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Weeks After Alice Munro’s Death, Daughter Tells of Dark Family Secret


“I also wanted this story, my story, to become part of the stories people tell about my mother,” Skinner continued. “I never wanted to see another interview, biography or event that didn’t wrestle with the reality of what had happened to me, and with the fact that my mother, confronted with the truth of what had happened, chose to stay with, and protect, my abuser.”

Attempts to reach Skinner on Sunday were unsuccessful.

Skinner wrote that the abuse began in 1976, when she was 9 years old and went to visit Fremlin, then in his 50s, and her mother, who was in her 40s. She said he climbed into the bed where she was sleeping and sexually assaulted her. Skinner said she told her stepmother, who then told Skinner’s father. Her father did not confront Munro.

During the next several years, Skinner wrote, Fremlin exposed himself to her in car rides, described her mother’s sexual needs and “told me about the little girls in the neighborhood he liked.” According to the article in the Toronto Star, he lost interest in Skinner when she became a teenager.

Over time, Munro’s reputation as an author grew. When she died, she was widely considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers of all time. Her work often focused on women in different stages of life, mixing “ordinary people and extraordinary themes,” according to her New York Times obituary. She was awarded the Nobel in 2013 when she was 82.

When Skinner was in her twenties, Munro expressed sympathy for a character in a short story who dies by suicide after being sexually abused by her stepfather. It was after this, Skinner wrote, that she decided to tell her mother about the abuse she suffered.



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