Untold Story

Untold Story

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
From the author of In the Kitchen comes a riveting novel that was inspired by the life of Princess Diana.

& Taylor

Imagines what the fate of Princess Diana might have been had she not died in Paris in 1997, in a story about the cost of fame and the possibility of reinventing a life.

Simon and Schuster
When Princess Diana died in Paris’s Alma tunnel, she was thirty-seven years old. Had she lived, she would turn fifty on July 1, 2011. Who would the beloved icon be if she were alive today? What would she be doing? And where? One of the most versatile and bold writers of our time, Monica Ali has imagined a different fate for Diana in her spectacular new novel, Untold Story.

Diana’s life and marriage were both fairy tale and nightmare rolled into one. Adored by millions, she suffered rejection, heartbreak, and betrayal. Surrounded by glamour and glitz and the constant attention of the press, she fought to carve a meaningful role for herself in helping the needy and dispossessed. The contradictions and pressures of her situation fueled her increasingly reckless behavior, but her stature and her connection with her public never ceased to grow. If Diana had lived, would she ever have found peace and happiness, or would the curse of fame always have been too great?

Fast forward a decade after the (averted) Paris tragedy, and an Englishwoman named Lydia is living in a small, nondescript town somewhere in the American Midwest. She has a circle of friends: one owns a dress shop; one is a Realtor; another is a frenzied stay-at-home mom. Lydia volunteers at an animal shelter, and swims a lot. Her lover, who adores her, feels she won’t let him know her. Who is she?

Untold Story is about the cost of celebrity, the meaning of identity, and the possibility—or impossibility—of reinventing a life. Ali’s fictional princess is beautiful, intrepid, and resourceful and has established a fragile peace. And then the past threatens to destroy her new life. Ali has created a riveting novel inspired by the cultural icon she calls “a gorgeous bundle of trouble.”

Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2011
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781451635485
Branch Call Number: FICTION ALI...M
Characteristics: 259 pages


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Feb 14, 2018

Brick Road was a good read, published at a time I happened to be working right in the middle of that area in London. I found it interesting and relevant and it helped my understanding the immigrants she wrote about.

This book was 'a light read' as another person described it. I found it irritating most of the time, and unbelievable.

robhoma Aug 23, 2014

After reading a Wikipedia article about Princess Di, I was able to get into the story and enjoy the tale. The Grabber was too readily typecast as a villain but the paparazzi aren't all bad.

Nov 03, 2012

What if ... ? In the end, Princess Di learns to rely on her friends to maintain the fragile life that she has invented for herself. While Ali may have interesting things to say about identity, neither the voice nor the life of this character rang true.

Nov 13, 2011

A fast read. Story told from three angles - Lydia, Lawrence and the photographer. I enjoyed and read entire story over 2 days.

Sep 14, 2011

I agree with Redwallflower. I found it impossible to get into. I gave up on p. 9. Life is too short to try to read books that don't interest me.

Aug 23, 2011

Not the greatest read, but it was mildly entertaining. Wouldn't really recommend it.

debwalker Jun 21, 2011

"What Would Diana Do?
Monica Ali's Untold Story (Scribner) is an unapologetic hybrid of a novel, a literary examination of identity and a page-turning thriller, complete with car chase. While the heroine is named Lydia Snaresbrook, she's clearly a dark-haired, rhinoplastied Princess Diana, who Ali imagines has faked her own death and come to live in a small American town. Life is uneventful until a British paparazzo shows up and recognizes her. At times Ali seems mocking of Dianaiana—Lydia/Diana lives in a town called Kensington, like the palace—but she is also clearly fascinated by her heroine, a woman both mysterious and knowable, privileged and ordinary. Whether Lydia/Diana will outrun that pesky photographer seems beside the point. What's important, in this unusual book, is that she can never escape herself."

— Sara Nelson


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Feb 06, 2013

As impossible to resist as a copy of People magazine while languishing in a long line at the supermarket, Untold Story takes tabloid fodder and turns it into an intriguing, poignant "what if"?
Ali's premise: Princess Diana didn't really die in 1997. She "disappeared" --
fleeing her life with the help of her faithful private secretary, changing her name, having a little cosmetic surgery,, and taking up residence somewhere in corn country USA. But a paparazzo is writing a 10th anniversary book and catches a glimpse of her, the woman he studied through his telephoto lens for 16 solid years, and he thinks he's on to something big...


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