Monday, July 6, 2009

Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert

I always have several books on the go. Usually paperback fiction that I read quickly without having to think too much. I also like the odd celebrity biography, but it depends on the celebrity. I really had little interest in 'Prairie Tale' by Melissa Gilbert, but while visiting friends at their cottage on Saturday I saw it sitting on the table and picked it up.

I was never a huge fan of 'Little House on the Prairie', yeah, like many, I watched it in the early 8o's with my family, but with the exception of Nellie Olsen scenes, it never really held my interest. It might have been because Melissa Gilbert was always an actress that I had mixed feelings about. There was always something annoying about Gilbert to me, but at the same time there was something about her I always respected. I both liked some things about her, and yet at the same time, there were things I disliked. I always though Gilbert would make a great friend, but although I cannot put my finger on it, I always thought if one was her friend, you would be careful not to cross her.

I must compliment a book that I can read in under 3 hrs without being bored for one minute. There was little in the book that Melissa has not talked about in her various talk show appearances, but there was something about her struggles that I did admire. This book more than anything is a love letter. A love letter to Rob Lowe (she obviously has not fully let go), and a love letter to herself. Melissa makes herself the heroine of every tale she tells, even when she does not act very heroic.

Very few people come off looking good in Melissa's eyes. Despite his cheating, Lowe does come off well, as does Patty Duke and Michael Landon (warts and all). With the exception of a couple more people, Gilbert makes snarky and not so subtle digs at almost every celebrity and person in her life she talks about. From her mother to Melissa Sue Anderson to a multitude of other celebrities she has encountered. I wondered about her motivation to slam so many. Some she did not appear to have much interaction with. I cannot say I did not enjoy that aspect of the book, but with the exception of actor Kent McCord, she gives very little background on why some of these people seem to bug her so much.

I did enjoy reading about her relationship with Cyril O'Reilly (see below) and the various other stars she dated. I also wanted a bit more info on sister Sara, who was barely mentioned. I also enjoyed all the sections on her time on Little House. It was the Little House stories I felt should have been a bigger part of this book. I would guess most who purchase the book are buying to find out the scoop behind the scenes of Little House, but it takes up sadly too few pages in the book. I was little disturbed how she wrote about her ex husband Bo Brinkman. Melissa writes about their relationship in a way that almost makes him the bad guy, but after reading the sections on Bo, I sort of liked him. It did not seem like a good guy/bad guy situation, but more about two screwed up people working out their issues in an unhealthy way. I do however think Gilbert should have left much of what she wrote about Brinkman out. They do have a son together, and much of what she wrote are things a child really should not know about one of their parents. Book the Therapist stat!

Did I enjoy the book....despite what I wrote above, Hell yes! It was a good, quick read. Even though Melissa found the need to name drop just to impress the reader, she does have a way of writing that is reader friendly. Again, I wanted more scoops about behind the scenes of some of her movies and tv shows, there was enough to satisfy me overall. I do wonder why some celebrities don't seem to realize that readers buy biography's to find out those behind the scenes stories, not simply just to join them on their cathartic journey to purge their demons and justify their actions.

My favorite part of the book was the ending where Melissa lists the ideas some others gave her for her book title. My favorite was 'Nellie's Not A Bitch, Mary Is' which my gut tells me comes from friend Alison Arngrim. After reading Melissa's story I must say the things I always disliked about her, I disliked more. At the same time however, the things I do like and respect about her, I like more.

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