been driven to a state of rage and was forgiving me for what I’ve done on television. . . nearly thirty years ago”.
“Welcome to my world”.
“I live every day with the knowledge that what was supposed to have been simply a really good gig, a major role on a long-running TV series, with lots of good times and fun memories, has instead morphed into a bizarre alternate version of reality, where I am repeatedly held to account for the actions of a fictitious character as if they were my own. And not just any character. A bitch. A horrible, wretched, scheming, evil, lying, manipulative, selfish brat, whose narcissism and hostility toward others knew no bounds. A girl who millions of people all over the world had grown to hate. But she was a girl l grew to love”.

“Any idiot can be liked. It takes talent to scare the crap out of people”.

“Until 1950, the penalty for child rape in California—not ‘fondling’, not molestation, but flat out, unquestioned, forcible rape of a child by an adult—was (drum roll, please)
thirty days in the county jail. After all, child rape was only a misdemeanor. The victim was only a child; it wasn’t like raping a real person”.

Compulsively readable —- great engaging writing — loved it!
Profile Image for Hannah.
794 reviews
November 19, 2011
Whether you loved her, loved to hate her or just plain hated her, there's no denying Nellie Oleson was a force to be reckoned with on "that prairie". Spiteful, hateful, bossy, rude, bullying, bragging, conceited, uppity, vengeful, vindictive, and the bad apple of her mother's eye, there wasn't any length that Nellie wouldn't go to in order to score one over sassy Half-Pint Ingalls in particular and most of the denizens of Walnut Grove in general.

As a long time fan of the TV show growing up, I was firmly in the "love to hate her" camp, and often wondered what the actress who played her was really like. Alison Arngrim was only one year older then myself, and it was hard as a 11 year old girl to imagine her personality without the "Nellie" persona. Well, it took me almost 40 years to answer that lingering question, and I'm happy to say that Alison is so much more then I ever expected her to be as a person, an actor and as a writer. She's awesome!

I loved every minute of this book, even when it hurt to read some of the tragedies that took place in her early life. Arngrim doesn't pull any punches, but her story of sexual abuse doesn't read like a cry for pity from a victim, but rather a call to arms from a warrior. The actions she took as an adult to change some of the laws pertaining to childhood sexual abuse was inspiring.

But this book was so much more, and under Arngrim's snarky pen she weaves a humorous collection of behind the scenes stories of life on the set that was the mega-hit Little House on the Prairie. Many times you'll read books written by actors (especially former child actors) that like to downplay or denigrate their time in front of the camera. Not so Arngrim. She loved every minute of her experience on the LHotP series and had some wonderful anecdotes to share about her fellow cast members, crew and particular episodes ("Bunny", anyone?). One of the biggest surprises to me was how much Melissa Sue Anderson (who played Mary Ingalls) was actually more of the "Prairie Bitch" then anyone would have imagined. But even in her tales of the not-so-nice Melissa Sue, Arngrim was still generous and willing (to this day), to open the doors of friendship to her. I'm suspecting Melissa Sue will never take that offer up - her loss, no doubt about that.

This is an irreverant tale written much better then I expected and filled with all the humor, fan-nerd trivia, and optimism that I frankly didn't expect to find from Arngrim. Overall, her narrative rings true, but I will say that I am personally skeptical about some of the incidences she said she experienced and some of the conversations she claims to have had. However, I'm willing to chalk that up to her artistic writer's license.

There is some strong (aka vulgar, IMO) language throughout the book, so don't expect a sweet and sugary story. In addition, if you don't want reality to intrude on your fondly held memories of this show, you might want to skip this one. But if you want a sad, yet funny and ultimately inspiring read, this one should satisfy.

4.5 Nellies
Profile Image for Louise.
315 reviews
June 29, 2010
Nellie Oleson may have been the nastiest kid in town, but now, she's the one I'd want to be friends with. This woman is a riot. Her recall of all the weirdness that was her life and 'Little House' are done without the rancor and self-pity of so many others who've been through the same horrors. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she's jumped in to helping others and making people laugh.

And to know that hating Mary Ingalls was ok, just make me feel a whole lot better ;)

I read this one in about 3 hours. It's a quick easy read, and seriously so enjoyable that I didn't want to put it down. A stark contract to the angst of Melissa Gilbert's, which I'm reading now. I read that Mary Ingalls has a book out too..sadly, it's not called 'Mary was the bitch', which according to both Laura and Nellie...she was.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,434 reviews36 followers
October 1, 2012
I never imagined I would enjoy this book so much. I checked it out from the library only because I had just finished Melissa Gilbert's memoir(which I had to read after reading Rob Lowe's memoir) and I wanted to get Nellie's version of events as well. I loved watching Little House on the Prairie when I was a kid & it was on tv, but I'm not a superfan or anything like that. I haven't watched the show since I was a kid(though now I am thinking I need to rewatch some episodes after reading these two Little House memoirs).

