In the opening of THE SUMMER GIRLS, three sisters each receive an invitation, handwritten on creamy stationery with navy trim sprayed with the scent of their grandmother, Marietta Muir, or ‘Mamaw.’ She informs the women of her one and only birthday wish—to have them join her at her beach house, Sea Breeze, on Sullivan’s Island, SC for a party celebrating her 80th birthday. The letter proves to be more than just an invitation for each of them. It’s an unexpected lifeline and an opportunity to restore family connections, rekindle friendships and offer forgiveness.
Here at my home, the mail runs every afternoon at approximately three o’clock. That’s when the unmistakable sound of the mail truck fills the afternoon air. I don’t often rush immediately to fetch the mail because I already know what the contents are—a credit card offer, weekly ad, a bill or two, and maybe a home realty flier. It used to not be like that. Remember the days, not long ago--before email, nationwide cellphone plans, and online video chats? Checking the mailbox was a daily chore you actually looked forward to. You never knew what you would find. Maybe it was a letter from your mother because, well, back then calling long-distance was not something one would do on a daily basis. Or it was a postcard from your best friend, sharing the highlights of her family’s vacation. Or it was a letter written by a child on a sheet of lined notebook paper thanking you for a recent gift. And let me not forget to mention the thrill of receiving a love letter from your special someone. If it were really special, it may even be marked with a red-stained kiss or enveloped in the sweet scent of cologne.
The frequency of wonderful letters like the aforementioned has dropped dramatically in this day and age where we can communicate with anyone around the world in truly an instant! Thankfully, the art form of letter writing is not entirely dead…yet (though the skill of cursive handwriting sure seems to be on its deathbed). The occasional surprise still arrives, stuffed between the masses of junk mail and bills, magazines and circulars. Thank goodness for grandchildren, weddings and annual holidays! And I love that pause a special letter gives you while standing at the mailbox. You’re so interested to see something ‘special’ that you’re ripping open the envelope even before you walk back in your front door (for those of you with a post office box, I know the situation is a little bit different, but all share the same thrill).
While it’s much more convenient and necessary at times to send a text message or email, I hope we don’t entirely forget our letter-writing etiquette. Some of my most treasured items are cards, letters and notes received from friends and loved ones. I am from a generation who still stuffs these scared items in a shoebox to look at again and again. Each handwritten note conveys so much about the recipient, the sender and that moment in time. What will today’s generation do to preserve their treasured notes? Text messages and emails just don’t convey the same meaning as the old-fashioned letter. That may be why the women in THE SUMMER GIRLS all give in to Mamaw’s snail-mailed request-- some with more reluctance than others. But nonetheless, the letter stood out from the usual pile of junk and went straight to heart.
THE SUMMER GIRLS in stores June 25th.
Order your copy today at www.maryalicemonroe.com