Pages: 300 pages
Finished: July 29, 2010
First Published: June 15, 2010
Publisher: IT Books
I always envy people whose detailed memories extend back to the womb.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.
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.