'The Wedding Letters' explores the power of letters, love

Published: Saturday, Sept. 24 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

"THE WEDDING LETTERS," by Jason F. Wright, Shadow Mountain, $22.99, 356 pages (f)

Author Jason F. Wright admits that he loves new technology and isn't too far from his iPhone.

"I'm very grateful to be alive during the era of Facebook and cellphones," he said in an interview with the Deseret News.

But there is still something special about handwriting a letter and mailing it and receiving those missives, too.

"I'm the same guy who says that if you have something significant to say, put it in an envelope and put a stamp on it," Wright said. "I don't want to run too fast from the past. … There is a balance between paper and technology."

"The Wedding Letters," Wright's new book and the charming sequel to the best-selling "The Wednesday Letters," explores the power of a written letter but in the context of a wedding and all of the emotions that surround them.

"The Wedding Letters" follows Malcolm and Rain Cooper's son, Noah, as he finishes college, bumps into love and tries his hardest to make that love with Rachel last even as she calls off their engagement and tries to make sense of the upheaval of her live from an unexpected confession from her mother.

Malcolm and Rain run the Domus Jefferson, a bed and breakfast that Malcolm's parents, Jack and Laurel Cooper, had when Jack and Laurel passed away on the same day in the beginning of "The Wednesday Letters."

In "The Wednesday Letters," Malcolm, his siblings and other family friends discover secrets about the Cooper family — from the Elvis signature on the back of a license plate to untold family secrets, through letters Jack wrote Laurel every Wednesday of their marriage.

The wedding letters are a relatively newer tradition in the Cooper family. Thanks to family friend A&P Prestwich, at each family wedding starting with Malcolm and Rain's nuptials, she has persuasively solicited and compiled letters from family, friends, community members, co-workers, neighbors, celebrities and others for the happy couple — complete with special wedding letter stationery.

Some include advice. "Some were just congratulatory notes. Some were funny or clever. Definitely some advice to follow and quite honestly, some to ignore," Rain explains to Rachel the first time she visits the Domus Jefferson and meets Noah's family.

Wright actually hasn't seen a wedding letters collection that he mentions in the book other than the sample one he asked fans to help with for Noah and Rachel.

"How wonderful would it be … on the morning of your wedding for your mom or your dad to pull you aside and give you a book of 50 to 100 letters?" said Wright, who lives with his wife, Kodi, and four children in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where both books are set. "Wouldn't that be a treat?"

"I don't have such a book, but if I did, it would be one of my most prized possessions," Wright said. He did save the letters and other mementos he received while serving a Mormon mission in Brazil about 20 years ago. The scrapbooks took up nearly half of a suitcase and later helped inspire the idea of wedding letter scrapbooks.

These wedding letters, including those to Malcolm and Rain and Noah and Rachel, and other letters are included throughout the book as Rachel tries to make sense of the unexpected revelations from her mother about her father, whom Rachel hasn't seen since she was a young girl.

Other characters aren't immune to trials as Malcolm and Rain contemplate selling the bed and breakfast and Matthew Cooper, Malcolm's brother, has marital and business difficulties.

Although Wright didn't receive official wedding letters on his wedding day some 18 years ago, he did receive advice, some of which is represented in the book.

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