The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L'Engle is a delightful anthology of short stories she'd written throughout her life. Most readers know L'Engle from A Wrinkle in Time. She brought Science Fiction to the YA world and introduced many of us to tesseracts for the first time.
L'Engle's grandaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, went through her papers after her death and read through her short stories. This book is a result. It contains eighteen of them. Some were from college complete with grades (A- for Gilberte Must Play Bach). It's a brilliant collection and I enjoyed every story. They inspired me to spend more time writing short stories myself.
It's difficult to pick which stories I enjoyed most. That Which is Left stunned me with the selfishness of the narrator (that's the same reaction Voiklis had when she read it), but the truth of that story also left me reeling because we have only to look around to see examples of such horrible selfishness. The Foreign Agent, Poor Little Saturday, A Sign for a Sparrow, and the story that the book is named for The Moment of Tenderness, are all works that leave no doubt about the author's incredible talent. Much as I want to say more about them, I won't because I don't want to spoil the stories for you.
Let me just say this is a collection of many types of stories, spooky, non-fiction, small town life, big town life, and fantasy. All of them are good and it's short, quick, escapism just when you need it.
If you haven't read L'Engle, don't let the YA (Young Adult) label on her most popular books fool you. All of her books are for anyone who enjoys good story. They're fast, concise, and brilliant. As popular as A Wrinkle in Time is, and as much as I loved Charles Wallace and Meg, I think my favorite book was Many Waters (it's about the Murray Twins with a touch of Noah's Ark thrown in), at least it was until The Moment of Tenderness. Now I only wish for more of her writing. I hope there will be another collection.
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