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Untold Story

2.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,757 Ratings  ·  427 Reviews
W hat if Princess Diana hadn’t died? Diana’s life and marriage were fairy tale and nightmare rolled into one. Adored by millions, in her personal life she suffered rejection, heartbreak, and betrayal. Surrounded by glamour and glitz and the constant attentions of the press, she fought to carve a meaningful role for herself in helping the needy and dispossessed. Had she liv ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tracy
Jul 18, 2011 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
While I cannot call this novel completely unreadable, I cannot recommend it. It has received reviews that range from lukewarm to mediocre, which should have dissuaded me. However, the topic drew me, and probably thousand of other 40-something year old women. Lydia is Princess Diana and the novel revolves around what would have happened if Diana had faked her own death to get away from the trappings of her life. The first thing that bothered me was why the author didn't name her Nadia, which woul ...more
Rossy
Jul 25, 2015 Rossy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
What if Princess Diana is alive? What if she faked/staged her own death because she was overwhelmed with her life and couldn't take it anymore? What if, more than a decade later, someone found her?
I was delighted with this book, I've always been somehow fascinated with Lady Di, and I've sometimes wondered: What if...?
Recommended!
Antof9
I have no idea what I thought this was when I started reading it. Obviously I knew when I requested it from the library, but that was a long time ago, and I'd forgotten. So it was a little surprising to find that it was an imagined retelling of Princess Diana's story, if she'd not really died and had instead faked her own death and escaped to America [not a spoiler].

And I have to say that I loved the idea of it, but the execution was a bit weak. Or maybe it was just that this was ... badly edite
...more
Tranna Foley
Feb 22, 2012 Tranna Foley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! Such an interesting idea. What if Diana (Lady, Princess, Her Royal Highness) had not died in a car crash, but DID fake her own death? What if she was still alive, living a normal existance in the United States? Could she be discovered? I kinda want a sequel to this one...(guilty pleasure).

Publisher's Weekly Review:
Ali (Brick Lane) tackles a juicy premise: what if Diana hadn't died. Far from a salacious romp, though, this is a (sometimes too) slow character study of a
...more
Kimberly
Feb 07, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the premise of the story intrigued me, I found the story very weak.

I've always been a bit of a royalty buff, mostly due to the fact that I grew up with my mom a royalty buff, particularly the British Royal Family. So when I heard of this book, I wanted to read it. The idea of an alternate story for Diana. That instead of her untimely death, she faked her own death and tried to live a normal life with a new identity.

I even enjoyed the fact that the story was told from multiple points of v
...more
Ruby Soames
Jul 03, 2011 Ruby Soames rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I felt really cheated by this. I liked 'Brick Lane' and 'In the Kitchen' was OK, so respecting Ali as a competent and imaginaition writer, when I started reading, I hoped that the one-dimensional, cliched characters were going to suddenly reveal depth and interest and that this hackneyed vision of small American life was just ironic, an arrow pointing to something deeper...but they didn't and it wasn't. It really was silly and stereotyped right to the unbelievable end. Some reviewers speculated ...more
Elizabeth Scott
Aug 22, 2011 Elizabeth Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can see, just by looking at the overall review average for Untold Story, that I'm totally in the minority for how much I liked it, but I did. I really admire Ali for taking on a subject and topic that's bound to raise a lot of heated opinions, and she clearly did her research--her portrait of Lydia as she was before she became Lydia was wonderful and true, at least in my opinion to who the person before Lydia became Lydia was probably right (Ali also clearly read Tina Brown's bio on the person ...more
Jessica
Jul 27, 2011 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennie
Feb 04, 2012 Jennie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was disappointing. I'm a huge Diana fan and always very interested in royal history through the ages, so this book intrigued me when I saw it at the library. What if Diana hadn't died in the tunnel, but faked her death a few months later so she could escape her life? That's the question this book asks. Aside from the fact that I don't think Diana would leave her sons no matter how bad things got (and from what I understand from reading reputable biographies of her, her life was actuall ...more
Lucia Gannon
Aug 10, 2011 Lucia Gannon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit, 2011
I thought this was a load of rubbish and I rarely, if ever, say that about a book I have invested time in.
I read this to the end only to see if it had any redeeming features and I have to say that it does not-not for me anyway.
The idea for the book is good but even serious issues such as eating disorders and self-harm were treated in a flippant and superficial manner.
The dialogue was boring. I could not get a sense of any character or of the place in which it was set.
Men and women were treate
...more
Lisa Wolf
Aug 04, 2011 Lisa Wolf rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much the only good thing I have to say about this book is that it was relatively short. What a waste of time.
M
Its no secret that everyone loves Princess Di. Its been over a decade since her death, and it seems like I can't go a week with out hearing about the British Royal Family and some connection to her. Now I know the press must have been absolutely awful to live with, which ironically is where I heard that from. Anyway The Untold Story by Monica Ali is about Diana. It shows her faking her own death and moving to the states, after some intense plastic surgery of course. Obviously it wasn't after the ...more
Ruth Seeley
Aug 22, 2011 Ruth Seeley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the hands of a less capable writer, this 'what if Princess Diana staged her death and went off to live in anonymity' could have been very bad. In the continuum of Ali novels, however, I see this one as returning to some of the themes of Brick Lane and answering some of the questions that novel posed quite differently.

