Review: The Collector’s Daughter by Gill Paul

Like so many people, ancient Egypt is a source of endless fascination for me. When I saw this one was coming out, it was a no brainer—I had to read this one. I actually listened to the audio version on my commutes in Arizona. The narrator had a pleasant voice and made the book interesting while I was stuck in the desert traffic. Not to mention the story was equally interesting.

A few years ago I read a non fiction novel on the Countess of Carnarvon and I had a deep affection for Lady Almina when I finished it. This book does not portray the Countess in a favorable light though, at times that rankled but considering the era, the way she was portrayed in this novel would probably be a bit more accurate. In actuality, this book made me want to know more about the Countess of Carnarvon so maybe I will look for more books on her not just about her castle and charitable works.

This book alternates between Lady Evelyn Herbert’s accounting of her life as a young girl and as an older woman. If you love ancient Egypt and your historical fiction with some glamour and a hint of the occult then this is a wonderful novel to pick up and spend some time with. While I enjoyed the audio version, I think I might have been happier if I had read the book rather than listened to it. I like the narrator and found her soothing but I also wanted to devour the book faster than she could read to me. That was my only regret in choosing the audiobook over the hard copy.

Summary

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. (summary from Goodreads)

Review

I can’t decide if I like the romance part of this book or not. Eve and Brograve meet in Egypt and it is practically love at first sight for Eve and Brograve but they have a long way to go before they make it to the alter. I liked their romance and at times found it tender and sweet but I was so intrigued by the larger story about Howard Carter and Egypt that I didn’t really feel as invested in their romance as I normally would have been. It was ok but for me it wasn’t the highlight of the story. The star of the show is really King Tuts tomb and finding out if Howard Carter did in fact ‘loot’ the tomb before the Egyptian authorities arrived to secure it—oh and if it was truly cursed or not.

I have read quite a bit on King Tut’s tomb and life and of course the suspected murder of the boy king, but I haven’t read much about Howard Carter. Now I certainly want to read more about him. I really liked how the author examined his character and made readers wonder if he was maybe a tab bit of a villain. The author also did a really great job explaining some of the difficulties that the British encountered with the Egyptian government as well as some of the logistical issues. For example, it wasn’t as if anyone could just barge into the tomb and start excavating the second it was discovered. I think it was like 6 months before anyone could actually get into the tomb. It also took Eve and her father 2 weeks to arrive once they received word from Carter of a discovery. I mean think about that……you invest your entire life and money into discovering a tomb and when you do you have to wait 2 weeks to get there and another 6 months before you can even see what’s inside. The author did a great job with his historical research and presentation in this book. If you love historical fiction and Egypt you will devour this book!

While I enjoyed the narrator and her performance, I also struggled with her rendition of Eve’s character. The narrator did a great job making Eve come alive, but when she was reading the parts with Eve post stroke, she even added in the stutter. It was sometimes hard to listen to but I did think it added a lot to the performance. If I had been reading it physically I would have probably skipped over the stutter parts but listening to is made the story come alive even if I felt frustrated and wanted it to move long. Overall this was a fascinating story and a wonderful piece of historical fiction! I really enjoyed it and the audio version. I have read many books by Gill Paul and have loved many of them but few in the way that I loved this one. Great read!

Book Info and Rating

Format 384 pages, Paperback

PublishedSeptember 7, 2021 by William Morrow Paperbacks

ISBN9780063079861 (ISBN10: 0063079860)

Free review copy provided by publisher, William Morrow, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: historical fiction

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