The Collector’s Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb

Written by Gill Paul
Review by K. M. Sandrick

Lady Evelyn Beauchamp is recovering from a stroke in London in July 1972. Her husband, Sir Brograve, is considering whether his wife is well enough to sit for a series of interviews with Dr. Ana Mansour, a professor from the University of Cairo, about Eve’s experience at the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. He is concerned not only about Eve’s sometimes flagging memory. He also worries about the memento she took from the tomb and kept—will she, after all these years, be criticized for entering the tomb surreptitiously with her father, Lord Carnarvon, and archeologist Howard Carter? Will she be castigated as a tomb robber?

The Collector’s Daughter is the latest historical novel from best-selling author Gill Paul. She is known for fictionalizing the experiences of well-known women, including Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas, and Grand Duchess Maria of the Romanovs.

This is a love story, chronicling the relationship between Eve and Brograve and the challenges that arise when one member of a pair has difficulty remembering their past history. It captures the hesitancy and confusion in the days after awakening from a stroke.

The narrative switches from the 1920s and tomb exploration to the 1970s, and in the process loses emotional momentum. Eve’s dialogue and reactions often seem frivolous, and her recollections of entering the tomb of Tutankhamun are somewhat matter-of-fact. The reader as a result fails to get a sense of the awe of entering a sacred place that has been closed to the world for 3000 years. The Collector’s Daughter thus is more a series of personal life reflections than a full-blown story of discovery.