Scribner, Hardcover, 9781451635485, 272pp.
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
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.”
Monica Ali has been named by Granta as one of the twenty best young British novelists. She is the author of In the Kitchen, Alentejo Blue, and Brick Lane, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She lives in London with her husband and two children.
"Monica Ali has always been a brilliant and provocative writer, but Untold Story is not only a gripping read but a compassionate portrait of a woman in turmoil--her finest novel yet."--Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
“Haunting and intensely readable, this is something between a thriller and a ghost story.” —Lady Antonia Fraser
“A terrific, clever, multi-layered and subtle book (and let’s not forget - hugely entertaining!).”—Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and Blueeyedboy
“It is always said that Princess Diana was hunted and haunted, that her story contained the seeds of a contemporary myth. It was obvious that only the imagination of a first-rate novelist could master that material and make it fully and unforgettably alive. We now have the book we have been waiting for in Monica Ali's Untold Story. It is a beautiful, gripping accomplishment, a treat for the heart and the head, and will be a joy to readers who believe in the possibility that a book can transform your basic sense of life.”—Andrew O'Hagan, Booker-shortlisted author of Our Fathers, Be Near Me and The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog
“Ali tells her story with unobtrusive, restrained prose... We’ve long since disappeared into the fiction. Lydia has become her own character, Diana a ghost: naive and vulnerable, self-centered, familiar to us in her self-destruction and her dark fairy-tale life but now entirely real and sympathetic. This remarkable transformation allows Ali to ponder the essence of what makes a person: in this case the sheer tenacity of a clever fighter, both silly and bold –and clearly the author’s impetus for taking on, with astounding confidence, the woman who captivated the entrie world.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“An unapologetic hybrid of a novel, a literary examination of identity and a page-turning thriller, complete with car chase.”—O, the Oprah magazine
“Ms. Ali builds tension as slickly as any thriller screenwriter: we find ourselves avidly rooting for Lydia to elude her stalker and somehow to hold on to the normal life she has made for herself.”—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“A dazzling feat... All the pistons are firing.”—Washington Post
“Norman Rockwell couldn’t paint a more affectionate portrait of small-town America.”—USA Today
“A masterpiece of suspense… This is a startlingly intelligent, perceptive and entertaining piece of fiction. It's quite brilliant.”—Daily Mirror (UK)