Three Faces of Nellie: The Real Story Behind Laura Ingalls Wilder's

Three Faces of Nellie: The Real Story Behind Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Nellie Oleson"

by Robynne Elizabeth Miller

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Whether you love her, hate her, or love to hate her, Nellie Oleson is one of most recognizable literary figures of the 20th century. But Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series in which Nellie appears, had a secret. . .Nellie wasn't a real person! Instead, she was a composite character created from three girls Laura knew from childhood: Nellie Owens, Genevieve Masters, and Estella Gilbert. The Little House character of Nellie Oleson is one-dimensional: snobbish, selfish, and thoroughly unpleasant. But the real women behind Laura's creation? An intriguing mix of the not-so-nice and the unexpectedly redeemable. In short, they were human. Discovering the true stories behind Nellie, Genevieve, and Estella has been a fascinating journey. All three ended up on the West Coast at one point. . .true westward movement! One was widowed twice, one ended up divorced, and one died way too young. Two only had one child, and one had three, though she outlived her youngest by a very long time. There's even some "Nellie-like" drama in there: Embezzlement. Lying on censuses. Shady land deals. But there are some beautiful things, too. . .like the enduring love of a husband after his bride died. Or the rare closeness of a mother and daughter who shared their lives as adults. Or the strength of a young widowed mother who not only cared for her son, but headed out west, in true pioneer fashion, while she did so. Laura Ingalls Wilder did a masterful job of creating the character of Nellie Oleson. But the three real-life women behind that iconic character are, in my opinion, infinitely more intriguing.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940157082406
Publisher: Practical Pioneer Press
Publication date: 11/28/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 942,141
File size: 493 KB

