The Collector’s Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb
The Collector’s Daughter tells a fictionalize account of the life of Lady Evelyn Herbert. Gill Paul opens her novel with seventy-one-year-old Lady Evelyn in 1972 recovering from one of a series of strokes that has damaged her memory. At the same time, a young Egyptian woman begins pursuing Herbert to recover lost Egyptian artifacts. Through flashbacks beginning in 1919, Gill details Lady Evelyn’s life at Highclere Castle (the real-life setting for Downton Abbey) as the Earl of Carnarvon’s daughter, Herbert’s presence when her father and Howard Carter first open Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, the string of tragedies following that discovery that some attribute to a curse, the infighting and scandal surrounding Herbert’s family, and her intensely devoted marriage to Sir Brograve Beauchamp.
Paul has created an endearing character in her portrayal of Lady Evelyn. The clearly magnetic personality of Herbert’s youth jumps off the page. For those interested in the upper class in the 1920s and 1930s England or the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb and its aftereffects, this novel may prove interesting. However, the story meanders through Lady Herbert’s life without ever gaining a real sense of rising action and climax, creating a pleasant but not compelling novel.
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