Charming and idiosyncratic, with a joyful soul

September 20, 2023

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Geoff Lowsley

This is a really charming and idiosyncratic novel, and probably quite unlike anything else you're likely to have read!

The plot is a low stakes romp which, while very engaging and fun, is almost a device around which the author can weave a kaleidoscope of his own musings, observations, word play, rhetorical questions and fragments of poetry. I cannot recall reading a book with quite as vivid a reflection of the author's working mind, which makes this a real pleasure.

The author has found wonder and interest in some of the smallest things in everyday life, which in turn prompts us, the readers, to observe these things ourselves. He manages to identify tiny shards of the common human experience in the least likely places: thoughts on the colour of a pavement, or how softly a door needs to be shut to latch fully. This all may sounds trivial but it's triviality is what makes is common and meaningful to all of us, I was often left thinking "huh...I never imagined that someone else might have noticed that!".

There is a wistful, nostalgic shading to the writing, but not in a cynical or bitter "oh it was better back in the day" sort of way. Again it's more about recognising the simple joys. That said, some of the observations of human behaviour, particularly the small ways people call bully and demean others are spot on, and not joyful in the slightest. These are acutely observed and very well drawn so as to make the reader wholly empathetic with the characters.

I can highly recommend this book. It may at first seem whimsical or slight, but I think it has a deeper heart to it that reflects where joy can be found in life and shows the process of understanding the world and others around us.

Moon-gazing from leafy London and small-town America

September 13, 2023

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Antonia Denford

Samuel Thwaite is a small-town megalomaniac who wants to leave his mark, not on the world but on the moon. Can a motley cast of loners and dreamers muster enough teamwork to stop him?

This is the strange conundrum of Jeff Probst’s funny, original novel. It's set in Goodmews, a fictional place which crosses small-town America with leafy north London, England – where Californian Probst has lived for over 30 years. It reads like a love-song to both those locales, their gardens and much-trod pavements, their scents and atmospheres as the seasons revolve. If this sounds poetic, it is – but the poetry is served up with a precision and wit which make the book charming and readable.

If a novel can have a soundtrack, this one rings with classic rock tunes and guitar riffs. The characters roam their world with music sounding in their thoughts – the songs a commentary on all kinds of experience, trivial and tragic.

Gentle but Compelling

April 24, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by T Lewis

This is a gentle but compelling novel about the moon and the Sixties, a curious tale set in a small American town, where a man who prides himself on his honesty discovers a secret plan to paint the moon before humans reach there. The author describes the inner worlds of his characters in a lyrical way, but contrasts this with the real world they must engage with. Everything takes place in Goodmews, a town of 500 that houses the world’s first moon centre, where quotes about the moon and lyrics to moon songs are displayed. There is also a moon church, where the colour that will be secretly sent to the moon is invented. This strange tale may skirt the border of science fiction. But it is firmly set in the Sixties and features many of that decade’s songs, and while the plot may sound crazy to some, it sounds plausible to me. I recommend this book. It’s a fascinating read.

A smooth read that transports you back in time

April 03, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by ShandyReads

Jeff Probst wrote a neat 1960s themed novel. This book pays homage to the moon and is set in a tiny American town, Goodmews. Samuel Thwaite has his sights set on the moon and has recruited the town and then recruited NASA to build the moon center. Jeff shows his research and care he took when writing this book because it just reads so smoothly. He includes all of the classic songs of the era and just transports you back in time. If you like historical fiction/sci fi type books, I would highly recommend this book for you.

I loved the cover. A unique book for me.

April 03, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Sue Wallace

This was a good read. Different. I loved the cover. I liked the story and plot. I haven't read anything like this before so the story was new to me. I did like the characters and how they were in the story. It was very well written. The author put in a lot of work and I felt it as I read it. It did have its charm. This was a unique book for me.