Alison Arngrim's main focus in the book is her years on Little House. It makes sense, since that is what she is best known for. I thought Melissa Gilbert's memoir focused way too much on Rob Lowe & on all her made-for-tv movies that I've never heard of. It was vaguely depressing to read about Melissa's third tier status as an actress. Alison seems to have realized fairly early on that she was not going to be Meryl Streep and that she was just going to live a normal life; accepting she'd had a cool gig acting on a tv show a a kid, but not trying desperately to hold onto the fame.

Alison is very funny. Parts of her book made me laugh out loud. I bet she is a lot of fun to hang out with. I was not surprised to read in her memoir about her deciding to do standup comedy, starting a few years before her gig on Little House was up. Even though parts of her book sound, in black & white, incredibly dark, she manages to find the humor. The bit about her accidentally ingesting a bunch of LSD & then realizing that her tripping brother & his tripping friends were prepared to do anything to prevent her from freaking out(and thus getting arrested for dosing a kid) was so, so funny. "I WANNA PLAY MONOPOLY!" Hahaha. Stepping back, as a mom & as a normal human being, it is horrifying, just horrifying, that she was on acid as a little girl. But Alison manages to find the humor in the situation.

The one thing she did not joke about was being molested between the ages of 6-9 by her incredibly creepy, disturbing big brother. However, thankfully, she did not go into great detail and the actual yrs of molestation only constitute a few paragraphs. Rather, she wrote about how the molestation led to her working with a non profit organization that focuses on removing the incest exception law many states have/had. "What?!", you ask? I know, I had no idea that the law made it a lesser penalty if the abuser was a relative or even a house guest (WTF?). Alison was able to use both her personal experience as a victim of incest and use her lasting fame as Nellie to get the law changed in California. It's not as heavy in †he book as I make it sound here. It's actually very touching. She also talks a bit about all her AIDS charity work, which I respect as well. (I had no idea the actor that played her husband on Little House died of AIDS).

I would not recommend this book to anyone extremely conservative. I can only imagine all the pearl clutching that must have gone on when a conservative Christian Little House fan picked up this book and read it because it was Nellie's book. Alison's parents were the quintessential CA liberal parents of the 60s & 70s. It was kind of like being raised by wolves. But, like I said, Alison was able to turn what easily could have been a Mommie Dearest sort of story into one that is funny & loving & accepting. It's surprisingly worth the read.
Profile Image for rivka.
902 reviews
February 6, 2019
This is one of the best memoirs I have read to date. Not only does it deal with both entertaining and serious topics in a straightforward and non-dramatized manner, the writing is excellent. Which is not something I assume with memoirs -- even some good ones have crappy writing. This is not one of those.

Definitely a must-read for all fans of the Little House on the Prairie tv show. But not only does it give great insight, gossip, and background about the show and its players, it also demonstrates someone who has used the fame she has from that job to do good things. Arngrim has used (and continues to use) her fame to help abused children and to fight for other important causes. Kudos to her!
Profile Image for Eastofoz.
636 reviews334 followers
July 31, 2010
Well here’s a memoir filled with sadness, tragedy and outright horror but it’s told in such a no holds barred in your face upbeat way that you really have to give Alison Arngrim (alias the evil Nellie Oleson, Laura’s arch nemesis on tv’s “Little House on the Prairie”) credit for writing it the way she did. Memoirs tend to follow a pattern: this is why I’m writing it, my life was not normal, horrible things happened, I survived, I’m in a good place now. She does pretty much the same thing but because it’s told in such a “when life gives you lemons you make lemonade” kind of way you can’t help but admire her.

A fair portion of the book is dedicated to her life as a child actress on Little House. She was great friends with Melissa Gilbert who played Laura as well as just about everyone else on the set except for Melissa Sue Anderson who played Mary. Some jibes there throughout the story, nothing outright mean but you could certainly tell that there was no love lost between the two. There are some gossipy bits revealed about other actors and actresses she encountered during her career. She talks about her very warped family life, gives a brief history of her parents near rags to riches story, and then briefly goes into how she became a political activist, AIDS activist and child activist as an adult and still does this. She’s adamant that her role as the mean Nellie Oleson is what has opened doors for her well after the show was over and also after her acting career was over as she ventured into different areas. It’s as if she was meant to play the part so that she could eventually do what she’s doing now: helping people. She’s still quite happy to be identified with Nellie and in no way hated the character which often happens with other actors once they’re typecast.

A lot of the book talks about life over the years on the set of Little House so if you’re a fan you’ll really enjoy those parts. Each chapter starts off with some hilarious lines from the some of the episodes and there are a few sidebars in the chapters with some Little House trivia that was fun to read.

This book could easily have been written with a very serious tone similar to several other memoirs out there, just the facts would change. What makes this one stand out is that she’s very much “hey shit happens move on”. She’s very funny at times and other times a bit over the top. My one minor complaint is that sometimes she’s a little too flippant regarding some topics and it could seem like it’s a forced kind of “voice” to keep the book consistent in tone when that wasn’t always necessary.

