Review – Taylor Fulks’ The Silence

Award-winning independent writer Taylor Fulks shows how she was able to write such a controversial book about the subject of sexual abuse. Taylor Fulks has been the recipient of many awards for her writing including the Commonwealth Prize, the Grandmaster Award, and the Satellite Award for Outstanding Achievement in Journalism. Taylor lives in New Hampshire, where she teaches creative writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her first collection of short stories was released in 2021, followed by the release of her elegy for a family that was brutally murdered in their own home. She now lives in New Zealand, where she teaches creative writing at the University of Auckland.

In Sexual Abuse, Taylor Fulks weaves together her personal experiences as a survivor and as an artist. The novel chronicles the life of Lindaemia Blee, who was a young woman of 12 in the 1970s who was brutally sexually abused by a member of a church ministry. The next morning, Lindaemia’s husband Joe went to the police and reported that he saw a man who resembled the attacker enters the home and rape his wife before committing suicide in the bathtub. This incident ignited the Sexual Abuse scandal which rocked the country and would eventually come to be known as the Catholic Church Cover Up. Despite the gravity of the crime, Joe Blee remained largely quiet as he tended to his wounds and began to recover from his experience.

Two years later, Joe is approached by Lindaemia’s former best friend, Ellen Royce, who asks him to help her track and interview a former churchgoer who has come forward claiming to have witnessed the assault. This man comes forward and tells of his encounter with the abuser, describing the attack, its aftermath, and the impact it had on him and on his family. Following the publication of this second story, Joe gets a new friend in Ellen Royce who shares with him about her own rape story. Taylor Fuls does a wonderful job of weaving this painful experience into an artful fiction that reads like a deeply researched novel, while at the same time vividly presenting a real-life tragedy.