Ever since they were children, Jemma has looked up to her older sister, Rozzie, seeing her as a star. Flamboyant, brooding and beautiful, Rozzie may be destined to go far in her life, but for Jemma, Rozzie is still her sister - deeply loved and admired, and bound to be successful in whatever career she chooses. When Rozzie takes up acting and, as a teenager, lands a role in a major motion picture, life changes irrevocably for both sisters.
Rozzie is catapulted into the adult world of celebrity, a world that brings with it constant attention, but not always comfort. Jemma, feeling somewhat directionless in her own life, is swept along in her sister's shadow: following Rozzie to various movie sets, befriending other actors, relishing her sister's fame, but never really seeing the strain that constantly living in the spotlight puts on Rozzie. For Jemma, living such a life may be fun, but she still can't quite banish the feeling of being out of her element around her sister.
It is only when Jemma begins to develop her own artistic ambitions as a photographer and Rozzie is forced to reveal to her family that she is suffering from a rare degenerative eye condition which threatens her vision - something that she has managed to keep from them for years - that Jemma begins to realize the truths about herself and her sister that could threaten the delicate balance of their relationship.
In this poignant debut novel, Cammie McGovern crafts an intimate portrait of two sisters, each intrinsically defined by the realm of celebrity; but equally entwined in the powerful and enduring bond of sisterhood. I must say that I really enjoyed reading this book; it took me a while to get into the story, but once I did I found myself wondering what would happen next. I think Cammie McGovern is an excellent writer; in my opinion, she really gets into the reality of the characters and I loved the various interactions between Jemma and Rozzie. I give The Art of Seeing: A Novel a definite A!
Actually, I was surprised but delighted to learn recently that Cammie McGovern is, in fact, the younger sister of actress Elizabeth McGovern. She plays the role of Cora, Countess of Grantham in the British drama, 'Downton Abbey'. I think Mareena and myself are just the tiniest bit obsessed with this particular show, but then we thoroughly enjoy watching any period dramas on 'Masterpiece Theater', so I don't suppose 'Downton Abbey' should be any different. Having just learned that Cammie McGovern is the younger sister of Elizabeth McGovern, I found that The Art of Seeing: A Novel was written with a measure of unexpected insight and grace that I could very much appreciate.