Overall it was an enjoyable read that brought back some nice memories about a great show and under all that there’s an underlying message that seems to say you may be only one person but it takes just one person to try and maybe even succeed in changing some really big things. 4.5 stars for me. :)
Profile Image for StMargarets.
2,808 reviews446 followers
March 22, 2021
*triggers* Child abuse

This was excellent. A fast, funny and at times - heartbreaking - read. Alison Arngrim, a child star, was abused/raped by her older brother and was neglected by her ramshackle, fame-hungry parents. Yet she managed to eek out a happy life and do good with her celebrity status.

Her turnaround came with her role on Little House on the Prairie where she found true friendship with her co-star Melissa Gilbert and stability for the seven seasons that spanned her teen years. She was treated with respect and was held to high expectations.

All of the chapters about the show are delight to read, since AA doesn't take the show's crazy plot lines too seriously and she has a droll way of telling a story.

After her stint on the show ended, she took the time to work on herself through therapy. She also married the wrong man. Thankfully, that starter marriage didn't devastate her. At the time she was deeply involved in working with an AIDS charity because of a co-star's illness.

Through working with this charity she met her second husband. She then moved on to advocate for child abuse victims and had a hand in changing California's "incest exception" law. (30 day maximum sentence for molesting/raping an underage blood relative. Gross.)

Throughout all of this, AA did stand-up comedy and other live performances. I think this is so well-written because she honed her material for years and like anyone successful in comedy - she knows how to write. There isn't a word wasted here.
Profile Image for Howard.
1,067 reviews63 followers
April 1, 2022
5.5 Stars for Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated (audiobook) by Alison Arngrim.

This was a huge treat for me. I remember really enjoying watching Little House on the Prairie when I was a kid. I haven’t kept close track of the actors carriers over the years but when I saw the title and cover art I just had to read this one. Alison Arngrim ultimately went on to doing stand up comedy and I think it comes through in her writing style. Her story is really raw but she has a great sense of timing. I think the audiobook is extra special because she narrates it her self. All of the Little House on the Prairie stories were great and that’s what made me choose this book. But I was amazed to hear how she used her celebrity to make real change in the laws to help protect children from being abused. If you’re a fan of the TV show you need to listen to this audiobook.
Profile Image for Carli Entin.
13 reviews2 followers
March 4, 2011
As a young child, Arngrim lived the bohemian lifestyle of her nomadic Hollywood actor parents—and suffered horrific sexual abuse by the hands of her brother, a washed-up teen idol. At age 12, her life changed dramatically when she landed the role of Nellie Oleson on the popular 1970s TV series Little House on the Prairie.

Arngrim is not simply a former child star with a story to tell. She is an excellent writer, and her memoir is poignant, hilarious, and loaded with the type of behind-the-scenes anecdotes any girl who grew up watching Little House reruns will devour like a plate of Mrs. Ingalls's oatmeal cookies. It is also the rare tale of a victim who refused to be one, who worked hard to confront her past and use her fame, however fleeting, to advocate for children's rights. A great read.
Profile Image for MAP.
499 reviews142 followers
July 28, 2011
Let me put it this way:

I have never in my life seen a single episode of Little House on the Prairie. I know absolutely zip about Nellie Oleson. And yet I read this book in 2 days and gave it 4 stars. What does that say to you?
Profile Image for Bonnie DeMoss.
737 reviews91 followers
April 8, 2021
Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie) talks about her time as Nellie and shares very difficult details of her childhood and being sexually abused. Despite the fact that she shares hard topics in this memoir, she also talks candidly about what it was to work with Michael Landon, meeting Melissa Gilbert when they were both children, and why nobody liked Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson). She shares the details of what it was like to work with Katherine MacGregor and Richard Bull. She details her fabulous friendship with her tv husband, Steve Tracy (Percival) and his devastating death from AIDS.

I read this several years ago, and after reading a very bad memoir by another actress, I decided to read this one again. I remember it as one of the best memoirs I have ever read, and I was right. This book is delight. Despite a lot of hard topics in this book, Arngrim is real, warm, honest, and funny. She brings her time on Little House alive. She is also very candid and straightforward about her abuse at the hands of her brother and how she now helps victims of child sexual abuse. Her description of Michael Landon is loving but honest, and her tales of life on the set are captivating.

I would recommend this to fans of Little House on the Prairie and anyone who wants to read a good memoir.
Profile Image for nettebuecherkiste.
506 reviews123 followers
January 17, 2023
Wer etwa in meinem Alter ist, hat sie als Kind garantiert gesehen: Die US-Fernsehserie „Unsere kleine Farm“, die auf den autobiografischen Büchern von Laura Ingalls Wilder beruht. Wie ihr vielleicht wisst, habe ich die Bücher alle mehrfach gelesen und halte nicht allzu viel von der Serie, da sie, vor allem in späteren Folgen, die Geschichte unerkennbar verändert und auch die Charaktere gänzlich anders als in der Realität gezeichnet hat. Dennoch habe ich die Serie gern gesehen und schaue mir auch heute, wenn ich den Fernseher nebenher laufen habe und zufällig darauf stoße, gerne die ein oder andere Folge wieder an. Das liegt vor allem an einer Person: Nellie Oleson. Es war einfach ein Vergnügen, das verzogene Biest zu hassen! Als ich erfahren habe, dass die Darstellerin Alison Arngrim ein Buch über ihre Erfahrungen geschrieben hat, wusste ich: Das muss ich lesen.

