Untold Story: Book summary and reviews of Untold Story by Monica Ali

Untold Story

A Novel

By Monica Ali

Untold Story
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2011,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

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."

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Clearly, Ali is capable of writing a novel about anything, including Diana. But somehow Untold Story has come out all wrong.... In certain sections, Ali offers glimpses of the better, richer novel this could have been." - New York Times Sunday Book Review

"Starred Review. ...[T]he story builds to a thrilling and rewarding finish. ...Ali's daring and engrossing new novel is bound to garner plenty of attention." - Booklist

"[Ali] tackles a juicy premise: what if Diana hadn't died... [A] very human rendering of a mythical woman who survives a tumultuous youth to find an aggressively calm middle age." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers who are not already invested in the Princess Diana story will not have much to work with here. The lackluster character development and absence of tension make this a bit of a slog." - Library Journal

"Despite the bold premise, this gifted writer has, uncharacteristically, settled for less." - Kirkus Reviews

"A masterpiece of suspense… This is a startlingly intelligent, perceptive and entertaining piece of fiction. It's quite brilliant." - Daily Mirror (UK)

"Thoughtful, compassionate… A suspenseful and gripping read." - Financial Times

"Ali's third-person princess is a very convincing and sympathetic figure… Extremely skillfully done." - Observer (UK)

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Author Information

Monica Ali Author Biography

Monica Ali is the daughter of English and Bangladeshi parents.

She came to England at the age of three, and her first home was Bolton in Greater Manchester. Ali later studied at Oxford University.

Her first novel, Brick Lane (2003), is an epic saga about a Bangladeshi family living in the UK and explores the British immigrant experience. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and was made into a film that was released in 2007.

Her second novel, Alentejo Blue, set in Portugal, was published in 2006, and her third novel, In the Kitchen, was published in 2009. Her latest novel is Untold Story, which was published in 2011.

Ali, who was named one of the twenty "Best of Young British Novelists" in 2003 by Granta magazine, currently lives in London with her husband and ...

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  • Brick Lane jacket
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