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Untold Story  By  cover art

Untold Story

By: Monica Ali
Narrated by: Emma Fielding,Nicholas Farrell
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Publisher's Summary

When Princess Diana died in Paris's Alma tunnel, she was 37 years old. Had she lived, she would turn 50 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 fairytale 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."

©2011 Monica Ali (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

“Haunting and intensely readable, this is something between a thriller and a ghost story.” (Lady Antonia Fraser)
“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)

What listeners say about Untold Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Great Premise, So-So Book

Monica Ali begins with a fascinating premise: that the Princess of Wales, with the help of a devoted aide, planned her own demise/disappearance, underwent plastic surgery in Brazil, assumed the identity of a British-American crib death victim, and went on to live a life of obscurity in the USA, working in an animal rescue facility. By coincidence, a photographer who spent years pursuing her comes to town . . .

While Untold Story isn't a total failure, it's less than I expected from Ali. For those still entranced by Diana and her sad story, Lydia's letters to Lawrence expressing her fears, joys, and regrets bring it all back. But too often I felt as if I was in the midst of a chick lit story populated by clich??ed characters carrying on clich??d conversations. In other words, both the story and the characters lacked complexity. If you're a Diana fan, give this book a try; but if you're hoping for something as fine as Brick Lane, skip it.

As to the readers, Nicholas Farrell is wonderful. Emma Fielding is good enough as Lydia, but her American accents get quite irritating after awhile.

5 people found this helpful

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Diana Lives On

Went beyond the headlines of the 80s and 90s. Imagined the strong character of a lonely Princess.

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Misleading

This seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with Princes Diana. I would like my credit back

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Disrespectful??

I had a bit of a crisis of conscience regarding this book - I couldn’t help but feel that it was a somewhat disrespectful (yet comical) premise: Princess Diana fakes her own death, gets plastic surgery and settles down in the United States. I know its fiction and that no disrespect is intended, but I still felt weird about it.

Curiosity and a 5$ coupon pushed me over the edge and I caved – but quite frankly it was not worth it. I’m not sure what I was expecting really, but it was not that interesting.

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I loved this book!!

What do any of us really know about celebrities?...they are just people, too, after all. This book was great as it gave me a sense of how horrible the photojournalists are to the rich and famous. I am glad I am just an average joe blow....Intriguing story and not once will you ever hear an exact reference to the person this book is about....clever story, I thought!!

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interesting theory

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

found the idea interesting so story flowed easily. a "what if..." fairytale. Makes you really appreciate how restricting royals daily life truly is.

Who was your favorite character and why?

lydia. you could feel her internal struggle

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love it.......

I really, really wanted to love this book. I was so excited about it. I purchased it rather than wait for my next credits to become available because I was going on vacation. I thought it would make great airplane/leisurely listening time. It was all just OK. The other characters, the American friends, are as someone else said "cliched". The narrators are OK. Not the best, not the worst. I think it ended in a way that another book is possible. Maybe that one will be a bit more..... lively....is that the word I'm looking for? Did I mention it is just OK?