A Letter from Mamaw

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. 

How often do you write to someone?  What are your most treasured letters?  

THE SUMMER GIRLS in stores June 25th.
Order your copy today at www.maryalicemonroe.com


  1. Too bad she doesn't know the thrill of reading mail in the post office parking lot. :) Better yet, savoring the delight, wonder, and excitement through the long drive home. Such high mail drama!

  2. Oops! I didn't know that I was on YOUR blog. LOL. Sorry. Thought I was responding to 365's post. :)

  3. I enjoyed your blog...and look forward to reading your book....I'm a letter writer and have been for years...I belong to "The Letter Exchange" and have many writer friends some I've been writing to for almost 20 years. As long as I can pick up a pen (and I use a fountain pen) and a piece of paper the art of letter writing will live. I write a letter almost every day and look forward to the mailman dropping letters in my box. I too love that "pause that a special letter gives". I have an old antique box that I keep special letters and cards in that often I'll reread...from friends...family...some gone...the people who text and email are missing something very special in not handwriting a letter..."such high mail drama" indeed !

  4. I still have every letter and birthday card Mama ever sent me. Sometimes I called her Mama and sometimes I called her Mother. I treasure every thing she wrote even grocery lists.

  5. I am so thankful for a box of letters I have from my high school sweetheart and now husband of 26 years. It truly is our history! For the first two years of our relationship of "going together" we went nowhere. I could not date until I was 16 and met Terry at the tender age of 14 with him being the older man at 15. So many letters were passed at school as well as mailed in the summers when we could not see each other. Then the letters stopped a bit when we could date... a few letters when we broke up for a few months his senior year. Then the letters returned when I had to be away at college and he had graduated and was living in another town. I so looked forward to those letters! He was so sweet I got three letters a week, two phone calls,(which were expensive then) and then we would get to see each other over the weekend. This box of letters truly do have our history together from the piece of paper from the hand holding high school sweetheart stages,the fear of beginning college and careers, finding apartments and ending with a letter the night before our wedding rehearsal. Truly priceless and precious to me.

  6. Any chance you are coming to the Boston area?

  7. I love all your email letters! To think that some of you have a written record of your love stories. That's so rare nowadays. I'm delighted to hear this. I still have some cards and letters from my mother and father, and of course, my husband. But too few. Thank you all for sharing.


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All the best,
Mary Alice