A beautifully written book

April 02, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by kdiddlys_bookishadventures

What a beautifully written book! Probst’s storytelling is unique, with some turns of phrase I hadn’t heard before. The story is set in the US in the 1960s, during the decade of the moon and space race – I loved all the lyrics and music references, which were such a cool addition. There were a few I wasn’t too familiar with, so I had to go and have a listen. I’ve seen many books that add a playlist at the front of the book that could accompany the story, but the way Probst includes them into the story and the characters is magnificent and truly something different. Even though the story and writing were unique, it was still a really easy book to follow along and read. I felt that even though the story was very much centred around an exciting yet incredibly ambitious plan involving the moon, the story was really about the characters. Probst’s depth to his characters deserves a well-rounded applause. I really enjoyed the book, the uniqueness, and the ease of the flow of the book. This is definitely not something I would usually read – and I am so thankful for being given the opportunity to expand my reading horizons.

A novel designed so the reader takes their time

April 02, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Lauren Couchman

When the Moon was White is a literary novel about a Mr Sam Thwaite who arrives in a small American town with grand plans to make himself a little empire starting with a Moon Centre. This novel contains lots of descriptive text giving you a good feel for the characters, time period (space race time) and setting. This is a slow paced novel designed so that the reader takes their time absorbing the descriptions and the storyline.

Each chapter was the right length

April 01, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Jess Marshall

In all honesty I did not find this book for me, however it could be for others so don't let my opinion sway anyone on giving this book a go. I did find the whole story overall very quirky and unique which is what drew me in to try it. I love that this author had an idea that was unusual and one I have not seen before and went for it. I fully enjoyed that each chapter was the right length which made reading so much easier and made the story easier to follow.

A whole host of interesting characters

April 01, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Charlotte

I love the overall storyline of this book. It's almost made me fall in love with the moon, when I think we often forget how beautiful it really is. And the idea of somehow covering the moon in paint is so outrageously unique. It's genius. There’s a whole host of interesting characters. Francine is a mature student of astro-geology studies who specialises in the moon. She's also a colour theory expert, and a bit of a dreamer I think. If the book were real I like to think we would be friends. I’m not so keen on Samuel. Although his initial intentions on moving to Goodmews seem to be good, to write about the moon and start a community newsletter, his ego soon seems to take over. I felt that there was something off about him and didn't trust him fully. I also liked Banno immediately. His keen sense of what is right and what isn't really resonated with me. Jeff's ability to write such diverse personalities shows a real skill. There was a lot of humour throughout the book, the messages on gravestones and benches really made me chuckle. Goodmews sounds like it would be a great place to live! The writing in this book is quite simple, which isn't a bad thing. The author clearly has a love of words. In places it was beautifully poetic, but in others it felt overly wordy.

Unique, clever

March 31, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Good Life

Did you know that: “If you drove upwards at 60 miles an hour, it would take 6 months to get to the moon.” “The moon is the most gravitationally ‘lumpy’ body known in the solar system.” The writer included a lot of facts regarding the moon, solar system, NASA, and this made the book particularly interesting. His unique writing style, cast of characters, plot and conclusion were all clever and entertaining.


March 31, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Amazoner

Introduced this book to my colleague - a science teacher. It inspires his pupils' interests. Good book - highly recommended.

A bit of history mixed with fiction and sci-fi

March 29, 2024

A review for 'When the Moon was White', by Bookaddict.twylie68

I found this book to be quite quirky and enjoyable. I think the idea of it was very unique. Having heard about the moon missions and even seen a few in my lifetime, I thought this was a unique take on that time in history. Building a colony on the moon is something that has been talked about for decades and I'm sure that maybe someday, way in the future, it might actually happen. I really enjoyed the descriptive writing and the author's way with words. He clearly has a way with words. While this wasn't my usual type of read, I still found it surprisingly enjoyable. The characters were well developed and likeable in their own ways. The book was an easy read and flowed nicely, keeping me turning the pages. I recommend this book very highly to people who enjoy a bit of history mixed with fiction and sci-fi.
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