Friday, October 1, 2021

Book Review: The Collector's Daughter by Gill Paul

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Bestselling author Gill Paul returns with a brilliant novel about Lady Evelyn Herbert, the woman who took the very first step into the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and who lived in the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, and the long after-effects of the Curse of Pharaohs.   Lady Evelyn Herbert was the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, brought up in stunning Highclere Castle. Popular and pretty, she seemed destined for a prestigious marriage, but she had other ideas. Instead, she left behind the world of society balls and chaperones to travel to the Egyptian desert, where she hoped to become a lady archaeologist, working alongside her father and Howard Carter in the hunt for an undisturbed tomb. In November 1922, their dreams came true when they discovered the burial place of Tutankhamun, packed full of gold and unimaginable riches, and she was the first person to crawl inside for three thousand years. She called it the “greatest moment” of her life—but soon afterwards everything changed, with a string of tragedies that left her world a darker, sadder place. Newspapers claimed it was “the curse of Tutankhamun,” but Howard Carter said no rational person would entertain such nonsense. Yet fifty years later, when an Egyptian academic came asking questions about what really happened in the tomb, it unleashed a new chain of events that seemed to threaten the happiness Eve had finally found. "


Eve Herbert lives a lavish life as part of the British aristocracy. Her father is the Earl of Carnarvon and they live at beautiful Highclere Castle. The Earl of Carnarvon has always been interested in archeology and is the financial backer of archeologist Howard Carter.  Eve longs to be an archeologist, which is a much different life that is expected of her. Nonetheless, Eve travels to Egypt and accompanies her father and Howard Carter on their latest dig. This one will be life changing though. Spoiler: They find King Tutankhamun's tomb.  The novel also takes place during the 1970s when an archeologist, Ana, is on the hunt for Eve in the hopes that she can answer some questions about what exactly happened when they found King Tutankhamun's tomb as well as the location of some missed artifacts.  However, when Ana encounters Eve as a much older woman, her memory isn't what it used to be.  Plus, there's always the age-old question hovering in the periphery of this story: is the tomb really cursed? Gill Paul's The Collector's Daughter has a great combination of everything readers enjoy about a historical fiction novel as well an adventurous mystery.

Eve is a fascinating character in The Collector's Daughter. Even though I had some prior knowledge about the residents of Highclere Castle, I didn't know much about Eve's story and I'm so glad I remedied that. Her life is fascinating and it's a great balance between adventure (she was in Tutankhamun's burial chamber!) as well as the requisite presentation into society, socializing with the upper class, and looking for a suitable husband. Eve doesn't want a conventional life though. She wants so much more!

The Collector's Daughter is a dual timeline novel with the first part taking place during the 1920s and the second timeline is told in the 1970s, many years later. Ana Mansour, an archeologist, wants to talk to Eve so she can answers questions about King Tutankhamun's tomb.  Are there lost artifacts? What exactly happened inside that tomb? Is it really cursed? Slowly Eve starts to piece together things as she pieces together her memories and in turn, readers do as well.

I have been fascinated with Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) for years and have had the opportunity to tour it as well as see the section of the castle dedicated to Egyptian artifacts, so The Collector's Daughter definitely piqued my interest. I think Paul did a great job bringing to life the time period as well as this archeological mystery.  

So, if you love stories about women whose stories have been overlooked, then I urge you to pick up a copy of The Collector's Daughter. It was great learning more about the first woman to enter King Tutankhamun's tomb and how that impacted her life forever. 

Is The Collector's Daughter on your TBR list? Are you a fan of Gill Paul? Let me know in the comments below. 




  1. I have a copy of this I'm really looking forward to reading. Eve sounds like an amazing woman!

    1. I look forward to your thoughts on it! I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for visiting, Angela.


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