Wie sehr Nellie Oleson die Gemüter bewegt hat, zeigt folgende Episode, die Arngrim zu Beginn des Buches schildert. Eine Dame nähert sich ihr während einer Autogrammstunde:

„… She quickly went from what seemed to be abject shock and horror to boiling rage. She was even shaking. She shut her eyes and took several long, deep breaths through her nose, in an obvious effort to compose herself. She then swallowed hard and opened her eyes. I thought she was going to burst into tears, but she held her head up proudly, looked at me, and announced in all seriousness, „I forgive you!“.“ (Seite x der Einführung)

Alison Arngrim schildert jedoch nicht nur ihre Zeit als Kinderschauspielerin, sondern beginnt mit ihrer früheren Kindheit. Was ich nicht wusste: Sie wurde als Kind jahrelang von ihrem Bruder missbraucht und hat sich noch als junges Kind selbst aus der Situation befreit, indem sie ihm mit der Polizei drohte. Angesichts dieser Erlebnisse ist es wirklich bemerkenswert, wie Arngrim sich ihren Humor bewahrt hat, der sich durch das ganze Buch zieht. Heute engagiert sie sich auch ehrenamtlich für Organisationen zum Schutz von Kindern vor sexuellen Übergriffen.

Arngrim erzählt uns weiterhin, wie sie zu der Rolle in „Unsere kleine Farm“ kam. An die Szene, die sie vorspielen musste, kann ich mich aus der entsprechenden Folge erinnern und zeigt eindrücklich, wie fantastisch Arngrim diese Rolle spielte. Wir nahmen Nellie Oleson alle für „granted“, aber welche schauspielerische Leistung dahinter steckt, muss man sich erst mal überlegen. Tatsächlich war Arngrim wirklich eng mit Melissa Gilbert und den meisten Cast-Mitgliedern befreundet. (Melissa Sue Anderson hat sich wohl selbst etwas von den anderen isoliert.) Wir erfahren von einigen haarsträubenden und urkomischen Situationen bei den Dreharbeiten, aber auch vom Ausstieg aus der Serie und der Trauer um Michael Landon, als dieser starb.

Eine kleine Kritik muss ich anbringen. Über Michael Landon sagt sie: „Instead, he brought about the true nature of all the characters, he said things about them that Laura Ingalls herself only implied“. (Seite 54)

Dem muss ich ganz entschieden widersprechen. Ich habe wie schon erwähnt sämtliche Bücher mehrfach gelesen und auch die einschlägigen Biografien über Laura Ingalls Wilder sowie die Urfassung ihrer Geschichte „Pioneer Girl“. Meiner Meinung nach hat Michael Landon die Charaktere bis hin zur Unkenntlichkeit verändert. Laura teilte nur einige Eigenschaften mit ihrer Serienversion und dasselbe gilt auch für die anderen Charaktere. Ich kann nicht beurteilen, inwiefern das für eine lang laufende Serienadaption nötig war und meine das auch eher als Feststellung denn als Kritik. Und es ist verständlich, dass Arngrim Landons Arbeit mit anderen Augen sieht. Ihre Verbundenheit mit ihren Schauspielerkollegen ist offensichtlich.

Es ergibt sicher wenig Sinn, dieses Buch zu lesen, wenn man „Unsere kleine Farm“ nicht gesehen und Nellie Oleson gehassliebt hat. Aber für diejenigen, die das getan haben, ist dies ein sehr unterhaltsames und Erinnerungen weckendes Buch einer Frau, die viel netter ist als das Mädchen, das sie gespielt hat.
Profile Image for Julie.
528 reviews275 followers
August 11, 2016
This was a superb little book (too short!) that had me laughing in all the right places, and not scaring the cats.

For those expecting a Tell-All you might be slightly disappointed. Instead, it's a Tell-Just-Enough -- a wonderful synopsis of the tribulations of a child actor who had the eyes of the world on her for seven years, watching her every move. That she survived to become such a delightfully stable, funny and compassionate person defies all the odds; and yet, Alison Arngrim is all those things, and more.

Her acerbic wit is razor sharp and refreshing in such a work. The usual memoirs run in monotones, the writers lugubriously bewailing their assorted injustices and afflictions. Arngrim chooses to stand tall and deliver an in-your-face non-apologia for the Nellie Olsen that resides in her.

It was Nellie Olsen, in fact, who taught her how to be a stronger version of herself, and to whose characterization she ascribes her strength. The percipience of such self-knowledge is what is especially fascinating to me -- to be so self-aware and discerning at 20, when most of us struggle our entire lives trying to find out who we are.

