Taken together and arranged largely chronologically (both in terms of when they were written and the protagonists’ advancing ages), the stories are more postcards from a writer’s beginnings and her artistic, spiritual and emotional evolution than full-fledged narratives in their own right ... In some stories, the philosophical and uncanny are tethered to the ocean and the cosmos. Some of the earlier stories read more like fragments and incidents than complete narratives. In L’Engle’s parlance, they appear to the reader like stars. They flicker, not fully visible, but stirring nonetheless ... reflects not only L’Engle’s growth as a writer but her search for her own personal philosophy, one that ultimately recognized opportunity and authenticity in nonconformity. When encountered in this particular moment, her comfort with duality — with writing for children and adults, joining realism and fantasy, science and theology — evokes nostalgia for a time when science and religion were not so regularly and blatantly weaponized for political ends. The label of 'New Age' be damned, L’Engle shared with her readers her great capacity for wonder, and her refreshingly earnest desire to tunnel deep inside the human heart and expose its power to generate and regenerate hope and love — even in the face of eviscerating darkness.
... while this book of short stories strays from her typical genres and forms (primarily novels and books of nonfiction), it still feels very L’Engle: illuminating in the face of tenebrosity. Fans of L’Engle’s work will adore this collection for several reasons. For one, it shows the upward trajectory of her skill as a writer ... Yet it is fascinating and worthwhile to read all of them, even the first few that are her earliest. The Moment of Tenderness will also be of interest for L’Engle-lovers because of its occasional overlap with the author’s personal life ... The stories are not perfect, craft-wise, because they were unpublished manuscripts ... Still, the stories reveal that even in her youth, L’Engle was a master. Her prose is brilliant—straightforward, emotive, and lovely to the ear when read aloud ... Although many of the characters make morally questionable choices, their fallibility, and L’Engle’s deft and generous portrayals, make them understandable.
... offer[s] sharp slices of the midcentury American zeitgeist, when certain possibilities for women were just beginning to open up. L’Engle here enters the territory of such masters of the form as Alice Munro, John O’Hara and John Cheever ... Some of the stories are so affecting that it is surprising they did not find publication in L’Engle’s lifetime ... many people may think of L’Engle as a children’s author or a science fiction writer, or both. The engaging stories in The Moment of Tenderness collectively offer a different, fuller view of this talented master.
While L’Engle didn’t intend these stories to unite in a single collection, they feel bound together by her unique and powerful tone, which seems to split her characters wide open to expose their raw humanity and allows one story to effortlessly flow into the next ... Fans of A Wrinkle in Time and other L’Engle favorites will find in The Moment of Tenderness something new ... While they lack a certain whimsy one may expect from L’Engle, these stories are lovely in their own right. There is beauty in their simplicity and intrigue in the depth of the characters’ pain — feelings that Voiklis writes should give us all a glimpse into some of L’Engles own struggles ... There is even wonder in the feeling of incompleteness that lingers at the end of many of the stories. Perhaps some were indeed incomplete, but perhaps L’Engle merely desired to produce slices of life, ones that do not offer exact answers or unrealistically neat endings.
This short story collection by Newbery Award-winner Madeleine L’Engle, published posthumously by her granddaughter, is aimed more at L’Engle scholars and devoted fans than recreational readers ... Some of the 18 selections are not stories at all, technically. They’re more like vignettes, and a few feel almost like diary entries. Together they form the raw materials that reveal a writer’s growth and transitions ... The collection likely won’t appeal to readers seeking structured stories with happy endings. Only three of the 18 close on an upbeat note. The rest are dark and often depressing, dealing repeatedly with isolation, alienation, heartbreak, hardship, and loss ... Regardless, the stories contain something for everyone in terms of genre. They range from contemporary (for the time they were written) to dystopian science fiction and paranormal involving ghosts.
This collection of the famed author's early stories seems heartfelt, if ill-considered ... they were never published at the time, and probably for good reason ... While fascinating to a loving grandchild, the average reader might be less than dazzled.
