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Confessions of a Prairie Bitch
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated By Arngrim, Alison eBook - 2010

I was seduced by the title and stayed for a hot weekend fling. Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on the syrupy 70’s family staple Little House on the Prairie, regales the reader with anecdote after anecdote that confirms that the earnest, old-timey vibe of Little House was just as much a wooden facade as the town of Walnut Grove. Arngrim relates, in a voice that pretty much matches her stand-up persona, the bizarre circumstances of 70’s TV stardom. She describes in hilarious detail the cutthroat world of being a child actor in Hollywood and the alliances (Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura) and rivalries (Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary) that developed as a result. She recounts Michael Landon’s somewhat unorthodox behaviour on set, which included an aversion to directing without having first imbibed three or four fingers of Wild Turkey. Alison Arngrim is fearless in her description of fan reactions to her appalling character; to this day having heavy objects thrown at her head is not unheard of. Arngrim also touches on darker topics, such as childhood abuse that she suffered at the hands of a family member and the tragic death of her good friend and on-screen husband, Steve Tracy. Sinister events such as these initially sound a little too dark for the book, but she makes it work. My only criticism of this book is that Arngrim tends to present herself as an eerily mature young teenager. Her purported reactions to the events in the book strike me as more the sensibility of a 40-something than that of a 12 year old. Perhaps this is due to her unconventional upbringing, but I find that it comes off as hollow and improbable. I personally can’t imagine reading a script as a 12 year old and casually remarking to my father: “This girl is kind of a bitch.” (Even if the girl in question is the odious Nellie Oleson) If you’re a die-hard Little House fan who feels that times were more gentle in the 1800s, who longs to experience the delicious sensation of petticoats and button-up boots, and that things were better in a world where all problems could be fixed by a strong father figure and weekly doses of Protestant indoctrination, you’re probably going to hate this book. I got all that stuff out of my system during the Road to Avonlea years, so I loved it. It’s a hard book to hate – an unchallenging read that entertains from start to finish. It's not high literature, but with a title like "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch," it would be foolish to expect the book to be anything but what it is. This book is best enjoyed whilst reclining on the sofa with the gentle hums of the computer, washing machine, and dishwasher in the background, reminding you that the big-bad 21st century still retains some charms.

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