I enjoyed the juicy tidbits of Little House memorabilia, certainly, but more than anything, I enjoyed Alison Arngrim/Nellie Oleson delivering her acquired wisdom in a fresh and reflective mood that leaves you feeling you've just had one of the best conversations of your life with your best friend.

PS -- And for those of us who didn't like Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes Mary Ingalls, it turns out we had some percipience of our own going on there. : )

Profile Image for Kressel Housman.
966 reviews216 followers
December 27, 2012
Just learning that this book existed from a GR friend's review last year was enough to set me off on a full-speed-ahead Little House binge, as evidenced by this shelf, but curious as I was about this book specifically, I was a little put off by the curse word in the title and the knowledge that Alison would "come out" about being raped by her own brother. She was the victim, of course, and was ultimately heroic in becoming a voice for other victims, but I figured it wouldn't make for kosher reading.

Finally, though, my curiosity about the rest of her book got the better of me, and I'm really glad. This memoir was loads better than Melissa Gilbert's and more tzniusdig to boot. Alison Arngrim really feels like a friend afterward. It's a fast read, and anyone who loved the show will love her descriptions of how they got filmed, including Nellie's notorious ride downhill in a wheelchair. Alison Arngrim is really likable, and the pictures of her and Melissa Gilbert off screen are priceless. Isn't it awesome? Enemies on screen are still the best of friends today.
Profile Image for John.
2,003 reviews197 followers
October 27, 2018
I have never actually seen an episode of Little House on the Prairie, going into this book with only a general idea of the characters. For the most part, this book worked for me quite well, although I came away realizing that I don't think I would like to see any of the TV series.

My loyal fans know that I don't like rehashing plots, but here's what to expect as an overview: background on Alison's early life in New York City and Hollywood, including the story of her parents' backgrounds, as well as her abuse by her clearly insane brother, Stefan; her parents left them home alone together much of the time. The middle part of the book, probably about half of the text or so, centers on her time as Nellie Oleson. This section is probably of the most interest to the general reader, as she goes into some detail of life as a child actor, as well as her relationship with the other cast members. Final section has to do with finding herself after playing the same character continuously for several years, as well as facing the effects of the abuse, largely repressed. It's her chance to tell her story regarding working as an advocate for AIDS patients, and abused children.

Overall, I think it's a terrific book, with great writing, and audio delivery by the author. She managed to forgive her parents, but I don't know that I have.
Profile Image for Eva Celeste.
196 reviews11 followers
February 25, 2012
I can't believe I am giving 5 stars to the memoir of a child actor- I mean, I usually reserve 5 stars for great works of literary fiction or history. However, I have to give credit where credit is due, and Alison Arngrim had me sitting up all night to finish reading her book. I loved Little House on the Prairie as a child, but I have never had the least bit of interest in reading Melissa Gilbert's autobiography. In general,I don't go for autobiographies of arguably minor celebrities, and wouldn't have even pulled this book off of the shelf. However, Arngrim grabbed me with the title and cover photos, and her engaging and hilarious writing style kept me reading. I would recommend this both to readers with an interest in the Little House series, but also to anyone who wants to read about Arngrim's courage in facing her childhood abuse and using her own experiences to help others- which is nowhere near as preachy as I'm make it sound. She comes across as gutsy, brave, warm, and with a dark sense of humor that makes me think she and I could be friends. I imagine most of her readers are left with that feeling- it's one of her strengths, she's so conversational- so it's no surprise this book has garnered so many 4 and 5 star reviews.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,551 reviews1,632 followers
June 28, 2022
30 Books in 30 Days, Vol. 2
Book 23/30

This was great. I'm not normally a fan of celebrity memoirs, because in my experience the books are often being written just because the celebrity wants to write a book, and there's no literary reason for the book to exist. I don't mean that in a snobby way, but more in the way that said celebrities just don't have anything to say, or they think they have something to say but they are often wrong. Alison Arngrim has a lot to say, and it is all interesting, well-written, and often very funny.

And I'm not even a fan of Little House on the Prairie! I vaguely remember watching it when I was a kid, but it was really something my dad liked, and I remember being annoyed when he had it on all the time. I would leave the room.

This is essentially an autobiography, but really it's centered on how much of an impact playing the evil Nellie Oleson had on Alison's life. She had a very strange upbringing, oftentimes traumatic (content warnings for: but playing Nellie gave her a purpose and a respite and a second family, along with life-long friends. She also credits playing Nellie with teaching her how to be a strong person who is able to withstand criticism. The things that people say to this woman because she played a villainous child! The book hilariously opens up with a woman coming up to her at a signing at a county fair, conquering her immense anger, and then walking up to Alison and saying, "I forgive you." Like she was really the character!! It's wild.

The behind the scenes stuff for the show was interesting, even though I didn't know it very well. She really does a good job painting the scene, telling us the important stuff, and playing up the really good stuff, like the entire chapter she devotes to her favorite episode (and a fan-favorite as well), when Nellie apparently fakes being paralyzed and ends up being thrown into a pond (apparently being thrown into bodies of water was a theme for the character).