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Three Faces of Nellie: The Real Story Behind Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Nellie Oleson" 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
MeganHope More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was so good! Miss Robynne did such a fantastic job of putting all her information into this book without it being dry and dull. I've loved the story of Little House on the Prairie since I was a little girl. I loved the movies and the books. This book explained the character of Nellie Oleson that we all know of really well. So many things were different then how I'd originally thought they were! But it was so fun to see the truth behind the character. To see what she was really like. Lovers of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books definitely need to check this one out!
J_Augustine More than 1 year ago
The three women who inspired a villainess... Nellie Oleson, probably one of the most recognized villainesses from out childhoods. Generations have grown up reading the Little House books and watching the TV, either when it first aired or in reruns. Though, I was born after the TV show was long into reruns I was first introduced to Laura, Mary, Ma, Pa, Carrie, Grace, Almanzo, and, of course, Nellie Oleson, when my mom started reading the Little House books to me as a little girl. Later on I read them again for myself and loved them just as much. Cue The Three Faces Of Nellie, as soon as I read the blurb I knew it was a book I wanted to read. As wonderful as Laura Ingalls Wilder's books are I knew that they were fictionalized and she had taken artistic license in their writing so I was intrigued by the idea of learning the real story behind the story. Author Robynne Elizabeth Miller has well researched the real Nellies; Nellie Owens, Genevieve Masters, and Estella Gilbert. That last name I find a little ironic since the actress who played Laura on TV also had the surname of Gilbert. Citing sources from Findagrave to censuses in more than one country, from Polk Directories to newspapers, this book paints a fascinating, and frequently tragic, story of the three women who would inadvertently go down in history for their jealousy, spitefulness, and just plain childish meanness. A fairly quick and easy read, I was finished in just a couple of hours, this book is perfect for any fan of the Little House series. You'll get the chance to find out what happened to them later, who their parents were, and where their children went. If you loved the books and/or the TV show this is a book you won't want to miss! (I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.)
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This explains to us who Nellie Olesen of Little House on the Prairie fame really was. It was not one person. It was a compilation of three real women. It seems that Laura Ingalls Wilder had felt bullied by these three women at different times in her life and put them all together to create Nellie Oleson for her books. This tells us about some of their real lives. This was well done. I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Ourpugs More than 1 year ago
The three faces of Nellie If you want to learn more about Nellie Oleson this is the book for you. The book explores how the character was actually made up from three persons. That was very interesting to learn but there was a little bit too much information for me. The author really gathers a lot of information. For this short book there was definitely a lot of research done. I really appreciate how much time the author put into this book. Has the history of each person, dates of their birth, marriage, death. If you a fan of the Laura ingalls Wilder’s books, you may find this a very interesting book. I don’t remember reading much of the books, not sure why I didn’t because I love to read about that time in history. I did watch a lot of the TV show “little house on the prairie “ which was based on the books. I definitely remember how the character Nellie was on there. I received an complementary copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write an positive review. This is my own opinion.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
I grew up reading every book in The Little House on the Prairie series. I dreamed that I was there in the little school house siting in my desk with my slate ready to write. I did not like the snotty Nellie Oleson one bit. When this book came up for review, I was so excited to revisit my friends who helped me get through my childhood. I was fascinated by the author's very detailed account of Nellie that was really Laura's creation of three very intriguing women named Nellie, Genevieve and Estella. It was a secret that Laura had composed Nellie from three different girls that Laura knew. What was I reading? Did Laura make up Nellie? It seems that Laura has combined three girls she knew into one character, named Nellie. I am shocked to learn that Laura made up Nellie from three characteristics of her friends. I wonder why this secret was hidden for so long? The author has piqued my interest in a series I treasured as a child and still do. There is a lot of facts in the book that at times made me get overwhelmed and lost. I guess I was expecting more details about Laura and the Three Nellie's and less about family history. The family history bogs the story down a bit, but not enough for me to turn away from the book. I loved getting to know The Three Nellie's and thought how brilliant Laura was in writing a story comprised of a character that still fascinates us. Laura and Nellie never liked each other, but as the book says about Nellie, " She was clearly loved by her children and did have many moments of grief that she faced in her life." In the end three women made a story come to life through the eyes of a young girl. They each played a part in the story that many loved and still do. I now have this desire to pick up the series at the library and reread the books. In there I will find three very fascinating girls that became one very important character in a series that has been loved for generations. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
Kathae More than 1 year ago
Who knew?! I consider my self a huge Little House fan, but obviously I'm not as huge a fan as those who already knew this little tidbit: Apparently, Nellie Oleson of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books was a character created by Laura, but was based on three different girls in her childhood. This book details those three girls' lives, such as when they traveled west, when they lived, when they knew Laura, and what they did in their adult lives. The author presented substantiated research, and acknowledged when there may have been gaps in the knowledge. I was very impressed with the amount of research that went into this book. It was a fairly quick read, and sometimes was a little dry (think of the biblical begats), but yet fascinating to learn more of these girls who comprised the Nellie Oleson character. It is worth the read for Little House fans, or others that appreciate genealogical research. I received an ARC of this book from the author, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my own.
ARS8 More than 1 year ago
I usually am a fiction reader, especially in my spare time and my leisure reading. I am also a fan of the Little House on the Prairie TV series, have been since I was a little girl. In fact a couple of years ago I received for a gift a boxed set of the whole series along with the specials in a really cute box that is shaped just like the little house. So I was very interested in reading the non-fiction book, The Three Faces of Nellie. Filled with bits of information about the three women that influenced the character of Nellie Oleson, a villain I disliked right along with Laura. It was very interesting to read about three seemingly ordinary women, who probably did not know what an influence they would have on Laura’s writing and now their real lives have become very interesting. There were certainly some surprises along the way and after reading this it has only enhanced the fictional character for me. Not a long book and one I think most fans of LHOP, books and series would enjoy reading. I received a copy of this book from the author. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
BMace More than 1 year ago
As one who has always enjoyed reading the Little House on the Prairie books, and have repeatedly seen the series on TV, this title caught my eye. I have many memories of times that I thought, and perhaps said out loud - How could she do that? reference to Nellie's behavior. I suppose Nellie was one of the original antagonists that we learned to 'hate'. However, in the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, she was sure 'Nellie was much more unhappy than she ever made Laura'. The author has taken a great deal of time and research to tell us many details from numerous historical sources about life and death in those years. It was quite interesting to imagine what life was like with all three 'Nellies'. I received this ebook through CelebrateLit and all impressions and opinions are my own.
5643437 More than 1 year ago
Growing up, I can remember reading the “Little House on the Prarie” series of books by Larua Ingalls Wilder and being fascinated by the stories she told. I loved reading about Pa playing his fiddle and all the adventures she had. But there was one character I could not stand – Nellie Olsen, so when I found out about this book tour, I knew I wanted to read this book. I was amazed to learn that Nellie Olsen was actually created from three different girls who interacted with Laura Ingalls Wilder. The idea of changing names to protect or prevent people from knowing who Laura Ingalls Wilder was actually writing about intrigued me. This book is not a story, instead, it is facts and is not written for entertaining the reader. Instead, it is meant to provide the reader knowledge and information about the three individuals who actually resulted in the character of Nellie Olsen: Nellie Owens, Genevieve Masters, and Estella Gilbert. This book provides family information and other facts about these characters. The author does an excellent job of illustrating the true human attributes of these three individuals. She also does a masterful job of portraying the real human nature of Laura Ingalls Wilder as well. So if you are someone who desires to learn more about the individuals behind the character of Nellie Olsen, check out this book for yourself.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
Who hasn’t read the Little House on The Prairie series or watch the famous TV series, well now this author has given us an in-depth look into the lives of whom the character of Nellie Olsen was based on, and it a combination of three. This is really a genealogy look into their lives and those of the ancestors, and more. Loved the author’s humor as she gives the facts and more, and made for an enjoyable book. Although, it is redundant in places, I found a lot of the information interesting and could see why Laura made Nellie as she was. I received this book through Celebrate Lit, and was not required to give a positive review.
NKBookReviewer More than 1 year ago
Were you a Little House on the Prairie Fan? Me, too! I loved watching the television show and imaging that way of life. What did you think about the character Nellie Oleson? She certainly wasn’t one of my favorites at the beginning. However, she grew up and I remember her changing into a much nicer person. In her book “The Three Faces of Nellie Oleson” author Robynne Elizabeth Miller enlightens readers on the real people whom Nellie was. Interestingly, Nellie was a compilation of three different people and not an individual. Nellie Owens, Stella Gilbert and Genevieve Masters were the women that together made up Nellie. This is a rather short book that will probably only interest fans of Little House. It is very well researched and organized. In fact, it reads a lot like a research paper or project. References are cited, there is much data presented, and some speculation. I am not sure what I was expecting, but this was a surprise. It is more of a history lesson. I would only recommend this to fans of Laura Ingles and Little House on the Prairie. It took me a bit to finish even though it was short. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I was given a copy by Celebrate Lit but under no obligation to write a review. This is my own, honest opinion.
Digging4Pearls More than 1 year ago
I loved the Little House on the Prairie series and television show as a child, so when the opportunity arose to learn more about the three different girls that comprised Nellie Oleson in Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved books, I was intrigued. Ms. Miller's book is well detailed and researched. It's obvious that she spent a lot of time ferreting out the mystery behind the arch enemy of Nellie. Ms. Miller's book was a quick read, and I found it interesting. While the book was provided for free, I wasn't under any obligation to write a favorable review - 2018.