Boca by Moonlight

A Funeral. Three Friends. Starting Over.

Fiction - Literary
410 Pages
Reviewed on 02/20/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite

Widower George Elden is a dead ringer for a mature Cary Grant and most of the widows and divorcees in Boca Raton are more than happy to share his bed but George has only been a widower for seven months and he’s lost without his beloved wife, Jeanette – not to mention that he’s drowning in unpaid medical bills and his credit cards are almost maxed out. However, things really come to a head when George and his two friends, ex-brother-in-law, Herbie, and sports fanatic, Benny, are at their golf buddy, Willy’s, funeral and the attending rabbi asks the three of them to pay for their late friend’s funeral due to Willy’s family being a no-show. Boxed into a corner, the three friends reluctantly agree. After the funeral, they are determined to recoup the funeral costs from Willy’s estate but this proves far more difficult than any one of them could have predicted as they chase down one dead end after another, quickly realizing that they never really knew Willy at all. It also forces them to take a good hard look at their own lives with none of them liking what they see…

Dating, money, and impending mortality are at the heart of Boca by Moonlight, a work of literary fiction by Brad Graber that is equal parts humor and emotional vulnerability in its sobering and realistic portrayal of well-heeled retirement, Florida-style. What makes Boca by Moonlight really stand out is its stark portrayal of the retiree set – the narcissistic social climbers, those who have money, and those who don’t, but are determined to marry someone with it. Somewhat reminiscent of The Golden Girls, Graber captures that same spunk, humor, and vulnerability that made the sitcom so relatable and has recreated his own version of it in the form of three Jewish male friends, whiling away their days on the golf course and noshing their way through every deli in the Boca vicinity while skirting the real issues in the form of the pain and emptiness in their own lives. In the well-heeled retirement town of Boca Raton, money speaks and Graber does a particularly good job of highlighting George’s mounting stress as he tries to keep his growing financial plight from his two friends, both of who are well off financially, all the while trying to maintain the status quo.

A cast of riveting – albeit not unexpected – cast of characters lend themselves nicely to Graber’s story, adding another layer of authenticity. From the extremely well-connected social-climbing Boca realtor, Sylvia Haddit, to ladies' man pediatrician, Herbie, to newly widowed and well-off, Eleanor Rifkin, and finally, giant-sized dentist, Benny; all add a necessary ingredient to the Boca lifestyle mix that creates just the right amount of irresistible literary deliciousness. Like a walk on a moonlit beach amid a backdrop of majestic palms, Boca by Moonlight is a delightful interlude that shouldn’t be missed.