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Untold Story: A Novel
by Monica Ali

Published: 2011-06-28
Hardcover : 272 pages
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What if Princess Diana hadn't died? Diana's life and marriage were fairy tale and nightmare. Adored by millions, in her personal life she suffered heartbreak and betrayal. Within a life of privilege, she frequently felt trapped and alone. Constrained by protocol and precedent, she refused ...
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(What if Princess Diana hadn't died? Diana's life and marriage were fairy tale and nightmare. Adored by millions, in her personal life she suffered heartbreak and betrayal. Within a life of privilege, she frequently felt trapped and alone. Constrained by protocol and precedent, she refused to follow the rules. Untold Story takes the life of the world's most famous woman as a point of departure, examining the past and imagining a future. The fictional princess who is the novel's heroine is at breaking point and, believing that the Establishment is plotting her assassination, she makes an irrevocable decision: to stage her own death and begin a new life under an assumed identity. After a period of intense upheaval, Lydia (as she is known) settles in small town America and establishes a fragile peace. It is threatened by thoughts of what she has lost: not the glamour and glitz of royalty but that which is most precious - her children. She is, at least, safe in the knowledge - having altered her appearance and ten years after her 'death' - that her secret will never be uncovered. But then a chance encounter with a member of the paparazzi robs her of that certainty. Will he recognize her? Should she flee or remain calm? Is there anyone she can trust and turn to, or will she inevitably be betrayed? Untold Story is a novel about family and friendship, intrigue and obsession, the meaning of identity, and the peculiar calamity of fame.

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.?

Amazon Exclusive: Joanne Harris Reviews Untold Story

Joanne Harris is the author of Blueeyed Boy, The Lollipop Shoes and Chocolat.

In Untold Story, Monica Ali has managed to do what the tabloids never did. She made me care about Diana. More than that, she made me admire the woman she has created out of the myth. This is a terrific, clever, multi-layered and subtle book (and let's not forget - hugely entertaining!), which deserves more acclaim than it has received so far.

Untold Story is a novel that can be read on many levels. At first glance, it's a thriller that taps into a number of female fantasies; reinvention, romance, adventure and the dark fairytale that was Diana, Princess of Wales ? a story that nearly all of us followed guiltily, in the tabloids, as its subject hurtled inevitably towards self- destruction. Looking beneath the surface, however, it becomes clear that Untold Story is much more than just a nicely-written piece of parallel tabloidery. It is a commentary on the nature of identity, of how we are judged, not by what we actually do, but by what we are perceived to be in a world where artifice rules and where truth matters less than story. It is about what it's like to be a troublesome, spirited woman in a world where women are meant to conform. It's about the choices a woman must make when trying to take control of her life. It's about letting go of the labels that others try to stick onto us. It's about fighting expectations ? a thing that the author herself has done, in her quiet way, ever since Brick Lane ? in the face of a vicious tabloid machine. It is a wonderful piece of subversion disguised as mere escapism, and I hope it sells millions.

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  "Untold Story"by Neyly (see profile) 09/29/11

I found the book addictive ... with its combination of fact and fiction. I did find the ending somewhat unsatisfactory ... another book that leaves the reader hanging, though the open ending may in and... (read more)

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