What if you made a huge mistake very early in life and that mistake led you down a path of self destruction? Would your sense of duty mean you had to keep going down that path? I
...more
Dawn
Apr 10, 2012 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with an intriguing premise - what would have happened if Diana had not been killed in the tunnel in Paris? So begins the Untold Story. While the plot may be far fetched to imagine, once you begin reading the events do have a certain level of plausibility. More importantly for me, I found myself thinking about the dilemma "Lydia" was in. To NEVER be able to share her identity or confide in anyone EVER would be a large burden to carry. It also made me think of the role of paparazzi ...more
Sandy
Jun 17, 2013 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently finished listening to "Untold Story" in recorded book fashion, and would say that although I loved the concept, I thought it could have been much better developed. The "What If?" that the author chose to explore is absolutely brilliant: "What if Princess Diana had staged her own death in order to escape the relentless paparazzi hounding and life in the limelight?" The answer to this that Monica Ali came up with was entertaining, but I was left craving more. Her idea is that Diana move ...more
Valerie Christie
This book tells the story of Lydia, an English woman living in America. She turns out to be Princess Diana. By rewriting history a little bit the author has made it so that the car crash in Paris wasn't fatal and that Diana actually 'died' swimming off the coast of Brazil. Although Diana's name isn't actually mentioned in the book it is fairly obvious that Lydia is Diana in hiding.
The story itself was readable enough but I found it very unbelievable. I didn't understand why they would have had
...more
Terry Perrel
I loved Brick Lane by Monica Ali and have recommended it for years, but there is little love about Untold Story. I sense Ali wanted to write a novel more commercially appealing than her others by trying to imagine "what if." In this case, what if Princess Di survived the accident in which Dodi Fayed died? What if she faked her own death, ran to Brazil for plastic surgery, what if. . .
Here is a list of my complaints about this book.
Lydia/Princess Di is a poorly developed character.
The writing in
...more
Yellowoasis
Apr 30, 2011 Yellowoasis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I was no big fan of Diana and found the public outpourings of ‘grief’ after her untimely and extremely banal death to be quite sick-making. But I have always been fascinated by the train-wreck that was her life. What Monica Ali does in this book is make her a sympathetic but flawed and believable character. Once I got past the improbability of the premise, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Some of the exposition was clunkily done, and I wish the sections with Lawrence had been more subtle, but nev ...more
Eve
Mar 01, 2012 Eve rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rarely do i ever not finish a book but i could just not take it anymore. Boring, what a load of rubbish! I would not recommend to anyone. Of course i was intrigued by the premise of the story but i thought it would have been what if the accident in the tunnel had been a set up but it was an entirely different story of her faked death. The idea that she could leave her children just so she could go live in some US town, live a mediocre just to escape the media was ludicrous. Also, the character o ...more
Rachel C.
Jan 07, 2012 Rachel C. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-fic-general
What a bizarre project for an established writer to tackle. I skimmed it out of curiosity.

