Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nellie Oleson is Alive and Well!

Oh, joy.  I have read A Prairie Life by Melissa Gilbert, and The Way I See It by Melissa Anderson.  I knew Alison Arngrim had her own story coming out, and I eagerly gulped it down in one day.  

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch is both hysterically funny, and deeply moving.  Alison Arngrim played Nellie Oleson on The Little House on the Prairie TV series, and was without a doubt a most talented actress.  She created a Nellie that everyone loathed--myself included.  I so enjoyed watching Laura put the smack down on Nellie!

Alison's life was very different.  Her parents were both actors; her mother was a famous voice on TV: Gumby, Casper the Ghost, and so many more during the 60's and 70's.  Her dad was a stage actor/manager, who was gay.  Alison knew from an early age he was gay, yet her parents never spoke of it, and remained married until her mother's death in 2001.  Alison grew up moving around a lot, and had an older brother who was a teen idol in his day.  Unfortunately, her brother also sexually abused her, starting at age six.  

How this young girl managed to maintain her sanity is all because of Nellie.  Alison landed the role, and after a few shy starts, used the character of Nellie to scream, shout, and act out all the feelings she kept hidden away.  Nellie became her lifeline.  

This book is chock full of stories of her time on Little House.  She talks about her close friendship with Melissa Gilbert (still friends to this day), and the agonizing pain of putting on the ugly blond corkscrew wig.   She talks about her deep friendship with Steve Tracy, who played her husband Percival on the show.  Steve was gay, and died of AIDS in 1986.  Because of him, she became a fierce advocate of AIDS rights, and because of her brother, champions the rights for victims of sexual abuse.  

This isn't a maudlin, poor pity me book.  It made me laugh out loud.  Alison Arngrim is one classy lady who tells it like it is, and has managed to survive a lot of crap to become a healthy, happy, confident woman.  She's also pretty damn funny.  Read this and you will have new respect for Nellie; although Laura is still my favorite!


  1. Loved to hate her too - though I actually find Little House on the Prairie too painful to watch, can't stand when things are unfair and kids get hurt! LOL Sounds like an interesting read...will see if I can track down a copy over here.

  2. My sister named her daughter after Laura Ingalls Wilder so we are a family of fans! I have a new found respect for Nellie, although I'm glad I don't have a niece with that name :)

  3. Hey Sue, Found your blog the other day and thought I'd come back and leave a comment. We made it to Charlotte. I haven't got a lot of reading done lately due to the move but I did go to the library Tuesday and got my library card. The first thing I did was to go online and reserve Wedding Season. Next on the agenda is finding a reading group. Sure miss our group.

  4. Dawn! I am so glad to hear from you. We miss you! Good luck finding a reading group--I say if you can't find one, start one. I will keep writing reviews and posting what I've read, so maybe you get some new ideas for book club reads. Take care and keep in touch! We're keeping your Mom under control :)