If Alice Feeney were an architect instead of a novelist, her buildings would be admirable for their craftsmanship. In Rock Paper Scissors, she has designed a three-story tale of a crumbling marriage. It combines suspense, a tangled love story, and philosophical musings that keep the reader involved all the way.
Adam and Amelia Wright embark on a weekend journey to Scotland in a final effort to save their marriage. Adam is a Hollywood screenwriter whose success is due largely to his adaptations of novels by the reclusive Henry Winter. Amelia works at a home for abandoned animals. The schism between them is due largely to Adam’s obsession with his work. Like many writers, he wants to make a movie of his own screenplay. Significantly, it’s about a man who writes a letter to his wife each year on their anniversary.
The Wrights arrive in Scotland to find not a hotel, but a dusty old chapel in the middle of a sheep pasture. Within, someone has set up meager accommodations with which the Wrights must make do after being trapped in a snowstorm.
Despite its setting and strange occurrences, this is not another haunted house novel. Rotating narrations from Adam, Amelia, and a mysterious woman lurking about the premises give us different points of view as the principals relive a romance dashed against the rocks by a tide of disappointments.
Along the way, Alice Feeney provides many philosophical observations about marriage that deepen our understanding of what has brought the couple to this point:
“… sometimes the dust of our memories is best left unswept.”
“… words don’t come with gift receipts and you can’t take them back.”
“… promises lose their value when broken or chipped, like dusty, forgotten antiques.”
You may think you know where this novel is going, but the author has quite a surprise for you. My only disappointment is the sprinkling of offensive words here and there. Otherwise, I found it a poignant and clever masterpiece of fiction that I intend to read again, now that I understand what happened to bring its characters to such a desperate crossroads.