Yeah, it's a total train wreck. Like Desperate Housewives meets TMZ. Yikes. Someone should have gently suggested to Ali that, having gotten it out of her system, she should just chalk it up to a creative writing exercise and toss the manuscript in a cupboard. A deep, deep, dark cupboard.
Kathy
Aug 23, 2011 Kathy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Characters poorly developed. Only person I cared about was Lawrence, whose end was abrupt and i really didn't realize it had happened until the following chapter. Simplistic ending. Author couldn't decide whether Di was clever or dull-witted, kept going back and forth. Glad I read library copy.
Joanne
Jul 06, 2011 Joanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting idea -- that Diana became so overwhelmed by her life that she staged a disappearance, got plastic surgery, and relocated to the U.S. But I didn't get far because the sentences are so clunky and the first chapter's dialogue was so wretched.
Vivienne
The premise of this novel is an intriguing 'what if''. The novel has a number of narrative threads including Lydia reflecting upon her former life and the ten years since she faked her death; a secret journal written by her former private secretary and co-conspirator, and finally Lydia in the present coming to terms with the quietness of her current life. Suddenly that peace is threatened by a British photojournalist who is touring small USA towns. He had been one of the paparazzi who had follow ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Try to envision a typical woman’s summer beach book written by the sort of author whose novels get nominated for literary prizes. There you have Untold Story, written by Monica Ali, whose Brick Lane, a novel about the lives of Bengali immigrants in London, was shortlisted for the Booker.

Ali’s new novel is a sort of alternative history wherein Princess Diana does not die in the auto accident in Paris (the car swerves a few yards further on when it has cleared the tunnel.) However, her mental hea
...more
Debbie
Oct 11, 2011 Debbie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Joy of Booking
I had been looking forward to reading this book for a long time, and I finally got to sit down with it while traveling for work - between meetings and in the early morning hours (thanks, jet lag!) by the hotel pool. It's a great book for reading that way - while traveling or on vacation.

I was at first disappointed by the rather flat, stock-character aspect of most of "Lydia's" friends - like the yoga friend who *always* sits in full lotus, every time she sits down. (Seriously. Who does that?). B
...more
MaryAlice
Sep 24, 2011 MaryAlice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit to being enthralled by Diana. The height of that enthrallment was reading Tina Brown's excellent book on her. In it,everyone has both good and bad sides (except Camilla. She doesn't come off too well). Loving that book really set me up well to enjoy this fantasy. Tina Brown's analysis of the princess, her actions and motivations match the interior dialogue of Lydia in The Untold Story very well, so I do not have the same quibbles as many of the reviewers below. I enjoyed the what if plot ...more
Meg
Monica Ali’s Untold Story was a book I knew I had to read from the moment I got a glimpse of its cover. And while I found it to be a fascinating story and a creative reinterpretation of history, it didn’t bowl me over the way I’d hoped.

Ali, beloved author of works like Brick Lane, has quite the reputation in the literary community. She took a chance on Untold Story and I think it paid off — even if the book has been garnering much criticism. Here’s how I feel: few writers would gamble on somethi
...more
Violet Daze
I must admit I was drawn to the book because of the potentially controversial subject matter, and I have to say that I enjoyed the earlier chapters when it was more 'is it her?' 'is it not her?' (I actually read this when it first came out and had managed to to avoid the spoilers). Maybe I'm a bit of a hypocrite because on one hand I was drawn to it because it was rumoured to be about Princess Diana but when it was made clear that was meant to be her I kind of went off it, not because I thought ...more
Judy
Jul 26, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British royalty buffs, people who don't follow tabloid nonsense


What if Diana, Princess of Wales, had not died, but instead had staged her death and escaped into anonymity? This is the premise of Monica Ali's new novel. The manner in which she creates the tale demonstrates her versatility, being the author who also gave us an inside look at Bangladeshi immigrants in Brick Lane and at the life of a top London chef with In the Kitchen.

The Princess, aided by her private secretary, takes on a new identity in Kensington, a small American Midwestern town, posing a
...more
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Monica Ali is a British writer of Bangladeshi origin. She is the author of Brick Lane, her debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2003. Ali was voted Granta's Best of Young British Novelists on the basis of the unpublished manuscript.

She lives in South London with her husband, Simon Torrance, a management consultant. They have two children, Felix (born 1999) and
...more
More about Monica Ali...

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“I don't know which is more nutty. All this stuff I do outside of work, or the stuff I do all week.” 9 likes
“Tevis being childless meant you felt a little sorry for her, and a bit jealous. Probably the same way she felt about you.” 3 likes
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