The Collector’s Daughter – by Gill Paul – independent book review – Historical Fiction (England, Egypt)

As a lifelong lover of ancient history, especially Egypt’s, I was excited to read there was new historical fiction about the 1922 discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, focusing on the daughter of the man who funded that expedition. Plus, that funder was Lord Canarvon, the VERY same British aristocrat whose country house, Highclere Castle, was used as the home for the successful TV series, Downton Abbey. Win, win, right? Um, not exactly.

While the novel does follow the life of Lady Evelyn “Eve” Beauchamp (Canarvon’s daughter), including her involvement in the discovery of Tut’s tomb — it does not make for a compelling book.

Inside Tut’s Tomb
Photo from Wikipedia

There were definitely many aspects that held my interest:
• the discovery of Tut’s tomb.
• the infamous curse surrounding that tomb.
• the relationship between archaeologist Howard Carter and Lord Canarvon.
• the access Eve had to these historically significant events, at a time when women were not generally involved much outside the home.
• and the loving relationship between Eve and her husband, Brograve Beauchamp.

But at other times, the book felt rambling, without focus. Because so much information was included that seem peripheral to the main story, but nevertheless commanded time and attention. Almost as though the author, Gill Paul, felt she HAD to include ALL the research she did, even if it didn’t enhance the primary storyline.

The result: as the book progressed, I became increasingly uncertain what the book was supposed to be:
• Was is historical fiction about finding Tut’s tomb or Eve’s life story?
• Was it about British debutantes and their romances?
• Was this a medical story of a woman’s experience with multiple strokes?
• Was it a moral treatise on who should retain ancient artifacts?
• Was it an exploration of Tut’s “curse” and spiritualism in the 1920s?

Highclere Castle

If you share my interest in Egyptian antiquities, THE COLLECTOR’S DAUGHTER is probably worth your time. If not, I’m not so sure.

Gill Paul
Photo from her website

More about author, Gill Paul.

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