Warm Moonlight – Joseph Wurtenbaugh spins a tale of the supernatural. (fiction review)
Warm Moonlight is a nice little novella – or rather a longish short story – that I found on Amazon in one of my rare moments of strolling around on that site. Joseph Wurtenbaugh writes under several names, as far as I can tell from his Amazon bio, and has several stories and novellas gathered together on the one page there.
Warm Moonlight is a supernatural tale about an older woman who decides she needs to inspire her great-granddaughter, who she can tell is going through a rough time. She earns a living by writing and telling stories, so for her it is the perfect way to try to get through to her great-granddaughter who has all but shut out the world. The story she offers the younger woman is one about families, love, misunderstandings, and the difficult situations we can place ourselves in when we think we are hurting someone else but find out all too late we are only hurting ourselves. There is a lovely little ghostly twist toward the end that turns out to be a slice of heaven rather than a spooky occurrence.
Wurtenbaugh is a warm and endearing writer. His prose is paced, gentle and well worked out. The plot is a little haphazard – things tend to happen off the cuff and you can often tell the writer thought of something and then quickly added it into the narrative without working it into the story, however this is a small problem given how rhythmic and delicately paced the structure is on the whole. This writer takes his time, and that is always a blessing. He dwells on the small details long enough that we grow very attached to these characters. There are times when you can tell a man is writing as he thinks a woman thinks, rather than the way a woman thinks, but even the greatest of writers make those sorts errors, either male or female. Because he is so gentle and his touch so delicate, it fits very nicely that it is a male writing in a female voice.
One does get the feeling throughout Warm Moonlight that Wurtenbaugh wants women to know – or perhaps it is one woman in particular – that she has his sympathies. He tackles challenging intrinsically female issues such as paternal love, maternal rivalry, being denied education and willful promiscuity. It is in his ‘explanations’ by his characters of their own behavior that gives away his sex. He gets away with this entirely however, because of his charming sympathies and his obvious deep feelings for his female protagonist. Throughout this lovely little story, he seems to be saying: “I know why you did this, and I want you to know, it’s ok by me.” In many ways it carries the subtext of a letter to dearly departed – a mother, sister or close friend.
Aside from all of this commentary, Warm Moonlight is also an elegantly charming read, and one that I recommend if you have a quiet hour to spare. You can get a copy of Warm Moonlight here.