July 14th, 2024

Literary world grapples with revelation Alice Munro stayed with her daughter’s abuser


By The Canadian Press on July 8, 2024.

Representatives for the bookstore co-founded by Alice Munro say it will take time to figure out how the short story author's legacy will be changed by revelations that she chose to ignore her daughter's abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Munro attends a ceremony in Victoria, B.C., Monday, March 24, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The bookstore co-founded by Alice Munro says many readers and writers will be grappling with the author’s legacy after learning that she chose to stay married to the man who sexually abused her daughter.

The now independently owned Munro’s Books in Victoria says in a statement it supports Munro’s youngest daughter Andrea Robin Skinner, who revealed in The Toronto Star that her stepfather’s abuse remained a family secret for decades.

Ontario author Zoe Whittall lauded Skinner’s bravery in coming forward and said that while she was devastated by her account, she is never surprised to learn of a mother choosing her husband over her child.

Whittall’s 2016 novel “The Best Kind of People” deals with similar themes, and she wrote on social media that the wife in that book goes back to her husband because it is common.

Prolific American writer Joyce Carol Oates said on social media that there are ways Munro’s attitudes may have shown up in her work.

She says in Munro’s stories, which highlighted familial relationships in small-town Ontario, “often terrible men are valorized, forgiven, enabled.”

U.S. author Joyce Maynard, who wrote in a Facebook post that she is re-reading Munro’s work this summer after the author’s death in May, says Skinner’s story is painful but should not be ignored.

Still, she says, she “will not cease to admire – and study – the work of Alice Munro.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2024.

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