LATE BLOOMER by David A. Kaufelt


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A light-hearted blue-rinse romance in a slightly faded, plush Florida retirement hostelry--a tale shot through with the same raucous beebee-gunfire that peppered Kaufelt's resort-community frolics in The Bradley Beach Rumba (1974). After the long illness and death of her high-powered, hard-driving, distant husband, attractive 66-year-old Ruth genuinely grieves but is also conscious of the germ of something with the flavor of a long-forgotten freedom. She agrees to sell her New York home and leave for Miami with her wise-cracking pal April, in spite of the objections of a horrid daughter and the doubts of a well-meaning but irreverent son. No Stardust Ballroom here, but the Monte Excelsior Hotel and Country Club--run by that randy French-mot-dropping bounder Morris Fleischman and his ferocious wife, ""Ding Dong"" Belle--does put on Saturday night dances on the pier. Attending are one hundred women and six men, along with fiery April, reluctant Ruth, and Ruth's would-be fianc‚--solid, boring Meyer and his pain-in-the-tuches sister (who has her hand poised to call a caterer). So Ruth wanders away, onto the fishermen's pier, where she finds Max--a painter and Episcopalian with whom she floats into togetherness during the nights ahead. But she keeps Meyer hoping (does she want security or the Unknown?), and then a tragedy--April's death from the cancer she'd hidden while living her last and best with sweetheart Morris--again keeps Ruth and Max apart. Finally Ruth is definitely marrying Meyer. . . until the mishpoche finds Max in Ruth's bed, which leads to a wedding-ceremony hoo-hah right out of The Graduate. With all the foolery, Kaufelt is never really unkind, and his reading of the pith and piffle of the pool-and-bingo crowd nears tribute. Froth with a flip, for an audience that knows the territory.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1979
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich