Review: The Moment of Tenderness

The Moment of TendernessThe Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to love this collection of short stories – being a L’Engle fan I was really excited about them being compiled and released – but I only just liked it.

There is an intriguing mix here, from the everyday to suspense/horror, to Sci-Fi. We can see how L’Engle is working out ideas in her own life through her stories – from young girl finding her identity to ultimate faith in the Science Fiction story.

There are some weird stories. Disturbing. One that maybe took place in a boarding school-brothel? The hints are there, but never details. There’s bad language in some of them.

Some of the stories are – part or whole – in the Crosswicks Journals which I have just finished. The woman across the way looking at herself in the mirror, the seeking out a hotel in Baltimore, and the Brechsteins moving into the small town that bothers so many people in a memoir.

One story has a mother-in-law suffering a crisis of faith because of her perfect daughter-in-law. It’s an interesting commentary on appearances.

Overall, many of the stories were weird. One was happy (it was my favorite). There were some male narrators, which I think is unusual for L’Engle and I enjoyed that.

Always she talks about seeing people, their selves, their hurts, their needs, their graces. Not necessarily doing something, but seeing. That seeing is the Moment of Tenderness that overarches the whole book.

It does feel a touch like “juvenalia” even though she was an adult when most of the stories were written. They’re imperfect: many are incomplete, her humor only occasionally makes a play, maudlin from time to time, of an immature style; but the glimpses are there. The moments of Madeleine … of her tender storytelling.

I’ve almost talked myself into 4 stars …

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