July 21, 2024


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The silence was broken, as were many of Alice Munro’s fans.

The silence was broken, as were many of Alice Munro’s fans.

The image of Monroe, who died in May at the age of 92, was shattered on Sunday.

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood wrote in an email that she was surprised by the revelations. Although she had learned a little about the family feud two years earlier from one of Munro’s other daughters, she had not known the full story until she read Skinner’s novel.

“Why did I stay? Find me,” Atwood wrote of Monroe’s decision. “I think they were from a generation and a place that swept things under the rug.”

“I realized you didn’t know who you thought you knew,” she added.

On social media, a slew of writers and journalists, including Lydia Kiesling, Brandon Taylor and Jiang Fan, expressed shock and sadness at the news. Others, including novelist Rebecca McKay, wondered whether it would be possible to separate Munro’s transcendent writing, which sometimes explored turbulent domestic circumstances and sudden separations, from her disturbing behavior.

“These revelations not only shatter Monroe’s legacy as a person, they make the stories that were once so clear about those unfathomable betrayals completely unreadable, and can only be seen as unverified confessions,” MacKay said in an email. “To me, that makes them completely unreadable.”

Skinner wrote that the abuse began when she was 9 and went to visit her mother and stepfather, Gerald Fremlin. Skinner wrote that he climbed into bed with her and sexually assaulted her. She told her stepmother, Carol Sabiston, who told Skinner’s father, Jim Monroe. He decided not to tell his ex-wife, Alice. Fremlin continued to expose himself to her for years, Skinner wrote in The Star.

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