THE ART OF SEEING by Cammie McGovern


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A first novel from storywriter McGovern (a Nelson Algren Award winner), sister of actress Elizabeth McGovern, depicts the strained affection between a successful actress and her younger sibling.

Rozzie was a bright kid whom everyone knew would go on to big things. Attractive, vivacious, and outgoing, she was well liked by all—and idolized by her younger sister Jemma, who managed to trade on her sister’s popularity to boost her own. In high school, Rozzie joined the drama society and became such a success that she was encouraged to make a career of acting. Eventually, while still in her teens, she was offered a movie role and quit school to go to Hollywood. This, of course, put Jemma in even greater awe of her. By no means a wallflower, Jemma was nevertheless a thoroughly normal American schoolgirl—she joined the photography club, worked part-time at the local grocery, had crushes on boys—and the thrill of having a movie star in the family was immense, especially when Rozzie would fly Jemma out to locations and let her hobnob with the cast. Unfortunately, Rozzie’s luck is short-lived, and she begins to suffer a loss of eyesight not long after her first flush of success. A series of operations fails, and she is soon nearly blind. By this time Jemma has gone to art school and taken up photography as her (somewhat precarious) career. Although she and Rozzie have had their tensions in the past, they remain on good terms in spite of some submerged resentment in Jemma of her sister’s easy success. But when Jemma is offered a lot of money by a supermarket tabloid for some pictures she secretly took of Rozzie after she had lost her sight, the temptation proves very great. Would it be sleazy to advance her career on her sister, or just good business sense? Blood is thicker than water, after all, but the real world can be a strangely bloodless place.

A well-told tale of love and jealousy: good characters and a strong narrative voice.

Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 2002
ISBN: 0-7432-2835-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2002


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