Her adulthood was interesting as well. Little House continues to touch her life, but as an adult she actually became a comedian, and an activist to promote legislation to protect children from sexual assault.

If this sounds interesting to you and you also like audiobooks, definitely pick up the audiobooks, because Alison reads it herself and her performance is A++.

[4.5 stars]
Profile Image for Alexa.
Author 5 books3,133 followers
December 18, 2022
One of my all-time favorite celebrity memoirs. Recently reread it, this time doing the audiobook and it was both as good as I remembered and possibly even better read by the author. Even if you have zero context for Little House on the Prairie--I didn't--it's a must-read if you like Hollywood memoirs.

I recommended it in a TikTok and I'll do the same here: if you liked Jennette McCurdy's memoir, read this one. It's one of the rare memoirs that fires on all cylinders, re: writing, humor, horror (Arngrim is a CSA survivor), perspective, and fun little tidbits about being on sets and around big personalities. The cliches are true: you'll laugh, you'll cry. I hold most celebrity memoirs up to the standard of this one, and it's a high bar to meet!
Profile Image for Matt.
29 reviews5 followers
July 15, 2010
So sorry that Mary was such a BEOTCH. NOT sorry Nellie doesn't hold back. She delves, dishes, and zings on everyone and it's all done with love, respect, and humor... except for poor Mary who sounds like she deserved the treatment she receives. A quick and funny read.
Profile Image for Karina.
765 reviews
July 12, 2022
"I thought that a person could then, by logical extension, have surgery to become anything: a monkey, a giraffe...a fire engine. But what I did get was the underlying principle: a person was no longer permanently defined by the circumstances of his or her birth." (PG.26)

When I was little I thought Little House On the Prairie was real life. I didn't understand it was just a show that was taped for TV. It took me so long to realize that Melissa Gilbert was NOT Laura Ingalls Wilder, like she was not writing the book at all. It's funny to me now realizing that Pa was an actor named Michael Landon. I thought he was the hottest Dad on that prairie.

This was such a hilarious memoir and I want to give a special thanks to @Debbie for her awesome review on this. I am such a tech dummy I don't know how to link her review to this so just a warm GRACIAS CHICA!!!

I like picking up memoirs where I know nothing of the person and in this case it was Alison Arngrim who? Right from the get-go she is off to a LOL moment. Her Dad is gay and is not allowed to ask how is he gay and married and who are all these male friends from the theater. Her mom is not a typical housewife and never conformed to it despite her families efforts to marry her off to a "good family." I loved her honesty about her family and Hollywood.

Her admission to being raped and molested by her brother Stefan was the worst and saddest part of the story. It started around age 6 for her. As an "apology"many years later he said: "Sexually molesting you was the greatest sexual experience of my life, and everything else has been downhill from there." I wanted to vomit. Her parents never saw the warning signs, most likely more worried about being stars and never questioned why Alison didn't want to be babysat by her brother. Oblivious Parents of the Year Awards go to.....!! Despite this hard knowing of her life, Alison Arngrim, has such a funny way of relieving the sadness. She uses her humor to get through these battles and it seems she forgave her parents while they were alive and moved on from having any type of relationship with Stefan.

I loved this memoir as it made me smile and laugh out loud. It is something we all need from time to time to loosen the tension around us. I'm so glad I read this.

"I am often cheerful to the point of being annoying as hell. I don't know if this is a sign of good mental health or recovery, or if it means I've finally snapped and just gone the rest of the way to completely batshit crazy." (PG. 295)
Profile Image for Corey.
300 reviews52 followers
February 27, 2012
While I watched Little House a few times as a kid, I didn't become a big fan until recently when I re-read the books from childhood and bought the boxed set when it was on sale at B&N. As a child, Nellie scared the daylights out of me - mostly because I was bullied a lot in school and she reminded me of those mean girls. As an adult, I kind of loved her brazen bitchy style. While she was annoying, she was pretty damn smart. I did like how she grew up though and was sad to see her leave the show (but was thrilled when she came back for visits).

Since I read "Prairie Tale" Amazon suggested that I may want to preorder Confessions of a Prairie Bitch... and I did, immediately. It sounded like a much more enjoyable read than the former book. While I liked Prairie Tale okay I didn't relate much to Melissa at all. I didn't grow up rich. I didn't have a seemingly great family. I didn't drink until I was 21. So while her story was interesting to me, I couldn't really relate. It was also told in more of a dramatic sad fashion, than in the dark-humor fashion that I greatly prefer and understand.

I got Confessions the day it was release and it killed me to have to finish my book I was reading before I could delve into it. I kept looking at the cover just KNOWING a great story lied beneath it's pink pop art cover. While you can't always judge a book by its cover, this one is exactly what its cover depicts - sassy, spunky, edgy and hilarious.

While I didn't have a gay father, I had a similar abusive relationship with my older brother so from the early stages of this book I felt like Alison was a kindred spirit. It's rare to meet someone that has and appreciates dark humor and isn't weirded out by it. I'm also a Daddy's girl and am proud to this day when people tell me that I remind them of him in looks and wit. While I was never an actor (well unless you count the local theater!) I could really relate to a lot of Alison's stories and life. Even if I couldn't, I know that I would still enjoy this book so much more than the other prairie tales because it plays it real.