These are likable, unassuming pieces that often read like exploratory outlines for longer works. Their interest to L’Engle’s admirers will be in the way they trace the arc of the author’s biography ... the heroines possess passionate sensibilities that the people around them are too dull or preoccupied to appreciate. The inborn hope that animates even the most bittersweet stories is also rooted in autobiography.
This story collection rocketed me back to my own young-reader encounter with L’Engle’s work ... Sometimes a well-observed moment seems too slight, but L’Engle’s refusal to tie things up with an easy resolution, and the possibility that she lived aspects of these stories, attests to her courage as a writer and a person ... Voiklis says editors asked L’Engle if A Wrinkle in Time was for children or for adults, to which she replied, 'It’s for people!' Her stories of human failures, successes, yearnings, and troubles all have a strong moral compass, even if the characters don’t. Reading them showed me the depth and texture that eventually found its way into A Wrinkle in Time. And The Moment of Tenderness is graced with the tenderness with which the author’s granddaughter read her work.
... a compelling and affecting short story collection ... all stand successfully alone as insightful and perceptive slices of emotional life ... The stories themselves are arranged in a rough chronological order of when they were written, which gives the book an interesting sweep and scope ... a wonderful collection. The stories, even those that represent L’Engle’s early career, are finely crafted and have a modernist attention to the complexity and allusive nature of human feelings coupled with a postmodern detachment. Many are sorrowful and aching, even tragic. All are provocative and remarkable.
Like [L'Engle's] novels, the stories here vary greatly in quality: some are excellent, some mediocre, one the worst story I have read in some time, enough to make me groan out loud more than once, and to cast a negative light on the entire collection ... The early stories—like her early novels—often feature awkward viewpoint changes and transitions, an awkwardness that vanishes in the middle stories, only to reappear with a vengeance in the last story. Again, much like her novels. More than one story—particularly those written after her marriage—has a certain soap opera feel ... contains some casual anti-Semitism, along with an odd insistence that the two characters coded as Jewish, with Jewish names, are not in fact Jewish, and a really odd moment of nudity that I found difficult to reconcile with my general, perhaps—probably—inaccurate of New England in the 1950s. (I’m not saying that no one ever decided to ditch clothing from time to time back then, just that this particular episode feels odd.) And that the stories contain a few other moments of casual, unthinking racism here and there that some readers might find offensive ... intentionally or not, L’Engle did, in the middle of an otherwise just terrible story on all levels, identify one truth I am witnessing right now: sometimes, survival can uncover some very ugly things
This collection spans many genres, and holds stunning tales that are realistic, autobiographical, science fictional, or fantastical. L’Engle’s stories are softly tragic with sparkles of hope and a sincere faith, told in a simple and earnest voice. ... These newly discovered stories, written in the 1940s and 50s, will spark the interest of the approximately one bazillion fans of L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
... 18 gemlike stories ... L’Engle employs rhythm and repetition to great effect in multiple stories, and sometimes even in the language of a single sentence ... Occasionally, emotional undertones flow over ... Overall, though, the stories seem to peer at strong emotions from the corner of the eye, and humor dances in and out of the tales ... While there is levity, many of these stories end with characters undecided, straddling a nostalgic past and an unsettled future. Although written largely throughout the 1940s and '50s, L’Engle’s lucid explorations of relationships make her writing equally accessible today ... A luminous collection that mines the mundane as cannily as the fantastic and extraterrestrial.
... illuminating ... Beginning with autobiographical works, some of them college assignments featuring young female narrators struggling with murky emotions, the collection moves toward more plotted narratives, closing with several ambitious tales that occasionally lead into supernatural or speculative territory ... Unswerving throughout is L’Engle’s mastery of mood-setting language and her depiction of the complexity of human relationships. Voiklis’s illuminating introduction places many of the stories in the context of L’Engle’s life and points out those that were reworked and integrated into her later novels. The book will obviously attract L’Engle aficionados, but the thoughtful selection and organization recommends the volume to anyone curious about a writer’s evolution.