"[These stories] appear to the reader like stars . . . The Moment of Tenderness 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 . . . 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."—New York Times
"Unique and powerful . . . these stories are lovely in their own right. There is beauty in their simplicity and intrigue in the depth of the characters' pain."—Associated Press
"Likable, unassuming pieces . . . [hope] animates even the most bittersweet stories."—Wall Street Journal
"Gemlike . . . A luminous collection that mines the mundane as cannily as the fantastic and extraterrestrial."—Kirkus, Starred Review
"An elegant curio-cabinet of a collection."—Vanity Fair
"L'Engle was a true New Yorker in the best sense: intrepid, dynamic, daring, resolute . . . If you're a close L'Engle follower and there are legions of them you'll appreciate this chance to chart the evolution of a fine thinker/writer, chronologically, story by story. Otherwise, you can admire each story separately, in its own right."—Providence Journal
"Whether you're a L'Engle super-fan or simply a lover of science fiction and fantasy, there's something here for any reader."—Esquire
"L'Engle's stories are softly tragic with sparkles of hope and a sincere faith, told in a simple and earnest voice . . . [these stories] will spark the interest of the approximately one bazillion fans of L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time."—Booklist
"Few fantasy writers had as indelible an influence on a certain tribe of bookish, introverted, curious children during the 20th century as the great L'Engle . . . for fans of L'Engle, [these stories] allow us a window into her process of writing fantasy, which she called the 'one and only language in the world that cuts across all barriers of time, place, race, and culture.'"
"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."—Publishers Weekly
"This collection is a must for fans of the iconic author."—PopSugar
"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."—Bookreporter
"Cause for celebration . . . The engaging stories in The Moment of Tenderness collectively offer a different, fuller view of this talented master."—BookPage
"Each of [L'Engle's] many books and stories is worth reading because she put so much heart, soul, adventure, misadventure, faith, fear, imagination, and wisdom into them. Her granddaughter's contributions the biography Becoming Madeleine and now this collection round out the portrait of a great writer who will prove to be historically important in literature."—New York Journal of Books
"These stories . . . embody the same soft-footed, timeless elegance of L'Engle's emotional and aesthetic sensibility . . . [L'Engle] cherishes the emotional joys and traumas of everyday existence."— Shelf Awareness
"Fans of L’Engle’s work will adore this collection . . . Her prose is brilliant—straightforward, emotive, and lovely to the ear when read aloud."—The Rumpus
"Echoes the brilliant storytelling Madeleine L'Engle brought us with A Wrinkle in Time, touching on friendship, faith, and hope."—Serendipity magazine
[The Moment of Tenderness] attests to [L'Engle's] courage as a writer and a person . . . a revelation."—The Christian Science Monitor
"A timely dose of human connection . . . beautifully approachable . . . The Moment of Tenderness immerses you in the realities of many different lives, with their sorrows and pains, pleasures and joys."—Hypable
"The Moment of Tenderness, a collection of 18 of these works, proves L'Engle's craftmanship as a writer. Her detailed images, knowledge of human nature, and ability to imbue each character with an intimate and vulnerable honesty combine to make each story shine. These are not happy little stories. Yet amid the darkness of human loneliness and even cruelty, they gleam with the promise of the divine presence."—U.S. Catholic magazine
While L’Engle (1918–2007) is best known for her 1963 Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time, her work stretched across genres, as seen with this illuminating collection of mostly previously unpublished material. Organized chronologically by her granddaughter and literary executor Charlotte Jones Voiklis, the book traces L’Engle’s progression as a writer of short stories for adults. 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, such as “The Fact of the Matter,” “Poor Little Saturday,” and “A Sign for a Sparrow,” about a cryptologist in the 22nd century, which is rooted in the intersection of science and religion that distinguished much of L’Engle’s work. 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. Agent: Lisa Vance/Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. (Apr.)
From the author of A Wrinkle in Time, 18 gemlike stories ranging from the small heartbreaks of childhood to the discovery of life on a new planet
In these stories, some previously published and others appearing for the first time in this collection, L’Engle explores family dynamics, loneliness, and the pains of growing up. In “Summer Camp,” children show a stunning capacity for cruelty, as when one writes an imploring letter to a lost friend only to witness that friend mocking the letter in front of their bunkmates; in “Madame, Or...” a brother finds his sister at a finishing school with a sordid underbelly and is unable to convince her to leave. L’Engle employs rhythm and repetition to great effect in multiple stories—the same gray cat seems to appear in “Gilberte Must Play Bach” and “Madame, Or...”—and sometimes even in the language of a single sentence: “The piano stood in the lamplight, lamplight shining through burnt shades, red candles in the silver candlesticks...red wax drippings on the base of the candlesticks.” Occasionally, emotional undertones flow over, as in the protagonist’s somewhat saccharine goodbye to her Southern home in “White in the Moon the Long Road Lies.” 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. “A Foreign Agent” sees a mother and daughter in battle over the daughter’s glasses, which have come to represent the bridge between childhood and adulthood when the mother’s literary agent begins to pursue the daughter. On another planet, a higher life form makes a joke via code: The visitors will be “quartered—housed, that is, of course, not drawn and quartered.” 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.