If you are looking for a backstory on some of the antics on the Little House set they are here in abundance. Alison tells the truth about everything and doesn't sugar coat a thing, including just what was beneath Charles' trousers and what Melissa Sue was really like. If you are just looking for a fun memoir to read, look no further. This book is a great read, even for the non-LHOP fan!

By far the best book I've read this year and one of the best memoirs ever. I hope to read more from Alison and that she makes a stop somewhere near the lonely state of Ohio on her tour!!
Profile Image for Diane.
734 reviews97 followers
June 29, 2010
Arngrim's parents were involved in show business; her mom was a very successful voiceover artist, working as the voices of Gumby and Sweet Polly Purebred from the Underdog cartoons. Dad was a public relations agent, though not as successful. Oh yeah, and he was gay, but that was never really discussed too much.

After a start in Canada, they move to Los Angeles. Alison's older brother got work as a young actor, but when work dried up for him as he got older, he became abusive to his younger sister, beating her and sexually abusing her. Alison tried to tell her parents, but they did not want to hear it.

Alison survived it, and when she got the part of Nellie Oleson, she spent most of her days working and away from her drug addled brother. Argrim recalls getting the part because she understood that Nellie was a bitch. Creator Michael Landon and another producer of the show howled when Alison read a line in a bitchy tone that aced the audition for her.

Arngrim gives the reader an insider's view of working on Little House. She and Melissa Gilbert became good friends, visiting each other's homes. She describes working with Michael Landon, who fought for his vision of the show, and had his hand in every aspect of the show, from writing to costumes.

Landon has been described by others as difficult, and Arngrim doesn't shy away from sharing his demanding personality. But she credits him with teaching the young actors the importance of being on time, learning lines, and not expecting special treatment. He expected them to work as hard as anyone else, and they have a saying about how none of the Little House young actors succumbed to the troubled lives of other child actors: "No arrests, no convictions".

Arngrim is a terrific writer, and her her bubbly personality shines throughout the book. She shares the bad, as well as the good, and the fact that she forgives her parents, shows her strength as a person.

Over the years, Alison has used her celebrity and time for good causes. When the actor who played her husband on the show died from AIDS, she became involved in helping raise awareness of that disease. She works tirelessly to get laws passed that help to protect children from sexual abuse and works to get more money for law enforcement to battle child pornography.

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch is at times sad, funny and moving. You don't have to be a fan of Little House on the Prairie to appreciate this wonderful book, but fans will be rewarded with the wealth of insider information from this delightful writer.
Profile Image for Nikki in Niagara.
3,782 reviews123 followers
August 5, 2010
Reason for Reading: I'm a big fan of LHOTP. I read Melissa Gilbert's memoir and was anxious to find out more and very excited when I saw Alison had a book out.

Alison Arngrim's narrative is a pleasure to read. Just by reading the title we get a glimpse of what kind of attitude we can expect to find inside the covers. Arngrim is also a stand-up comedienne and with that knowledge it explains the easy going narrative style full of humour that made this book such a fun read.

Alison starts by telling of her childhood, brought up in an unconventional family, and of her s*xual abuse by her older brother. The meat of the book, though, concerns her life growing up on the Prairie and she provides fans with what was so sadly lacking in Melissa Gilbert's book. We get a behind the scenes look at the filming and the actors. Alison is funny and no holds barred without being catty or dishing dirt. Yes, she tells what people were really like, if they were generally not liked she says so. She has many funny and sometimes just strange anecdotes to relate about the seven years she played Nellie Oleson. I really appreciated her tone. She talked about every major character on the show, all the children, and the adults that Nellie would typically have scenes with. So unfortunately Mr. Edwards, one of my favourites, was only mentioned briefly in passing. I was thrilled that Alison spoke of Jonathan Gilbert frequently and so fondly since Melissa had reduced him to a few sentences in the middle of her book. Melissa Sue Anderson gets the short end of the stick as worst personality on the show. Mary was always my favourite and I was startled that Melissa mentioned her in passing only three times in her book. Alison refers to her many more times and while never being mean or nasty does relate many instances which let us know why she was not fond of her and she outs Gilbert's opinions of her as well. I would love Melissa Sue's view of this but apparently her book doesn't address any of this and is getting bad reviews so I'm not sure if I'll read it or not, at this point. The Little House cast were Arngrim's family and when she left the show she felt a real sense of loss without them in her day-to-day life. She and Melissa Gilbert became great friends on the show and remain so to this day.

The memoir then ends up with Alison's life after the Prairie. Going on to her activism for AIDS, her two marriages (the second which has been successful) and her determined and relentless campaign on changing the laws on incest which at the time gave those perpetrators a loophole of not having to do any prison time. This involved her having to go public with her abuse on the Larry King show in 2004.

