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Untold Story

2.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,267 ratings  ·  492 reviews
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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by Scribner (first published 2011)
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Average rating 2.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,267 ratings  ·  492 reviews

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Jar of Death Pick #33

This book has such a great premise

What if Princess Diana faked her death and moved to a small town in America?

And what if a former English paparazzo stumbled across her?

That sounds super cool. I was excited to read this. I thought it would be imaginative and suspenseful but it wasn't.

It was super slow paced and boring. Nothing happens in this book. We don't learn why she faked her death. We don't learn anything really about her life in America. We don't learn anything at
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 16, 2015 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...?
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
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Lucia Gannon
Aug 04, 2011 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
Ruby Soames
Jul 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jun 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
Monica Ali is a brave, brave writer. It's difficult to write about famous people no matter what time they lived in. It's even more difficult to write about someone as famous and contemporary as Princess Diana. This woman was once the most photographed woman in the world. Millions watched both her wedding and her funeral. There's been countless non-fiction books written about her. We all know a lot about her.

Ali's premise of what would happen if Princess Diana were to fake her death and come to l
Rachel C.
Jan 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: popfic-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.
Tranna Foley
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Ruth Seeley
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Scott
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Lisa Wolf
Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
Pretty much the only good thing I have to say about this book is that it was relatively short. What a waste of time.
Shasni Bala
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Officially listed this in my DNF list. The idea of this story is intriguing, which what caught my interest. But...story is so boring. I'm no writer but in my opinion, I think the execution is not strong or up to expectations, at least for me. I want to love this book but gosh I just can't. Maybe it could be somebody else's cup of tea, just not mine. ...more
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 14, 2012 added it
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
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Terry Perrel
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Lesa Parnham
I hate books that leave the ending an enigma. Does she keep on going? First of all Diana fans know that the incidents in this book would never have happened-DIANA WOULD HAVE NEVER LEFT HER BOYS PERIOD. NO MATTER WHAT.
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Please don't judge me for reading this. ...more
Roz Morris
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lot of fun; surprisingly moving too. The Diana details are deftly used and the daring deception is well thought out. Really enjoyed it.
I wasn't sure what this would be when I reserved it at the library. Usually I do that because I've read a great review. I checked that review and realized that I probably chose the book as a "quick read" in the midst of some very complicated and often disturbing, though well-written novels. Maybe I didn't even finish the review. The first couple paragraphs may have convince me that I needed a fluffy page-turner of a novel. Something slightly frivolous and exciting.

I was underwhelmed right from
I love Royal family and I was reaaaally excited to read this book. And it was really good! Everything was great. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that we don't see Lydia much in UK, and the ending. The ending is killing me! I need at least one more chapter. ...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

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