Hannah's Reviews > Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim
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Nov 11, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011-reads, biography, non-fiction
Read in November, 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
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Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Oh my gosh! She really has a book! LOL! I loved this brat!


Hannah Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* wrote: "Oh my gosh! She really has a book! LOL! I loved this brat!"

You must read this Sandi. It was a fantastic read; sad, inspiring, funny, and informative. I read it in one sitting.


message 3: by Jill (last edited Nov 12, 2011 02:17PM) (new)

Jill 4.5 Nellies! LOL! Well you can't get a higher endorsement than a Nellie. Great review Hannah. I loved this show and interesting to know the dirt on MSA. Does she mention anything about the real Michael Landon?


message 4: by Hannah (last edited Nov 12, 2011 02:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hannah Jill wrote: "4.5 Nellies! LOL! Well you can't get a higher endorsement than a Nellie. Great review Hannah. I loved this show and interesting to know the dirt on MSA. Does she mention anything about the real Mic..."

Oh yes, she talks alot about him and the rest of the cast. You can tell she admired him, but her snarky sense of humor paints what I though was a balanced portrait of him and his personality. She came across to me as a very fair person who tried to see the best in everyone but wasn't afraid to also tell it the way she saw it.

I would highly recommend this if you can find it in your library.


message 5: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Thanks for finding this Hannah and yes my library does have it. I adored this show same as the rest of you. Nellie was always my favorite baddie to watch, with her mom a close second.


message 6: by Hannah (last edited Nov 12, 2011 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hannah Misfit wrote: "Thanks for finding this Hannah and yes my library does have it. I adored this show same as the rest of you. Nellie was always my favorite baddie to watch, with her mom a close second."

Misfit,
She has some great stories about her TV mom, and clearly liked her alot. It was interesting to get some of the behind the scenes info.

Hope you get around to reading it and letting us know what you think of it too.


message 7: by Jill (new)

Jill Well unsurprisingly my library doesn't have it, but I put in a request. *fingers crossed*


Hannah Jill wrote: "Well unsurprisingly my library doesn't have it, but I put in a request. *fingers crossed*"

Ah, bummer.
Good luck on the request.


message 9: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Jill wrote: "Well unsurprisingly my library doesn't have it, but I put in a request. *fingers crossed*"

Same here (like the new avatar BTW).

My mother adored the series and would have loved this to bits. Can we send a copy up to the library in the sky?


Hannah Misfit wrote: "My mother adored the series and would have loved ..."

Yes!
But St. Peter might have to edit out all the "dirty" words :D


message 11: by Jill (new)

Jill @ Hannah
Thanks, we'll see how it goes. I've been having luck lately with requests of HF. My library seems to think they're more worthy of buying than say -

SEAL of My Dreams SEAL of My Dreams by Robyn Carr

@ Misfit
Thanks Misfit. I'm surprised that anyone noticed since it's still a koala. But as Hannah pointed out the background colour is different.

And hope your Mum enjoys the book after you figure out how to get it to her!


Hannah Jill wrote: "@ Hannah
Thanks, we'll see how it goes. I've been having luck lately with requests of HF. My library seems to think they're more worthy of buying than say -

SEAL of My Dreams[bookc..."



Hurrrmmpphh. Your librarian must be a dried up old prune who doesn't, ehem, appreciate the, erm, assets that a good military man can bring to a book. It's your duty to educate her :P


message 13: by Jill (new)

Jill Hannah wrote: "Jill wrote: "@ Hannah
Thanks, we'll see how it goes. I've been having luck lately with requests of HF. My library seems to think they're more worthy of buying than say -

[book:SEAL of My Dreams..."


Hannah any chance I get I use that photo I do! The fact that he's a real SEAL and not a model, makes me salivate something chronic.


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Jill wrote: "Well unsurprisingly my library doesn't have it, but I put in a request. *fingers crossed*"

Mine neither Jill..but I too have put in a request.
Hannah..has she remained close to any of the cast members? (without giving too much away?)


message 15: by Hannah (last edited Nov 12, 2011 04:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hannah Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* wrote: "Mine neither Jill..but I too have put in a request.
Hannah..has she remained close to any..."


Yes she does. She and Melissa Gilbert are actually good friends to this day. She also gets up with some of the other cast members at various reunion gatherings. And then there are several very funny anecdotes about Michael Landon (aka Pa) "going commando", Jonathan Gilbert (aka Willie Oleson), the Greenbush twins (and the real reason why one of them tumbled over in the tall grass during the opening credits). Those and so much more. If you're a fan, you'll appreciate these behind the scene stories and will never watch some of the episodes the same way again (especially "Bunny", when Laura puches Nellie down the hill in a wheelchair - OMG!)


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Oh I MUST find this book! I watched EVERY episode to the very end..(I loved when Nellie was married & pregnant) LOL..didnt change much then either :D


message 17: by Hannah (last edited Nov 12, 2011 06:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hannah Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* wrote: "Oh I MUST find this book! I watched EVERY episode to the very end..(I loved when Nellie was married & pregnant) LOL..didnt change much then either :D"

Sandi,
You'll probably appreciate her stories about Steve Tracey, who played her TV husband, Percival (and became her closest personal friend). Steve died of AIDS in the early 80's, and Alison was with him through much of it at the end. Some of her Nellie/Percival stories are great.


Hannah Gaeta1 wrote: "Didn't realize it was so deep. Interesting!"

It was a very interesting book. She had more depth then I imagined. Very funny, too.


message 19: by Hannah (last edited Dec 03, 2011 02:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hannah Gaeta1 wrote: "OK Hannah--I dragged my flu-recovering body to the library and checked it out."

Now THAT'S "Little House" dedication :)
I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did, and get well soon.


Hannah Gaeta1 wrote: "And I never was much of a fan of the show--but I saw it--and scooped it up. Many quotable lines-great fun so far."

She has a pretty snarky sense of humor. Glad you're enjoying it so far.


Hannah Gaeta1 wrote: "BTW--what incidents are you skeptical of?"

Overall, I firmly believe she was sexually abused by her brother, but I have a hard time swallowing every incident she mentions. It just sounds too far out there. Perhaps I just can't grasp that level of depravity - it's definitely out of my realm of belief.


message 22: by Hannah (last edited Dec 28, 2011 01:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hannah Gaeta1 wrote: "I was thinking more along the lines of repeating back verbatim long-ago conversations. Her brother's behavior--yes, I believe it. I admit to wondering how she fared later as a teen. All she says wa..."

Yes, I chalked up all those verbatim conversations to "creative license".

She sounds like a powerhouse of positivity. So many people would have broken under the conditions she mentions. I'm glad the show was there for her.


message 23: by Willow (new)

Willow My older step-sister actually went to school with Melissa Sue Anderson and she said Anderson was the biggest snot. Consequently, that cracks me up that Alison Arngrim says the same thing.


Hannah Willowfaerie wrote: "My older step-sister actually went to school with Melissa Sue Anderson and she said Anderson was the biggest snot. Consequently, that cracks me up that Alison Arngrim says the same thing."

Iteresting tid-bit, Willow! Anderson does sound like a real pill. Melissa Gilbert was the one to give Arngrim the heads-up on her when Alison joined the cast. One of the best parts about reading this book was learning how close friends Alison and Melissa G. were on and off the show. Between takes of them fighting and arguing as "Laura" and "Nellie", they were tight as ticks! So cool :D


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