A very satisfying read. I always have a nonfiction book on the go and usually read a chapter, perhaps two, at night before settling in to read my current novel. But Confessions was written in such an easy, fun, narrative style that I couldn't put it down after two chapters and read it as quickly as a novel. A great insider's peek behind the scenes of the filming and especially the personalities who made up The Little House on the Prairie.
Profile Image for Keith Chawgo.
467 reviews15 followers
November 9, 2012
CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH: HOW I SURVIVED NELLIE OLESON AND LEARNED TO LOVE BEING HATED is a great autobiography that deals with the life of Nelly Olsen played by Arnagrim during the long successful run of ‘LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.

This is one of those books which you can not put down and you she is one of the few autobiographies that actually get it right. She mixes humour with pathos and almost hits the mark. There are times when dealing with the sexual abuse that it all seems a matter of fact and it can put the reader in a slightly uncomfortable place as it is factual but doesn’t sensationalises. It sometimes feel like, been there, done that – let’s move on.

I have to admit, I admire that attitude and it does feel like she has dealt with the issue but there is something troubling behind it that you can not quite put your finger on.

Saying that, the rest of the book is a real treat and her observations of her co-stars and work situations make this the true gem it is. There are many interesting anecdotes and some amazing facts for instance, her mother is the voice of Sweet Polly Purebred in the Underdog series.

This really is a must for all LITTLE HOUSE fans and a great behind the scenes of an American childhood star. Entertaining, informative and she doesn’t make any excuses. She has lived a full life and she takes no prisoner. I have new found respect and I would definitely recommend this fantastic fun loving informative read.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
8,899 reviews391 followers
March 4, 2017
In the mood for something totally different, I chose this, based on reviews like rivka's. Read (and like) hers if you want to know why I enjoyed and was impressed by this.

The only thing I'd add is that my theory about why Melissa Sue Anderson was "mean" is that she was naturally shy, and had her mind poisoned by her stage mother. Read the bit where she cried out that 'you can't say bad things about your mother!' I bet that her mother said bad things about Gilbert and Arngrim....

Anyway, lots of fun bits, and poignant bits, in the book. For example, Arngrim met her husband at a suicide hotline program. He says that "depression is defined as 'learned helplessness and anger turned inward.'"
Profile Image for Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB .
362 reviews820 followers
June 24, 2013
An incredibly absorbing and fascinating memoir. Everything a memoir should be, Arngrim is obviously a very nice person. It always seems that the actors who play the worst villains onscreen are the nicest folks off screen! Not sure what is story with Melissa Sue Anderson..I checked her book out and it was as cold and distant as she is portrayed in this book. A definite must read for fans of the show and of great memoirs
913 reviews384 followers
April 5, 2011
Four stars with a caveat: I have a high tolerance for celebrity memoirs. I started reading celebrity memoirs in high school not for voyeuristic reasons (okay, not only for voyeuristic reasons) but out of a genuine curiosity about why, in a creative and chancy field like acting or writing or art, some people succeed and some people fail. It's clearly not only a question of talent; there's a psychology that goes into it and I was curious about that. Although I haven't succeeded in isolating the specific personality ingredients that go into a successful acting career (aside from the obvious one: extreme and possibly irrational stubbornness), I've read enough celeb memoirs by now that I know the formula: my difficult childhood, how I got my big break, dishing and gossip about the set and the people I hobnob(bed) with, my bad behavior and the consequences, what I do now, and many extraneous self-indulgent details of more interest to the author than to the reader. But I'm fine with it, and Nellie's (sorry, Alison's) memoir, while fitting squarely into this pattern, had a lot of redeeming features.

I think it's a testament to Alison's acting that it's difficult to separate Alison-the-person from her famous role of Nellie Oleson on "Little House." Included in the book are a variety of funny anecdotes about people's angry reactions to her upon seeing her in person. Alison also talks about how playing Nellie helped her overcome her personal tendencies toward shyness and insecurity (who'd have thunk?) and, in a particularly inspiring section, how she used her role and fame to successfully advocate for abused children after experiencing dismal failure lobbying as an ordinary citizen. And Alison had a stake in this cause, having suffered severe sexual abuse by her brother for many years starting as a young child. Although it was painful to read about Alison's horrific abuse, she describes it in a matter-of-fact way and never adopts the role of self-pitying victim. Nellie may have been obnoxious but, in a more positive version of her character's brawn, Alison showed tremendous pluck in going on with her life and pulling herself together, growing into someone who not only leads a productive life but advocates for others who are suffering.

For those who want gossip from the "Little House" set, it's here. I enjoyed reading about Michael Landon's complex personality; he could be a jerk, but he had a strong work ethic and treated the child actors on the set like professionals rather than like children. The actors rose to this expectation, to which Alison attributes the fact that none of them experienced the downhill spiral common to child actors. It was interesting to me that Alison and Melissa Gilbert (Laura) actually became best friends in real life. And who knew that Mary was actually a major bitch?

This certainly wasn't great literature, but it was a fast, fun read with a dose of inspiration.
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